Once more…

As I get back into the swing of things after my recent IV treatment for my cystic fibrosis (CF)*, I’m drawing inspiration from the battle cry of William Shakespeare’s historic play Henry V: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”

It’s all about re-setting my mindset and positivity following this recent heavy-going
Intravenous (IV) treatment and getting on with my daily life of family, work and sport.

I also get my arm back (where the IV line was) and can play rough and tumble with
my son Felix. I’m once more a helpful dad to Felix and husband to Katie.

Similar to the after-effects of chemotherapy medication for cancer patients, in my
experience it’s not an instantaneous return to energy for the two weeks after my IV course. I feel utterly jaded, sluggish and out of kilter – imagine having severe jet-lag for a week and that will give you an insight into how I feel post IVs.

The IV drugs have helped my lungs reduce the infection in my chest and I know that I am healthier – trust me, I wouldn’t sign up for IVs if they didn’t produce some improvement in my lung function. So I know I’m healthier, I just don’t feel it straight away.

I have learned the hard way over 40 years that it’s best to ease myself back into all my usual life activities. After 60 of these IV courses, I am now  used to rising like a phoenix out of the ashes, often joking that I’ve made more comebacks in my life than Frank Sinatra!

Getting back into my sport is the key thing as it has always been so integral to my battle with CF, acting as a barometer of exactly how my health is.

I kick-off with a couple of light jogs around our local park, leaving my house looking and feeling fairly fresh and returning after 20 minutes of interval running looking like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards and panting like a labrador!

Following the warm-up jogs in that initial week post IVs, I still have a deep burning
desire to once more play field hockey for my club London Edwardians.

This is my 26th consecutive league hockey season and it’s a run I don’t want to end while I am still able to get on that pitch and make a contribution, while at the same time ‘tuning up’ my lungs. My dad, Douglas Wotton, played hockey non-stop for well over 55 years so I’ve got a long way to go to beat his record. Though records are there to be beaten!

In my life, motivation to keep going with my sport has been the key. Few 40 year olds I know are still partaking in competitive sport and they all have their reasons not to – it’s easier not to be active once you have a busy work and family life. Some people need a goal to get running again – something to aim for, like a 10K run, marathon or triathlon. For me I have my hockey.

The ultimate motivation for me is being as healthy and active as I can be and to live as long as possible for Katie, Felix, my family and friends.

So it came last Saturday – my return to action for the first time since May – playing a league game in Battersea Park, London. Felix and Katie were also in the park that afternoon at the near-by zoo and would lend their support at some point.

It was a hot day on 1st October – nearly 30 degrees. We drew 3-3 having been down 3-0 at half time. I played for more than half the game but my performance was barely 4 out of 10 and I was to blame for the opposition’s third goal.

However, unlike a school report, which might say the classic line: ‘Must try harder’, I
couldn’t have been trying any harder. IT WAS TOUGH and it’s getting harder year on year…

In my playing prime, I had to think hard after a game to remember any mistakes. Now
I struggle to recall my good moments!

I might not be able to fully make a difference to the outcome of the game anymore as I could in my younger playing days, plus my coughing at times can be pretty shocking for those on the pitch. BUT while there’s breath in this body of mine, I’ll keep playing on. For I know it makes a difference to the outcome of my health and my longevity battling CF. I’m still playing… once more.

After the match, I went for a warm down run around half the pitch to try and prevent my muscles stiffening too much. It just so happened that Felix and Katie were walking past the pitch at that very moment.

Felix exclaimed to his mum about me: “There’s daddy. He looks tired. He’s got his head down!”

He then ran onto the pitch past players and spectators and jumped into my arms. After hugging him, I picked him up and showed him to anyone and everyone in my team.

Felix has joined me on the pitch after a few of my games in the past and I’m always full of deep and heart bursting pride that I have a son and that he’s run onto the pitch to be hugged by me.

Fathers of sons are not always the one that their boys run to in emergencies; but this is one time when I know there’s no one else he wants but me. I feel that he’s the centre of my universe and I feel like the centre of his.

At these moments, I know how my own dad must have felt when my brothers Chris and
Jez and I would watch him play and then make a bee-line for him afterwards.

The next day after such an onslaught on my body, I walked around like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. It’s all worth it. No pain, no gain.

I will strive to improve my fitness over the next few months, build my immune system by sticking to my daily drugs regime, take pretty good care of myself and have my flu jab.

Setting expectations, I won’t be taking part in an Iron Man competition any time soon, as
with exercise it’s all relative to your health and fitness. But my hockey keeps me going, feeling like I’m conducting a normal life, and it helps me to defy the ravages of my illness.

Defiantly, I now shout a different version of Shakespeare’s Henry V speech to myself:

“Once more unto the pitch, dear friend, once more…”

I dedicate this blog post to my dad, a well-known hockey player and coach, who is my hockey hero and instilled in me the passion for playing all sport. That passion drives me on when I’ve nothing else to push me.

As typified by his playing days, he is being stoic and upbeat about his recently diagnosed Motor Neurone Disease. This unfathomable and cruel condition has cut my dad down to a life in a wheelchair, sadly making the use of his once energetic legs and playing his beloved hockey a thing of the past.

I’d like to think that when I step out onto the pitch, his spirit is with me and together we are still playing hockey through good and bad play, thick and thin, rain or shine – win, lose or draw.

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

Tim

Tim Wotton

A dear friend of mine, Darren Smith, is taking part in the forthcoming Great South Run and is raising funds for CF. If you wish to donate to make him go faster, please click.

* 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:

http://www.cftrust.org.uk/

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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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19 Responses to Once more…

  1. Olivia says:

    Oh no! What a post, I don’t know where to start….

    I’m SO sorry to hear your father has MND. I lost my mother to it 6 months ago (the ALS variety), and she suffered with it for 2 years. You NEVER, ever EVER want to see a parent like that, especially active and industrious parents like ours — it is indeed unutterably cruel — beyond words!! Why, barely 3 years ago she and I were standing on the platform waiting for for a train and she said, “I feel so young” and she was, in every way. Nobody believed she was in her 60s. She had more energy than the 16 year old in her spinning class.

    Also, Jeff had been fighting “something” for a couple of weeks and by Monday we realized it had turned into pneumonia, so he called his CF clinic at Johns Hopkins to be admitted, and I drove him up to Baltimore and spent the night there with him. Thankfully, they put his PICC line in yesterday, so he can continue the imipenem IVs at home for the next two weeks, and a home health nurse came to change the dressings and check him out today. He’s been hit with awful nausea the past week with this particular bout, so he’s on anti-emetics too. To see his normal drug list, added to his new meds, looks like we live in a pharmacy. I tell you all this because I *know* you know how it is!

    But also, it’s a rude reminder for him to do his tune-ups. His last was in spring of 2009, so it was certainly overdue. He had been maintaining very well, but you know, leave the tune-up too long and the bacteria will overwhelm the tenuous hold the home regimen has on them.

    Thankfully he didn’t come down with this while I was out of action, due to the IVF, the hyperstimulation and stitches and general crappiness with all that, and then throwing out my back in the middle of it all. I don’t know what we would have done. I got better the week before last, but then I had felt this week that I was coming down with something seasonal myself, but when he got really sick, it got scared off!

    P.S. This round of IVF failed, by the way. Another few months, we’ll try the frozen ones.

  2. Irene van Luijken says:

    Hey Tim, it’s so good to hear from you again… don’t stop writing! Field hockey is also one my great loves in life although I had to finish playing due to bad knees. But there is life after hockey…. being and staying active is the most important thing. I have always hated it when I was injured or ill and not able to run or cycle…so I totally understand how your dad must feel….Make sure you keep up the hockey as long as you can! Wishing you a long period between IV’s in a healthy and loving way! Irene

  3. Alison Moy says:

    You’re amazing Tim. The Tin man, who, with or without a heart, was all along the most tender and caring of Dorothy’s companions….we’re lucky to know you!

  4. Gill kelland says:

    It’s good to hear from you and that you are up and going again.
    I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad, the last time I saw him we had a long chat and I wondered why I hadn’t seen him cycling around. Please send him my love.

  5. Patricia Ross says:

    It’s good to know you are up and about again and back in action. Sorry to hear your dad is ill, seeing your health improve should lift his spirits. Let’s hope the money needed for the `Gene Therapy’ is realized in time to allow the research to continue. Thank you for your inspiration.

  6. Lesley P says:

    Thankyou Tim.
    Keep going, keep smiling, keep enjoying life.
    Our prayers are with your family. x

  7. Sharyn says:

    Nice one, Tim. What a great moment that must have been on the pitch with Felix! Lots of love.

    • Tim Wotton says:

      My dearest Sharyn,
      You are so kind with your blog replies – they mean so much to me. I hope the words I used were able to convey how much those ‘moments’ on the pitch with my precious son mean to me. He, like me, is a living miracle!

      Lots of love
      Tim

  8. David Green says:

    Your ability to stay positive is an inspiration to me. With a lump in my throat I return, invigorated, once more unto the breech!

  9. paulgodber says:

    Hi Tim,

    A fantastic and uplifting insight into how you can keep fighting CF and the role sport can play in that battle.

    It is truly inspiring to read your battles and the way you maintain good cheer.

    So sorry to hear your Father is having some tough times but you can bet he is with you in every step you take on that hockey pitch. Tim yet again your Blog has brought tears to my eyes.

    God bless and keep up the battle!!

  10. Hi Tim,
    Although I am a few years behind 40, I find your story interesting and recognise many pieces similar to my own tale, in that both CF and hockey are major parts of my life. Its interesting how you state that you might be making only a small contribution to your team these days and I find myself asking the question, is it worth me stepping on to the pitch these days? I find your response that the most important thing is that its helping fight the CF very positive and something I must bear in mind.After nearly 2 years without making an appearance Ive told myself to give it a go again this season and get on to the pitch whenever I feel up to it. Thanks for the inspiration. Good luck with the season.

    All the best
    Dan

    PS Sorry to hear about your dad.

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Dan,
      Thanks for taking time to comment and I’m glad to hear that we both share hockey though I of course wish we didn’t have to share CF! I’m delighted that reading my blog was of use as you struggle with battling back to play – never an easy task as it’s the mental demons as much as the physical ones that are tough to overcome… I have every faith you will.
      Let’s keep in touch
      Best
      Tim

  11. Gemma Cowie says:

    Hi Tim,

    I saw the announcement of the Olympic routes and I thought of you. John and I really hope you get the deserved recognition of carrying the Olympic flame for London 2012 – you truly are an inspiration!

    I know only from John how the ability to play hockey is a cathartic experience being able to release the tension and stresses from the usual working week and participate in something you love, but for you the effort you go to enable you to play is amazing – one to remind your fellow veterans of when they complain on a Sunday morning of post-match aches and pains!

    Please again pass on our best to Dougie, I spent many a Sunday morning perfecting the ‘wobble’ which I’m sure is permanently engrained on so many Southampton hockey players and one I’m sure you’ll pass on to Felix!

    All the best to the three of you and hope to see you soon.

    Take care

    Gemma x

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