Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Snowdonia Marathon Update – As with HG, things don’t always go to plan…

I was blown away by the response I got to my piece about HG and running last month.  People said such wonderful, kind and inspiring things and I felt so proud to be doing this for the charity that is so close to my heart.

In a twist of fate, I had written the piece two days before I tore my hamstring whilst training with my running club.  I saw a Physio straight away and was relieved to be told that with two weeks’ rest it should be fine.  I confidently told PSS they could publish the piece and got myself busy doing strengthening exercises whilst cycling, swimming and rowing in the meantime.

As predicted, the hamstring was absolutely fine when I returned to running, but my running felt ‘clunky’ and not quite right.  I plodded on, hoping that it would all fall into place but last weekend my right leg (the opposite leg to the one I injured) became painful and I had to abandon a long run, something I cannot remember ever doing before.  It turns out I’ve been compensating – overusing the ‘good’ leg in a subconscious attempt to protect the ‘bad’ one – common in people coming back from injury but terrible timing for me.  It’s not particularly serious in itself and I’ve been doing some light running last week but I have missed a month of marathon training at a crucial time so any hope of my marathon comeback being something I am satisfied with is out of the window.

There is a chance I would be able to jog or run/walk around the course, but I need to have a think about whether that is the right thing for me physically and mentally and realistically I am going to have to make that decision fairly late in the day.  As it stands at the moment I think that sadly it looks more likely than not that I will have to drop out of the marathon.

I'm devastated on a personal level - this marathon meant an awful lot to me.  As I wrote in my original piece it has taken me a really long time to get my head into a position where I can attempt one, and to have it snatched away at the last minute through bad luck is bitterly disappointing.   I was really low last week.  The sadness echoed my feelings when I had HG, that my body had failed me.  It felt that matter how hard I tried I was unable to do something that I really wanted to do.   I contemplated just giving up, never running again.   But after a few sad days I have picked myself up and am feeling much more philosophical about it now. 

Obviously I am also disappointed because I was doing this sponsored for PSS and the charity means the world to me.  I feel like I’ve let the people who have already sponsored me down.  All I can say is that I am doing my best to still give Snowdonia a go on 29th October but if it isn't to be then I will definitely find a new challenge worthy of people’s sponsorship. 

I’ll keep you all posted….

Friday, 30 September 2016

24 hour live charity gaming event in aid of Pregnancy Sickness Support ... by Tom Howes

On 11th November 2016 I will be streaming Destiny on the PS4 for 24 hours, a live charity event on Twitch, with help from The Speakers Secret Stash clan mates and the community to join me along the way.

Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) is aiming to raise money to place its leaflets in the Bounty packs that new parents are given at their first midwife appointment. This would give PSS the potential to reach every single mum-to-be in the UK with details of the support the charity can provide. This will ensure that more women struggling to cope with severe pregnancy sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum are able to access the vital support and treatment they need.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is not widely known but has serious consequences for a lot of women, their partners and families. HG affects only 1% of women with pregnancy sickness and is extremely unpleasant for sufferers. 1 in 100-150 women will be admitted to hospital due to the severity of their condition. It is a severe and potentially life threatening condition which can have a profound effect on the sufferer's health and well being.

Families have been torn apart because they simply cannot cope with seeing their partner so severely unwell. There are cases where the sickness is so bad that women  end up tearing their oesophagus and having to have it rebuilt.

My partner was diagnosed with Hyperemises Gravidarum.

A large part of her pregnancies were spent in hospital, being on a constant drip allowing rehydration and medicine. This was an extremely challenging time for our family, one I cannot even begin to describe. My partner was bed bound up to the last few weeks of pregnancy, when she was only able to move downstairs. I cannot even recall how many ambulances we had called to the house. We really struggled and were moments away from termination.

Pregnancy Sickness Support runs a national support network for women suffering any degree of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, to access support and comfort at times of isolation and distress.

My partner received advice and spoke to women who have been through exactly the same thing as she was going through. This provided the massive support we needed. Without help from Pregnancy Sickness Support our family would not be what it is today.

Please sponsor me to enable me to give something back to the charity that did so much for Me, Tori, Honor, Hope and Ted.

You can donate by texting NOHG16 £amount (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070 or via my sponsorship page - please click here. Thank you.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

HG, running and me by Claire

Running a marathon takes a lot of training.  But it also needs strength, determination and a strong self belief.    So what happens to a runner who is so ill in her pregnancies that she loses all that strength and self belief?

Between 2002 and 2008 I ran 8 marathons.  I loved the distance, and really believed that any physical challenge was just mind over matter.  Mental toughness was something I excelled at, and totally took for granted.

I fully intended to continue running during pregnancy. In my first pregnancy at the first sign of what I naively termed ‘morning sickness’ I went for a run – I’d read that exercise helps ease sickness.  I found myself plodding around a so-called easy route, throwing up in bushes.  I gave up after about 3 of these runs, feeling like a huge failure. 

My pregnancy was a miserable experience.  I was nauseous 24/7, and the nausea kept me awake for about 22 of those hours, every day for months.  I was sick or retching dozens of times every day – and although in this pregnancy I was never hospitalised,  eating was hugely difficult, work was a living nightmare and running was a distant dream.  I missed it so much.

My second pregnancy was even tougher, I was hospitalised 3 times and tried 7 different anti-emetic drugs before I was able to function at all.  I missed 8 months of my daughter’s life while I lay bedbound, dehydrated and lonely.  Those nausea and vomit ridden months of my second pregnancy passed very slowly.  I missed my normal life and once again running was a distant memory.

I was suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) a severe and potentially life threatening form of pregnancy sickness which affects around 1-2% of women.

After both pregnancies I desperately tried to get back into running – but after months of complete inactivity my once strong muscles had wasted and my confidence was ruined.  I was scared of the body that had made me so ill. I was also left with horrible memories and a deep emetophobia and terror of getting ill again which made pushing myself whilst running virtually impossible.

I had tried to run a marathon in 2011 when my first daughter was 15 months old – I struggled to train properly and then succumbed to a sickness bug the night before the race. Angry that sickness was stopping me again I tried to run anyway but had to stop at 19 miles, shattered and mentally broken. Lying in a St John’s Ambulance tent was a deep low for me, and this ‘failure’ destroyed any remaining confidence I had. For a very very long time I doubted that I would ever attempt another marathon.

I realised when my youngest daughter was about 18 months old that I had to learn to enjoy my running again.  I couldn’t get over HG and all the phobias and hang ups it had left me with without learning to push my body.  I had to rebuild the strength I once had.  She is 3 ½ now and I have got myself to the point where I can run races and enjoy them.  I’m still an awful lot slower than I want to be, than I used to be, but I am improving, and enjoying the process.  It’s a really big step for me.  

An even bigger step has been entering another marathon.  I haven't chosen an easy option! The Snowdonia Marathon is a stunning 26.2 mile course which follows a loop on the roads around Wales’s highest peak.   With over 1000 feet of climbing it’s one of the toughest road marathons there is but I’ve trained there as much as I can and I am happy to be starting the next chapter of my marathon running in such a beautiful place.

I am running for Pregnancy Sickness Support  (PSS) because the work they do is inspirational.  The charity is run on a shoestring, but with more passion than you could imagine.  I rang the helpline when I was at my lowest ebb, and received evidence-based information about medication options which I was able to use to advocate for myself when hospitalised.  I joined the online support group where I met – for the first time – people who actually understood how hard an HG pregnancy is, that it is not something you can ‘think positive’ through, that you are not being a wimp over a bit of sickness, that you have fought so very hard to have your children and that it is an insult to say you are not grateful for them.  I am so grateful for my children, but it has taken me years to come to terms with how hard it was to bring them into the world.  PSS has helped me feel normal throughout that time.

I have volunteered for PSS for 3 years now, providing 1-2-1 peer support to sufferers, moderating on their forum, presenting to Health Professionals, and I even presented at the charity's most recent conference this year.  The charity only employs one person, everyone else involved is a volunteer, and they get no central funding, it is all donations.  So every penny you give makes a huge difference to women at an incredibly scary and lonely time.   

If you would like to sponsor me and support this fantastic charity, my fundraising page is here. Thank you.

Monday, 6 June 2016

#tougHGirls do the Tough Mudder by Beci Goodrick

On Saturday 21st May I did one of the craziest, most exhausting and most exhilarating things I've ever done: Tough Mudder Midlands. 11.1m of mud, hills, water, ice, walls and electric shocks. £1111 made for PSS! Not bad for a day's work (and 6 months of training).
On the morning of the event my teammate and fellow PSS volunteer Emma Watford and I met up, donned our #tougHGirls temporary tattoos and headed for the start line. I thought I was nervous before but it turns out I didn't know the meaning of nerves until this!
Some of the obstacles were incredibly mentally challenging. The walls especially I found difficult, not made easier by the fall on my face - I have some excellent bruises! 
Still, the thought of raising so much money kept us going! And as Emma rightly pointed out, if we can survive HG, we can survive anything!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Tough Mudder Midlands is a matter of hours away and I’m packing up my HG hero, Steve and HG survivor, 14 month old Sienna and we’re heading for Belvoir Castle to tackle what they say is ‘probably the toughest event on the planet’, to raise money for the amazing charity Pregnancy Sickness Support.

Today the route was released. A 12 mile mud run punctuated with obstacles named according to their 25 different shades of sadism. It kicks off with Skid Marks and Sewer Rat, and after scaling and abseiling fences and climbing over hay bales, crawling through a dark tunnel of muddy water, and wading across a swamp, I’ll look *a lot less* sexy than any characters E L James could dream up. This is definitely not Fifty Shades of Grey; there’s no safe word, no ‘out’. After those five obstacles there’s another 20 to conquer… And my team mate, fellow PSS volunteer Beci (see previous post) has my permission to push me over any precipice on the course that might stop me in my tracks. I’ve trained too hard not to feel well ready for all of the challenges the course throws at me. Although I’m guessing that the 10 tonnes of ice they load Arctic Enema with won’t be the biggest turn on… or maybe Electroshock Therapy.

Aside from having trained hard, my mindset is this: I love being fit enough to take on a Tough Mudder. It’s just 14 months since I limped away from pregnancy-long hyperemesis gravidarum and the early delivery of my tiny baby. I spent long, lonely months trapped at home by extreme pregnancy sickness, fantasising about being able to feel the buzz of getting my heart rate up rather than how I was going to keep a cocktail of anti-sickness drugs down; to leap into water rather than struggle to wash my hair or brush my teeth in it because its smell(?!) made me gag. And to make Steve proud of me after all those months of picking up the pieces of me.

This event comes a week after international HG awareness day and the Pregnancy Sickness Support charity’s annual conference. The experiences that flooded my social media feeds and that were shared first hand by former HG sufferers are still ringing in my ears – there’s so much heart breaking loss surrounding HG pregnancies; from the loss of the long hoped-for glow of pregnancy, loss of dignity at incessant puking and peeing and being unable to care for yourself, to the tragic losses from ‘therapeutic’ termination, prematurity and stillbirth. The PSS charity is working very hard to support women and families enduring this and to improve the support and treatment they receive in the UK. Every penny that people sponsor me is supporting the charity to alleviate some of this hardship.

If you would like to sponsor me, my fundraising page is here. Thank you. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Beci's Tough Mudder - Training well underway

In October my friend Kim and I decided to sign up for the Midlands Tough Mudder race. This seemed like a fun plan at the time. A little over a month away now, I'm starting to wonder what I've let myself in for! Our little team has since been joined by another PSS volunteer Emma Watford.

For those unfamiliar with Tough Mudder it's basically a mud obstacle run. Our event is roughly 12 miles around Belvoir Castle, Grantham and includes obstacles happily entitled Electroshock Therapy, Arctic Enema, Birth Canal and Crybaby (I'm led to believe this involves tear gas!) Have a look at the photos of previous events, it should give an idea of which are which!

Training has been going pretty well, though I think I underestimated how much time it would take up! Interspersed with running is cardio sessions (Zumba, circuits) and strength training (strength yoga, lots and lots of squats, weights). I can now at least run the 12 miles! Honestly the hardest thing is the mental barriers we are all trying to break. I found myself running around muddy puddles but now force myself through them! 

Still, every bit of training will make it easier on the day! And hopefully we will make a good sum for Pregnancy Sickness Support, which is the point when all is said and done! If you would like to sponsor me, my fundraising page is here. Thank you!

Wish us luck (I fear we will need it)!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Anita's Big Swim

Hyperemesis Gravidarum – two words I didn’t know until August 2010 when our daughter was expecting her first child. However the severity of this condition soon became all too apparent when she was hospitalised several times during her pregnancy. 
It robs women of the absolute joy of expecting their first baby and makes them dread (if considering at all) any future pregnancies.
Swimming is my newly rediscovered passion since retiring two years ago. I started slowly ending the summer with a 1 mile distance at the Great Scottish Swim last August. I enjoyed it thoroughly and challenged myself to do more Great Swims in 2015. I signed up for 3 swims before our daughter announced she was expecting again. Fingers crossed she would be fine…. No such luck sadly. 
Living 400 miles away there was little other than moral support I could give her, so I decided to make the swims sponsored events. Not only to raise money for PSS but also to raise more awareness amongst my friends and acquaintances about this life threatening condition/illness. My target was set at £500 which I have to this date surpassed with the help of the PSS Awareness day Coffee afternoon where I also raffled off one of my quilts.
Training has been going on all year either in the pool or in Loch Lomond. Yes even during the winter I dipped in, just as well as with the dreadful summer we have had up here, the temperature has not risen much above 13.5C all summer. 
My last and biggest challenge is next Saturday when I have entered the 5km swim at the Scottish Great Swim in Loch Lomond. I have swum around Incailloch Island this week which is around 4km so I feel very confident that I will reach the end before the 2 hour deadline is up and I have to endure the indignity of being fished out ahead of the finishing line. 
I will be cheered on by my 4 ½ year old granddaughter and her now 2 month old sister and their mother. All healthy, wonderful and gorgeous HG survivors.