Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A reflection on the past year of 2013

Well its almost Christmas day & already people, TV & radio are going on about New Years resolutions. I myself don't really do them, but I do try set goals to try achieve if possible & not an issue if I don't. Well 2013 has been one hell of a year where I have achieved so much more than I could ever thought I would do in a year.

All I wanted to achieve for the year was to improve my cycling, leg & hopefully get off my sticks. Must say the year had a bumpy start, all that snow for weeks/months. I was out in that snowy weather on my bike, enjoying the fact I could easily get about now on 2 wheels no matter the weather.

Got myself in the papers for a blog I did about the farcical works on potholes on just one road.

Then do another 30 days of Biking where I finally broke the 25 mile barrier in cycling. If anything I more than broke it, I thrashed it by cycling to Kelvedon & back & cycled the 35 miles sponsored cycle ride for Pedal of the J's which meant I did near on 40 miles that day.

Then in may I finally manage to move to Colchester to be closer to my beloved, it proved to be a blessing in so many ways as it opened up opportunities I didn't have before.

For starters, I got myself into volunteer work with Re-Cycle to help improve my legs though the cycling in Colchester was doing that already coz of its hills.

That gave me the opportunity to buy another bike, a lighter more suitable one to continue my improvements as I was reaching the peak on The Beast. But not to worry, my loyal Beast is still with me as my back up & winter bike. This is proving to live up to its name as the Trekker.

And another which I am building to be even lighter & for longer rides, hence the project name: Roadrunner.

So now 2/3 through the year & achieving quite a bit, but it was only just warming me up for October/November. For starters in October, I finally got off my sticks after 20yrs of dependency of them. As announced on YouTube 'A special announcement to all those who have been following me for the past few yrs & more...'

Then I decided to put pressure on Job Center to get help to return to work, so put on a course & the company staff running it was so impressed with my achievements, determination & willing to work. They only gone & offered me a p/t job which I started in the end of November. Its hard work but so loving it & slowly getting back into a work routine again & my leg is still continuing to improve.

So with only 1 week to go until end of the new year, I can safely say I have achieved far more this year than I ever expected. Its not been plain sailing, easy or straightforward but I got there in the end.

So what's next for 2014, TBH I really don't know as I'm still catching up mentally with what I achieved this year. I'll continue to improve my cycling, aim is to beat the 50 mile mark but I can see that I could go well past that but I wont fret if I don't. I am planning to do Pedal for the J's again too, get Roadrunner built might help with that so need to focus on that. Of course increase the hours I can do in work would be good, be great if I can be full time by end of the year but again I will take it easy to not make things worse for my leg. I don't want to undo this years good work.

So with a week to go, here's a farewell to 2013 & what a year its been & hello to 2014 & let see if you can blow my mind more than 2013 did!!

And this picture best sums up how I feel about all of this! :D

Sunday, 24 November 2013

lil bundle of fluff...

Last night I dragged myself to bed all tired & achy, 2 days of work really took its toll on me but in a good way. As I laid down in bed, Smokey climbed in & laid himself along me against my chest & I fell asleep to the sound of his purring. I awoke a few hrs later due to call of nature & he was still there, pressed against my chest & resting his head on my arm. He even stayed there whilst I was in the bathroom & got into same position when I laid back down in bed.

It was quite pleasant & he's not done this sort of thing for some yrs now, it got me thinking of how I missed him doing this. I know why of course, he hasn't been the same since the diabetes. But right now I am seeing the old version of Smokey starting to re-appear again, just lil things he stopped doing but doing them again.

So I do think despite the past few weeks of hypo attacks & worrying news from the vets a few weeks back, I do believe we are starting to win the battle against diabetes at the moment & enjoying the ol' Smokey back whilst I can.

I know I will miss him bad when it comes to that time we will have to part, we bonded closely from when he was my lil bundle of fluff. But until then I will do what I can to keep him happy, pain free & when it come to that time then I will let him join Skip in a dignified manner.

But until then & even after, he will always be my lil bundle of fluff...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

On 2 legs...

For those who been following me for a while know about me being on walking sticks & working on getting off them which I finally did almost 2 weeks back. But some don't know the background to all of this & some have asked questions or not as they feel embarrassed to or not care.

Well for those who do want to know, I thought it is time I put all of the years into 1 blog so it will be easier to just send this blog & let whoever wants to know see it all. So where do I start, well I guess we start right at the beginning & I think we should start with the prequel.

Well, I when I was little I wasn't on sticks, in fact I was full of energy & fully fit.

So as you can see, I was quite fit & a good runner etc. I also started getting into cycling in my teens & bought my first bike with my own savings.

Was a good bike to start with & got me into cycling, even did my first sponsored cycling though on a borrowed bike as this one broke just before the day.

This got my parents to buy me my best bike I have had & still miss it now, the Raleigh Maverick.

And I had many many years of use of this bike with my friend who also had one too. I did get into motorbikes too but I still enjoyed cycling. By the time I was 18, I passed my motorbike tests & got a full license & started getting a strange tingling down my left leg that didn't go away & was the start of the whole event of changes for me.

So now at 19, I am starting to get tingles down my left leg & shooting pains from the hip causing leg to give way. GP didn't have a clue so sent from one specialist after another, X-rays, MRI's, Ultrasounds, etc. Eventually they decided I had a trapped nerve in Hip joint & to free it involved an operation with a 50:50 chance of success, being young I decided to go for it as after all if it failed I was young to adapt & at first after the operation it did work but slowly came back & then had another operation & again was OK & again it came back but worse than ever. 

By this time I was in a good steady job with McDonalds as Dining Host / Party Organiser & doing well with own rented bedsit, having fun as you do in your early 20s. But this leg issue was hampering me at work so I was offered a 3rd & final attempt to sort it. I did go for it as I wanted to get fixed to keep my job; unfortunately it didn't go as planned. The nerve was so damaged from constantly being trapped; it had frayed & snapped when being freed off again. And with nerves, you can't just repair them like a frayed wire so no more could be done. So as of December 1993, I had now become reliant on a walking stick, loads of painkillers 24/7 as I was now in pain like I have never known before. The best way to describe it is like phantom pain when someone loses a limb, where they can feel the pain on the raw nerves as if the limb was still there...

So the next 4yrs, I wasn't working. I was spending 3 days a week at Physio doing pain management, trying to get off the painkillers & get a job. No job offered as to be expected as most saw me unfit to work whilst going to hospital, Conservative Government did though so had to keep looking. Eventually I did get one, Dominos Pizza as the kind Canadian franchise owner was happy to let me try out the job first & kept me as I did better than the others. But it was a short term job as I was going to College for retraining in a Disability College. Which proved quite helpful & into a well paid job for the quite a few years.

So jump a few years, I'm in a well paid job. Got a flat, moved to another flat, got married & divorced, all the usual stuff everyone does but as a disabled person using a walking stick. I kept doing my motorbiking & almost everything else; cycling wasn't in my life anymore & told it wouldn't so bike were sold off. I learnt to be a stubborn person to try everything once to see if I can do it, even if it was done slightly different than a regular person would. But I never let the disability get to me; yes I had my dark moments. Who doesn't? But saw the disability as a challenge, a way to get my creative blood flowing in new ideas to do something that technically I couldn't. From DIY, riding motorbikes & even riding horses.

So all was it should be for me, up until 2005 when I started to get a new pain in left leg & unrelated to the damaged nerve. And again it was yet more tests & just as they thought it was a damaged hip joint, they discovered something on a detailed X-ray to the cause. My bone was turning to jelly, a Bone Cyst. 

So I was booked in fast to get it sorted as it was on the verge of snapping, so no kicking, jumping, falling over, etc in case it snaps. Gave me the heebies thinking about it. But this problem was going to be a blessing to me, for the specialist doing the operation offered me another chance to fix the nerve as it was by the area being operated on. His words were 'things have moved on in the technology & can't make it any worse' so I agreed. Had the op with a few hiccups with recovery so spent 9 days in hospital. But all I can say it was all worthwhile.

Now it was all about healing & rebuilding my leg, partly coz they really went to work on my leg & couldn't move my toes for a month. Physio was hard work & soon started to get leg stronger, pain from damaged nerve had gone but as I was putting more weight on my leg the knee wasn't coping with having to take the weight again. I did try to go stick free in 2009 but didn't work out, was too soon for the knee & actually made it worse.

So I did more physio again & again, at different hospitals as I had moved to Chelmsford, Essex in 2010. But this proved to be the best bit as it was suggested during physio in 2011 to take up cycling again as a low impact exercise as I had no trouble with the exercise machines. So in June I went & bought a 'to work on' bike to suit me when I built it. 

So I rebuilt it, made it to suit me & get me fitter, stronger & slowly become better with my bike which is now known as The Beast.

But still even with cycling, doing events like 30 Days of Biking & sponsored cycled ride in April 2013, I was still on my stick. Knee still gave me agro, so I just kept on pushing the limit just a lil bit at a time. Knowing I will get there...

Well after I moved to Colchester in May, that limit went up! Colchester is definitely a hilly place compared to Chelmsford. And on a heavy Beast with shopping, that sure was a workout which proved to be worthwhile. I didn't go to nearest supermarket to buy my shopping, no I went to the furthest away. This meant pulling a 20+kg weight of shopping on a 25kg bike over the hills, this was hard work but it got easier as my leg & knee improved even more. 

So I decided it was time to go & try working part time, finding a job though was proving unsuccessful. So from August I started doing a couple hours a day working at Re-Cycle, getting bikes ready to be sent to Africa. Also meant I was standing on my feet doing the work & also was cycling 7 miles each way to this place too. This proved to help a lot. I also found myself another bike to ride, a Trek 7300. A lighter bike & definitely up'ed the game for me in cycling. So this is where I decided 2 weeks ago to ditch the stick, I felt ready too & made it public. 


Knee felt ready too, though it does grumble a bit when I push the boundaries. But as long as it is holding out & getting stronger, I will stay stick free. I do still use the stick for when carrying heavy shopping, eventually I will do it stick free but til then I ain't gonna be silly about it.

So there you go, a brief run down on me being on sticks. Sorry if it's a bit long to read, but if I included everything it would be a lot longer & I do mean a lot longer. But I hope you now have a better understanding, why each small improvement (trivial to some) I do when cycling means so much to me. Each step forwards is like baby steps, eventually it will be bigger steps. Every time I go out now, I feel strange & recently found out going into a busy shopping centre is stressful due to blinkered shoppers not looking where they are going & me freaking I could be knocked over & set back onto sticks. But so far it has never happened (hopefully never will), I will get used to walking stick free & hopefully before Christmas as if I don't I'll be a nervous wreck. lol

Well thank you for reading, those who follow me on Social Network sites I'll keep boring you with my update. ;-) 

Kidding, I know you're with me on this, for me to succeed. I still get a lump in my throat when I think of where I was & where I am now. Its hard to believe almost 20yrs ago I was told I'd never walk stick free again & definitely never cycle. It shows now how you never know what is around the corner. It's been an interesting journey, not one I would want anyone to take but I know this journey I took has made me a better person for it.

I could keep on, but I will end the story here & thank you for taking the time to read it. TTFN.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Changes are upon me as Autumn rolls in...

Well its now almost the end of August, September is almost upon us & for me this month is going to be another life changing time for me. As Autumn rolls in, for me if all is at it is now I will be hanging my sticks up for good. (Well maybe 'til I get really old & need them again).

I must say its going to be strange to walk around out in the open with both hands free, supporting myself without a 3rd or 4th leg. Be seen again as a 'normal' person, well normal as can be. But the 20+ yrs of being on sticks will always be with me for the rest of my life.

It has been a long 20 odd yrs but I feel the disability has not been a bad thing, I know it wasn't good to be in pain for that many yrs, having to change my lifestyle to one I wouldn't want. But at the same time, it made me stronger, more stubborn (some see that as a bad thing) & most definitely not let anything I feel I can do be stopped by my leg.

Over the 20 odd yrs I have had the opportunity to do stuff I probably never would've done in either opportunity or desire to do it if it wasn't for my leg.

So it is going to be a strange adjustment as it isn't going to be instant (none of it has TBH), I won't be fully fit when stick free. I will still need to work on strengthening the leg at a pace that doesn't put me back on sticks. There maybe times I have to use the stick where it will prevent injury more than necessity, that won't be seen as a bad thing.

So here's to the road I have travelled for 2 decades, its time for me to finally turn off & travel down a new road to a new unknown trip ahead of me. It will be an emotional one, I will be scared, worried, thrilled, ecstatic & many more as I move onto this road. But it is all good no matter where it takes me.

So here's to the end of 2013 & the arrival of 2014 where so much will change for me, already cycling again after being told 20 yrs ago I'll never will again. eventually I will be able to run & jump, unfortunately not like I used to as an athlete I was at school but I don't care as being able to is good enough. All I know is wherever my road goes, I will not be alone on my trip. 

My beloved will be there to encourage me, put up with my enthusiastic ramblings & I know it sometime bore her (Sorry! xxxx). Also to hold me when I fail in trying to go that bit further coz I try to go too fast. As well as my old & new friends I have aquired over the yrs and my family, as I know all too well they all wish me to succeed in my quest & will follow my every move as I shout it out with pride on the social media.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

On the move again...

As I post this, things are changing & changing for the good I must say for I am moving again. I am leaving Chelmsford with all it's good & bad points, I will miss the parks & my favourite coffee spot Athlon Sport as well as the friends I made. But I am moving for a good reason, I am moving to Colchester & even closer to my beloved & so close to her workplace it soon could be my new coffee stop. :D

This was in the cards whilst I was doing the 30 Days of Biking & on the last week of April, unknown to most I was not only doing my cycling but I was also packing boxes when I got the OK to swap. The hardest part to me other than the hard work of packing was having to pull apart the flat, as most who follow me on Facebook & Twitter have seen what I have done to the flat over the years. From this:

To this after a couple of years...

And I know some of you are asking why do all this work & then move? Well... To start with I needed a home to live in & I didn't know if or when I would ever find another property, but also a nice looking flat does make it more appealing to the other prospective tenant for a swap.

Any way moving does have other advantages as well as being closer to my beloved which is what I wanted, there's also new cycle routes to discover & hopefully get my darling to come along with me. Did say 'hopefully' ;-)

But also a new flat to play with, new layout with new decor & already have ideas flowing through my mind of so many possibilities. So there will be pics posted as I go along with my makeover of the flat & show some of the new ideas & hacks I come up with. :D

But for now, here's some pics I got of the flat when I was approached for a swap.

Not much to see but I knew that already & was better to see it in person, I can see potential in the flat. Oh it also has a bay window, so the cats are gonna love what I am planning for that bay window... :D

So as I said, I am sending this out literally as I am moving out of the flat. So one thing that will be disrupted is the internet, yes I know I have my mobile but still unsure how it'll be in the new flat. I'll keep you posted on this as there could be disruption in my postings.

But also I'm gonna take this opportunity to thank all who are helping me move for if they haven't have helped, this wouldn't have been possible. So a big thankyou to all who are involved!