The reality of the C word

This wasn’t the post I had planned to write tonight.  I had planned on sharing my goals and aims for 2018.  To set myself some targets for the year ahead.  I had wanted to write about the 100 miles I’m so excited to run at the South Downs Way in June and my new training plan that began yesterday in order to make sure I see the finish line come race day.

But, I also want to write a post on cancer, and my Mum and to get everything that’s been swirling around in my head for the past few months written down somewhere before I forget how things have been.

If you don’t want to read this post, I won’t be offended.  Just skip over this one and come back to check out my next running post instead.  I don’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable about what I’ve written – that isn’t my aim at all.

The last week seems to have been filled with stories of cancer all around me and on the way home from Dan’s Nan’s funeral today it’s all I could think about.  (Of four funerals that I am attending in the space of a month, this is the only non-cancer death.)

Everyone knows all about cancer.  Or at least they think they do.  They hear the word cancer and immediately think ‘incurable, chemo, ill, terminal’.  Even when you are told that the cancer is terminal, as in my Mum’s case, then it’s automatically assumed weeks or months before the end when in actual fact you can suffer with terminal cancer for many years.  My Mum was first diagnosed in 2013.  That’s a whole lot of suffering and unknown she has been through for the past four years.

There are so many different types of cancer and it almost seems to have become a generic word for an illness which varies in so many ways.

Cancer is a horrible, horrible illness and I cannot even imagine how hearing the type you have inside you is incurable.  In actual fact the worst part is often yet to come though.

The last picture I have of my Mum is from two weeks before she died.  It’s a picture of my Mum and my Dad in the lounge at their house.  I thought about sharing it on the blog, but I don’t think that it would be very appropriate for me to do so, so I am going to describe it instead…
Mum is lying asleep in the hospital bed that was provided for her when she was allowed home for her remaining days.  She has no hair left on her head due to the repeated batches of chemotherapy that she underwent during the year and she has a drip in her arm which administers the drugs the carers give.  She is several stone lighter than I ever remember her being before and dressed only in a nightgown under the thick duvet that covers her.  The nightgown has been cut from top to bottom vertically to allow the carers to easily clean her when they come in each morning because it has been eight weeks now since she has been able to stand.  To the left of my Mum is a hospital table.  The sort that is on wheels and comes across the bed, only Mum has not been strong enough to wheel or move it.  On top of the table sits a carton of orange juice, a beaker of water and some tissues, along with Mum’s driver medicine box, medical notes, a signed DNR form and a large platform which, when tapped, rings the doorbell at the other end of the bungalow in case Dad has popped out of the room for a few minutes and Mum needs assistance.
Hanging from the end of the bed is a large thick blue binbag – one of several which is filled every day with medicines and swabs and rubbish from cleaning up Mum.  She is losing a lot of blood all of the time by this point.
You can’t quite see it in the photo, but tucked underneath the bed is the bed of my parents’ dog, Blue.  He doesn’t venture far from her side and has often been spotted up on his hind legs with his paws resting by her arm so that she might give him some fuss.
My Dad sits upright in the armchair next to the bed.  Fast asleep, his head has tilted back and his mouth has fallen open.  His left hand limply clasps my Mum’s right, both hands resting lightly on the edge of the bed.  He too is several stone lighter than he once was and both my parents have an exhausted, almost haunted look on their face.

Because it’s not just my Mum who had a tough time, but my Dad also sacrificed a huge amount during the past year.  From the repeated visits to hospital to support Mum during consultant check ups, whilst she was receiving chemo, and the numerous trips up to the city in the back of an ambulance, later arranging just how he would return home again.  The hospital is an hour’s drive from their bungalow but I’m sure he could probably drive it in his sleep now.  In fact, there were several days when I worried that he would fall asleep at the wheel.  When my Mum was admitted to hospital for the final time in mid-September, my Dad visited her at least once a day, often for more than 8 hours at a time.  He spent hundreds of pounds parking in the hospital car park and experienced most of the cafeteria food during the hours he spent there.

When I got the phone call to say that 48 hours would be my Mum’s limit I rushed from work to be there with my family in the Norfolk & Norwich hospital, along with my brother.  My Dad was already there.  My Mum was there, only it wasn’t my Mum, – it didn’t seem like my Mum.  She was on so much medication that her words were erratic.  She kept insisting that we had to hide things from the nurses and that someone was ‘out to get her’.  It was scary, and left me rather shaken and upset.  It wasn’t the final memories I wanted of my Mum and I didn’t know what to say to her.
She doesn’t remember anything from that visit.

She remained in hospital for two weeks before my Dad convinced the hospital doctors to let my Mum go home to die.  I visited several times during the two weeks, sometimes with Oscar, and sometimes I made the two hour journey straight from work on my own.  On talking to her about it a few weeks later she vaguely remembers Oscar playing on the hospital room floor during one time, but doesn’t remember any further visits.

My Dad fought to get my Mum home.  The hospital wouldn’t release her without being able to schedule four care visits with two people every day.  In the end Dad told the hospital that he would act as an additional carer and got Mum home.  She wanted to come home to see Blue and to sort out her funeral arrangements with the vicar.

It was a lifestyle change for all involved.  A carer would arrive at 8pm each night to sit with Mum in the lounge.  Along with my Dad, they would then turn Mum over and clean and change her.  My Dad could snatch a couple of hours sleep at this point, as Mum would be exhausted from the cleaning and fall asleep herself.  He would then return to the lounge, to hold Mum’s hand, to pass her the straw from her drink and to help the carer if they needed to do anything further.

The carer remained there until 8am, changing Mum a further few times during the night along with Dad.  Before the carer then left, Dad would quickly go and get ready for the day himself as it wouldn’t be long before the nurses would arrive to administer the drugs to Mum’s driver.  A little later the doctor would arrive, and then another nurse to help change Mum again.  By lunchtime things would quieten down, but Mum would be worn out from the morning of visitors and often sleep through.  She couldn’t be left though, and on the two or three days of the week when I didn’t visit, my Dad would remain housebound – loungebound, looking after Mum.

Mum ate less than Oscar at every meal.  When she craved jelly, my Dad headed out and stocked up on jelly.  When she decided she’d like some melon, Dad made another trip out to buy some, after having waited for me to arrive to take over from him first.

The first time I visited Mum in the hospital bed at her home she was in an immense amount of pain, begging that the cancer took her that night.  She told me that I wasn’t to worry – she’d seen everything she had wanted to and that she no longer wanted to be in pain.  The tumour in her stomach now made her appear heavily pregnant, whilst also severely emaciated at the same time.  She went on for another eight weeks of existence at home.  It wasn’t living.  It was purely existing and waiting for the end.  It was very horrible a lot of the time, knowing that we could do nothing to help her when she was in so much pain.

Mum didn’t think she’d see my wedding to Dan in 2014, but she was there.  She absolutely never thought that she’d see Grandchildren, and not only did she get to meet Oscar, but she was able to see his funny, cheeky and affectionate personality begin to develop during the first 14 months of his life.

The last time I went to visit my Mum when she was still conscious was the Wednesday before she died.  Just like every other visit, when it was time for us to leave Oscar climbed up into the armchair next to Mum, madly waving at her and trying to play peek-a-boo between the bars of the bed, whilst supported by me so that he didn’t fall.  This time though, he finished his visit by leaning down and giving Mum a kiss on her cheek.  We both melted…he was very cute.  As I picked him up I told Mum that I would be back again in a couple of days, the same as I always did.

When I arrived on the Saturday her eyes were shut and she was breathing heavily.

On Sunday my Dad rang Dan to tell him that my Mum had died.

I was racing at the time, but headed back to Norfolk for the week as soon as I received the news.

Mum meeting Oscar for the first timeMy Dad was a rockstar.  I hope I made that clear in the eulogy I gave at my Mum’s funeral.  Their neighbours and friends, – also amazing.  On a number of occasions we would go out to the porch to let the dog out only to discover that somebody had made us a home-cooked casserole or a selection of sausage rolls.  Several times we would go to the door to find flowers.  Neighbours would drop by, sometimes only for five minutes just to share a funny story or stop in with a tale they thought my Mum would enjoy.

There were an overwhelming number of cards and letters my Dad received the week of her death, and I too received flowers, chocolate, such lovely words of kindness in a number of cards from friends.

My Mum – She loved our family, her dog, gardening, playing the organ, spending time out on the marshes, being a Nanny and helping others.

I spoke to her daily throughout my adult life and there have been numerous times since November 26th where I’ve gone to text her or picked up the phone to call her, only to realise that I can’t any more.  That she is no longer here.  That cancer did it’s thing.

I’m hoping to do some fundraising for cancer charities this year, but I’ll mention it on the blog when I have more details.

End of year round up

One of the things I love most about blogging is the ability to look back at the end of the year and reminisce over everything I’ve done across the past twelve months.  This year has been a bit of a tough one for several reasons, and so not everything has made it to the blog, but I still managed to scrape together 45 posts during 2017.  I’m hoping to have a number a little higher than that for the coming year though as things hopefully start to settle down a little once more.

My 2017bestnine from Instagram:

2017bestnine - A Healthier Moo

Medals, races and mud…that’s what we like to see! 😉

I actually started posting a few images up on a separate Instagram account this year (fromteachertomum) so that I would be able to share a few select images of Oscar’s adventures and Mum life without drowning my AHM fitness account with baby.  Just for fun, here’s my 2017bestnine from that account as well:

2017bestnine - From Teacher to MumHe has been a lovely little addition to our family.

January:

For the second year in a row I kicked off the New Year with a double parkrun, along with several other members from my running club.  In 2016 I had run Huntingdon parkrun followed by Peterborough which was one of only a few options of double day parkruns near to us at the time.  Word obviously got around though, because at the start of this year we had more to choose from and so I made the decision to head over to Milton Keynes to run the Linford Wood parkrun course, followed by a jog over for the Milton Keynes route a little later, and then a jog back to my car back at the first course again.

Milton Keynes parkrun on New Year's Day

In the New Year Oscar started attending swimming lessons at a local pool in Wellingborough.  He was an avid hater of bath time up until this point but he absolutely adores his swimming lessons.  Other than the 8 weeks where I returned to work in the Summer term, he has been going weekly for a swimming lesson and can now get in and out of the pool safely and easily, kicks and moves his arms to swim and blows bubbles in the water.  He usually gets really excited when he realises we’ve arrived at the swimming pool and one of my favourite times at the pool was when the instructor got us all to lay the babies on a tilted hand float so that their legs were dangling in the water and then whoosh them around the pool alongside us like they were paddling on a surf board.  Oscar thought this was amazing and shrieked so loudly and for so long as he was so excited!  He absolutely loves being in the pool.  A proper little water baby!

Dan made the jump from working in IT development within schools during January to managing IT systems within a Nationwide Solicitor firm.  With a new baby and a three month job probation to pass we debated for quite a while before Dan eventually made the leap, but it was a great decision and not only is he very happy in his new role but he is now working much closer to home, leaving much later in the morning for work and bringing home more money.  Much better all round!

I ran the final cross-country race of the season at Sharnbrook this month.

Sharnbrook cross-country trail

Dan ran the final Tough Mudder in Perton, Wolverhampton, which is the town his parents live in.

Dan at the end of Tough MudderIt’s not something that wildly appeals to me to be honest, but Dan really enjoyed it!

February:

I started to realise that fitting in runs around a new baby would be more difficult than I first thought(!)

I ran my first half marathon post baby at my club’s inaugural Welly Trail Races event.

Welly Trail races

March:

I had managed to enter the Hunny Bell Cross-country race held a couple of miles from my parents’ house in time to get a spot and so enjoyed a cross-country event outside of the Three Counties League I usually run with during the Winter months.  Both my parents were also able to see me finish a race, which was a first for my Mum.

Hunny Bell XC finish

I finally got round to ordering Oscar’s running buggy.  Something I had been avoiding until he was old enough to go in it, but something I knew I would order all along! 😉

Oscar in the running buggy

I had been lucky enough to win a Valentine’s Photoshoot on Facebook and so a couple of weeks into March we persuaded my friend Laura to push Oscar around Harlestone Firs in his buggy so that Dan and I could have some nice pictures taken.  There aren’t any photos of just Dan and I together from our wedding that I really like, but Maxine at Do You Realise? photography was an amazing photographer and she captured some lovely photographs for us to get printed.

Do You Realise photography couple shoot at Harlestone Firs

Dan and I sat down one weekend (after many many afternoons of talking about it) and worked out our living costs, realising that I would be able to leave my job as a teacher in order to bring Oscar up myself, rather than put him into a nursery full time, – and so I handed my notice in at school.

April:

I had entered The South Downs Way 50 before Oscar had even been born.  I wanted a big challenge to work towards as part of my return to running post-baby, and I definitely got that with running 50 miles!  Going into the race I definitely hadn’t completed enough training, but I was so, so ecstatic to finish well within the cut off times, and as strongly as I did despite having to stop on route to pump(!)

South Downs Way 50 medal

The following weekend, Dan, Oscar and I headed to Shropshire for a well-deserved weekend away in a lovely little cottage with friends.  We even managed to fit in some parkrun tourism at Ludlow parkrun whilst we were there!

Ludlow parkrun with Dan, John and Lynn

I made it down to London for my annual trip with friends to cheer runners along the marathon route.

Then I had my first weekend away from Oscar when I ran the Pembrokeshire marathon at the end of the month.

WDAC at Pembrokeshire marathon

May:

May was a good month running-wise.  I ran the Silverstone 10k in a quicker-than-hoped time, the Rugby 6 to a new PB and Corby 5 in a course PB, all as part of the East Midlands Grand Prix series.

Silverstone 10k

May was also the month where I returned to work full time (albeit only for one day before the start of the half term holiday).

June:

I ran Shires and Spires 35m for the fourth time at the start of this month, but as I returned to work the following day I never got round to writing a recap of the event.

Shires and Spires 35m medal

Oscar officially started nursery when I returned to school after the half term break.  Dan had my first week back booked as holiday from work in case there were any problems with Oscar in nursery during the day time, but all seemed to go well.  Dan spent most of the week making much-needed improvements on our house to ready it for guests we had staying in the Summer.

I had my name in print in Your Fitness magazine this month.

Your Fitness magazine

I ran the remaining races of the EMGP series.  The Harborough 5, Weedon 10k (to a course PB) and then Milton Keynes 10k to a full on new PB!

Milton Keynes 10k

I headed over with Oscar in his buggy to photograph our club runners at the Colworth Marathon Challenge on the Friday evening.  I’m hoping to be able to run the full three-day event again in 2018.

Sally and Jo at Colworth 5m

 

July:

I managed to type up (over several days!) a new Day-in-the-life post of a full-time-working-training-for-a-marathon-new-Mum.

Oscar tea

I had great fun swinging round the treetops for a friend’s hen do at Woburn, followed by some tasty afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea for Steph's hen do

I managed to gain a new 5 mile PB at our club annual pre-Welly 5 BBQ run, and then marshaled for the actual Welly 5 the following weekend.

Welly 5 winnersAt some point during the month of July, I was persuaded to stay on an extra month in September at school, due to lack of staff.  So luckily, I never had to give a leaving speech at the end of year assembly!  😉

August:

We attended our first wedding as a family of three, where Dan was also an usher.

Sarah and Treble's wedding - Oscar in bracesAnd I was outraged when somebody threw eggs at me from a car window whilst I was out on a run in Norfolk.  :(

We had a really busy August in fact.  I had been travelling back to Norfolk to spend time with my parents each week from February-time as neither of them were very well.  Somehow we managed to fit in a wedding in Birmingham, a first birthday party in Norwich and another first birthday party in Huddersfield over the Summer.  The two birthday parties even fell on the same weekend!

Dinosaur cake for Charles' birthday at the Dinosaur Park

We did manage to escape to Rutland Water for a few days for our third wedding anniversary though which was nice.

And we finally had carpet laid in all the upstairs rooms and on the stairs and landing.  I was so excited to finally see carpet down on the floor!

Oscar's nursery bedroom

September:

As I was looking back through my blog posts just now I realised that I didn’t blog at all during September!  It was a very busy time though.  Working as a teacher during the month of September is very different to the month of June, when half the students have already finished for the year and lots of kids are out on school trips.  Not only was I super busy with work this month but we had something planned in the calendar for every single weekend.

The first weekend was spent marshaling at Northampton half marathon where I was once again sector lead of the Great Houghton section.  For the fourth year I believe now?

The second weekend, I went to my friend Steph’s wedding.

Me and Laura at Steph's weddingShe had the best photo challenge, which Laura and I totally smashed and won!

Photo challenge at Steph's wedding

Our new sofas arrived!  The first time I have ever bought brand new sofas before and it was rather exciting!

New sofas in the lounge

I headed back to Norfolk to take part in the Round Norfolk Relay event.  Our club managed to find two teams of runners and crew and it was an awesome weekend that I can’t wait to take part in again next year!

Stage 5 of the Round Norfolk Relay

The evening after the RNR I had returned home to get some school work sorted out ready for work the following week.  The following day my Dad rang to say that my Mum had been admitted into hospital.  At this point (four years since being diagnosed with terminal cancer) this was no longer an uncommon occurrence and I asked Dad to keep me updated, saying that I would return the following weekend to visit her in hospital, or at home again, as she had so often ended up in hospital for just a couple of days at a time.

I finished school at 3pm on the Wednesday and it was only a matter of seconds after the final bell had gone when my Dad rang my mobile to say that I needed to get over to Norwich then.  That Mum was really bad this time and that doctors had given her just 48 hours.  After a call to Dan so that he could arrange to leave work early to pick up Oscar from nursery that evening I rushed off over to Norwich hospital and it wasn’t a very nice visit at all.  It was rather scary in fact.

I was supposed to be running Ealing half marathon the following weekend, but obviously this did not happen, and instead I spent the weekend at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, as well as visiting several nights after work during the week.

It all ended up being a bit much and by the end of the month I had made myself very ill from the night feeds, school work, housework and constant travelling.  I spent the last two days of term laying in bed feeling pretty useless.  Made even more miserable due to the fact that I had really been looking forward to the Decathlon ambassador event I had been invited to but which now had to miss, and the fact that I was so poorly I couldn’t even hold Oscar on his first birthday.

Oscar's first birthday

October:

We held a birthday party for him the weekend after his birthday and had him Christened.  I was able to get up and about and put a face on, but I still wasn’t very well at all.

Mabel and MarthaMabel and Martha, checking out the Godmother gift their Mum was given!  (They have their own Instagram here if you want to check it out!)

As I had finished school by October I was then travelling back to Norfolk for four days a week.  After two weeks in hospital, at my Mum’s request, the doctors let her return home where she remained in a hospital bed in the lounge for the remaining weeks.  I usually headed back Monday afternoon-Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  A minimum of 12 extra hours in the car each week but often more than this due to roadworks and bad traffic.

Several of my visits were spent taking my parents’ dog Blue out for long walks and helping out with the shopping and cooking.

Oscar and Blue out on a walk

I was lucky enough to be chosen as an ambassador for Milton Keynes Marathon this month, which takes place in May 2018.  I can’t wait to run the marathon for the fourth time!

Milton Keynes Marathon ambassador

I had planned to target and run Chelmsford marathon in October for a sub 4h 30m, but this obviously went out of the window as I hadn’t been able to get enough miles in during the build up to race day and I had been suffering with a bad back for several weeks.  It was probably the toughest marathon I’ve run by the end of the race, and I’ve run several off-road events!

Chelmsford marathon mile 25

November:

November went by in a bit of a blur.  I headed to Gower with friends for the EnduranceLife Coastal Marathon as per usual, and the break was very much needed.

EnduranceLife Gower marathon 2017

The following week Dan was working away in Dublin, but I barely knew about it as I was hardly home anyway.

The last Wednesday of the month when I was visiting Mum Oscar bent down to kiss her for the first time and happily did his usual wave and “Bye bye” babble to her as we left.  She had been a little confused during our visit but we’d had several chats throughout the day.  That was the last time we spoke.

I visited the following Saturday for several hours but she was asleep the whole time, and when I rang Dan to say that I had finished running the Dunstable XC the following morning he told me that my Dad had been on the phone not long earlier to let him know that my Mum had just died.
Dan’s Nan had died hours earlier following a heart attack and we lost another family member to cancer later that week.  (A third to cancer in 2017 just yesterday.)

December:

After putting it off for the past few years I ran Bedford half marathon and was pleasantly surprised at my time considering how inconsistent my training had been in the build up to the race.

Bedford half marathon

Most of the week had been working with my Dad on preparations for my Mum’s funeral.  She had been very definite about what she wanted, but there was a lot we were unable to put into place until she died.

The day after the funeral I began a new job working nightshifts at a large Tesco supermarket.  It’s not a forever thing, but the extra money will be handy to restock savings.

My brother and Dad came up to mine for a visit one evening so that I could attend the annual Running Club Christmas awards ceremony.

Running club Christmas do 2017

I came home marginally cleaner following the annual Christmas Eve run this year.

Christmas Eve muddy run

And then spent Christmas day in Norfolk with my side of the family.

2013 round up * 2014 round up * 2015 round up * 2016 round up

How would you sum up your 2017?
What have you been up to this year?

ALL the walkies

If you follow me on Instagram you will probably have already picked up on the fact that I am going out on a lot of walks just lately.


My family are going through rather a tough time at the moment so I am heading back to Norfolk as often as I realistically can at the moment to help out my Dad. Having Oscar with me when I travel back means that I am rather limited in ways that I can help out, although his cheeky grin usually brightens up everyone’s day when we are back.  He has started walking completely on his own this week and likes to run towards me full pelt, before dive bombing his face into my lap!

I am usually limited to nap times when I can actually be of much use around the house.  Oscar always seems to sleep in when we stay over, although I never can! He really enjoys playing peek-a-boo around the hospital bed in the lounge and loves the fact that there is a keyboard in the hallway for him to play.Oscar playing the piano Just lately I have been heading back to Norfolk four days each week, sometimes staying over between the days when I can’t face another two hours of traveling.  With Oscar’s weekly swimming lessons and nursery days, staying over isn’t always very practical as I’ve had to rush around quite a lot.  From next week I’ve decided to cut my visits back to 2-3 days a week.  The traveling and constant packing and unpacking of the car (it’s impossible to travel light with traveling with a baby!) was wearing me out and I was starting to feel the pressure to keep up with my own home and commitments back in Northamptonshire.

After all the recent rushing around, last weekend I very much appreciated the chance to get away and have a proper break in Gower with my friends. Dan spent much of the following week working over in Dublin, and my car spent a couple of days in the garage so this past week has been a little different from the norm, but it felt nice to have a brief change.Oscar and Blue out on a walk One of the easiest ways I can help out when I’m in Norfolk is by taking my Dad’s dog Blue out for a walk.  Around 2pm Oscar starts to get crabby and I know that he needs his nap.  I feel that it is important for him to spend some time outside every day and he adores dogs and dog-spotting as I push his buggy around the village I grew up in.  I usually aim for about an hour’s walk with Blue each afternoon, and sometimes, when Oscar sleeps in, I can also take Blue out on a short run with me in the morning too.  He’s a fairly good dog, so although I always start by juggling both the dog lead and the buggy in my hands, as long as I choose my route wisely I can let him off and then not worry about finding myself wound up in a dog lead which has also been wrapped around the buggy first! Oscar and Blue out on a walkI adore Autumn.  It is absolutely my favourite season.  Wrapped up all cosy and warm in scarves and gloves, rambling to pubs with log fires and enjoying hot chocolate to warm up your hands.  Nothing better.  And the leaves are so beautiful at this time of year too.Oscar and Blue out on a walkMy friend Amanda thought that I had actually arranged the leaves in this picture I took the other week… Autumn leavesBut that wasn’t the case.  They had arranged themselves!  Such a beautiful mix of colours and shapes. Good job the leaves have been photogenic, because I definitely haven’t been with the winds the way they have been just lately! Windy dog walk…My hair was rather knotty that night!

A little while into our walks, Oscar usually puts his feet up on the front bar of his buggy and begins his nap.  When I return after an hour or so, rather than wake him, I then try to get on and help out with any jobs I can do in the house, as I can keep an eye on him through the window in the kitchen.  Although now that it’s getting colder, I might have to drag the buggy up the step and inside the front door so that he doesn’t get too chilly during his nap.Oscar asleep in the buggyMy friend Amanda also has a little boy, Charles, who is just five weeks older than Oscar.  Oscar and I met up with Amanda and Charles at Holt Country Park a couple of weeks back to have a catch up and to take both boys out for an Autumnal spin in their buggies.

We took a leisurely stroll around the park and out into the town to visit Folly Tearoom for hot chocolate and cake. Hot chocolate at Folly tearoomChocolate cake at Folly tearoomThe boys shared a scone and enjoyed swinging their legs in their highchairs. Both Amanda and I agreed that however delicious the drink and cake had been, it was probably a mistake to go for a double whammy of chocolate and so we both downed glasses of water before heading back on our return journey.Oscar and Me at Pearson road in Holt, NorfolkAmanda even spotted a sign made for us on the way back, so we had to stop for a photo!

Which is your favourite season?
Do you enjoy walking?
Do you have a dog?

September – what a month

I always knew that September would be a tough month.  That basically I would have to just put my head down, keep fighting until the very end and then hopefully emerge from the other side still kicking.

Having given my notice to finish teaching at the end of the Summer, I was offered a further month of work with a bonus to help ease the transition for new members of staff within the department.  With a finish date of four weeks, after having just had the six weeks of Summer off, I decided to go ahead and accept the proposal.  The extra money I was being offered would be nice in the build up to Christmas if nothing else!

I knew it would be tougher than when I had originally returned to work back in May.  A May timetable with no year 11 or 13 and countless trips across other year groups is very different to a September timetable, when new courses are starting up and resources need creating or adapting to suit different classes.  My September timetable contained six year 11 classes and a year 10 class, amongst others, so I would also spend lunchtimes holding coursework catchup sessions for those GCSE students.

Not only would my workload be higher, but my personal life at the weekends was also looking rather full during September.  For each of the weekends my calendar was pretty jam-packed full of activities.

Week 1: Marshaling at Go Beyond Northampton Half Marathon
Week 2: At a friend’s wedding
Week 3: Round Norfolk Relay
Week 4: Ealing half marathon
Week 5: Oscar’s birthday party/christening

There wouldn’t be a lot of time for sleep, running or baby cuddles.  With my Mum very poorly I also wanted to try and fit in as many visits back to Norfolk as was practical.
As a new ambassador for Decathlon I was also really looking forward to the Decathlon blogger meet up at the end of the month, although was concerned that I would be burnt out by that point and unable to fully enjoy the activities that had been planned for us all.

As it turned out though, things didn’t really go quite to plan for September.  I had severe back pain from the second week of the month, managing to run the Round Norfolk Relay only having dosed myself up with double-strength Ibuprofen first, and then unable to run any further miles in September.  The day after the Round Norfolk Relay, my Mum was once again admitted into hospital with a serious infection and so many trips were made over to Norwich hospital for visits during the week, as well as twice-daily phone calls to help support my Dad.  Following one weekend visit and eating in the questionable hospital canteen I ended up throwing up over and over.  My Dad was also left feeling poorly that evening.  I made the difficult decision to pull from Ealing Half Marathon – I hadn’t been able to walk with a straight back for ten days by that point and also I felt it was more important to be with my family in Norfolk.

By the time I began the final week of my contract, I was really struggling.  By Wednesday lunch time my face was hot to touch – burning up, whilst my coat-clad body shivered uncontrollably from the cold.  At 3pm that day I made the decision to head for home, leaving my half-finished marking laid out on the shared office desk with a post-it note stuck to the top reading “Really sorry, – feeling totally pants this afternoon.  Will clear in the morning.”

Oscar's first birthday

That Wednesday was Oscar’s birthday, only I never saw him that day as I rang to cancel my physio appointment on the way home, before curling up into a little ball in my bed, texting Dan to ask if he would be able to pick Oscar up from nursery on his way home from work later that night instead.

The following day I couldn’t even get out of bed, and napped on and off all day, feeling very sorry for myself.  I left emailing Decathlon until the very last minute to say that I wouldn’t be able to make it that evening, just in case I perked up a little and was able to still attend.  I so wanted to attend.  I knew deep down that I would be too poorly to go though, and even if I did manage to sit through the train journey down, I would not be well enough to enjoy the activities they had planned for us once down there.

Friday, my last day at school and I was still too poorly to attend.  What a funny end to my time at the school.  I’ve been in this week to clear my desk and tidy up a few loose ends, but the end of my time there wasn’t how I imagined it to be at all.Oscar's first birthdayThe Saturday was spent opening up Oscar’s birthday presents and last minute cleaning and tidying ready for Oscar’s guests the following day.  I managed to get through the weekend somehow, although I still don’t feel 100%.

…But we did make it through the other side.

Our life will be better now.  That hard work was worthwhile, as it has put a nice pot of money into our bank which we can fall back on if necessary and I’ve been told any future reference requests will be glowing following the work I put into my role.  I’m very glad that my time in school is over now though.  Despite working full pelt, I never felt like I was totally doing my best job of being a Mum or my best job of being a teacher or a daughter or wife.  I always just felt like I was getting by – existing and doing my best to not sink in the madness that was going on around me.  The last fortnight of the month contained several days where I managed only to grab something from the petrol station for lunch, and skipped tea altogether as I knew Oscar was being looked after at nursery for food and I really needed to get on with work.

This is the start of our new chapter now.  One hopefully filled with healthy living, three meals a day, a tidy house, family fun, lots of running, a return to blogging, and a better work-life balance for us all.  I struggle with that work-life balance, as I know many do.  But at the end of the day, life is short.  {How is Oscar one year old already?!}  I don’t want to look back and feel like I missed out because I was too busy working or wishing Oscar would go to sleep so that I could get some marking done.

Now to see how the next chapter of our life turns out…