Just a blog for me to ramble about what's on my mind, or what's going on in the world of Karen without being told to shut up! I have Cystic Fibrosis and in February 2014 I received the gift of life in the form of a double lung transplant. I am now trying to live every day to the fullest as I struggled through a very tiring existence prior to my op. This blog now follows my new life with my lovely shiny new lungs (with I'm sure a few medical hiccups along the way!)
Almost a month ago, my mum, our friend Lyn and myself completed the Epping Forest Fright Hike. We were dressed in hospital scrubs (over our warm attire!) with bright pink/purple owl hats and wearing false beards.
At the start line in lovely November sunshine
The route itself was tough, particularly around mile 3 where there was a mightily steep and long hill that seemed to go on forever! I knew if I stopped at all I wouldn't get myself going so I plowed on, sounding a lot like a steam train and eventually got to the top of it, turned round to find I'd powered on quite a way ahead of mum & Lyn! Eventually (having got our breaths back and heart rates under control) we were able to carry on. By the time we reached the first checkpoint (around mile 5) we'd all shed our beards & hats due to being too hot (mum had lost her beard somewhere along the route & was devastated) The last mile of that all that was keeping them going was the thought of a cuppa... upon arrival we were told that the hot water urn wasn't up to temperature, but would be ready for us at the next checkpoint! They weren't happy about that, but I was content raiding their haribo tub and picking up an assortment of snack goodies which I stashed in my pockets for later on. (incidentally I brought most of it home again as I strangely didn't feel like eating!)
We carried on going for the next 8 miles (until checkpoint 2) as it got into full darkness and the long crocodile of people that started out ended up being very spread out, so at times we were walking just the 3 of us with the pitch black surrounding us. We were all on the lookout for anything slightly spooky or out of place, but it was a very strange thing, that one of the country's most haunted forests felt so calm and peaceful at this point, we were all a little disappointed (especially when Lyn tried to call something out to give us a scare!) The route was gradually getting muddier, wetter and harder to follow directly, so we were finding alternatives by climbing over and through all sorts of trees, logs and bushes. Around mile 11 I had to stop and take some painkillers as I was getting my old hip pain starting... knowing how far we still had to go I had the drugs to keep me going, which did help get me through to the 2nd checkpoint. About 5 minutes before reaching the checkpoint I looked down, and found.... Mum's wandering beard! She was a very happy bodysnatcher at that point! We arrived at checkpoint 2 approaching 9pm. I found a seat and promptly scoffed some savoury food and had a cuppa soup as I was starting to get the shakes from lack of food/sugar etc. We were told that the checkpoint closed at 9 and if we didn't leave before we wouldn't be allowed to continue. As I stood up, something in my foot went 'twang' and it hurt like hell. I tried to persevere in silence (shedding the odd tear along the way!) but mum & Lyn soon realised something was wrong and then as well as trying to navigate the route and the ever increasing mud swamps, they were on the look out for large sticks to help me along... when 2 failed attempts with different sticks, mum helped to support my weight for a while... but I ended up having to seek refuge on a very handily placed fallen tree trunk (almost shaped like it was intended to be a seat!) We waited for the team 'sweepers' (organisers who walked at the back to pick up stragglers and the route markers) to come to my rescue... I needed someone to look at my foot to see if it was something obvious- it wasn't!! Mum & Lyn continued on (and even overtook people who had long passed us!) and I was helped to the finish (with a slightly easier route so not as much pressure on my foot) by the lovely sweepers! We all crossed the finish line ... and I was determined to cross it unaided so very slowly hobbled/hopped over the line to claim my medal (and much welcomed cup of champagne!)
Our team with our medals on the finish line
By the end of it, I felt kind of a let out down as I didn't finish it all in full unaided.. I felt defeated! however I think this was the tiredness and general emotion of what had happened over those 6 1/2 hours. By the Sunday morning I was starting to accept the accomplishment achieved and realised that hurting/injuring a foot could have happened to anyone, even people who were professional runners/trekkers so not to feel bad that it was my foot that let me down. Ultimately, my chest, heart and general body fitness held up (and I think enjoyed the challenge!) my lovely shiney puffers did it!
By Monday (not at work) I was still struggling to walk so headed to the walk-in centre for it to be looked at by a professional. I took my sock off in the car to show mum the swelling and it was rather colourful! The nurse took a look at it and questioned about it. She started to give me a lecture about using the correct footwear, wearing them in enough etc etc... at which point i told her my footwear, and how long I had been wearing them in and everything, explained that there was no moment of impact etc... all she could suggest was that it was a severe soft tissue injury, keep it raised, ice it for 20 mins a few times a day and keep weight off it as best as possible... which is what I'd been doing since Saturday night. Eventually (about 10 days later) I was able to walk completely normally again with it being back to the right colour!
All in all it was a fantastic experience and I'm so proud of not just myself, but mum and Lyn too. Our team were awesome and we've raised over £600 .. haven't got the final amount figured out as haven't received all 'by hand' donations. Now I can have fun creating activity and craft packs for Papworth CF Unit along with donating much needed money to Clarks Farm right as the weather gets colder, and Santa Paws is due to visit each of the doggies in their care. As soon as I have a final total it will be shouted form the roof tops!
Thank you to everyone who donated and showed their support to each of us... it really helped to know that so many people (some completely unexpectedly) were happy to part with their hard earned money and sshow their faith that we would complete this challenge. It means SO much to know people have believe in me when I set my mind to something!
Lastly, the biggest, most thought about thank you goes to my donor angel. Without my lovely shineys I probably wouldn't have got to the end of mile 1 in 6 1/2 hours!! It's approaching what is going to be a very hard time of year for her family, and I hope that she was looking down on me that night and was happy in the knowledge that her gift has led to this... and all the goodness we can share with our donation!
*You can still donate if you wish to by going to www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/beardedbodysnatchers