This life begins at 40

I never thought it possible for most of my life. Slowly I dared to dream, even whisper it… now I can shout it out loud – “I’ve made it to 40!” For me it is a moment to reflect on all that has happened surviving cystic fibrosis (CF)*, while looking boldly ahead to what the rest of my life has to offer.

But during this reflection, I spare a thought for the lives lost to this horrid illness including my CF friends who died before reaching 30 who all deserved to live as long as I have.

In sickness and in sickness

CF is a most complex disorder and because of the 900+ mutations, it varies in its effect on the individual; some versions are incredibly aggressive and others apparently quite mild. (Mine for the record is the pretty severe Delta 508).

Some patients are diagnosed later in life which could be caused by a lack of medical recognition (probably would have had a better quality of life if spotted earlier) and some who show little or no symptoms for many years. Indeed, my Mum met a chap who was diagnosed at 58 following a career in the Parachute Regiment who only had occasional attacks of bronchitis.

Some CF people can get by for a considerable length of time with little or no need for food enzymes or anti-biotics.

At the other end of the scale, there are some who sadly suffer severely from an early age with chest problems, joint pains, rheumatoid arthritis or have early liver complications which require a transplant.

Others are diagnosed with insulin requiring diabetes at an early age. I found that hard enough to accept aged 38, but for small children and teenagers, it must be incredibly difficult for them and their parents.

For such parents of young children and adolescents who read my blog posts, they can quite rightly find it difficult to comprehend how I have lived my life while their child hasn’t had that luck. CF is harsh, relentless and doesn’t take any prisoners – it is a wretched illness!

A large majority of CF sufferers endure a life of considerable suffering and it helps me to believe that God is holding their hands as they depart this world and that they have gone to a better place, free of medication and coughing; a place where they can be spontaneous and run around like gazelles.

Pushing on

To endure is to undergo a hardship without giving in. I use the expression “pushing on” many times a day and it sums up my obdurate attitude to the daily battle with all that CF and diabetes throw at me.

This countdown blog has been a good way for me to share my experiences and coping strategies.

My physical and mental approach has helped me break the shackles of impending doom, to fight harder when all my energy has gone, to be positive when all I wanted was to give in, to take my medication when I want to be carefree, to look to a future rather than an end and to have the courage to keep fighting.

I try to manage the disease rather than let it manage me. All the medication is just something I need to do at certain times of the day, so that I can get on with my life. That way, CF is not defining who I am. People know me as Tim Wotton, the cheeky chap, who just happens to have CF.

Heaven can wait

Since I started the blog in January, I have definitely noticed my new openness about my struggle with CF has been reflected back by everyone and that is empowering and comforting.

I also wanted to increase the awareness around CF and inspire anyone (healthy or those dealing with any long term illness) that even when the odds are stacked against you, there is usually a way to overcome.

Judging by the responses to my blog from the CF community and friends, I am already achieving this and in some cases, offering a rare ray of hope that life expectancy with CF is what you want it to be. I hope my story and words have been life-affirming. Thanks to everyone who has followed this blog and made a comment.

I have decided to keep the blog going but to post less regularly when I’ve got something new to share – “phew” I hear you say!

To still be here is the most precious gift I have on my 40th Birthday which is not something that many 40 year olds would think to acknowledge. Not only am I still alive, but I have a lovely wife and son to share my future life with… to infinity and beyond!!! (You can tell I’m a Dad now!)

Ernest Hemingway wrote the quintessential short story: ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’ Here is my version:

CF, chronic illness. Tim Wotton, 40, pushing on.

 

READ ALL ABOUT IT – For those that missed it, my story and blog featured in the Guardian G2 Health section in February. Click here to view the article…

Please make any comment in the blog Comment section. If you haven’t done so already:

  • Do subscribe to this blog, to receive my future posts, by placing your email address in the Subscription box provided (if you already have a WordPress account you will not need to provide an email address but will need to click on the subscribe button)
  • Forward the blog link to your friends and family who you feel might appreciate this content and encourage them to do the same

Look out for my future posts when I’ve got something new to share.

It’s been a pleasure, never a chore…

Regards

Tim

* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 8,500 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations.

For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website

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About Tim Wotton

I live with my lovely wife (Katie) and spirited nine-year old son (Felix) in Morden, Surrey; working full-time as an internal communications specialist in the Oil & Gas sector. I have played sport, particularly hockey, tennis all my life and now regularly go to the gym. Cystic fibrosis has been a huge factor in my life, but not one that overshadows it. I have always had great support from my loving family - parents Margaret and Douglas (RIP), elder brother Chris and my twin brother Jez. I have many rich life insights based on knowing I have a reduced life expectancy and battling against the odds for over 44 years. My eyes and heart have been opened by my health struggle. I feel empowered to share my life lessons to help anyone with health and life issues to overcome. My passions include Paul Smith clothes, dress shirts (believing that it's enlightening to dress like it's your last day on earth), Alfa Romeo cars, spicey food, Harlequins and England rugby, Southampton FC, Wimbledon village and common, Dorset, seascapes, sunsets and military history. I am available for public speaking on this subject matter and can be contacted via timwottonAThotmailDOTcom. I have written a book 'How have I cheated death?' based on my euphoric countdown year to 40 which was published in 2014 and won the 2015 'Best Achievement' Award at the UK People's Book Prize. It is available via e-book, audiobook and paperback at Amazon and to order from UK bookstores. Go to the relevant sites below or in the UK go to a WH SMITH, Waterstones or Foyles bookstore and give them my name, book title and this ISBN number (9781849637190). It’s also available via GARDNER’S, BERTRAM’S, AUSTINMACAULEY.COM, BLACKWELL’S, PLAY.COM, AMAZON.CO.UK AND AMAZON.COM
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43 Responses to This life begins at 40

  1. LTP says:

    Tim

    It has been an amazing experience to read your blog. CF is indeed a terrible illness and one has nothing but admiration for the way you deal with it every day.

    I wish you a happy birthday and I’m sure that you will see many more in the years ahead. Celebrate well and God bless you, you cheeky chap!

    LTP

  2. Stewart Jones says:

    Roll on 50! Happy Birthday Timmy! So proud of all you have done and so happy for you and your family!

  3. Juliet says:

    Keep pushing on Timmy, keep pushing on 🙂 And keep writing this blog too; it is awesome.

  4. Lou says:

    Happy Birthday Dear Tim,
    sorry we cannot be with you to celebrate, but here’s a big kiss from all the Archers/Woods,

    your writing is an inspiration…….long may it continue……..

    hugs
    Lou x

  5. Irene says:

    Dear Tim,
    congratulations!!! I hope many more years will follow, I also hope you will continue with your blog as life starts at 40!!!
    Big hug, Irene

  6. Dawn Lawson says:

    Another excellent blog, Tim. Very many happy returns and congratulations and we hope you have a brilliant birthday with a suitably celebratory party!

    Looking forward to the future blogs. 🙂

  7. Jane2 says:

    Congratulations, Tim! It’s a pleasure to be able to read about you and your family.

  8. Bex Bennett says:

    You’re amazing! X

  9. Cheryl Smith says:

    Congratulations and thanks for your inspirational blog – i hope my boy with CF is as determined as you X

  10. Leila says:

    Happy Birthday! You´re an inspiration!

  11. Margaret Wotton says:

    HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY today, how many times have I said that today and punched the air! It is a dream that all who know you, but especially your family would never have believed.
    It is so appropriate, that whilst we can celebrate, there are many parents who are unable to, and you made valuable mention to that. Some parents feel a sense of failure that their child isn’t making such good progress as another until they realise there is no control over their child’s particular mutation. I have been to many Cf Conferences and had long chats with other parents over meals about “how we feel”. During one such occasion, I caused a stunned silence by saying how guilty I felt that Tim was having such a tough childhood because of what he had inherited from us, his parents. Another mum stopped eating and said “Thank God, you feel the same as I do”, whilst another said that had never occurred to her. Parents are all different but we all belong to one big family with our Cf children and I have made so many friends over the last 40 years which are long lasting, whether their child is still alive or not.
    Mention must also be made of Tim’s two brilliant, understanding and tolerant brothers, but particularly Jez, his twin. In the very early days when there were frequent hospital visits he was “posted ” here and there with friends, when Chris was at school so I could give Tim my undivided attention, but he came through it all smiling. He did seem to always want my attention at Tim’s physio sessions but we survived!
    We, as your parents, are so proud of you and the way your blogs have helped so many people, globally. I’m sure they have been so helpful to you too and may Katie, Felix and yourself have many happy years together which we shall also be able to share.

    CONGRATULATIONS!
    Much love Mum and Dadxx

    • vicky Armstrong says:

      It is so great to hear other cf stories, I like you am a nurse and try to instil the discipline in managing CF to my 9 year old son. We have just read the article in the Express and like Tim Dylan does loads of sports. It was very reasurring for Dylan to read that other people talk about doing things to keep them alive! He says he will be like Tim and not die yet!!!!

    • Ali Noyce says:

      The penny has just dropped, my Mum gave me the piece in the newspaper and I then logged onto the website. I have just realised who your Mum is. Margaret was an absolute inspiration to my husband and I when our son was diagnosed and we started on that journey as a parent where you can never say that your have succeeded, only that today you are on top of it. Cotton wool was banned so we couldn’t wrap him in it, and our policy of get in that swimming pool, it’s better out…. than in (your lungs) occassionally saw us as dreadful parents. She talked about you over the next few years and I heard about you starting uni, it gave me hope. I to punched the air and shed a tear when he hit the teens he wasn’t supposed to live to, and in particular the best forgotten 18th birthday party!!! Today Ryan is 22, followed me into banking and when he read your article his only comment was I can beat that!!!

      • Tim Wotton says:

        Dear Ali,
        Thanks for taking time to comment and I sincerely hope your son is right! If Ryan reads any of my bog posts I recommend ‘Think well’.
        Best
        Tim

    • It is amazing that despite the extreme differences in CF, our plights are so very much the same. I know the celebration of another milestone (and a large one, 40!) is so very fulfilling for both family and owner. Birthdays have always had such a different air than with my non-CF children, not really a celebration, but a year lost and gone. Kudos to you for instilling fight and strength in your son! I want to grow up to be you one day (and my son, like Tim)! Cheers to hope and a mean right-hook!

  12. Olivia says:

    Wow, that guy in the parachute regiment — of all things!
    Similarly, there is a woman in her 40s who competes in Iron Man type competitions, and she wasn’t diagnosed until a few years ago. Her name is Lisa something…

    Can’t think of anyone else – but they’re out there. It never ceases to amaze me how active, sporty, and optimistic so many CFers are. (Is that a real term?)

    Today was our first mild day of the year, and where did my hubby go? Came home early from work and took himself and his golf clubs to the driving range! Unstoppable.

  13. sharyn boswell says:

    Happy Birthday to the cheekiest chap I know. I will look forward to the new blogs as well… I certainly hope you will be posting some stories from your party! Lots of love to you, Katie and Felix.

  14. lesley porter says:

    Happy Birthday Tim. Congratulations on your 40th! Enjoy today and continue to enjoy every other day as you keep pushing on. God Bless. x

  15. Julie says:

    Happy 40th Birthday Tim! It’s a special birthday for a special guy. I look forward to writing in your 50th birthday card.x

  16. Jules Andrew (Mason) says:

    Timmy- Many Happy Returns of the Day for the BIG “four oh”…. Hope you are having a HUGE bday bash this weekend…I have a feeling you will keep pushing on to 50, 60 70 and beyond. Come visit us in Australia one day- we love cheeky chaps down here! Cheers Jules PS Keep up the hockey too- you have inspired me to pick up vets hockey again…

  17. Kylie Merchant says:

    Congratulations on your very special 40th Birthday, for your courage and strength to fight the fight the way you do and for sharing your journey !

    I posted previously regarding my bestfried Donna who lost her fight at the age of 21, I completed the 65 k 4 65 Roses Walk-a-thon on March 5th in Sydney, Australia…in the last stages when I felt like I was walking on the bones of my feet, my thoughts went to Donna & yourself and the realisation that what I was experiencing would end but you would have to continue your battle past the celebrations of your 40th…who was I to complain !

    So thank-you for sharing your life with us all and I will look forward to the updates of events in the coming years…

    Blessings x

  18. Langers says:

    Happy Birthday to you m’dear! Hope you celebrated in style with the family :O)

  19. perry says:

    Congrats from Florida
    My wife has CF and I grew up playing hockey (but on ice). Your story is great. You might find reading about our Breathe Easy Foundation interesting. Our friend Kevin Przybl started it a few months ago. The Foundation has already raised enough funds to lead the remodeling of some hospital rooms. We are focussed on using money for patients and not for research. We are not aware of much support for patients…..
    This weekend we raised $1000 at a bike Run and then this was matched by Progressive Insurance to make $2000. Next event is a Bass Fishing Tourney on June 4th.

    On a personal note, your comment about coughing up phlegm is true for us – we see volume as a good thing now. Thanks for the inspiration – google delivered your story to us.

    cheers

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Perry,
      Thanks for writing in from the Sunshine State! Much appreciated! I’ll take a look at your Foundation…

      Good luck with all your endeavours – it sounds like you are keeping busy!

      Glad google got my story to you!
      Best
      Tim

  20. Carol says:

    Well done and best of luck. Just read about you in the Daily Mail.
    Love to Katie and Felix. Will include you all in my prayers, and will remember you when I light a candle in church. Carol

  21. Leanne Brown says:

    Love it Love it Love it 🙂 well done you and looking forward to more of your Fab writting

    LB xx

  22. Sam Cole says:

    Happy birthday, I love reading positive stories, my son Lewis has CF he is thirteen and rebeling against CF right now, he has had enough of taking tablets and doing his insulin, getting him to do his physio is a real battle, I will get him to read your story and hope it makes him feel happy as it did me, good luck and be strong. Sam xx

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Sam,
      When I was your sons age I probably wasn’t interested in other people’s stories. Perhaps pick out an odd sentence from my blogs that might resonate with him as a starter – you never know he might want to read more.
      Best of luck with staying upbeat and strong as your fortitude will rub off on him!
      God Bless
      Tim

  23. Michelle says:

    Happy 40th!
    You are a truly inspiring man. I’m 18 and dating someone with cystic fibrosis helped me understand how difficult it is to cope living on the thought that every second is borrowed time- to go through so many ordeals, hospital visits, rounds and rounds of medication and IV, physiotherapy every morning. It’s saddening to hear him cough for minutes on end or when he’s confined at home for weeks for IV medication, and my heart clenches every time I wonder how long we’ll have together.
    Your story, your blog, gives me inspiration, strength and hope in him and that CF or no CF, nothing can stop him from living a full, happy life. Your positive, refreshing outlook on life and your drive and ambition is truly commendable- and today you’ve inspired me to be and do everything I can to support him in his own fight as well.
    Your family is beautiful, and you are truly a great man!

    Cheers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
    Michelle

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Michelle,
      Thanks for taking time to comment and I wish you and your young man all the best as CF needs a lot of patience, strength and persistence. But at the same time having fun and laughter alleviate all the dark moments so ‘carry on smiling’.

      All the best
      Tim

  24. Amy says:

    Loved reading your blogs. It’s nice to see someone happy to turn 40.

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Amy – trust me – still being around makes you happy and gives you a different perspective on all the rubbish that people complain about!

      Bless you
      Tim

  25. martin says:

    I was e mailed your comments by my sister in law in america. As i read through your trials and tribulations, i am sitting on a train going into london for the final stages of ivf as i to have cf. Its great to hear a life changing moment in your life.
    I think the shock for me was first finding out that i would not be able to have children, this was a big blow and i burried deep inside.
    I then found out through the ivf clinic that it would be possible to have my own child through extraction of the sperm. This is our second time having ivf and the emotions are. ………Tough. At points i have felt almost like giving up, to being on top of the world.
    The trouble is due to circumstances we have to pay for the ivf treatment and at 8- 10,000 per cycle the money soon runs out.
    Thank you for letting us into your life, keep up your great atitude. Regards martin

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Martin,

      Wanted to respond immediately on this and wish you all the best with your 2nd IVF cycle. The emotions are varied with this rollercoaster and we had to go pvte so I can sympathise completely. I have my fingers crossed for you and your partner and I’d welcome if you ever wanted to contact me directly to chat offline…
      All the best on what would be one of your finest achievements
      Tim

  26. sara bowery says:

    Hi Tim

    I hope you had a fantastic birthday,,,Your blog has been a fantastic read and has helped me in so many ways for the journey i will be taking with my little boy..

    All the best for the future and I look forward to reading any other blogs you write.

    Sara

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Sara,
      Thanks for commenting and I wish you and your son all the best on your journey together. You know, even in the darkest of dark CF times with my partents (and there have been enough for a four lifetimes), it was the ability to laugh and make jokes that kept us going… and here I am, turned 40 and still making rubbish jokes! 🙂
      God bless
      Tim

  27. Margaret Wotton says:

    A message to Ali Noyce,
    I was so thrilled to read that Ryan is now 22 years old and doing well. When I was so heavily involved with meeting new Cf parents in the 70s and 80s I just hoped I was helping that couple at that time so you don’t know what it means to me to read those kind words about me and that i was able to give you some support.
    We have, today, had a wonderful 40th birthday celebration lunch for Tim and his twin brother Jez and who would have thought when they were born in 1971 that I would be writing that 40 years on.
    Very best wishes to you and all parents with Cf children/young adults, they are such special people,
    from Margaret

  28. Tom Pearson says:

    What a wonderful story. I have a grandson with CF and support him in any way I can. He is just 13 and his CF is starting to affect him more. If you were my son I would be very proud of what you had achieved. I hope our Nathan treats his CF as you have, and as he gets older I shall show him your blog as an inspiring story. I have only quickly read through and felt moved to comment. I will read more later. I hope you enjoy your son as much as I enjoy my children and grandchildren. You are quite right, CF is ever present but you cannot let it rule your life. God bless, Tom

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your kind words and I hope that your grandson will one day find some help and solace in my journey battling this condition.
      God Bless
      Tim

  29. Olivia says:

    Hi Tim,
    Hope you’re doing ok. Have you stopped blogging because you’ve turned 40? I thought I would have missed a lot of posts.

    I’ve just come back from a month in London. (My Mum lost her struggle with MND/ALS on 29 March).

  30. Adriana says:

    Congratulations!!!!
    My husband has CF & will be turning 40 next year!!!
    He has been doing so well till recently.
    We were living in Sydney, Australia & had an amazing life but with his health declining he had 2 go back to the uk to get on to the transplant list.
    I am here in Sydney waiting for my visa to clear so I can be with him.
    He recently found your blog & we have found it inspirational for us & has made us feel more positive!!!
    Thank u xx

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Adriana,
      Thanks for your message and my heart goes out to you and your husband – please send him my best and I hope he is in good spirits and you can be together soon. I’m deeply touched that my blog is of help.
      Stay positive together and you will be toasting his 40th back in Oz.
      All the best
      Tim

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