Welcome, dear readers, to 2013.
I won’t spend this blog entry bah-humbugging and bemoaning how Christmas wasn’t at all the chilled out, relaxed, family time I hoped it would be (as once again my sense of expectation had been hijacked by the advertisers). Suffice to say, I am actually looking forward to the children going back to school and nursery tomorrow and a little routine returning to my life. I’m pretty sure they are both eager to return too – Ellis to see all his friends, and Fin to plot his next stage in the downfall of the Early Years Curriculum for Excellence and the hugely premature retirement of the teaching staff.
I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I used to, only to see them all broken by January 5th, so now I prefer not to set myself unrealistic goals at the darkest time of the year, and just take time out in the run-up to New Year to think about what aspects of my life I would like to see improvements in. No big, blousy declarations of resolution; just starting the New Year with a small, humble list of things I would like to change or improve throughout the new twelve months. I have spent many years setting unrealistic goals for myself (and, subconsciously, those around me), and I know all too well how insiduously destructive these can be, long-term.
One of the areas of improvement is my general state of health. As you may or may not know, I have a rather screwed up bone marrow, and I have a rare, chronic blood cancer called a Myeloproliferative Neoplasm. They intially thought I had a condition known as Polycythaemia Vera, where my bone marrow produces too many red cells and too many platelets; but recent blood tests have led them to look into reassessing this as my body is not doing what most sufferers’ bodies do without chemotherapy – my red cell count and platelet count has been dropping recently but nobody knows why this would happen without treatment. As this is a relatively newly discovered, and still rather mysterious, form of cancer, I am being used pretty much as a guinea pig for haematological and oncological research; and the next big step is to have a bone marrow biopsy so they can get all clever with their microscopes and see what’s going on.
The important thing, however, is that I am – in the most part – perfectly fine in myself. I am on warfarin, following a (related to my condition) Pulmonary Embolism in November 2011; I do tend to get tired a little more easily than others and I am prone to infections due to decreased white blood cell production but, in the scheme of things, I have been pretty damned lucky and – if I’m honest – other than some broken capillaries on my arms, chest and neck (caused by my blood being too thick), you would not think there was a thing wrong with me.
One of the areas I really wanted to look at this year was my actual sense of well-being. There is, I guess, a huge difference between ‘being well’ and ‘feeling well’, and just because I have a blood disorder that is felling older people right, left and centre doesn’t mean to say that I have to follow the same route. I have seen too many people just sit back and say ‘I’m ill, I’m not well enough to do X, Y and Z’, and I never want to be that person. Ever.
I was browsing through Facebook one night before Christmas, well into a bottle of Co-Op Fairtrade ‘I’ve Had A Lousy Day And Need To Chill’ Cinsault, when I stumbled across something that, in my tipsy haze, looked like a rather interesting challenge. I loves a challenge, I do. I’m also a bit of a mini-philanthropist, in my own little way, so when I saw this little challenge was to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, I found myself signing up to the first ever Dryathlon.
So. Yeah. Stay dry for a month starting on January 1st. Easy, right?
Fortunately, some of my lovely Facebook friends also decided to join in the ‘fun’. We registered. We waited with excited anticipation for our lovely posters, beer-mats and wristbands to arrive. We set up a secret Facebook group where we could all moan and rant and admit how we drank more than we ought to. I set my initial sponsorship target at £200.00 and started advertising my New Year Charriddee Good Deed on Facebook and some other forums I frequent.
Clearly, my forum-friends know me better than I know myself and knew that this would be one helluva challenge for me, Little Miss Frequently Spangled, and I had shattered my £200.00 target even before the Dryathlon had started thanks to some fantastically generous donations from people – including two donations from friends in the US.
The first few days were, I won’t lie, horrible. I had no idea how much I had come to rely on that glass (OK, bottle) of wine at the end of the day, once the children were in bed and I could relax. I looked, forlornly, through my Facebook newsfeed, and my Twitter feed, and discovered that pretty much all of my friends were drinking. And loving it. And talking about it. Lots.
Fortunately, my bunch of Sober Girlies were there, in our little secret Facebook group, to offer a shoulder to cry on. We moaned. We ranted. We said ‘arrrrrrrrrggghhhhhh’ a lot. We worried about how hard it would be. We had a bit of a giggle.
And so the days passed. Oh, so slowly. The weekend drew near. The dreaded weekend. I checked my JustGiving account and saw that my donations, including GiftAid, were nearing £400.00. I was amazed, and humbled, that so many people had the faith in me to do this.
Today is Sunday. Last night, I sat and watched a film with Richard and drank flavoured fizzy water. This morning, the boys woke up at 8am, and I leapt out of bed – rather than pull the duvet up over my ears to block the sound of their bickering and wailing for breakfast. I look in the mirror, and the black bags under my eyes are disappearing fast. I have lost 2lbs in weight. My tummy is a bit flatter, and I seem to be developing something that might be the waist I lost after having Fin four years ago. OK, most of that will be losing water retention, but it is a good start.
I might even start enjoying it.
Huge thanks go to my fellow Dryathletes in our little secret club who have helped to keep me sane over the past few days with their honesty and humour. ENORMOUS thanks to those of you who have so kindly donated to my JustGiving or JustTextGiving page, you have no idea how much it means to me.
If you would like to donate, it is really easy. You can donate via my JustGiving page or by JustTextGiving – all you need to do is text JACQ72 plus your amount (£1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 – please do not add any decimal points or additional zeros) to 70070. The text is free of charge, and the amount is added to your monthly phone bill or comes off your credit if you are PAYG customer. You will also have the option to apply GiftAid, which costs you absolutely nothing. Thank you!
PS: Obviously, there will be no Silent Sunday this week.