Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Not Meant To Be!

On a personal note I can only apologise to Children with Cancer UK for being unable to run the London Marathon on Sunday and to the many people who sponsored me on the basis I was running it in my morphsuit. I will focus the remainder of 2014 on fundraising for CWCUK and I will hopefully sort out a replacement marathon so that the sponsorship already raised is earned!

The last few weeks have been a nightmare what with Michelle suffering a Hemiplegic Migraine, hospital visits, being told she can still run and then being told she cant! It was last Tuesday when in with her GP I asked if she was OK to run? He said no! The main risk being that this early in Michelle's recovery there is a risk that dehydration could bring on another Hemiplegic episode and certainly do her more harm. To say she was devastated is an understatement. 6 months of effort, build up and anticipation seems to be for nothing! It is not, of course, because she had laid the foundations to rebuild and prepare for London 2015 but that doesn't initially help with the disappointment she faced. As it transpired we ended up back in A&E last Friday! This time she had chest problems for which she was given antibiotics and painkillers and told to rest for a couple of weeks. A pleuratic episode they said and a bronchial somethingorother! Even if she had not suffered the Hemiplegic Migraine the problems with her chest, which followed a period of lurgy, would have ruled her out just 36 hrs before the start!
Thankfully after all of the problems of the last 4 weeks, none of which are related to running, Michelle is finally on the mend. I think that after a couple of weeks rest which she should get during Easter school hols, she will be recovered and back running. Its been a scary time and I am relieved to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I just want her well again!
Fridays trip to hospital meant that on Saturday I wasn't keen to leave Michelle to get to the expo and collect my number for London. I was however confident the tablets would kick in for Michelle so I could still get down on Sunday morning, run and then drive back. A few calls to my men on the ground, Leeky and Ian, meant that they got me in touch with Colin at the expo who, after a few security questions were answered, was able to release my number to them. At this point the dream was still alive. I had extended the window of opportunity by a few more hours.
I should say that I was off work ill myself on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Headaches, shivers, shakes, sweats, muscle aches and a cough had wiped me out. I went into work Thursday and Friday and was still going to run albeit I was resigned to the fact I would have to be slow and cautious with the lurgy still lingering.
Unfortunately, during Saturday afternoon, I suffered diarrhoea! (I know, you couldn't actually make this up!). It meant that by 8pm I hadn't eaten at all and I felt weak and entirely unwell. I had thought I could run with lingering lurgy but the reality I had to face was that running London in a Morphsuit, in 17 degree heat, without 4 weeks of training, without having eaten, 7 lbs lighter than the day before and with an explosive gut was not possible!
Reluctantly I made the decision to withdraw. The reality was that regardless of all the bravado, stubbornness and stupidity it would have been bordering on the insane to have run. It would have almost certainly put others at risk if I took up a medics attention or an ambulance ride or a hospital bed for attempting to run when ill.
I told Leeky and Ian who had gone well out of their way to accommodate my ever changing plans and resigned myself to having to watch London on the TV!
I know it sounds silly but I was gutted to let down all the people I was looking forward to seeing on the day and sharing the London experience with. In a perfect world me and Michelle would have run together, met loads of people and had a great experience.
My place was a charity place so I cant defer and next year I will be supporting Michelle from the sidelines with the kids so that we are there for her. That means that at least for the foreseeable future and then entirely dependant on Ballot luck, I wont get to run London.
Michelle believes in fate! I don't although it was not lost on me that a chap my age died after finishing. My heart goes out to his family. Also a good friend of mine was blue lighted off the course at 24.5 miles after collapsing with kidney failure due to dehydration. At the time he was on for a 20 mins PB and 3:15!! He had recovered from the lurgy himself about 6 days before the event. After a night in Hospital Gaz is home and recovering and he should be fine in a week or so. He also accepts that it could have been a far worse outcome.
It wasn't fate that stopped me running - in the end it was common sense although as someone who has dabbled in endurance events common sense is not normally something I am blessed with. It was also touch and go as to whether common sense would win.
The pressure to run, especially when running for a charity, especially when its a charity place and not a ballot place is immense. You commit to them in return for the opportunity. To then not run means a place was taken that could have been run by someone else. The guilt associated with the decision makes it all the more difficult.
I will make it up to CWCUK this year. It will just take a little while longer for me to raise the funds I know I can.
So, for both of us, London Marathon 2014 was the marathon that wasn't meant to be. Health and family come first as without both we're good for nothing.

As a final thought I read some stats that apparently highlight people who cheat in the marathon. The main suggestion is a fence hop just after London Bridge meaning splits are produced like 2:07 first half and 50 mins second half! I truly hope this is not true but if it is and these people are apparently running on charity places too, I sincerely hope that Karma (something else I don't believe in) pops up and restores the natural order of things!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Taper Schmaper!

On Thursday 20th of March Michelle had a bit of a headache. Nothing unusual and a couple of paracetamol sorted it out. When she woke on the Friday George said to her that when she smiled only half of her mouth was smiling at him. She has suffered a left sided numbness previously when suffering a severe migraine but had not had one for over a year and this time the headache was nothing like her previous migraines. Any numbness/weakness has previously subsided within a day!
During the day things didn't improve so we went to the Sir Robert Peel Hospital in Tamworth who referred us straight to Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. She received excellent care there firstly in A&E from the nurses, stroke doctor and porters and then on the HASU ward (stroke ward) overnight.
She had a CT scan at midnight and to our relief the worst case scenario (a stroke) was ruled out and a diagnosis of a rare & complex Hemepligic Migraine was made. She was told she should regain full use of her arm, leg, hand and mouth with 4/5 days and there will be no long term effects. She was discharged with physiotherapy exercises to carry out.

She only asked one question of the Physiotherapist which was " I am doing the London Marathon in 3 weeks time so when can I start running again?" Not "can I" or "should I" but "I am"! That moment right there is the moment I knew she had the mental strength to do London!
Not that I was in agreement she would be at that stage. Obviously I hoped she would be able to as she has worked so hard in her training for this her first marathon. I wanted to make sure she was well enough to do it first. The Physiotherapist said that there was no reason why she couldn't start running in a few days but that Michelle should listen to her body!
If I fast forward 13 days to yesterday I can say that after a lot of walking to strengthen the leg, exercises on the arm, hand and fingers to regain her movement and a general straightening up of her face you would say to look at her that she was fine.

I know of course that her grip strength is still poor, I assume her left leg is still weak and she has some vision issues in her periphery on the left. The difference over that period however is amazing as huge improvements were made daily as she recovered. The first walk we did was very slow and very tiring and she needed my hand for support. 8 days on she made it into work for a few hours and 9 days on she made it to the Poppyfields Ball!

So yesterday she attempted her first run since the attack. I had in my head a 2 mile 10 or 11 mins/mile pace run around the estate so we can get home if it all went pear shaped. Michelle on the other hand simply smashed a 3 mile run up to and round the Castle Grounds at sub 9 mins/mile pace!

I have seen some amazing things. I have seen people push themselves beyond anything they thought they could do. I have seen kids fight through illnesses that would have many of us rocking in a corner and maintain a smile and energy that defies the odds. Yesterday though I was truly floored by her determination and heart! Her resilience and sheer stubbornness would make me a millionaire if I could bottle it! Of course in many ways I am rich beyond imagination but that is totally down to Michelle and our kids.
Many people will say that some things cant be done. Many will say some things shouldn't be done. Some people cant understand the heart, determination, resilience and sheer stubbornness that lies within us all because they perhaps haven't had to call on it themselves or they choose to ignore it.
Yesterday put to bed not only the question of would Michelle be doing London, she had said that at worst it would be a nice walk around London, but also whether or not she would be able to run it.
Our marathon training plan hadn't allowed for this 2 week sebatical so I think we will just call it an early taper, get a few runs in over the next 10 days and she will be found on the start line on the 13th ready to tackle her first marathon.
If you see a freaky white Morph with a big grin grabbing all the attention from the crowd, spare a thought and give a shout to the quiet, steady, unassuming runner next to him sporting her 'Michy' Poppyfields vest. She is the engine, the strength, the determination and heart that powers us both!
You already know she runs for Poppyfields and the money goes directly to help kids fight brain tumours at Birmingham Children's Hospital. If you think her effort is worthy then make a donation. Perhaps forego a pint or two this weekend or better still cut out the takeaways for a week and donate the money you save. Donate at or text 'HECK78 £10' to 70070 as many times as you like.
Thank you!