It is late on Saturday when I look through my emails. It has been a hot day I have been wearing shorts without pockets so my mobile phone has been languishing in my rucksack from the morning’s expedition to the swimming pool. It is only when I head to bed that I realise I have been out of contact for twelve hours or so. There is an email inviting me and my family to a BBQ the next day at lunchtime. It is from somebody in my writer’s support group.

What is my reaction? Where do I start? I suppose I want to go. Though that isn’t immediately obvious to me due to the anxiety I am filled with. I seem to be thinking of the issues of going. Will I know anybody there? I am on my own at the moment so having a friend who half understand me aside from the host would be supportive. There is a reply from somebody else in my support group so that’s a start. Though, why would somebody do a reply-all to the message?

I have a half baked idea about what I am doing tomorrow, the centre piece being another trip to the pool. And the BBQ is at lunchtime. Tricky. Well tricky for me. The swim training takes it toll on me and I usually need to sleep afterwards. For a few hours. I suspect that is unusual. One can but try though. And rework the schedule. If I go shopping in the morning for something to take, then I can take the foodstuff to the pool with me and leave directly after swimming. I’ll be late for the BBQ but that should be fine shouldn’t it?

Writing it now, I can’t see how that would ever work. I am usually late for things when I try to be on time so acknowledging I am going to be late before I go is a recipe for disaster. Well, extreme lateness then.

Next issue then, what do I take? My initial idea is for large mushrooms and blue cheese. This works well as a burger substitute and also can survive a hot sunny time and still be hygienic to eat the next day. Is that enough? Perhaps some tapas as well. A frittata, some olives and delicious pastries. Perhaps just the tapas on their own? What about some nachos? Should I take some bread? No, in my experience there is too much bread at these things. Something to drink too? It wasn’t specified but I know my partner would want to take something anyway.

The email sits there waiting for an answer I am unprepared to commit to. I decide to answer in the morning. There is a risk there though that I never answer it. Should I dash off something now then? “It’s too much!”, as Kylie would say. Though I think that was about love. I head to bed. The email unanswered.

I wake up the next morning and contemplate the day. Two things stand out now from the inner monologue. My left thigh is still in pain. I feel I should go to the BBQ but still can’t decide if I want to. They are connected. The thigh pain requires a little explanation though. I find the story a little bizarre.

Event sequencing on. So I am going to the British Transplant Games in a month’s time. When I signed up, I committed to doing some training twice a week. I can’t do any training for archery since I don’t have a bow (still feel rather uncertain about that but continue to apply forgetfulness filter). The swimming has been going well I feel. The running sprint training has been non-existent. On Monday, late at night, I finally convince myself to do something when nobody else is about. There is a wonderful twilight up at the park which I usually frequent with the dog. I have walked for a bit. Jogged for a bit and now it is time to sprint. I keep coming across High Intensity Workouts for weight control so the plan is to do eight times thirty seconds sprints, leaving thirty seconds between each sprint. I feel I should be able to cover 100 metres in half a minute if the professionals can do it in under ten seconds. In swimming I take twice as long as the best swimmers when sprinting so there is some logic there. To my surprise I can sustain what does for high speed for thirty seconds but after a few runs decide I need forty-five seconds of recovery before setting off on the next one. Each time my lungs scream for breathe slightly earlier in the sprint but I complete eight. I reverse my jog and walk intervals and arrive home in surprisingly good form.

The next day my legs are a bit sore but the sort of pain that should disappear after 48 hours I reckon. It is my upper thighs that are most tender. I find going upstairs okay but the jolting descent instead and modify my pace and position to compensate. I figure I don’t usually lift my legs so high though any other exercise so the pain makes sense to me. Two days later the pain has eased but is still there. I am not sure when I will be sprinting next but comfort myself knowing that I managed the 100 metres without any training so as long as my fitness doesn’t decrease I should be fine.

After finding a tennis ball in the middle of the street whilst out walking the dog, I decide that taking a tennis ball on every walk is a good way to make the exercise my enjoyable for both of us. I am not sure whether the World Cup (football) has influenced me or not, but I have also decided to practice kicking the ball particularly with my weaker left foot to improve my balance symmetry. It is whilst I take a gentle swing with my left leg at the tennis ball on Thursday that something happens in my left thigh that increases the discomfort there. I don’t think it is anything serious but I have strained it further. Slowly. Kicking. A. Tennis. Ball. Great! Now walking seems to be an issue but how will it affect my swimming?

It turns out that butterfly and front crawl are unaffected by the injury. Breast stoke is okay as long as I am careful with my leg kick which is good for me to concentrate on anyway. It is my backstroke that has the main problem. Kicking whilst floating on my back seems out to question, in fact, my thigh is having problems keeping my left leg up at all. I try backstroke out with a pull-buoy doing arms only. Ok, that works.

Back to this morning. My thigh pain is present. I convince myself that I should give it a rest and not go for swimming training. That decision helps me. I can commit to the BBQ. Now my mind is fixed on this. Suddenly the beard trim I have been musing over for a number of days seems to be more important to me. And whilst I trim the bottom line to a fingertip above my Adam’s apple, my inner Queer Eye kicks in. Perhaps I should look a bit smarter. Wear a short sleeve shirt. Nope nothing in the wardrobe. Perhaps I could buy one. I am going food shopping anyway. What to get though? I convince myself to stick to the mushrooms and blue cheese. I allow myself to feel anxiety.

It seems important for me that my appearance is good. I am not sure why this is the case. I put on a tight chest fitting t-shirt and look in the mirror. I gather excess material around the back and like the look of my slim appearance. Am I looking for approval? It seems okay to spend money on a new shirt. Am I feeling more worthy in myself? A touch of self-confidence perhaps. I try to keep the momentum going.

I know I need to send the email to say I’m coming but what to write? I decide to start off by saying what a good idea to celebrate the stunning weather we are experiencing. I nearly write, “I am afraid that there is just me”, but catch myself. I am trying to apologise for only turning up by myself, as if I am not a worthy addition to the party. I understand that may be how I feel but I don’t think it is a good way of presenting myself. I rephrase the sentence in my head to say that the dog and I will be attending. Do I say that I am anxious about an unknown social gathering? I decide that that isn’t really helpful to the host and decide to keep it for later. Not that I can really tell who would want to know that.

At the supermarket, I am looking at shirts. So much plaid! I was thinking about something more adventurous or is that Tan talking? Not a great choice and I almost give up until I turn a corner and I ponder over a print. Not a must-have but I think it will do. What size then? No choice but to try the large on. Okay well that seems to be fine. Pause. I can’t decide if I really like it. “Come on, it will do”, and I put it in the trolley. Some hats grab my attention and I try them all on. I feel more confident about hats and decide that none of them look right. Perhaps I should get better fitting shorts too. None of those cargo ones I tend to like due to their carrying capacity. Nope the only one that I feel really matches doesn’t have anything near my waist size. Never mind. I will find something at home.