GETTING back on the bike they call it. All throughout Christmas and New Year when I couldn’t move and I couldn’t eat, mine was just sitting there in front of me. Would I ever get back on it? How would I even start?

I couldn’t walk, I was using a chair to get around the house. I could take some steps but I wouldn’t call it walking. In fact, I still use a walking stick to get by now. But back then I was just wallowing around.

That was until Tuesday January 8, and six weeks post-surgery. That was my get back on the bike day.

You’ve got to really, really want it. Because you are going to suffer. There is nothing fun about being on an indoor bike. But I wanted it and I started focusing days and weeks down the line. If I didn’t start it now, I thought, then I will never get back

Just getting on the bike itself wasn’t easy. It doesn’t move like a regular bicycle would. I was at home and I was on my own, so if I had fallen over and something had gone wrong, it would have been a disaster.

But I didn’t think about the what ifs. I just thought ‘I am going to get on the bike and cycle for an hour’. I ended up cycling for two hours.

Mentally it was hard, I just looked at my numbers, my heart rate, my power. I was turning my legs for two hours.

Time goes so slowly. I remember looking at my watch and thinking I had been going for a good 40 minutes but it was only quarter of an hour. I thought ‘I’m not getting anywhere here’.

I didn’t really go on with a target in mind. I thought that if I could only do ten minutes that’s fine, I’m going to be happy with it. If I can do 30 minutes, that’s fine too. But when I got to an hour I thought ‘I’m going to do another 30 minutes here’. Then suddenly it drops to 29 minutes remaining, and you know what, ‘I am going to go to the two-hour mark’. But it was important I didn’t set myself a hard and fast target. Because I don’t want to fail.

How did I feel when I finished? I couldn’t get off the bloody bike. My legs had gone numb. My bum had gone numb. Eventually I got on to the sofa, dripping with sweat and just sat there and didn’t move for an hour.

Going back to the gym is challenging too, because there are a lot of egos in there. It is an environment I used to thrive in and now I am going in there on my walking stick. A lot of people are worried about going into gyms because they think everyone is going to be looking at them but what I realise now is that everyone is too busy looking at themselves!

I sit on some machines now and I can’t even move the machine itself without any additional weights on. But it is important for me to have that commitment to keep going. For sure it is hell, there are some days I just don’t want to go, but it always comes back to how much you want it.

I feel like I have lost my whole 30s. Yeah, I did some cool things in my 30s and I made the most of life between each scan and each surgery. But I still lost a lot of it. I am determined not to lose my 40s as well.

That week I did about four or five hours, then the weeks after it was ten hours, then 14 hours the week after that. And at moments like that, when I’m riding my bike I don’t feel disabled. I don’t feel like I’m trapped in this body.

There is a negative side to it, a hard side, a dark side. You don’t want to be going through this but you are so try not to be negative about it. If I have only got 20 years left I want to be passionate about them, doing things I really love. Twenty more summers. When you put it that way, it isn’t long.

There are moments on this journey of mine that are simply too bizarre and unbelievable to make up. The day I had a conversation with the Scotland manager whilst sitting on the toilet bowl for three hours might be the best yet. I had met Alex McLeish a few weeks before surgery at an event in Glasgow. Alex got my number, he came to see me and it was very nice of him.

But there was just one minor problem. Having just been told I would require my sixth spinal operation in nine years, and the second in eight days, he arrived in the room about 30 minutes after the nurse had given me a suppository.

So there we were, me sitting on a mobile commode in my hospital room, with Alex and a couple of guys on or next to the bed, just sitting around talking about sport. We talked about his days at Aberdeen, about resilience, psychology in sport and Sir Alex Ferguson.

A friend of mine, who did 23 years in the paras and bobsleighed for Britain, was there too. He told me stories about Afghanistan and what it is like to come out of the army and back into civilian life. I was sitting there listening, just thinking how great it was not to talk about tumours for once. We spoke about football, shinty, boxing, and just had an amazing conversation, an escape for three hours.

Every ten minutes, though, the suppository would kick in but no-one mentioned a thing and that was cool. Strange times indeed . . .