Last time you heard from me I was in a wheelchair suffering from Lyme disease. I had carers three times a day, lived downstairs in my house and couldn’t think clearly. To give myself a purpose I’d trained to be a Run Director at Wakefield Thornes parkrun, and two years on from the day my legs went to sleep I am happy to report that I am back on form!
You can no longer tell what I went through, but I still experience pain and fatigue. Nothing like it was, though. I’ve been able to return to parkrun, which I’m thankful for, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for being so lucky as to be able to use my legs again and run, to experience parkrun, Trunce and many races and walks I thought I wouldn’t.
The walking came gradually. I remember my first few steps felt weird but amazing (both mum and I cried) and my legs and arms would tremor whilst trying to process the messages from my brain. Surprising my boyfriend Ash when he returned from a stag do was the best – his face was a mixture of surprise, shock and pride. Hydrotherapy played a big part and my walking seemed to click in the pool with support of my physio, my friend Maya or my sis Becci and a walking float. It was a matter of persevering and repetitively practicing my walking. I took a few risks and fell in the house banging myself a few times (I wouldn’t recommend but I was desperate). I’d furniture walk or Ash would help me by catching me a few times too. Laura my other friend would catch me too or help lift my legs up the stairs so I got used to the feel, when I could eventually get up them safely with supervision again. I always had my friends to lean on.
My first walk back at parkrun was Wakefield Thornes. I had fabulous support and Ash was on hand to help me on uneven surfaces. It took me around 70 minutes but the whole team were there to shout encouragement and see me finish. I then joined the run/walk group at Pontefract where I felt comfortable knowing I could take my time if needed, to finish. At my first run back at parkrun, all my friends ran the final lap of Pontefract Lake with me on Christmas Day. It was emotional!
Besides being Run Director at Wakefield Thornes parkrun, I became part of the core team at Rothwell parkrun. Being RD makes me smile, as I get to see all the eager faces at the start and the faces of achievement over the finish line, as well as support volunteers. Completing Sherwood pines parkrun with my run club, ARR, was one of my fave achievements, the RD and team were lovely and so welcoming, I’d definitely recommend it!
It has taken sheer determination and stubbornness to walk again, let again run. I went to hydro, had specialist treatment and changed my whole diet and lifestyle. parkrun played a major role in this. I’d pace myself through the week and look forward to a Saturday morning. I won’t lie, I had moments of doubt, who wouldn’t? I’d also have the odd panic about being bit by a tick again, but with tick checks, DEET, friends support and parkrun, they soon evaporated.
Saturday mornings would consist of either being pushed up the hill at Wakefield Thornes parkrun in my wheelchair or being followed with it ready to be scooped up, to the RD bag at Rothwell being carried for me whilst I tottered with my stick. Now I can do a short sprint to the finish line. I even managed to run around Nostel parkrun on my birthday, two years on from where my legs originally went to sleep. I was on Cloud 9, my legs had woken and I WAS BACK!
I’d like to express my never ending gratitude to all my friends for always being there and never giving up on me. They know who they are.
All I can say is don’t give up, stay involved and just enjoy parkrun and the friendships you make. It’s not about times but about taking part in any shape or form, be that volunteering, walking, jogging, running or skipping if you feel like it!
Photo thanks to Graham Beardsley
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