Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

Onwards and upwards from here

Posted by Oli on Friday 5th February, 2010

It’s been a while. In truth, I didn’t want to blog until I could find something positive to put down on these pages. And after a month like January, that’s been very, very hard work.

In addition to the funeral of K’s aunt, who died in late December, this month has seen us lose Jess (as detailed in my previous post) and then, last week, a very close friend’s baby brother, too. It’s been an absolutely heart-wrenching start to the year, especially after 2010 began with such excitement and promise.

I’ve also been hinting and nodding towards a new project which was supposed to be up and running by the end of January, that still hasn’t taken off. However, the reasons for that delay are more exciting than they are dispiriting, but all the more frustrating that I can’t share any details of what’s happening just yet.

One element of the project I can talk about is the attempt – along with my band of merry men – to complete the 3 Peaks Challenge in May this year, the weekend before my 28th birthday. It’s a truly daunting task and the most common reaction I get when I tell people about it is, “Why?”.

So I’ll tell you all now to prevent the mass of comments and emails about it following this post: because I can. Because I’m now able to push myself physically; because I’m able to see what my mental strength can carry me through; because I survived when others didn’t and have been given the perfect opportunity to do the things I want to do; because I can help to show the world just what an amazing difference organ donation can make to someone’s life.

This time three years ago, I was still recovering from Christmas and wondering if I’d see my 25th birthday. From then to now I’ve been able to go the kinds of things I only ever dreamed of and pushing myself physically and mentally through the toughest of challenges is something I’ve always wanted to do. And now I can.

There will be more details on the Challenge itself as well as the wider project as things progress, but today felt like a good day to sit myself down, slap myself round the face, pull myself out of my funk and start moving forward with the gift that is another year of life. Today was my first session at the gym in preparation for the 3 Peaks and it hurt like hell – but the pain of physical endeavour pales in comparison to the pain that my friends and their families have been through in the last month.

This is for everyone who can’t, everyone who wants to and everyone who never will achieve their dreams.


Posted in Day-to-day, Difficulties, Exercise, Family, Friends, Projects, Support, Transplant | 2 Comments »

Going hardcore

Posted by Oli on Sunday 8th February, 2009

Not like that.

After a fun night of snowballing on Monday, Tuesday started slowing me down a little with a scary kind of feeling that I had something brewing. As it turns out, I did, but it was only a cold.

It feels quite good to sit here at a keyboard and type “only” a cold – as one of my friends put it in a text on Thursday, a simple cold used to be a serious issue to me. It would have me worried, K worried, my parents worried. And we’d ride it out and get in touch with my team at Oxford and sort out some antibiotics to treat the inevitable chest-infection that would have followed.

Now, having a cold means I feel a bit rubbish for a couple of days. I love colds like that.

Still, it does have its drawbacks. Since developing my cold on Tuesday night, I appear to have returned to a previous life as a hardcore insomniac. Since Tuesday night into Wednesday, I’ve been sleeping appallingly. Indeed, I sit in the lounge writing this now at nearly 4am and I’m still not feeling anywhere near tired enough for sleep. But during the day I’m becoming Zombie-fied.

This week has been a fortuitous week to be stuck with insomnia, however, since the snow has meant any work I did have lined up has been cancelled and, as of Thursday, we’ve been properly snowed in. I say “properly” but that’s not 100% accurate. What I mean is that we can’t drive anywhere, which, in Milton Keynes, the city modelled on American-style grid-road systems, is a bit of an obstacle.

Yesterday I did manage a wander down to the shops at the bottom of the road, which is somewhere in the region of a mile’s walk, and discovered that traipsing through snow is incredibly hard work. Coupled with the cold, it left me exhausted. I was certain that it was going to help me sleep better in the evening, but no dice. Another hour of lying in bed tossing and turning lead to me getting up and staying up until I finally all-but-passed-out in the late-early morning hours.

So now I’m sat back in the lounge watching 4am tick ever closer, ploughing through more of the extras on the new Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Box Set I picked up from the now-defunct Zavvi in CMK and charging myself up with the drive and passion to go out and make at least one of the short film scripts I have lying on my desk just waiting to be tackled.

I just need to find a cast…

Posted in Day-to-day, Difficulties, DVD, Exercise, Film, Friends, Projects, Transplant, Work | 1 Comment »

I’m a growed up…

Posted by Oli on Monday 2nd February, 2009

LOVED the snow today. Kati was off Uni as there was no transport whatsoever in London, which was pretty cool. I shot over to the ‘rents very gingerly this morning, trying to catch Gramps before he left for home, but failed as he wanted to get going in case the weather got worse.

Stayed and had breakfast (I left in a hurry) and coffee, then played a little Wii with my bro before dropping him at the station.

Worked all afternoon on various bits and pieces, but since most people work in London it limited an amount of what I could get done.

K and I ventured out to Tesco to grab some dinner stuff since our cupboards were Old Mother Hubbard’s and while we were there we had a little too much fun with snowballs and decided rather than going home we’d go play. We phoned K’s bro nearby, but the kids were showered and changed and not allowed out again, so we phoned S&S instead and decided that we could still play because we’re grown-ups, which means we can do what we like.

So after swinging by KFC for a snow-bound dinner, we headed to the S&S house, wolfed our food down and headed for the play-park, where the game of Snowball Chicken was promptly invented while K built a snowman.

I ran around a lot and felt a little bit sick from bending down constantly to gather snow up, but that’s OK because I’m a grown-up. I also broke the back of the snowman’s head off by mistake when I was trying to make him a better eye socket. That wasn’t quite so OK as K had spent a long time on him and it was bad. I did repair him, though.

We meandred back to the house and tried to make a smiley face from snowballs on the wall, but it looked more like the wall had a nasty case of albino chicken pox. Oh, well.

We got back home, showered and changed and settled on the sofa to catch up with a ton of stuff we’ve got recorded on Sky+, watching A Short Stay In Switzerland, the BBC film about assisted suicide based on a true story. It’s a cracking film with great performances but an unfotunately clunky script.

Suitably teared-up, we head to bed around 11pm and I sack out pretty quickly.

Posted in Day-to-day, Exercise, Family, Friends, Funny, T.V., Work | 2 Comments »

New Year’s Wii

Posted by Oli on Wednesday 31st December, 2008

The day doesn’t start quite as early as I’d hoped to get up, but the alarm wakes me at 9am and I clamber out of bed and zombie my way to the kettle to brew myself a coffee in my swanky new cafetierre and drum up a cup of tea to rouse K with.

Once we’ve fallen out of bed and into some cleaning clobber we set about the flat. Seeing as we’ve only been in the flat for the odd evening and hardly any other time for the last week or more, things have been piling up, dropped off or unceremoniously dumped in the lounge, hallway, study and even the bathroom for want of a place to put bags down when we’ve come through the door and hit the sofa in “veg” mode. There is a lot to do.

We start by emptying all the Chrimbo packages and bags with gifts and attempting to find homes for everything, playing the DVD commentary on Pick of Destiny while we work. Halfway through the lounge, K reminds me that she wants to cook for the party tonight and requests I make a start on the kitchen so she can set-to on the cooking once she’s cleaned the bathroom.

I knuckle down the the washing up, re-organising and general scrubbing of the kitchen until it’s at least in a fit and clear enough state for K to rustle up her famous sausage rolls and more. Once I’m done I change out of my homewear into something a little more presentable and venture out into the big wide world to grab some last-minute things.

I start over at Mum and Dad’s, picking up a ‘script Dad had collected from teh chemist up the road from them for me. I stop and grab a bite of lunch (I’d forgotten to eat at home), then get way-layed by the sprawling mass of old photographs strewn across the dining room table. The ‘rents are getting their loft insulated (or at least inspected for insulation) and so have had to clear everything out of it.

Aside from the 15 boxes of stuff my bro’s squirreled away (ironically enough) up there, plus 2 or three boxes of my stuff and the same of their keepsakes, they’ve found a veritable treasure-trove of ancient photographs that show, among other things, that I was honestly and truly very cute once-upon-a-time. Knowing they don’t read this, I feel it safe to say I also found a pic of my Aunt’s wedding in which her husband actually had hair. Even Mum didn’t remember him having that much on top when they got married. Mind you, it was only 24 hours after my Nana’s funeral, so I don’t suppose Mum was paying a great deal of attention – it’s amazing the little tid-bits of info you find out going through old stuff.

Tearing myself away from Pa and his table of goodies, I left home with a hammer and some dishes to put dips in (we’re a touch lacking on the catering-supply front) and a bottle of wine for the festivities and made my way back towards home, aiming to stop at a local shop to pick up the bis and pieces.

The spanner is thrown by a text from K saying she needs all sorts of other things she hadn’t thought of when we went shopping twice in the last two days, namely the ingredients for Nigella’s Girdlebuster Pie – a desert so rich in sugary goodness that it’s sure to evaporate from any freezer in the country within minutes of the “ding” of completion on the kitchen timing clock. That said, it’s too cold for my overly-sensitive teeth to bear, so I have no idea if it’s actually tastes nice.

Once I’d collected the bits and pieces from the scrum that was Asda on New Year’s Eve as everyone tried to cram their last minute bits and bobs through the aisles, I headed back home.

Dazz had dropped in to say hey before heading back up North again for his New Year’s party up there and, bless him, ended up right in the middle of a veritable cleaning frenzy as we cleared, cleaned and moved things all over the flat to make it hospitable for the half-dozen or so guests we were expecting.

Once Dazz had gone and K had managed to calm herself down a bit in the bath (cooking brings on the fretful side of K, much like in her mother), I shot out to Maccy D’s for a nutritious evening meal to keep us going – with all the cleaning and cooking and cleaning we’d done, I wasn’t about to start cooking and messing it up even more.

Once we’d scarfed our hard-fought for junk food, K then turned my “no more cleaning” plan on it’s head by pouring half a jug of warm toffee over the pie and, in turn, the chopping board underneath it, then the kitchen surface, then the blender, then down the draws and finally onto the floor. It was a work of comic genius that seemed….well… somewhat less comic at the time.

Once the toffee was cleared and I’d remembered that I’d forgotten to chop up the veg stuff for the dips, I hurriedly set to it as our first guests arrived and the Wii was set up with extra controllers. Mid-way through our first game on Mariokart we were joined by the rest of the party and it all went swimmingly from there.

Most of the night was spent challenging each other and subsequently either screaming with frustration or laughter at Sonic and Mario at the Olympics, an insanely tiring game that essentially involves almost as much physical activity as competing in the Games themselves.

Once we’d all entirely exhausted ourselves, we settled on a more sedate game of Articulate, one of our Christmas presents and spent a good deal of time laughing our socks off at our ineptitude.

Without realising it, Midnight crept up on us and we flicked over to the last 15 minutes of pre-midnight musical fun with all the famous faces and those people you recognise and know you should know but just can’t place their names.

Midnight (and our leap-second for the year) came and went amid much hugs, smiles, good-wishes and clinking of glasses and the guests slowly ebbed away until K and I were left with the last vestiges of the clearing up before calling it a night just before 2am. We’re clearly not as hard-core as we used to be, but I’ll tell you something, I couldn’t have gone on any longer.

I blame the Wii. And Sonic.

Posted in Day-to-day, Exercise, Family, Friends, Games, Shopping, T.V. | Leave a Comment »

Boxing Day swimming

Posted by Oli on Friday 26th December, 2008

Boxing Day starts slowly with an 8.30 alarm call upon which I find K still sound asleep despite claiming to be getting up at 8am to shower and wash her hair. I nudge her awake and we realise her alarm failed to go off, largely due to a failure of being set.

Devoid of any major urgency for the day, she ambles out of bed and into the shower while I sit in bed and read awhile until she’s done, when I get myself up, washed and dressed and we head down stairs. I grab coffee, K tea, and Mama D cooks us up some French toast and bacon for breakfast to sustain us on the drive to Ipswich to catch up with my folks.

We load the car up with bags of gifts from yesterday and head off, stopping in at the flat on the way past to drop some bits off and pick up the various bits we forgot, like my swimmers, and some extras we need having arranged to stay another night after tonight, rather than shoot back tomorrow night.

We eventually leave MK around 11.30 and arrive in Ipswich after an amazingly quick and unproblematic run between 12.30 and 1. Once there, I unload the car and say my hellos to the fam and to my Godfather and his fam, plus the other guests at the Boxing Day lunch, a work colleague of G and his family. I’m slightly embarrassed by the familiar way his daughters greet me as I have no recollection of meeting them before, but they seem to know me instantly. I’m sure they noticed, but we still ended up all getting on really well.

After a chill and a chat, we hit the dinner table for a cold-meat and salad lunch which we crack through. The wine on the table in five separate decanters is from a single, epically-sized 5-litre bottle of red on the side. I forget to look at what it is, but hate to think where it came from and what it cost.

After lunch we head up to the cinema room to play with the newly-installed Wii Fit on the giant screen – it’s an amazing experience which could only be bettered were I to have any kind of balance whatsoever.

A little later in the afternoon, once the dark has drawn in, we all change into our swimmers and hit the pool. The outdoor pool. Swimming outside in England is strange enough at the best of times, but on Boxing Day in the middle of winter it’s straight-up surreal.

We mess around and throw balls to-and-fro across the pool into the inky, steamy blackness where we hope to find a person to collect and return the ball and then start playing “toss the ball at the girls in the jacuzzi” which is fun for a while until I managed to nearly knock Mum out with a badly-aimed and over-powerful throw. The games cease.

I swim properly for a little bit, but am not feeling my fittest, filled as I am with nearly a week’s worth of gourmet over-indulgence, so settle in for a quick jacuzzi before calling it a night and showering, dressing and grabbing a beer.

Post-swim we all sit around nattering, drinking a little more and enjoying the chlorinated glow of the night’s festivities. The others leave sometime after midnight and we all hastily call it a night to get some rest before tomorrow.

Posted in Day-to-day, Exercise, Family, Firsts, Friends | Leave a Comment »