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Beat The Beast Challenge

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The American author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said,

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

Yesterday (Tuesday 10th May 2022) started brilliantly but then reminded me quite dramatically of my fundamental weaknesses.

For roughly a week I have been on my new anti-seizure medication at a very low dose to break me in gently to this new course of medication. Having had such a rough ride with so many different anti-seizure medications, including my last one, I had been a little tentative as I started.

Smile No.438 Cocoa Trying To Fly On Her First Birthday
Smile No.438 Cocoa Trying To Fly On Her First Birthday

However I was seeming to manage remarkably well with this low dose of the new drug and my cracked rib was healing nicely. Cocoa had just turned one year old so was now physically strong enough to manage a run. I hadn’t been for a run for nine months as my exercise time was spent walking and training Cocoa, and after realising that I had lost a lot of core strength during my last sail and capsize, I was keen to get back into my physical training regime. But this was Cocoa’s first run, I was nursing a cracked rib to recovery and hadn’t run for nine months, so I elected to start at the very beginning with a 1.54 mile run ascending 169 feet at a steady pace to ensure I ran for a sustained twenty minutes.
It was a corker. Cocoa loved it and I loved it and even had to add a further 0.36 of a mile ascending another 34 feet to ensure that I ran for the whole twenty minutes. So 1.9 miles run, ascending 203 feet in twenty minutes, and I felt great. So great in fact that I decided to try one pull-up followed by a press-up and sit-up. These exercises confirmed that I was still a little tender around my rib so not yet fully fit but might be able to swing a golf club a little.
However, as I stretched, I noticed that my sight was starting to go. I had a blind spot in the centre of my eye. I was immediately wary of a SMART attack and spoke to Allie to let her know in case it developed further, but I was reasonably confident that it wouldn’t as I had just pumped a whole load of oxygenated blood into my brain which had to be good for my damaged brain and, besides, in a SMART attack the sight starts to close in from the sides on nearly every single occasion, and I could still speak and had my motor function. So once I had finished stretching I elected to continue with my shower, and as I always keep the door unlocked for Allie to get to me in case of collapse, I was perfectly safe to go and shower.

I switched on the radio to Radio 2 and started showering but while in the shower my day started to unravel further. As ‘What a fool believes’ by the Doobie Brothers was playing over the radio, an aura swept through me. I was used to auras and would often brush them aside and carry on regardless, but this one was hanging on and hitting me much harder than usual. It swept in so quickly that it literally took my breath away and made me feel so anxious and nauseous while the metallic tastes and smells of an epileptic aura lingered in my nose and mouth while I struggled to bring my breathing back under control. These auras completely interrupt the flow of thought in my brain, even the music on the radio was being muddled and blended into a noise I didn’t recognise. The aura overwhelmed me leaving me feeling naked and extremely fragile, unable to concentrate on anything other than these unpleasant sensations and the anxious thoughts that something dreadful was about to happen. I tried hard not to panic and to focus on more pleasant feelings like the hot water on my head and back as I washed. I determined to stay upright to fight this bugger off, but through my determination, as I rinsed the shampoo from my head, as the music - now Lizzo’s ‘About damn time’ - started to become recognisable, the tears prickled my eyes. The aura left me after a few minutes and my breathing returned to normal but I was left feeling shaken and vulnerable. Reminded of my frailty. Allie, sensing something was up, came to check on me but I reassured her that while I had just had a nasty aura, I was okay.
However, in the words of Lizzo, ‘this bitch (my aura) wasn’t going to let me go.’ As I dressed, I felt a little wobbly but okay, but as I tried to do up the button cuffs of my shirt, I realised that my left hand was feeling a little odd.

I made it downstairs to discover that Allie had made my balanced daily lifestyle lunch for us both and had even finely chopped some carrot and tenderstem broccoli for Cocoa too. Allie asked me to sit down at the table and brought me my poached egg on toast with a bed of spinach, rocket and watercress salad alongside. It was when I tried to pick up my fork that my failing motor coordination became more apparent, yet I was managing to eat, in a manner perhaps not fit for the queen as I shovelled food into my mouth. But knowing the control of my lips, cheeks and swallowing was going to suffer next I wanted to eat as much as I could before this growing SMART attack stopped me from eating completely. By the time I couldn’t coordinate the use of my knife and fork at all, my speech had gone and my ability to swallow was becoming harder with each attempt. Previous experience had made me starkly aware of the choking risk at this point so I stopped eating. A nap was needed but I needed the loo first. Allie nearly had to undo my trousers for me, but I managed with a little determination before sitting for safety. By the time I finished I had enough function in my hand to get myself dressed again.

Allie lay me down on the sofa for a nap to try to reset the brain. Thirty minutes later I woke to find Cocoa lying alongside the sofa on the floor. She was keeping an eye on me perhaps. I was tired with a stonker of a headache and still feeling horribly nauseous but otherwise was well again. We went for a walk with Cocoa to freshen me up and on return I insisted on cooking the meal I had previously planned knowing the process of cooking with classical music playing in the background, would somehow, make me feel an awful lot better.

I cooked Jamie Oliver’s ‘Baked Whole Trout’. Served with lemon, fresh thyme, flaked almonds, smoked pancetta, new potatoes, little gem lettuce, fresh mint, frozen peas and frozen broad beans, horseradish, English mustard and natural yoghurt, it was not only delicious and the perfect way to rid me of the lingering metallic tastes in my mouth, but was also a great way to fill both of us up with a surprising cornucopia of nutrition.
At the risk of being too verbose I list the benefits below:

Jamie Olivers Baked Trout Not Looking Good But Tasting Delicious And Awfully Good For One
Jamie Olivers Baked Trout Not Looking Good But Tasting Delicious And Awfully Good For One

Trout - Trout is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B12, and omega 3 fatty acids. Protein is the building blocks of our body. It is important in growth and development and assists in repairing damaged tissues.

Olive oil - May improve heart health. May reduce inflammation. May improve mood. May improve brain function. May protect against chronic disease.

Lemon - contains a high amount of vitamin C, soluble fibre, and plant compounds that give them a number of health benefits. Lemons may aid weight loss and reduce your risk of heart disease, anaemia, kidney stones, digestive issues, and cancer.
Thyme is full of vitamin C for immune support, potassium for healthy cells, and manganese for bone development and blood clotting.
Almonds are rich in nutrients that help protect the heart, including unsaturated fatty acids, phytosterols, magnesium, vitamin E, copper and manganese. Two research studies in 2012 and 2014 found that including almonds in your diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, specifically in overweight individuals.
Pancetta is made from pork belly so offers a good amount of dietary protein. Furthermore, it is a rich source of B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus and selenium.

New Potatoes contain significant amounts of vitamin B1 (thiamin), which our bodies need to help release energy from carbohydrate and is needed for healthy heart function. Potatoes contain other B vitamins too, including folic acid, vital for healthy cells and particularly important for pregnant women.
Little Gem lettuce is high in vitamins A, C and K. Little Gems are also a good source of calcium, potassium, iron and dietary fibre. Little Gem lettuce is also very low in calories.

Mint contains fair amounts of several nutrients and is an especially good source of vitamin A and antioxidants.
Peas are a good source of vitamins C and E and zinc, and other antioxidants that strengthen your immune system. Other nutrients, such as vitamins A and B and coumetarol, help reduce inflammation and lower your risk of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis
Broad beans are rich in both folate and B vitamins, which we need for nerve and blood cell development, cognitive function and energy.
Horseradish root is naturally rich in antioxidants, which can help protect your body from cellular damage by attaching themselves to free radicals. Early studies also suggest that horseradish may prevent the growth of colon, lung, and stomach cancer cells, though more research in humans needs to be done
Mustard contains significant amounts of calcium, copper, and vitamins C, A, and K.

Natural Yoghurt is high in protein, calcium, vitamins, and live culture, or probiotics, which can enhance the gut microbiota.
By the time I had cooked and eaten I was feeling a whole lot better and then once we had washed up and tidied away, Allie joined me for a 1.46 mile walk with Cocoa. As we walked, sensing my frustration, Allie convinced me that while much of the day was a failure, in that I managed to achieve little after the run in the afternoon or evening, I was not a failure. Despite my frailties I managed a good run, to cook a delicious and nutritious meal and a walk. That as I battled each day trying to get stronger I would one day wake up and realise that I was now strong enough to be useful again.
Each and every day brings its own surprises. Some are good, most are bad and each is a challenge. Yet I strive day after day to leave these challenges behind me to get useful again.

God willing, by using the vehicles of golf, music, water sports and writing, I will one day be cognitively and neurologically strong enough to set up and chair the not-for-profit I was planning shortly before diagnosis.

On this daily battle back to fitness I continue to try to save and rebuild lives through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). They have come to prominence for all the good works done in the Ukraine, but we must not forget the millions, whose lives the DEC continues to save and rebuild, in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
So far I have managed to raise £19,037.60 for the DEC with every single penny raised - thanks to the generosity of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Webb and Wallace Accountants in Doune, MH Creations in Glasgow and Key facilities Management in Doune - going to save and rebuild lives through the DEC.
This money saves lives and gives me the resolve to make more of mine. Please sponsor me to keep fighting with just £1 per month . I guarantee that every single penny raised gives me the strength to keep fighting and goes to save and rebuild lives through the DEC. Not a single penny is lost to costs.

North Berwick Law Flank At Dusk
North Berwick Law Flank At Dusk

Thank you

Keep safe.

Please keep me fighting.

Keep being brilliant.

Keeeeeeeeeeeep smiling