The ‘C’ Word
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything on the blog. I have written a little bit here and there, but I’ve found myself slightly frustrated with the content. Today, I woke up determined to finish off a piece that I’d looked at a few times over the last few days. Upon opening up my laptop just now and looking at it, I decided that I would just totally fob it off and not do any work on it today. Life is too short. I’m going to write a post about nothing in particular, sip my coffee and enjoy my Saturday morning. So, here are the ramblings of a man trying to write something interesting whilst having nothing interesting to say whatsoever.
The Run 40 campaign has been absolutely crazy this week. After a friend posted the fundraiser in a local group on Facebook, I started receiving so many donation emails that I wondered if the Just Giving notifications were malfunctioning. Sure enough, though, every time I checked the fundraiser, the figure was going up. The only thing more tantalising than the sight of names you do not know donating money is the ever-mysterious ‘Anonymous’. This underground group of masked figures seems to be donating in the 100’s and will not accept having their good names put against a donation in case someone accuses them of being a ‘do-gooder’ or ‘caring too much’. In all seriousness, the amount of donations I have received from both people I do not know by name and the ever-mysterious ‘anonymous’ group is absolutely breathtaking. The total figure kept creeping up and up until I felt guilty that this amount of money had collectively left the accounts of all the people donating to the cause. It is going to a fantastic cause, though, and I am really humbled by the whole thing. To all of those people, and the ones I do know personally, thank you so much for donating! I will continue to punish myself throughout February by running through the many limitations of the chemotherapy, which we should discuss.
Those of you who have been reading my chemotherapy diaries series will likely already know about many of these symptoms, so apologies if this is a snore-fest for you. The main symptoms I battle during chemotherapy fueled runs are muscle cramps, extreme sensitivity to temperature and chronic fatigue. Muscle cramps mainly occur early in the cycle, and they materialise mainly in the form of your muscles feeling extremely tight and sore as you go about your day to day life, never mind when running. Sometimes walking down the stairs can feel really tiring, and I find my muscles regularly cramping early on in the cycle from any use at all. Next, the extreme sensitivity to temperature, which comes out in a lot of strange ways. On particularly cold days, my throat constricts because of the cold air and makes me wheeze whilst I’m running. Muscles in my cheek and the centre of my nose get very bad pins and needles and start to cramp up, which is a strange sensation to describe; it can be pretty painful despite sounding relatively trivial. Then finally, the chronic fatigue. There’s a saying in marathon running where you ‘hit the wall’ and struggle to come back from it – essentially where your body and mind are too fatigued to continue performing. I feel like I’m constantly running in that zone at the minute, fighting a wall of fatigue. It is better in week 2 of the chemotherapy cycle, but it is still present.
The running itself has been interesting. I do find myself struggling for motivation at times. I’ll taunt myself throughout the morning as I walk around the house doing odd jobs, like baking cakes and trying to stop my puppy from ripping Dexter’s ears off (he’s my parent’s dog, and he puts up with a lot at the minute). “I’ll go running after lunch. It’s too late in the morning now,” or “it’s too cold to run at the minute, but the temperature is going up to 9 degrees this afternoon, so I’ll wait until then.” By the time I’m standing outside my house in my running gear ready to go, it’s usually mid-afternoon, and my brain is contempt with torment; then I start running and realise that it’s only a run and I need to get over it, really.
One thing is for sure – I feel absolutely crap when running during week 1 of the cycle. There’s no denying it. I like to think about the times I’ve pushed through seriously bad runs to encourage myself. As I’m trying to push through to mile 3 of a 5-mile run on Thursday, feeling like I’m at the end of a marathon, I think about the time I nearly passed out in Scotland with Greg. We were doing a 100km day training on the Southern Upland Way, a trail across Scotland. At this point, we had done around 25 miles, so we had a long way to go (just under 40 more miles). There hadn’t been any signs of life for a long time, just beautiful rolling hills and boggy paths. We were finally approaching what looked like a village in the distance, where we were hoping our parents would be waiting to give us some proper food and fresh water. They had driven up to support us, but we had assumed there would be more places we would see them along the route. It was far more rural than we had imagined. As a result, we’d had to refill our water from streams that we had come across on the way, and our diet had consisted almost entirely of energy bars and gels – delicious! I was starting to feel dodgy, to say the least. As we stepped across a boggy plane, I could feel my eyes getting heavy, and my balance was going a bit off. The next thing I knew, Greg turned and looked at me – “Dan, you’ve gone grey!” The next mile and a half consisted of Greg worryingly glancing at me whilst I tried to look as composed as possible. Luckily, mum and dad were waiting in the village with proper food, which brought me back from the dead. We were laughing about it a few hours later as we approached the 50-mile mark, both feeling better than we had all day; the human body really is a marvel.
On my run on Thursday, I was pushing hard to get to 5 miles as I felt like I needed to make a statement to myself. So many people were donating their well-earned money, writing encouraging messages and being so supportive that I felt like I owed it to them. The total raised had gone over the £5,000 mark the evening before, so I told myself that I had to run a mile for every £1,000 raised. There was a moment during mile 4 where I thought about backing out because I felt so crap, but I would have had to just walk home anyway, so I talked myself back up.
I have had a fairly uneventful week other than the running and fundraising. I have a few friends coming from London to see me today, which is very exciting. I’m going to bake them my blog-famous Pineapple Upside-down Cake this morning. Last night, a few good friends came over and hung out. We did the usual cavorting around Youtube and ended up watching videos of turtles eating various fruit and vegetables. Youtube hysteria was clearly setting in. Eventually, we just left some nature documentaries on in the background whilst we chatted. My fiancee Anna is back in Dorset this weekend visiting her family, so puppy Lucy and I are flying solo. That means I can have Lucy in the bed with me whenever I like without being shouted at. Last night we fell asleep together watching Come Dine With Me – I think it may be my idea of a perfect Friday night. For those who don’t know what Come Dine With Me is, immediately go to your Netflix account and search for it. It’s probably only available on the UK version, which is a crime against entertainment. It is trash TV at its absolute best. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend, and I’ll return with the hard-hitting, emotionally draining posts when I can muster up the effort to finish off my partial drafts.