Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Another fitting ending

Over the last year I've been contacted by a few people through Facebook so I know that people are occasionally still happening across my musings and experiences and getting something from them.

So that has led me to come back to post a quick update on where I am. Because I have News.

First the not so predictable stuff. I'm currently training to make good use of my Good for Age place at London. I've also got a couple of other marathons (ok, 3 other marathons) and an ultra on the cards this year, with possibly an extra marathon in Autumn. My running has been a bit up and down over the last year, and I've had a couple of injuries, but I'm still sticking at it, and there are still things I want to achieve.

My weight is up from my lowest but manageable. I'm comfortable with it and I'd rather give myself a few treats and gain a few pounds than spend my life depriving myself. And I keep it in check. Mainly.

But the News is that I seem to have broken out of a rather too long spell of singleness and found myself a bloke. It's still early days (we've been seeing each other properly for about a month, but have known each other for and been flirting outrageously since last August), but what's important isn't so much who he is and whether it will last, but what it's taught me about my relationship with my body.

To get straight to the point, I'm far more comfortable with nakedness and the physical side of things than I ever thought I'd be. One of my big problems in the past was that I didn't want anyone to see my body. And even when I lost weight I worried about saggy skin, and my head took a while to catch my body up.

After a few fumbling experiences in my early 20s (and I mean very fumbling and furtive) I embarked on pretty much 10 years without even so much as a kiss. While I didn't like myself I didn't expect anyone else to either.

But this time my thought process was more "well, why wouldn't he like me. After all I'm pretty fantastic". That shocked me.

What also shocked me was my willingness to shamelessly use him for his (sub 3 marathon) body. After waiting for so long part of me wanted it to be for someone special and permanent. Saving myself for The One as it were. But without completely writing him off now (because he's actually lovely and every time I learn something new about him it's something I like), I'm quite comfortable with the idea that I will learn all I can from him to get myself back on the wagon, and if it doesn't work out move on with more confidence than I've ever had.

The only problem is that *ahem* cross training can distract me from an early morning run...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This really is it...

OK, I said I was giving up blogging here, but I've got to a fitting end to this whole thing, so I thought I'd round it off with a bang.

Finally, after seemingly endless attempts, I ran my good for age marathon time.


I made it by 55 seconds, but I made it. I'm not just a former fattie, or someone who's playing at running, I've hit an objectively set target that applies to everyone. I'm Good.

(and on the For Age side, I'm turning 30 on Saturday, but at least I know I'm good for it...)

There's still a whole lifetime of maintenance and running and doing stuff ahead of me, but I'm in a nice place right now. I'm not doing any more marathons before London 2009 (I posted my application today - guaranteed entry!) so I'm going to relax for a bit, make the most of life, and just enjoy the person I've become.

Thanks to all the people who have said they'll miss me, but I think I'm ready to fly away and live this thing on my own.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A picture that says more than I ever could

You may have noticed that I've been quiet recently. I've not even blogged my FLM result for god's sake. (3:48, if you were wondering)

It's not that I'm depressed, or hiding, it's just that I seem to be too busy living life these days to talk about it. I've run out of new things to say, and I just don't have the desire to sit down at the computer and spill it all out.

So I've decided to call it a day. Not the running and the maintaining (although I have a bit of acquired weight to lose at the moment, my clothes are getting scarily tight), but the blogging about it. I'll still be around on t'internet, on Facebook and so on, so if you want to find me, hunt me out there. I'll also leave this up, just in case anyone finds it interesting. But I won't be adding much to it.

Which got me to thinking that maybe I ought to do a big, emotional goodbye. Thanking everyone who's commented and read, and even met me over the past few years. Everyone who writes a blog I read, even if I don't always have time to write comments. You've been a source of constant support, letting me know I'm not alone in this, and not crazy to believe I could do it.

In terms of where I am now, I have to thank Jen for taking this photo of me during FLM. For me, it sums it all up. I'm maybe a bit bigger than I want to be, but I'm fit, I'm a marathon runner, and more importantly than that, I'm enjoying it.

I can run a marathon with a smile on my face. I may not quite be good for age (yet! I'm having another go in Edinburgh at the end of May), but I'm not bloody bad for it either.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

She knew

In grandma's last good spell she kept on going on about the 3rd. Whatever she was saying, it kept on coming back to the 3rd. She got it right not once, but twice. I'll have to remember to take special care on the 3rd of each month, and to tell my family to do that too.

The routine was the same. The 11.55 phone call (almost exactly the same time). Quickly having my lunch before leaving the office, while phoning round and spreading the news. The phone call to my sister to confirm when it was all over.

To be honest, I think in reality the damage was done on Monday night. Everything since then has just been holding on, to see if there was a glimmer of hope. There wasn't, and this afternoon they took the ventilator tube out. From there on, it was inevitable and quick. I'm becoming a bit of an old hand at the whole process, sadly. Twice in four months.

There's a difference between me and Annette. She would rather not be there. She takes more comfort from visiting the funeral home and seeing them dressed, and made up, and not in pain any more, looking 20 years younger. I don't. I find it easier to cope if I'm reminded of why it's the right thing to just let them go. If I'm there, it reinforces in my mind that keeping them alive is no good to anyone, and that you have to accept it and move on. I suppose that's the difference between a death you've been preparing for for a while, and a sudden, traumatic one, but over the past few days I've been firmly of the belief that even if the doctors could save him, it would almost be cruel to do it.

So goodbye to the strongest man I've ever known. I started doing the sums in my head. He's always been disabled while I've known him, but it was only when I started to think about it I realised how young and vibrant he must have been when polio hit him. He can't have been too much older than I am now, in his 30s somewhere I would imagine. He poured so much energy into being this campaigning pillar of the local society that maybe I sometimes felt awe and respect rather than love. Or maybe that's just a different type of love.

He held on for the wedding. I'm shocked now that he actually drove over there and back in the state he was in (his car is adapted, and my grandmother doesn't like driving it, so if he's going somewhere and has to go in that car, he tends to drive it). He didn't make it to the ceremony, and that's when I realised something was really wrong, but he made it in the evening. When I saw him a couple of weeks ago he was getting confused, and iller, but he kept on coming back to one thing, "the wedding was lovely".

Last night I had a bit of a heart to heart with Annette, to tell her that she couldn't blame herself. Yes, the wedding took the last bit of strength he had out of him, but that was his choice. You could tell that he was tiring of life in some ways, the weekly hospital visits, the fact that there was no hope of a cure. If one thing didn't get him, the cancer would. It seemed to me when I saw him then that he was trying to tell us that the effort, and what it took out of him, was worth it. That he would have, and maybe did, give everything just to be able to see it. The wedding date was actually chosen to give grandma the chance to be there, as it turned out he only made it by a month, so an early wedding was worth the effort anyway.

I've ordered a black armband, which I intend to wear for FLM. I don't know how I'll cope with the emotion of the day. I got my place on the evening of grandma's funeral, and I'm guessing that the race itself will be a couple of days after or before his (mum is due to arrive anyway on Wednesday, so I imagine we'll wait until she gets here). Hopefully it will spur me on, although I'm not discounting the possibility of being a teary mess at the beginning or the end.

It's funny how running helps me cope though. We left the hospital at about half 3, and it was a lovely day. I couldn't face going back into the office (which is about 10 minutes from the hospital), and I had some running kit in my bag (let's face it, when don't I?), so I got changed and went for a 4 mile run to get some space in my head. I spoke to Annette, and they were going for a walk on the beach with the dog, which I suppose fulfils the same need, a bit of space, and air, and movement. (Although answering the phone to hear "I'm in bed with Chris and Aston" probably conjures up images I didn't want in my head - she's my little sister after all!). Hopefully FLM will help me deal with things in a positive way.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

History Repeating?

On 3rd December, Mum got on a flight, dashed from the airport, and made it to grandma an hour or so before she died.

Dad is arriving tomorrow. It will be the 3rd. All the signs are that it won't be much different.

In a lot of ways that would be a good thing. For the past 2 days he's been in intensive care, sedated, on a ventilator, and with nothing that could realistically be called a life. Even if he makes a miracle recovery and completely regains consciousness, he's got so many medical conditions that we're talking about another month, maybe two, of pain, treatment, confusion and so on.

Where he is, he's getting the best care imaginable (in the process giving the NHS a bit of a reprieve in my mind after all the bitterness about how grandma was treated), everything is very dignified and professional, and peaceful. There are worse ways to go.

In our minds I think we all came to terms with it last night after a frank discussion with a doctor. I'm surprised, to be honest, that he lives to see another day, and that dad will (or should) make it back in time. He's been clear about his own wishes in the past, and I think this is the moment where we have to face up to the fact that decisions have to be made. The ventilator can carry on breathing indefinitely, but is it fair on anyone for it to do that?

It's funny though, the way all this brings us closer together, makes us see sides of people we didn't know existed. I sat having a conversation with Annette and realised what I've missed while she's been living abroad. We think the same way on so many things, and it's so nice to have a sister again. You see that what you might have taken as coldness or emotional distance isn't that, that there is emotion there, just a different type. You hear your father trying to hold back tears, and realise that he does care after all.

I have been resorting to my old ways of coping though. With evenings spent in the hospital, the takeaway at the end of the road starts to look like an appealing option, as does a bit of beer or wine to help me wind down. It's not ideal, I should be eating nice, clean stuff before FLM, and doing the whole body is a temple thing, but I'm only looking at the next couple of hours, not something that's 10 days away. And anyway, there are things which are more important than running.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Here we go again

It looks like I might have a bit of an enforced taper on my hands. Today's club run was cut short at 4 miles when I ran past my grandparents house, popped in to find out the latest update and was bundled into a car and down to the hospital where I spent the rest of the evening. I knew he was in hospital, which was why I stopped in in the first place, but apparently his condition had gone downhill during the day.

From the conversations with the doctors, it sounds like there might be some decisions to be taken. They may be able to do things, but the question is whether they should. In the doctor's words, he's the sickest man in the hospital at the moment. Depending on the results of a brain scan, they may be able to do something by putting him on a ventilator in intensive care, but if they did they're not confident they'd get him off it.

A year or so ago he sat us all down and gave us his instructions. He's told us all, more than once, that he doesn't want to be kept alive artificially, that he wants to be DNR. I think it might be getting to the stage where we have to respect his wishes.

When I spoke to my dad he sounded like he was on the verge of tears (and I hadn't passed on the full details of the conversation with the doctors at that stage) and searching for flights.

So in the next two weeks there might be rather more sitting than running, but I'm damn well going to do that marathon, it's for his charity after all and I can't think of a more fitting tribute.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Last month I decided that I'd spend my 30th being pampered in a spa, and that even if no-one turned up for it other than me and my sister, I'd have a lovely day and it would beat the queues at the airport.

However, I decided to break the habit of a lifetime and actually attempt to arrange something that other people would turn up to, rather than just doing my normal thing and doing what I want, when I want to do it.

When we were little, Annette was the one who had parties and friends, while I was the one who played with the older sisters of her friends, or tagged around after her. Even as we got older and forged our own lives, I kind of assumed that her friends were better friends than my friends. she had big birthday parties. I had meals with my family. Or I went on holiday. I started to believe that my friends were people I'd come into contact with, who tolerated me while I was around, but who wouldn't miss me if I wasn't there. This is the flip side of my fear of invisibility I guess, that even when people acknowledge my presence, it doesn't make a huge impact on them, and that if a better friend comes along they'd dump me in an instant.

The fact that I think like this doesn't mean it's true, however, and this week I've been quite frankly stunned. When I decided on the spa plan I knew that it wasn't cheap, and that when you get to your late 20s/early 30s, summer weekends get booked up months in advance with weddings and hen dos and christenings and so on. I didn't know whether I could realistically expect anyone to pay over £100 for the privilege of consoling me as I entered my 30s. In the end I decided that I'd do a two-stage thing, with the spa and a meal, so even if I didn't have many people in the day, I could at least be a bit sociable in the evening.

But instead, having sent out emails to various people, I've been stunned by the number of people who do want to come, and who have already paid up, in full, in advance, to join me. In fact, and there's a bit of childish sibling rivalry here, by my calculations I have more people coming to my 30th spa day than my sister did for her hen do spa day at the same place. Maybe people do actually want to spend time with me after all. I can't even begin to describe the warm fuzzy feeling that has given me.

It's almost enough to take away the pain of nearing my entry into my 30s...