Forgive me a personal one. In 1999 I began to develop a serious back condition following a football injury. A double annular tear - or two slipped discs in old money - was the diagnosis. Whatever the pronouncement from doctors, orthopaedic surgeons, physio-terrorists and chiropractors the symptoms were the same. I had extreme sciatic pain and couldn't stand for more than 15 minutes or so. It deteriorated and by 2000 I was ready to accept that I would need a disabled sticker on my car. I preached sitting on a stool.
I think that low was the turning point. I met a neurosurgeon who felt convinced that my pain was chronic not acute and exercise, although painful, would cause me no further injury. I embarked on a course of intensive exercise therapy and, in agony most of the time, started moving, running and twisting again. It was a battle in my head. Did I really believe this pain was causing me no harm and was not a warning sign?
After two years of this, with the spasms getting further and further apart, I had a relapse on a leg press and was back to square one. I spent a day walking slowly round shops, again in extreme pain, buying my wife some birthday presents.
Recovering from that injury I got better, and better and better. The 'relapse' had been something moving that hadn't moved for a long, long time. Within six months I was pain free and fighting fit. Since that day I have exercised regularly at a gym, tried to walk a mile a day when I am being more sedentary than usual in my work, avoided overwork and have rejoiced, minute by minute at the sheer joy of standing up, standing still and having no pain. It is good to be alive. Sometimes you have to have a period of 'bad to be alive' to realise how good.
It was the decade where I got well and learned to appreciate a lot of things that others might take for granted. To those who helped, prayed and encouraged I offer heartfelt thanks. Age 54 I am probably fitter than I was 20 year ago. Today's cold is a nuisance, but my back still works.