25 days to go – refocusing

A busy, and tiring weekend kept me away from my blog. Chris (yes, that brother of mine), was riding in the Dunwich Dynamo and I offered to pick him and his friend Danny up from Dunwich beach first thing in the morning (their ETA was 6am). Ollie and I decided we would make a weekend of it, rather than getting up at a crazy hour and making the 3.5 hr journey from Swindon to Dunwich. We dropped Chris off in London at around 10 am Saturday and headed off for an afternoon of Go Ape! 

After Go Ape, the unthinkable happened. I camped! Actually pitched a tent and attempted sleep, in a field full of campers, bbq’s and dogs, during a thunderstorm.  However, I didn’t fully engage with the activity; we got up at 3 am to collect the boys, who’d made amazing progress and were due to arrive. So, I didn’t get the chance to experience the shower block. Oh well. 

I’m not sure who was more tired – the boys who had just ridden 120 miles or me after half a night in a tent. 

So I didn’t get any riding in over Saturday and Sunday but on Friday of last week  I had the pleasure of meeting and cycling with David, who is the CEO of Voluntary Action Swindon and supports the Swindon MS Centre (he is riding London 100 in support of the MS Centre).  Here’s a picture of us taking a refreshment break: 

David and I

David and I

I also, had a good ride last night. Finally. Thanks to @bgddyjim for reminding me to drink electrolytes and to James for pointing out my lazy cadence.

A few months ago, when I first bought my Garmin I made a real effort to keep my cadence high and I saw a definite improvement in my cycling, but over the last few months I have met new cycling buddies. I’ve been chatting and have lost that focus resulting in a slow and lazy cadence and thus making cycling harder for myself. Last night, with a more focused approach to my cadence, I managed to keep up with Ollie while going up a hill. I did however do 37 miles with a loose wheel, and the first 5 minutes with my front brake off – so I remain defiantly novice. 

Laura 

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Inspiration to keep on pedalling

I’ve had an interesting, busy and ultimately successful week; I have a new job!

A highlight of the week however, was meeting a Dressability customer; Martin and his wife Beryl*. Martin, has a condition called Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which affects the Central Nervous System – a system which is fundamental to everything the body does. MS, therefore can cause many different symptoms –  though the majority of people with MS will not develop these symptoms simultaneously and thus will not become severely disabled. However, around 10-15% of people with MS will suffer from high levels of disability and thus many complex symptoms. 

In a person suffering from severe MS, the symptoms may take over a person’s life, and could affect almost every action necessary to get through the day – walking, eating and getting dressed… Each of these actions requires the help of a carer; this may be a family member or a friend – someone who has also made adjustments to their life. It is vital that these people, both patient and carer, get support to ensure that their lives are made easier and their independence is maximised.

Martin, is within the 10-15% of people with severe MS, and is highly dependant on his lovely wife. Whilst he is able to get around in an electric wheelchair, he relies on Beryl to dress and feed him (when it comes to ice cream though, this is very much a one for you, two for me kind of ratio! – Oops…not sure he saw that happening!), the former being particularly difficult for a petite lady – not simply due to the size and weight difference – but due to the awkwardness of clothes! 

To dress Martin in a t-shirt, jacket or shirt Beryl puts his arms in first and then employs a little bit of contortion and brute force to get it over his head. That’s where Dressability came in; they have opened the back of his formal suit and replaced it with velcro and opened the side of his waistcoat and replaced it with a zip. Martin and Beryl demonstrated this, while I was drinking delicious home made Elderflower cordial in their kitchen, and it made the task so much easier. Not only that but the clothes looked identical and no different to those you would find on the high street. Martin, Beryl and their friend who was visiting were genuinely excited, pleased and relieved to find such an innovative and useful charity – as we sat chatting they thought of a list of clothes which they would have adapted in the future.

It was great to meet such a lovely couple, to gain greater understanding of what my charity of choice does – and I also found out how Oxygen hoods are used. Oxygen is essential to the tissue healing process, but the inflammation which is typical of MS restricts the transportation of oxygen. Damage cannot be prevented, but additional oxygen can help the body to heal and this limit the damage.

Breathing oxygen under pressure causes the dilated and leaky blood vessels in MS to constrict back to normal size and reduces the swelling. At the same time, more oxygen is delivered to the bloodstream so increasing the amount available to help undertake repair.

Oxygen Therapy

*Names changed for anonymity 

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