One step at a time

First off: sorry to all of you that received an email at the weekend saying ‘new post’, only to find your access blocked. That particular entry is me doing some test runs of the Literary Salmon project that’s due out at the end of next month – I’d forgotten about the notification thing until CM pointed it out to me. (No, I’m not giving you the password.)

Literary Salmon Project 1 is well on its way, though. With a week to go before the hardest work, courtesy of the writers, is finished, we’re ironing out some last bits and pieces of the plan. It is intensely exciting to see it all taking shape; it’s also a bit nerve-wracking. It feels as though Bernie, Jane and I have been talking about this on and off forever, but even when we actually got the thing going, I confess to having some doubts that we’d actually do it. But here we are – and I think the final result is going to be something of which all the project writers can be very proud. I really hope that it’s going to be the first of many such projects.

My year breaks up into chunks of quarterly chaos now. I’ve just come out of the end of one such quarter, ready for August bank holiday (alone, as always, as CM will be off having his annual working festival at Fright Fest), and then the Great North Run, and then some days off grid in Scotland. I’m very excited about the Scotland thing – I’ll be going through all my notebooks, picking favourites to take with me, printing out stuff I want to scribble all over to improve it. My favourite thing about the organising is the lists, of course. So many lists to write! Just this morning I found my way back into a story that I thought I’d lost, and at the weekend some poems started to come together in the gloop of my brain. So I’m looking forward to the space and time of both the bank holiday and Scotland.

I’m less excited about the Great North Run; just nervous, if I’m honest. it’s been so long since I’ve done anywhere near a half marathon distance and my ankle has been on-and-off playing up. Not so ‘on’ that it’s a real worry, mind. BUT I’m running for a great cause, and in amongst the nerves I’m looking forward to it, even the hurting. But here’s a thing – I suspect that this might be the first race that I finish crying. I’ve run for charities before. Alzheimers’ Society and Parkinson’s. Alzheimer’s was personal, due to my Opa, but I was high as a kite by the time I finished the marathon I ran it for. Parkinson’s just seems to be incidental – I don’t know anyone with Parkinson’s, but they set good races and, you know, Halloween is always fun.

Halloween races are SO much fun, and we were literally the poster children for the second one.
Halloween races are SO much fun, and we were literally the poster children for the second one.

But this run is tied more closely to someone I care about than ever before – every time I write an update, or think about the race and why I’m running (or, potentially, walking), I get pulled back to that hellish week in Lancaster, and then I think about how far my dad has come since then: able to write, talk, walk within reason; building a custom bike (with help) to get around on (with the brakes all on the left handle). There was a time when I genuinely did not think he’d recover this well. I’ve just started crying trying to explain what that meant, so let’s just say, he’s worked really hard.

In a week it’ll be the year anniversary of the stroke. A few months ago my dad wrote a poem about the struggle of rehab, and I asked if I could put it up on the sponsorship site. I’m saying that like it’s a tiny thing, but it’s not. One of the effects of the stroke was dysphasia, and for a long time my dad could neither write (typing or by hand) nor say what was in his head. The words just wouldn’t come; the letters wouldn’t come out in the right order. I have a page in a notebook where, in the early days, he tried to write some information that he couldn’t say, and it’s just… scrawls.

So a poem – a poem is huge, and he’s even better now than when he wrote it. And a lot of that is because of the work of places like the Hyperbaric Chamber, where he went every day for, literally, months. It was experimental, to use the HC for stroke recovery, but the numbers show that it’s had a demonstrable positive effect, and that’s not even including how supportive and lovely the staff there have been to my parents. So that’s what I’m running for – the two hyperbaric chambers on the Isle of Man are used for so many diseases and injuries and recoveries, and they cost a lot to keep going, so this is my tiny contribution towards that.

Even if you don’t sponsor me, check out the poem – have a read, print it out (but, you know, always credit). There’s a copy up on the wall of my dad’s physio,  who has told him, over and over again, ‘one step at a time’. Which is advice I’ll be taking for the race, as well.

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