Archive | May, 2014

My cup runneth over

26 May

As I sit to reflect on the week that has been, words fail me… I can only describe it as being full to overflowing – my cup runneth over. I’m blessed beyond measure. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself…

At the end of last week, having spent over a week in hospital, I admit to feeling very weary, very average, and a little dejected. I was upset that I’d been sick, upset that I had to have time off work (I’m only just starting as an RN and I didn’t want to let my new colleagues down), and upset that life had thrown me a curveball, and I wasn’t quite ready (are we ever??). My hospital stay and illness had sapped every last ounce of my energy, and I was devastated to admit to myself that I really couldn’t ride in the Goa7Pillars event at the end of the week. Even though I’d admitted it to myself, I’d been adamant with others that I would still be able to ride – even if it is just one pillar (although they were all less than convinced). As I grappled with my disappointment, I tried to work out what that meant… do we do the ride on another day, can I still be present at the event…and what about those who had supported the ride by donating…??

On Monday morning the extraordinary happened. I found out that Dave had liaised with Peter, Mandy, Mum and Dad to organise to fly Peter, Mandy and Josiah to Brisbane so Peter could ride in my place. Isn’t my husband awesome! This was a complete change of focus for me – and I was relieved to relegate myself to team manager, something I could do while recovering on the couch. With less than one week until the ride, there seemed to be a lot to organise! It also meant trying to borrow a few things to make the trip for Peter and Mandy easier – and I was blessed to be able to borrow everything from a cot, pram, car seat, high chair to literally a bucket load of toys (seriously only God’s timing could friends grandchildren be holidaying out of the country making so many resources available – Thanks so much Sabine, Dale, Rach, Courtenay and Beth).

I was further excited to learn that my Dad, who had been driving across the desert (yep literally in the middle of Australia), had decided upon reaching Birdsville to continue heading east instead of heading west to go back home. More family!! Dad was going to be here to cheer Peter and the team on. He was going to have to do some serious kilometres to be present (some 1700kms in two days – alone!) – but that’s just what my Dad would do. I was so pleased to have him here and I’m sure Peter was too.

As if that wasn’t enough, our fundraising dollars continued to climb. Peter’s appointment to the team seemed to ignite the fundraising. One week ago, I was thrilled to have reached a total of $2000. This week, more of our friends, as well as Peter’s colleagues and employer decided they could do better than that, and what was a $2000 total very quickly approached $10,000!! Peter’s employer – Employers Mutual SA – very generously contributed $5000 to the fundraising! With the added incentive of Peter agreeing to shave off his much loved beard for extra support, the total passed $10,000. At last check it had even exceeded $11,000!!! To say thank you to all those who have supported us financially hardly seems enough – every single dollar is important and I’m thankful to each of you for the sacrifices you’ve made to give. In my sister’s words (after sending a nasty face on a chat message) “That’s a scary face for the mysteries of MND… Research is onto you – sucker!”. I also know that for people to give financially also shows their support personally – and I can assure you that our family has been overwhelmed by the friendship and support we have received.

So now I’m sure you’re keen to know…how did the event go? Well, here’s the wrap:

Firstly, the goal – 7 checkpoints (pillars) across Brisbane: Get to as many as you can, and back to the start in 5 hours. Each pillar is worth different points – depending on distance from start, to height of a climb… Plan your own route. The team with the most points wins.

At 0600 registration opened, and our new team met each other for the first time! Illness had plagued us in the lead up to the event and both Heidi and I had to retire after infections. The team soon became a power hungry group of four blokes – Peter, Adam, Sin Hok and Peter. As they met each other and discussed the pillars they thought they could reach, the support and camaraderie began.

At 0700 the teams all set off heading out on their different routes to conquer the pillars. Crouching Tortoise Hidden Snail (CTHS) headed east. The first pillar goal – Raby Bay Marina (66 points) – approximately 25km. The support crew (Mandy, Josiah, Dad and I) took our time leaving the start – change a nappy… make some breakfast for Josiah… I guess we should think about going… Meanwhile the guys were cycling…. At about 25km/hr… As we drove and hadn’t seen them I started to wonder if they would beat us to the first pillar… some support crew! As Mandy tracked Peter via his phone location (the wonder of modern technology) we realised that we would be meeting them soon. Sure enough, over one of the rises the group came into our sights (only 4km from their first checkpoint!). We blasted the horn, wished them luck and floored it to get to the pillar and get a park before they arrived! Pillar One, Raby Bay Marina, 66 points. DONE!

Next stop was Minnippi Parklands, 37 points and another 20km from the first pillar. This time we made it with heaps of time. When we tracked the guys we found they took the scenic route (literally) – added a few kms to their journey but it would have been pretty riding along the water… this gave us a bit of extra time at the pillar. Our support crew had grown at the first pillar, and Heidi, Elizabeth and Matilda had joined us to cheer on the boys! More snacks and refreshments before deciding on the next pillar – yep let’s conquer the mountain was the plan! Pillar Two, Minnippi Parklands, 37 points. DONE!

Mt Cootha – the highest peak in Brisbane, and home of the Brisbane lookout – 287m above sea level. Sure… you’ve already been riding for 80km why not use those fresh legs and go climb a mountain… we beat the boys to the top, decided it was quite a climb and would take them all their energy, saw where they were (just coming through the city) and decided at 11am it was time we stopped for a take away drink and coffee… while waiting for our remarkably slow take away we tracked the boys again… WHAT? They were at the top already??!! These guys are machines!! So, unfortunately you won’t see any photos of them at that pillar. I can promise you they made it to the top (not only because all their garmin devices tracked them there) but because we saw them leaving the pillar… doh… too slow!! What an effort though – Pillar Three, Mt Cootha, 27 points. DONE!

So then it was a race to the finish. For the guys it was pretty much all downhill. Only about 10km to the start and they were ahead of us… we drove as fast as we were allowed but had to cover more distance than them in the car (and they had bikeways with no traffic lights). Not only that but we had to then find a park, all pile out, and be there to see them finish… so we rushed, we jumped out with the camera and we sent Dad off to find a park… we went as fast as we could to the finish line – this will be close, but we should have beaten them! Prepped and waiting, watching the finish line expectantly and Mandy and I receive a tap on the shoulder… Peter’s casual “are you waiting for someone”, shoes off and coke in hand suggested that perhaps we had missed their finish…. These guys must have gunned it home!! But just for the record, we made them ride back over the finish line again for a photo (staged I know…).

So for those interested, what were their stats? Their journey took them across Brisbane and was just shy of 100km with about 1100m of elevation. Just under 4 hours riding time (they set a decent pace!), and an event time of 4:48 – coming in under the 5 hour cut off. Success!!

It was also great to be able to meet a few people at the event including the CEO of the Royal Brisbane Hospital Foundation – Peter Treseder, and Dr Rob Henderson – Neurologist and leading MND specialist in Brisbane, and we heard where the fundraising is likely to be spent. With approximately $40,000 raised at this event, the money is going to be used for a couple of projects. One of which includes looking at muscle biopsies of “good” and “atrophied” muscles to examine the differences to see if that can unlock some of the mystery into MND. Oh, and thanks to you all CTHS may not have won the ride, but we did take out the title of highest fundraiser – THANK YOU!

So as you can see, it has been a big week. If you’ve made it to here reading this blog – congratulations – I tend to ramble a bit when I’m excited! What looked like a lousy week, turned into a wonderful one. A lonely week turned into precious time with family. I was able to give my body time to heal and recover without the pressure of a ride that would have taken all my strength and energy (I was exhausted from being support crew!). So, as I think about the week that has been, I realise that in no way did it turn out the way I had intended. But the only thing I can think of is – Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”.

 

Here are some photos from the day:

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Goa7Pillars – Crouching Tortoise Hidden Snail

20 May

Do you ever have days where you just feel overwhelmed…so thankful? I had one of those… just yesterday. But allow me to go back in time a fraction to set the scene… so maybe you can understand just why I found it all so overwhelming, and to understand why I feel so blessed.

In October last year, my younger brother Peter was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. There’s nothing like a terminal diagnosis to bring back to reality what is important in life – and my family and my faith have been critical to me over the last few months and as we walk this journey I’m learning so much. I’m never more convinced that when I’m at my weakest, God is at his strongest.

If you’ve been reading any of my blogs over the last year – you’ll know that I’ve found some fitness. I’ve been able to do a few events that have challenged me physically and been incredibly satisfying to finish. It was at one of these events, as part of the participant information that I received a multi-sport magazine. While flicking through the articles I discovered an event that I could not go past.

On Sunday 25th May 2014 to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease research, a ride was scheduled – Goa 7 Pillars – Brisbane’s Favourite Mates Ride.

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This ride matched my skill (basic) with my passion –not only I could do something that Peter enjoys (he loves cycling too) but I could know that if he was in Brisbane it’s an event we would might even do together. The ride has 7 “pillars” (checkpoints) across Brisbane that you need to try and get to in 5 hours. Plan your journey as you see fit, reach as many as you can, and get back to the start in the time limit. Like a big scavenger hunt… I wanted to be part of it… I had to be a part of it!!

So, for months I’ve been planning, scheming and trying to work out how to raise funds (something that isn’t a skill of mine)… I’ve been blessed to find an awesome cycling team in Sin-Hok, Heidi and Adam and we had met to plan the pillars we thought we could achieve. Sin-Hok and Adam, as keen cyclists, were fine with anything and Heidi and I decided we could bring up the rear (Heidi was happy to join me at the back). We came up with a name – Crouching Tortoise Hidden Snail (deciding that was the speed I could maintain). The amazing Joanne S Turner (artist at Maleny) even designed us a logo

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Everything was set, and the training had begun. The fundraising dollars started to come in – and we hit the $2000 goal we set. I was so happy! I felt like I was able to constructively do something to help others diagnosed with MND – every dollar raised will be useful, and for someone who likes “doing things” it meant I felt like I wasn’t sitting on my hands but that somehow, I was able to make a small difference. So that maybe, one day, when someone else hears the words “Hey Sis… they think I’ve got Motor Neurone Disease” – that they might also have options for treatment – not just a diagnosis.

But they do say the best laid plans often get hit with something unexpected… and sure enough, out of nowhere, a problem surfaced. A severe infection hit me. I was literally healthy one minute (even did my 5km run that morning) and then later that day I was quite unwell. A barrage of tests eventually determined a gastrointestinal infection. It took 8 nights in hospital with intensive treatment and intravenous medication before being discharged home for some rest, rebuilding of strength and returning to normal eating! I watched my dreams of riding in the Goa7Pillars event disappear before my eyes. I pleaded with my Dr to let me just participate – I wont do the 5 hours (I knew I couldn’t) – I’ll just ride to one pillar and back – 30km return in 5 hours – I could surely do that… but even as I thought it, and even as I said it aloud to family and friends, I knew that it was really going to be impossible. But I didn’t want to give up – I couldn’t let down my sponsors, and I didn’t want to let down Peter (though I’m sure he wouldn’t have seen it that way anyway). I was desperate to be part of the event.

But yesterday morning, I found something out… while hospitalised, my husband Dave and my family had been working behind the scenes to try and work out a solution. It was a solution I could only dream of – Peter was flying to Brisbane to ride in my place. You know, even as I write this, the tears spring up again. Peter may have been diagnosed with MND but he’s a strong man and a jolly good cyclist – and there is no-one on EARTH who is going to dictate to him his limits (and bring on some divine healing God)! There’s quite a community of support out there too – last minute trips interstate with a 10 month old take some organising, and offers of assistance came from everywhere. I am so completely thankful. I’m thankful for my family who together have made it possible to get Peter, Mandy and Josiah up to Brisbane. I’m thankful to friends for offers of equipment and pretty much anything we need. The Crouching Tortoise Hidden Snail Team will be participating in Goa7Pillars!!

So watch this space, I’ll be doing a wrap for the event once it’s all done and you can see how we got on… and next year – I’ll be on the bike for sure – this event is permanently on my calendar!

By the way, one final plug… It’s not too late –It’s getting near tax time if you want to make a tax deductible donation to sponsor the ride and raise money for Motor Neurone Disease Research then here is the link: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/goa-7-pillars-challenge-team-crouching-tortoise-hidden-snail