News - 31st March 2020

A sense of belonging

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Isabelle recently had complex brain surgery. Here she tells us about her elation at completing her first parkrun on her road to recovery.


I was first introduced to parkrun when I moved to London in 2016. My sister invited me to join her in Burgess Park and I was immediately a convert. I can’t think of a more enlivening way to start the weekend, and a great excuse for a coffee afterwards!


I’ve consequently been working towards reaching 100 runs and making my century.


This past summer I had complex brain surgery to (fingers tightly crossed) relieve and cure my epilepsy.


Unfortunately this led to complications (meningitis then emergency surgery for hydrocephalus) so instead of the forecast five days, I was in hospital for five weeks.


As a result, when I was discharged I’d lost most of my muscle and struggled to even climb the stairs.


I had to move back to my parents’ in Stratford-upon-Avon to recuperate but without my social circle and not being at work, it could feel rather isolating.


One thing that was familiar though was the fact there was a parkrun close by. I needed to build my strength so I gradually worked up to being able to go for a walk with our dog, Hebe.




I was desperate to continue working towards my 100th run and the advantage of Stratford’s course is that it’s 3 laps. So off Hebe and I headed, starting off gently by walking one lap slowly, gradually building up to two laps after a few weeks.


As I “looked” young, fit and healthy bar some shaved hair, I was worried I’d be judged for walking slowly but parkrunners couldn’t have been friendlier and I soon got to know some familiar faces (both human and canine) over cups of tea post-run.


Precisely four months after my first surgery Hebe and I made it round the full three laps. It may be my slowest parkrun to date, but I can’t explain the elation of crossing that finish line, the Marshals cheering us both on.


I’m still working towards hitting my 100th parkrun but what’s more important to me now is the sense of belonging I’ve felt at parkrun and I’m sure I wouldn’t be as fit as I am without this weekly call to action.


This weekly interaction has helped me to build up my confidence after I struggled with my cognition post surgery as well as give me a routine and weekly target to work towards.


Never underestimate the healing power of feeling part of a community.


Isabelle & Hebe


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