Making it to 40 as a life-long cystic fibrosis (CF)* sufferer was a hugely significant milestone and one I didn’t take lightly.
It came with a mix of emotions – joy, relief and happiness, but also some guilt for those not as fortunate as me in being able to defy the effects of this condition.
Even though my 40th landed on St. Patrick’s Day, the actual evening of my 40th comprised of going for a jog, not because I had no one to party with (that came later); it just seemed the right thing to do. Keeping my mind, body and spirit on the front foot for my ongoing journey.
There was a stark contrast however to how my own mum, Margaret Wotton, spent her own 40th Birthday when I was still a young boy. Her big day coincided with my parents’ first appointment with Doctor Knight, who left them in no doubt that my health was not all it should be… but that he could help. (And he did, and still does help).
I have since thought that that must have been such a deflating way to ‘celebrate’ her 40th and I am very lucky that I could reach the same milestone in such a normal and fun manner.
A few days after my 40th, I played for my London Edwardians field hockey team on a crisp sunny Spring morning and we had a hugely convincing and satisfying 3-1 win. No one was happier than me – to still be playing, competing and winning post 40. Also, this was the eight league game I’d played without losing since I almost retired back in November 2010, when I made the decision not to give up but to ‘get up and go again’. Definitely the right decision!
Since my Birthday in March, my CF story has been featured in two National UK newspapers, I have conducted two radio interviews and shared a Boston based news article with the CF son of a famous American football player (see the links below). I am also likely to be featured in the Mirror Weekend paper this Saturday 7 May.
But my story is having other knock-on effects. My dear friend, Julian Archer, was inspired enough by my Countdown blog, that he’s doing a sponsored CF cycle ride from France to England culminating in joining me for a hockey game in Southamptonon 21 May. Click here to view more information.
This is all taking place against the usual relentless backdrop of my daily CF and Diabetes medical regime. I didn’t take a day off just because it was my 40th.
Like the majority of CF sufferers, I am often lacking in energy due to the extreme effort required to adhere to my punishing schedule. Some of my recent jogs have been like running through treacle.
During a very recent run, I coughed so hard that I produced some blood which is always worrying. My son, Felix, heard one of my recent early morning coughing sessions and said to my wife Katie: “Poor Daddy!”
The other morning after his fourth Birthday, I brought Felix downstairs for his breakfast and he pointed out that one of his balloons had withered. “My balloon is worn out!” he exclaimed.
On some days, that balloon is me.
There are times, when battling CF, I feel more like 400 years old rather than 40. But it makes the days that I feel upbeat, strong and energetic even sweeter and fulfilling.
This blog entry is dedicated to my dad, Douglas Wotton, as he recovers from a heart pace-maker insertion and a separate hip replacement operation. In our own ways, we are both striving to move forward and get on the front foot.
I will keep you posted on my life affirming moments, trials and tribulations as and when they happen. Please keep reading and sharing my blog and sign up if you have not already done so.
Yours cup half full
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* 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