Day I got a rude awakening on how unfit I was

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It would be a shame to die of a flight of stairs when there is the option of dying of old age.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • I began to heave and wheeze a few steps to the fourth floor.
  • It was so bad, I could not even manage to breathe through nose.

A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, I got a rude awakening regarding just how unfit I was when I happened to visit an office on the eighth floor of a building whose lifts had given up and refused to budge. That one year, I had mostly worked from home, therefore I barely moved, and could, in fact, count the steps I took daily and even trace the route I would take to and fro the kitchen, living room and bedroom.

I began to heave and wheeze a few steps to the fourth floor, it was so bad, I could not even manage to breathe through the nose, instead gulping air with my mouth. When I eventually got to the fourth floor, I was ready to keel over and die, but since I had to get to the eight floor, I forced my feet, which by then felt as heavy as lead, up the fifth floor.

As you can imagine, I was sweating like a pig by then - sweat was running down my face and down my back, it was as if I’d just stepped out of the shower. I managed to crawl and drag myself to the fifth floor, and had to admit to myself that if I took another step before resting, I would surely die.

My pounding overworked heart would simply stop beating. And so I stopped to catch my breath. Had the stairs not been too dirty, I would have gratefully sat down on that step, damn the embarrassment and the amused stares. After the most necessary five minutes of my life, I forced myself to get up and resume my journey, after all, I had an appointment to keep. 

A busy building, there was a steady stream of people walking up and down the stairs, most of them young, or, to be more specific, most of them younger than me. 

They would whizz past me effortlessly, some with even enough lung power to talk on phone, a spring and bounce in their step that made me long for my long gone twenties. And then there are also those that took two steps at a time. Talk of showoffs…

Anyway, I finally got to the eight floor, and when I did, all I wanted to do was lie down on the floor, close my eyes and sleep until the next day, thanks to exhaustion. My legs were stiff, my chest on fire and my breath laboured.

I have never been as relieved as I was when I was informed that the person I was meeting was delayed elsewhere and would join me in 45 minutes or so. 

I’m a notorious time-keeper and abhor tardiness, but on that day, I would have patiently waited for a month for my host to show up – I was in no condition to have a conversation, and I looked as if I had been dipped in water. He could have all the 45 minutes he wanted. 

That unfortunate incident practically showed me how important it is to keep fit as one gets older, especially if your job encourages a sedentary lifestyle. It would be a shame to die of a flight of stairs when there is the option of dying of old age. Here’s to keeping fit… 

The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com

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