Monday, 22 May 2017

The Dowhhill Struggle

In seven weeks’ time I will take on the biggest challenge of my life and I really can feel it. I am usually the most positive person that I know but yesterday I filled myself with fear and anxiety. 

We decided to go for a walk in our local woods which is located in the Chiltern Hills, and to challenge myself a little we wanted to take on some hills as preparation for the upcoming Snowdon climb. I didn’t even want to start, I had no enthusiasm whatsoever and I think that was my first hurdle, a psychological one rather than a physical one. I knew I had to bank some steps and keep my legs moving so we went anyway.

I was wobbly from the start, as the family purchased hot chocolate from the cafĂ© I thought this was great because I got some respite – before we had even started! We set off on our local ‘Gruffalo’ trail and the ground was sodden and had been badly affected by the previous night’s weather.

This walk starts with a steep downhill section and I was gripping onto my wife and my walking stick for dear life, I constantly felt like I was going to fall but as I said, I desperately needed to bank these steps. I carried on to the bottom of the valley and actually smiled at the thought of the climb back up. My son-in-law (a qualified PT instructor) explained that this was because I simply have no hamstrings, therefore no power or confidence to hold myself up when I descend and my quads take care of business when walking up hill.

We reached halfway and I was absolutely shattered. I felt that I was letting everyone down and I have never been so down on myself. I’ve always tried to be the best dad I can be, despite my condition I’ve always wanted my girls to be inspired and get up and get out because of me. I felt awful, the most insecure I’ve ever felt.

We made it back to the top and I kept whispering apologies to my wife; Michelle. Sorry for holding her back, sorry for twisting her wrist, just sorry for being ‘me’ really, totally gutted……

As we got back to the car, totally exhausted, some funny things happened, in sickness and in health and more. Our Lucie set off with Nick to make dinner for Nick’s grandparents and Lucie gave me a hug and a kiss and told me “Well done, I love you Dad”, that made me so happy. As I sat in the boot of our car staring into space Olivia grabbed my boots and took them off for me because I couldn’t do it myself, “You do some great things Dad” she smiled.

I eventually slumped into the driver’s seat pondering when my car would be able to drive itself, because I was done. Our youngest, Skye, leaned over and kissed my cheek “Good one today, my legs are tired!” 

We drove home and the car was in silence, I think everyone had felt that hike and Michelle looked at me, grabbed my hand and said “You do some amazing things”… I had a lump in my throat.

I had gone from one of the worst places to one of the best; I don’t usually take praise well, water off a ducks back….. but I needed that. We do what we do because we want to fund world class research into Muscular Dystrophy, we’ve been through a lot as a family and we don’t want others to have to do that. The thought of climbing a mountain is really starting to takes its toll on me, but I’ll be surrounded by great people who will all believe in each other and spur each other on. In actual fact I’m petrified, but it is a challenge I’m willing to try and that is all I can ask of myself; to push myself to the absolute limit and see what happens.

I already feel better simply by writing this.

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