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Dalesway - A multi-day summer hike post Covid

If nothing else, we seem


It's safe to say that it's been a bit of a year. When I signed up to retrain as a teacher I knew that my mettle would be tested but I had no idea that I'd face my first qualified year in the year that has been widely dubbed by experienced teachers as the hardest of their career. If nothing else I have the advantage that I don't know much different. The first year was a baptism of fire. And the second and third were...well, I'm still not sure what they were. Gratitude and a sense of purpose pulled me through, and Mickey, always Mickey.

One of the hardest things to deal with throughout lockdown and the imminent return to full schools was the dawning realisation, followed by the abrupt reality, that I had signed away control of my own personal safety when I changed career. And when the government released advice that student masks were no longer needed in schools we dutifully followed the advice as we always had.

Five days later I came down with COVID, along with several other staff members. Nothing too bad for the first few days, a nasty head cold and a day or two laying down. I can weather this, I thought. But then after a reasonably positive morning, I suddenly felt very, very tired. The kind of bone deep weariness that tells you that you have to sleep right this moment or the world will end. Thirty minutes later I woke up and couldn't breathe.

The ambulance came and assessed, attached wires and made me walk (Mickey lightened things later by likening me to an extra from Shaun of the Dead!), took the measurements again and then talked me through everything. I was borderline, and given the situation it was best for everyone if I stay home rather than go into hospital. I agreed, if I was nervous of being school then a COVID ward was the last place I wanted to be.

Since then, I've had two more relapses. Despite being fully recovered, it comes back if I push myself past anything but the gentlest of paces. It's frustrating. It's like no other infection I've had and that makes it worse. I can't predict what it will do when. But I've seen many of my colleagues recover fully from it and I'm fit and healthy, however much I may not feel it right now, so prospects look good.

Six weeks ago, laid up on the sofa I said to Mickey that this stupid disease was not robbing me of our adventure after the year and a half it had put us through. I've said no to countless outings with family and friends for great of putting them at risk because of the place I work. I ended up too close to depression again because of the level of change and lack of control I was facing day to day. I was having this hike. I'd pinned my sights on getting my wide open space in the Yorkshire wilds, denied so many times due to lockdown, isolation and workload.

As the time to set off grows closer and I'm only a day away from my last relapse I'm starting to question the wisdom of my stubbornness. It's the eternal battle I have with myself: take the risk or play it to assess without a crystal ball??

I come down on the side of risk it, as I usually do. My health is everything but living through the things I want to do is more. And maybe my health needs this anyway. The choice of sitting on the sofa and feeling better is not really a choice at all. I've lost so much of my fitness and vitality in these last two years along with my time and I want to reclaim some of it. So I'll go cautiously, listening to my body and we'll make adjustments if needed. But I'm doing this.

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