Thursday, 15 June 2017

Face the Fear

The time of reckoning is nearly upon us and I have to say I have never been so apprehensive about anything in my life. I’ve been close. The nearest I’ve ever come to feeling like this was my wedding speech; absolutely tied up in knots, cotton wool mouth and a feeling of “I simply cannot do this”… And I didn’t have to. At the time my fiancé knew how I felt about her, so did everyone in the room, in every respect this was the most beautiful woman I had ever met, why should I need to tell 200 guests what they already knew?

So why am I putting myself through all this anxiety, tension and heartache simply just to climb a mountain? What’s the point of trying to prove something and who am I proving it to?

We’ve seen so much in the news lately that tells us life is too short. We need to grasp onto any opportunity that comes our way and make the most of what we have. I’ve always said there is someone worse off than me and I consider myself lucky, and I genuinely do.

At the start of this year I had a plan to take a team to the top of a mountain, and it’s still my plan. But I have had so many barriers put in my way and without doubt this is my biggest challenge to date. Immediately after I announced my plan, the challenge of a lifetime, I dislocated my right knee and it took months to get better, it’s still not 100% now. I have become so much weaker than I ever have been. I am losing certain movements daily. Earlier this year I could quite easily lift my mug of tea to my mouth, now that’s gone. I have to use one hand to help the other lift the cup to my lips. My legs are the weakest they’ve ever been, constantly shaking and over worked, as certain muscles try to compensate others that aren’t there anymore. It is my own admission that I see a shadow of my former self.

I have grown used to my body failing me but not really dealt with any other illness. About two weeks ago I was sat in my office and I had the biggest sense of fear wash over me, something terrible was going to happen to myself or my family. Pins and needles raged to my hands and feet, my lungs tightened and my head spun. I felt like I would never be happy ever again.

My colleagues took care of me and after I had calmed down a little I made my way to see my doctor. I just sat in the reception until I could be seen. I’m a grown man and I felt foolish and scared. How could I explain what had just happened, to someone who was practically a stranger? I did it though. My doctor invited a colleague in who was part of the mental health team and we spoke about all that was going on with my life, job, house, relationships, money; and it was all good, as I have previously said, I’m a very lucky man. Then we started to talk about the challenge I had planned and this brought the tickling back to my hands and feet, the head spinning dread rose up again.

After a little contemplation they had come to the conclusion that I had had a panic attack, and to prevent this happening again I should simply stop all my plans and cut this out of my life. I was gutted, completely empty, I thought I was going to let so many people down. I left the doctors surgery looking at the floor as I dragged my feet to the car, I sat there with tears streaming down my cheeks.

One thing I took from that appointment was that talking helped, I still had a niggle at the back of my mind but it was somehow controllable now because I sort of got a medication; if I told myself that I won’t be doing this then I had no need to worry.

I spoke some more too, a couple of nights later I called one of my friends who lives 200 miles away but he’d break his back to help you. We spoke for a good half an hour and he said we can just take it a step at a time, we would literally be doing what he had said, lower our expectations and always know that people realise what a challenge this will be, and also he told me what he thought of me and what he thought others think too. That was a boost, a great thing to hear. I am not here for the recognition or kudos, I’ve always said that I am here to help, life is short, why wouldn’t people try to help others?

I had a similar conversation with my wife and our eldest daughter, “We’ll just go for a walk in Wales and see where it leads us”

So, I am still up for it. I will never not try. Why make this effort though, as I said at the start, why bother?

The answer is we simply have to; we have to push ourselves to the limit, to not be ordinary, to try to make an impression and to better ourselves, to keep fit and in my case keep moving, to be selfless and help others.

On 1st of July I will try and that’s all I can do. Besides, the emphasis has always been on me taking a team to climb a mountain and I have an amazing team behind me and no doubt they’ll be in front of me too! My strapline has always been ‘If I Can, You Can Too’ so if I gave up then I would be a hypocrite and I wouldn’t like myself very much.

To date we have raised about £1500 and that equates to 37.5 hours of world class research funded for by our team. That is most people’s working week, which means we have paid for a scientist to work on treatments and cures for these conditions, and hopefully this will contribute towards somebody else not going through what I go through both physically and mentally. No weakened muscles, no falls, no dislocations, no help needed when supping a brew.

Despite my condition I am always happy and would like to think I always will be; I have plenty to smile about and I hold on to everything that is positive in my life, I have to and you should too.



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