We Shall Overcome

Three and a half years crammed into three and a half weeks. Everything that LCFN has endured since August 2013 microsquashed into a single month. This journey, nasty at times, exotic ever so occasionally, has it all. This is the sad but true tale of the back end of February, seemingly forever the month that promises the back of winter and duly delivers it.

Last weekend it was Auntie Ann’s wedding on a remote croft outside of Inverness. I had a choice: chuck the bike in the back of the car and bag a few alternative miles, or rest up seeing as I’d been fighting the lurgi. The LCFN me would have gone for the former 99 times out of a 100. That was the me that only missed one day in the first winter (13/14) on a clunky old mountain bike in and out of Glasgow. But wise me, the one that listened to Jane, listened to Angela, and listened to my body (this time) left the bike at home. I wasn’t totally loaded with the cold: I just felt like shit. One day I would get up and be all light headed, the next day I would wake with a thumping headache and not need the heating on all day, despite the temperature in the house being a temperate 15.6C.

The wedding was on Friday and the day after, we piled up to Jane’s mum and dad’s for the family debrief (as you do). I couldn’t bear being indoors in a warm house. Jane said later that she thought I was going to pass out. So did I. What I would have given to be out on the open road, nose running like a tap, instead of being stuck indoors thinking that my head was going to explode any minute. I even went home early from the pub on Saturday night while the ladies went out on the razzle. As much as it pains me to say it, Angela will be happy that I took a few days off…

Then it got to Monday when I fully intended to back out in the big time. I don’t wanna sound like a salesman at this point but if I go for it, and you take note, it might just save your life. Santa bought me a Kardia AliveCor instant analysis heart rate monitor. It does the basic stuff like heart rate but it also looks for atrial fibrillation. That’s one of the diseases I’m doing research in in my day job: finding punters at risk. I’m not currently one of those punters but when I took my reading on Monday morning (three times because I didn’t believe it the first and second times) my resting heart rate was 20% above normal. Where I come from, 20% is significant, as in leave the bike in the shed significant. Don’t mess with nature and most certainly don’t mess with a body that’s no’ well when yer my age.

So it fell to Tuesday to determine the likely outcome: wahaay, resting HR back to 50. That’s well in my get oot there laa’d zone so I was back on it. I celebrated by heading out over the Fenwick Muir, my nemesis from many a day gone by, and the weather did not disappoint. 1C and horizontal drizzle on a stiff northerly blast made for a challenging adventure: par for the course.

Y’know it never really improved all week. I think at one point the mercury touched 2.5C but this has been one nasty baltic week with plenty of the wet stuff. We had a visit from Storm Doris yesterday but she was a completely wet rag. A storm is something that I associate with a bucking bronco of a bike journey but yesterday was nothing of the sort. Yeah, the sleet was nasty but where was the wind? Doris by name, Dozey by nature. I blame the Met Office for stupid branding of the weather, just to make themselves feel important.

So, I’m down on miles (only 85 this week, the lowest in ages) but the good news is that all this intermittent inactivity looks (touch wood) like it might have allowed my knackered quad to turn the corner. A combination of Jane’s masterful massage and every other day ultrasound is working: it’s definitely working. So long as I keep the revs at 75% of max (car speak), I can get away with most of the inclines by standing on the pedals and not using big gears on the flat. Hell, this has been a long haul: August last year was when I did that injury and it’s taken until now to see any kind of significant improvement.

Now, to matters Puddles, of which I’ve seen many this week…

There was a photo that Gail put up on Eileidh’s Journey last night, that prompted one follower to enquire about her silver teeth. I wondered exactly the same thought when I saw it. See that thing I wrote about last week, and the week before: we’re all on the outside of this, and we don’t know. We want to know but we’re too afraid to ask. We’re all hiding behind the couch, hands over our eyes, in case we ask the wrong thing or say the wrong thing. But Alan Clarke called it and we should all be grateful for his enquiry: the chemo rotted Eileidh’s teeth and she had to get them capped. Read that again: the chemo rotted Eileidh’s teeth and she had to get them capped. She’s four. The chemo rotted her teeth. So that begs the question: what else is the chemo doing, just to preserve her ever smiling existence with us?

I said last week that Eileidh is an international star. Check this: this is a comment left on Gail’s update from last night:

“Eileidh, you look like the bravest little girl in the world to me. I live in Italy, a place that, just in case you didn’t know, looks like a boot. It’s a beautiful place and it’s surrounded by the sea side. Well, I’m quite distant from where you are now but I’m still quite sure you are getting all the love I’m sending you. I check to see how you are doing everyday. A big bacio from Italy” 🇮🇹

Now, not only is this a gorgeous testament to Eileidh’s battling spirit, it’s a significant reference to Jenny who stays over there. The comment was left on Gail’s blog by Jenny’s daughter. And yesterday, 120 Euro arrived from Italy for EJ/LCFN wristband donations. Like I said, Eileidh has gone international. Have you got yours yet?

Talking of LCFN international, the flag is in Fiji. Get that… the LCFN flag is in Fiji!!!!!

On tour.

But there are two flags: the other one’s guess where… in Italy.

On tour.

LCFN on tour is about making people aware of the disease. Awareness might just save a child’s life one day.

Neuroblastoma is a swine of a disease. As I said last week, it’s the Japanese Knotweed of childhood cancers. Eileidh is now fighting it for the third time and I don’t know of any kids who’ve fought it three times and won. But this is Eileidh. If there was a gold medal for smiling your way through this disease, she would win it. So, incidentally, would a load of other kids. If you’re new to LCFN, a hundred kids a year are diagnosed in the UK: half of them don’t make it. Eileidh has now been diagnosed three times so calculate the odds for yourself: they are not good.

And finally this week, I want to give a big shout out to two of my LCFN friends who I’ve become close to during this journey: Wullie and Tommy. Both have lost their mothers in the last couple of weeks. For both of them, it’s raw: they are the guys that they are today because of their ma’s. Guys, I’m thinking of you tonight: the way you live your life, supporting charity wherever it exists, speaks volumes about your upbringing. Your mothers did you proud. I look at Gail and I think what a fantastic mother she is under the most difficult of circumstances. Life is really, really hard at times.

But we shall overcome.