A looong and overdue update!!! Don't worry, I am still alive!
Where on earth do I begin to write this post???
This update is something I’ve been meaning and ‘wanting’ to write for such a long time now, but I've really struggled to find the motivation, energy or the words. I’ve written starts on numerous occasions, I’ve just struggled to take it any further.
To be honest, I’ve really found it rather daunting, almost feeling that by putting ‘pen to paper’ I’m admitting this situation is my reality and like I’m admitting some kind of defeat. Neither of which I’ve been keen to do!
What am I talking about? Well, it is with great sadness and reluctancy that I need to inform you all, that unfortunately my ride has had to come to a rather abrupt stop. It’s with even greater sadness that I feel I should inform you as to why!
Just before Christmas on the 22nd of December, my Dad, who is my absolute hero! Had a severe and near fatal Cardiac Arrest - four of them apparently!
‘Fortunately’, this happened whilst Mum and Dad were hosting a dinner party, because one of the guests quick thinking and miraculous actions managed to save my dads life, for which we shall forever be in her debt - she resuscitated my Dad whilst they waited for the 3 ambulances (2 cars and 1 helicopter) to arrive, before he was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, where he was put into an induced coma.
At the time of this all happening I was some 12,000 miles away, in Melbourne, Australia, having arrived just a week earlier from Lisbon, Portugal, a trip which had taken over 50 hours from door to door and with barely a wink of sleep! I was actually intending on writing an update as to my comedy of errors and issues I experienced whilst travelling through the many airports I did on route to Aus, with my entire life in-tow!
However, like so many of my unpublished posts, living and experiencing things got in the way - one of my best mates Olly, my brother from Norwich (who was such a HUGE help with ALL of this and whom I can’t thank enough for EVERYTHING!!!), came to collect me from the airport. I’d not seen him for a couple of years and I’d not seen some of my other friends in Aus since I last stepped foot in the country, five or so years earlier and some friends I was meeting for the very first time. Understandably this lead to some well overdue catch ups, drinks and celebrations!
I don’t remember quite when, at what time, or even how the conversation went when I was informed of my Dad’s situation, just that it was in the morning, I think!?!? I was in utter shock and disbelief and think I still am to be honest! I just remember feeling so small, so far away and so completely useless!!! I couldn’t understand how this could happen to my Dad, my hero! He’d not been ill, hadn’t complained of any issues or problems and then all of a sudden he was in a coma on life support. Thats a lot to take on board in any circumstance, but being so, so far away, everything seemed to be so incredibly amplified!
This completely stripped the wind from my sales and left me questioning everything!!! But somewhat regrettably I didn’t go home in that moment. My brother and Mum said there was nothing any of us could do whilst Dad was in an induced coma, not even the family in Norwich, so I should stay where I was. They didn’t want me to cancel the trip, which was lovely of them and I understand completely and they may’ve been right, but I still feel bad for having not jumped on the first plane home!
As it was, I basically spent the following days in a haze, as I tried to forget about, ignore and drink away the realities of what I knew deep down was occurring back home in Norwich, I felt guilty at the time and feel bad for saying now, that we actually had a rather ‘nice’ Christmas day and even went to the Boxing Day cricket at the MSG - I was doing anything I could to distract myself from the ‘real world’ and the Aussie crew were incredible with that, so massive thanks to you all for your love and support!!! It meant and means the world!
However, I received another call from my brother, I think?!?! On the 28th December, basically saying that I needed to come home, they really didn’t know which way this was going to go and whether or not Dad was going to pull through. I was in the air less than 10 hours later and was back on UK soil within 40 hours of the call.
To be honest, everything gets a little hazy from here, as the days blend into days, amongst the daze of days! I find it really hard to believe, but I’ve been back in the UK for nearly 2 1/2 months now, it seems so surreal still!!! It feels as though I’m watching everything through a screen, as if this is some sort of TV show or altered reality that I’m going to wake up from, but the reality remains.
I’m pleased to say however, that my Dad is a stubborn old sod and an absolute trooper! He has had so much to deal with, but thus far and God willing, he has battled everything thats been thrown at him!
After around a week they were successful in bringing him out of his coma, but at this stage he appeared to have full body, rigid, paralysis, with some form of Parkinson's disease, evidently brought on by accident. In addition he had a tracheostomy and was on assisted breathing, doctors were as tactful as they could be, but were basically telling us to prepare for the worst and didn’t give us too much to hang onto, but, enough!!!!
I am not, in any way criticising the doctors, the care and treatment Dad has received over the passed 3 months has been nothing short of miraculous, you literally couldn’t pay for the treatment he’s received - the NHS has been, and is, INCREDIBLE!!! It’s just the Doctors have to be realistic and prepare families for the worst case, particularly as my Dad, being my Dad, was basically defying all medical specialists and logic!
If Dad was to do something, he would do it properly!!! But the problem with that was, he wasn’t following ANY of the ‘normal pathways’, “if ‘X’ had happened he should be….” - “If ‘Y’ had happened he would be….”
He wasn’t doing anything ‘he should be’, which is normal of my Dad, however, it made the job of treating him rather difficult, as they could never be 100% certain, quite what they were treating him for.
For around 6 weeks, Dad stayed in a similar condition, his movement ever so slowly returning and gradually improving, but, because of his tracheostomy (breathing tube, which bypasses the voice box) he was unable to talk and communication was extremely limited, difficult and frustrating for both parties. For 6 weeks he was basically in solitary confinement within his head. This meant the doctors had no real idea what was going on behind his eyes, whether he’d suffered any serious neurological damage? If he knew who he was? Where he was? What had happened? Or even who his family were?
On the other hand, I was sure my Dad was in there, he was rolling his eyes as he does, raising his eyebrows at the appropriate time, either to indicate disbelief to a situation, or to acknowledge something else - like me being a fool! Which tended to happen if I went into the ward with my masses of hair down, tied back with a bandanna - to both my Mum and Dad’s disapproval!
Fast forward a few weeks and the change is vast! His movement has increased and improved significantly, his parkinson like tremors have reduced considerably and remarkably, he’s had his tracheostomy removed, which is a really HUGE milestone! It means he is now able to speak and going forwards, he’ll be able to eat and drink - Dad actually took his first drink for 12 weeks, last Friday and on Monday ate his first meal, which are two more HUGE milestones! In addition, we were given the go ahead yesterday to take Dad down to the canteen in a wheelchair, so we could get him out the his ward - The first time since entering the hospital 3 months ago!!!
For such a long time I’ve been intending on writing a brief update, but until now, I’ve been extremely reluctant to write anything about Dad’s condition and situation. It's obviously extremely personal, but his condition has also been so volatile and open to change, daily, even hourly, there have been so many hiccups, speed-bumps and setbacks along the way, that I really didn’t want to tempt fate. However, I feel his progress is such, that it is something worth sharing for those who have been aware and concerned for my Dads health.
He still isn’t out of the woods yet! Far from! And now that he is able to speak, we have a window into his mind, which is certainly a little discombobulated to say the least, his short term memory is very limited and he’s suffering with delirium and hallucinations (which are apparently common given his situation), but in the same breath he can have moments of sheer clarity and awareness.
I’m pleased and relieved to say that through it all he has retained his sense of humour though, even if some of his other faculties are somewhat shaken for now, but fingers crossed there's a chance that these can all improve and come back with time!
So what does this all mean for me and for the ride? Where do we go from here? Who knows!!! Life has a tendency of throwing you these occasional and unexpected curve balls, like my spleen, or lack of!!!
Certainly this isn’t something I’d expected, or before the ride, would have ever predicted might be a reason for it stopping, but, it is something you have to deal with, as such, I am going to remain in the UK for the forseeable!!!
My dreams are my life, but my family are my absolute world and I need to be with them through this! Besides, in this moment, there is nowhere else in the world I could, or would wish to be!
I even looked at doing the grown up thing and buying a house the other day, but was devastatingly (and possibly, fortunately) outbid at the last moment.
My ride may've sadly come to a screeching halt (for now at least), but my end goal remains unchanged! I'm still intent and determined to raise enough money that I can help establish a sustainable sports charity in rural Cambodia, its just the route I take in order to get there may have changed, considerably!!!
Lets be honest, The Magical Mystery Tour was never going to be straight forwards though and whilst I’m back in the UK, I’m intending on developing and pushing the ¿Por Qué No? clothing to help raise funds for the charity! So keep your eyes peeled for more clobber 'soon'!
I also have some equally weird and wacky challenges and dreams in mind whilst I’m back in the UK, its just that they may be over somewhat of a shorter distance, or slightly closer to home, so watch this space.
In the interim, I hope to finally get my arse into gear and start creating and posting all of the content I collected and produced whilst on the ride, because you guys have seen but a fraction of the trip thus far, fingers crossed this post will be the stepping stone back into the 'real world' I've needed.
Anyways, apologies for my complete and utter radio silence over the passed few months - having gone from spamming you daily, to disappearing off the face of the earth. It was not my intention, its just that its been a bit of a struggle adjusting and getting my head round the fact the ride has stopped and I’m back in Blighty, let alone my Dad’s condition. So I hope you can all understand, I'm just sorry it has taken me sooooo long to do!
To all my incredible friends, family and the friends I’m yet to meet around the world, who have taken the time to message me, either lovely, supportive, or concerned messages after my disappearance - thank you all so much, really it is hugely appreciated and means the world to me!!!
I have been incredibly shit at replying to anything and I know that and I'm sorry, but, please don't take my complete and utter ignorance as not being appreciative, quite the opposite, I've just been a little overwhelmed by the situation and the messages, so I took the tact of burying my head in the sand with EVERYTHING - normally works doesn't it! Ha! However, now I’ve finally written this update, I'm intending on remedying this situation, so you can expect a barrage of messages off me soon, just bare with me!
Again, a massive thanks to everyone, friends, family, followers and sponsors a like, who have and continue to stick by me through this, it really means the world and massive thanks to anyone who has managed to read this far - you've done ever-so-well!
It's 'funny', as I sit here in my parents lounge, from where my ride departed 10 months ago, so much has happened and changed since then, yet so much remains the same and yet, sooo much has changed!!!!
The truth of all of this is, that none of us know how long we have, or how long any of our loved ones have! Furthermore, no one knows what anyone else is going through, or whats going on behind closed doors and sadly the older we get, the more of these incredibly difficult times we’re going to have to face, which is why we all need to be there for one another, regardless of age, race, breed, creed or religion!
If you've managed to read this far and would like to do me one last favour and you still have parents &/or grandparents, or simply friends, children, partners, or lovers, you've not seen recently, message them, call them and just tell them that you love them, or better still, if you can, do it face to face and give them a big squeeze whilst you're at it, DO IT!!! - simply because you can!!! Because shit happens, life changes quick and you never know when you may not be in a position to do it again!
I didn’t reply to a whatsapp message from my Dad just before all this happened, it sounds silly to say, but it still genuinely breaks my heart that I didn't!!!! Its odd the things that affect you!!!
With much love and appreciation!!!!