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Middle-aged, middle-weight, mother of 3 on mad marathon mission
Middle-aged, middle-weight, mother of 3 on mad marathon mission
When I started this blog, it was to track my progress from an occasional kayaker to taking on the Devizes to Westminster non stop 125 race. Little did I know that would start me on a long distance obsession which has resulted in my completing the 30th Marathon des Sables. It has been a strange and sometimes painful ... but always wonderfully challenging journey

This is my occasional account of a middle-age mother's attempt to take on things which are really quite beyond her.

20 years ago I had to learn to walk again.Now I've finished a 125 miles race.

crawlingkiwiby crawlingkiwiApr 27th 2011
Exactly twenty years ago I was learning to walk again after a serious illness, four years ago my life was completely ruled by debilitating migraines, but this past weekend I have finished an event that even a few months ago I would have thought so far beyond me, that it was laughable.
A few people are aware of what I went through all those years ago, but most aren't aware of the long-term problems I'm left with. Initially I was suffering from a severe ear-ache, which turned out to be shingles in my ear causing Ramsay Hunt syndrome which paralysed half my face, caused double vision and impacted my hearing. The virus then progressed to my brain, resulting in viral meningitis, encephalitis and ultimately permanently killing off my balance mechanism on one side.
A few years earlier I would have had a 90% chance of dying from this illness, but I was one of the lucky ones, I recovered but had to learn to walk again as my balance was atrocious. I was warned that I might not be able to walk again properly, but I can be particularly tenacious if you give me a challenge. No way was I going to accept that I couldn't walk or dance properly again. But some things couldn't be improved: even now I have difficulty in standing upright in the dark, when there are no visual clues (such as a wide open space with no trees) or when I am tired. I can not stand very well on one leg and I have perceptual difficulties which means I can see a gap on the floor but can't move my foot to it without holding onto something. Theme parks cause particular difficulties as I can't walk very well after going on any ride and have to concentrate incredibly hard to stay upright.
It took me a while to learn to cycle again and I still can't get through a narrow gap in the traffic or through a small opening in a track, without putting a foot down to balance. The last time I tried to cycle between two rows of stationary traffic, I ended up throwing myself over a car bonnet, to my intense embarrassment and the complete bemusement of the driver.
Given my on-going difficulties, canoeing might not have been an obvious sport to take up and the DW an even less likely undertaking for someone with no balance in the dark, when they are tired or in large open spaces. But I felt that if I didn't bother worrying about the possible problems I might have, then they wouldn't be an issue. To my relief my balance seemed unaffected by what was going on, although I was definitely grateful for our solid stable tub of a boat from Kingston onwards as we were buffeted by the large passenger boats.
The migraines were another whole issue and are something which in the past led me to stopping all exercise. At their worst, I was getting around 6 a month, I was stuck in a perpetual cycle of having either a migraine coming on, being zoned out on the ultra-strong triptan medication, suffering through a migraine with sick-bowl in hand, or recovering from one. Any exercise would trigger a migraine and as a family, life was permanently put on hold with holidays, outings and weekend activities constantly cancelled. A chance article about a low dose of daily aspirin helping migraines was my miracle cure and I've been virtually migraine free for 3 years since taking them. I was still very concerned that such an extreme event as the DW might be enough to trigger something and when a head-ache started coming on during the night I was silently begging it not to turn into a migraine.
Somehow all my previous difficulties faded and none had any impact on my ability to keep ploughing onwards towards Westminster. When I think back to the days when I was told I might not walk properly again and then a few years later when I was completely trapped by migraines, I can't quite believe what Helen and I have managed by finishing the race.
Phil sent me a quote today which is even more apt than I think he realised: "Victory belongs to the most persevering" (Napoleon Bonaparte). Too right. I feel victorious.
20 years ago I had to learn to walk again.Now I've finished a 125 miles race.
Tags: marathon, race
PennyHby member: PennyH, Apr 28th 2011 10:47
Congratulations!! You are definately an inspiration.
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