Monday, 15 December 2014

A Tough Year Only Makes You Stronger

The last month has been somewhat turbulent for someone who relies on stability for their health, but the last few weeks have given me some perspective and hope as to what is to come...

In November by my own standards I was really quite ill, but quite frankly the silver lining for me is that by having a seizure, I realise how lucky I am to have so few. They gave me a glimpse into the life I could have had, had it not been for the surgery which altered the direction that I would travel in the future. The brain surgery I had, now half my life ago.
Not since that surgery when I was 14, have I had two seizures in one week. But last month I did. I comprehensively chewed my lip, the side of my mouth and my tongue on those two separate occasions in a very short space of time, feeling weak as a result and my recovery not being helped by it being incredibly painful to eat food. Even a cup of tea was too painful to drink.

But then I have to think, what if it was like it was before and I felt like this at lease once a month? What if I wasn't as lucky as I had been half my life ago?

I got a glimpse into the bravery, that some people I've met along the journey I started when I was diagnosed age 9, have. I can only understand in part the courage some people have to live a life full of pain, fatigue and danger, of having a seizure at the wrong time or in the wrong place. For me, it puts into perspective any struggle I've had in this past year.
It might have been the year when after a 3 year absence, my seizures were like buses and 3 came along in the same year, but so what? I was ill for about 5 days out of 365, those other 360 I was well, able to work, able to ride my bike. Whatever disappointments I've had on the bike this year, tomorrow is another day and 2015 is another year.

So what of 2015? Well firstly I will start it in a different city than 2014. I've moved back home to Scotland and back to the city I was born in, the city of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow.

Despite the last few weeks being difficult and turbulent, there's always a highlight at the end of the year that lifts my spirits. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year. In amongst the montages of the nominees, who show the most incredible skill, power, strength, speed, accuracy, commitment, there was a recurring question of: "What is Sport?" It means different things to different people, but it means more than I can describe, to me, as I've talked about many times before in the blog.

As for my own sport, I've had the heartache of leaving the club, who will always be my team, whenever I talk about London and Hockey. The London Edwardians. Starting the season as the first XI goalkeeper again, in the safest place I could be on earth, on a hockey pitch. I'm proud that I left England playing Surrey Premiership hockey and with my team at the top of the league. I just hope and pray, that after all the hard work the girls put in each week, that they, and the rest of the club can finish in top spot in their respective league.

Coming home I can't help but try to refocus on my cycling however. Maybe I'm not quite ready to join a new hockey club just yet, I still feel like a London Edwardian. So I have my target to get the funding for the Race Across America secured for the team. But there's also another ambition I want to fulfil next year too. The UMCA Larry Schwartz Award, as part of their Year Rounder Competition.
Over 100 miles in a single ride, without drafting, each month, for the entire year.
Of course I want to do it primarily, to raise funds for Epilepsy Action and feel it's significant enough a challenge that it would be worth a donation, but I hope it makes even a little statement about the condition too.

After that, I'll continue to get the club launched properly and hope that 2015, brings better fortunes financially, that will allow Epilepsy Forward Cycling, to start to compete on the national stage.

After all, we're the lucky ones...

I know I don't have to deal with the constant gruelling seizures every month of the year and because of that, I'll start each ride I do, knowing that the pain of the hills and wind in training, the feeling drained from a long ride, isn't a sacrifice...

It's a privilege.