Introspective

The recent death of my father has given me fresh perspective on how I can and will keep battling the life-threatening illness, cystic fibrosis (CF).*

People have kindly told me that my struggle with CF has given them perspective on their own lives, how to contextualise tough times and what to be grateful for. But where do I draw my own perspective and health context from?

Apart from the obvious motivation of staying alive to be a husband to Katie and a father to Felix, seeing others out and about whom are physically and/or mentally in worse shape than me gives me all the incentive I require to knuckle down with my own fight against the odds.

I witnessed first-hand the plight of my dad who suffered stoically for nearly two years with one of the motor neurone diseases (MND) until his death last week, aged 81. MND are a group of neurological disorders that selectively affect motor neurons, the cells that control voluntary muscle activity including speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing and general movement of the body. They are generally progressive in nature, and cause progressive disability and death. MND is not that well understood by the general public and there is no cure. Here there is a striking similarity with CF.

Depending on which version of MND one has, there is very little that seems to prevent the advance of the deterioration to the sufferer. It felt like my dad was in a ‘plunging underworld of sinking’ to quote from Siegfried Sassoon’s WW1 poem Stretcher Case.

They say that it takes one to know one and on the subject of suffering, I feel that I was able to look into my dad’s eyes and better appreciate his true predicament and inner demons. Being permanently ill has allowed me to more easily empathize with others going through similar ordeals.

My dad’s unfathomable condition has had an indelible effect on me and my creative ability to seek perspective and find any good from a truly awful situation. I am immediately thankful for the enormous part he played in keeping me alive through launching my hockey career and raising, with mum, hundreds of thousands of pounds via CF fundraising activities.

The shocking finality of losing my dad has very much knocked the wind out of my sails, but conversely his death has made me feel more alive than ever. It helps me to keep shaking off the mortal coil that he unfortunately could not.

It has liberated me that I am still here, seeing each new day and unlike my poor dad, I do have the opportunities to fight back against my illness. I can keep reinforcing the ramparts of my castle against the invading foe that is my CF and diabetes. Both physically and mentally I can help myself to counter CF and live a full and fun existence.

After my September intravenous treatment, I recently began using a new antibiotic inhaler which is helping my lung function, especially important with winter looming. I am being even more fastidious with measuring my blood sugar levels and taking insulin with every meal so that I can keep my diabetes in check. Also, thanks to Great Ormond Street Hospital and Nuffield Health, I now attend a local gym and am definitely benefiting from the exercise machines and weights (while watching Sky Sports TV!).

Dissimilar to my dad, I have had my ‘hard truth’ all my life since my mum diagnosed me at six months old and as horrible as my medical regime is every day for 41 years, I don’t know anything different. I’d clearly rather not have CF but I honestly believe that it is easier to adapt to a condition from birth rather than later on in life after a period of healthy living.

When I next take to the hockey pitch, my dad’s spirit and sporting vibrancy will be with me every step of the way. I will live and breathe on in his memory, galvanized beyond all belief, that as grim as my illness is, I can still control my own destiny.

It’s what he would have wanted…

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

To find out more about MND, visit: http://www.mndassociation.org/

* 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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8 Responses to Introspective

  1. Tom Pearson says:

    Tim – you have a wonderful way with words and your thoughts are an inspiration. Mr grandson, who is 14yrs old, is a practioner of Parkour, which is a mix of acrobats and freerunning using everyday objects. Even with his port in and having i.v;s he still maintains a thirst for this sport.

    I was sorry to hear about your dad as he and your mum appear to have been a very big contribution to your life and lifestyle. Clearly its a sad time for you and your family and my thoughts are with you all.

    It is such an inspiration for me to see that there is hope that my grandson will achieve life into a fourth decade or even more. His recent near death experience has changed him into someone who concentrates on maintaining his medicine regime and also his physio. The hardest issue is his insulin shots, which he invariably forgets and we have to constantly remind him to take his insulin: he doesn’t appear to see the importance or relevance of insulin :(.

    Your signature of a half cup full shows your positive frame of mind. Good luck for the future.

    Tom

    • Karen Murphy says:

      Every time I read your posts I am filled with hope. My son is 16 and has cystic fibrosis. He too courtesy of Great Ormond Street is now visiting the gym 2/3 times a week
      and what a difference it makes. To
      anyone reading this exercise and fitness is so important – it has made a huge difference to my son.
      Tim keep up with your posts they are a true inspiration .

      • Tim Wotton says:

        Dear Karen,
        Excuse the late reply but it was a difficult time when my dad passed away. I’m touched by your kind words and delighted that your son is benefitting from his gym workouts – keep it going the both of you as you sound like a great team!

        Best
        Tim

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for writing in and sharing. Do feel free to reach out if you feel your grandson would like to ‘chat’ about drugs compliance as the insulin is vital in keeping him as well as the other CF drugs!

      Cheers
      Tim

  2. Olivia says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your dad. But still, 81 is a grand age. My mother struggled against it for two years also, and she was only 65 when she passed. I spent a quiet day on the 21st, would have been her 67th birthday; I miss her every day, more so on holidays, and a hell of a lot when talk turns to grandkids. Your father is lucky to have seen you start a family and meet Felix. My Mum couldn’t even make it to our wedding in 2010 and that broke her heart. She had so much more living to do, especially just as her dreams for me were coming to fruition.

    Coincidentally, today is Jeff’s 43rd birthday. You two are not too far apart; neither is he and my mum, they were so alike no wonder they adored each other. He had his IVs in October, having been sick for a month and a half after moving into the new house. He’s doing well again and it’s nice to have him back. He’s looking forward to all the new drugs too. He talked about the antibiotic inhaler. I think they’re putting him on it soon, since Tobi doesn’t do much anymore.

    Keep soldiering on. You know how!

  3. Irene says:

    Dear Tim, good you took up the pen again. I am really sorry to hear about your dad. But every time you give us so much hope and joy to read how you’re dealing with all the things that you suffer and experience. Luckily is it not only suffering! I am still surprised with the amount of positiveness that you have inside yourself. Felix and Katie both are also probably a big source of energy for you.
    Keep on writing, keep on dreaming, keep on remembering your dad, and be a source of energy for your mum. And by the way, keep inspiring us!
    Recently I witnessed a public spectacle of a man who juggled with fire on the street during a year market, and then started telling about his daughter having CF and asking for donations to make sure she would get the right medicines. I was given the task to watch their other child (as I had my children with me and they trusted me I think) but it gave me also the opportunity to talk to them about you and your courage. I am not sure it will help them, but I think they were thankful that somebody understood what they were going through. So even in the Netherlands your word is spread! Take care! xx Irene

  4. Stevens, Matt says:

    Tim

    Hello mate. I am sorry about the news of your father, and my very best goes out to you and the family at this difficult time.

    I am also sorry I have not been around lately due to work problems and a few house issues too. I will try and catch up with you soon.

    Take care mate, and if I can do anything to help ask.

    Matt.

  5. Lesley P says:

    Just sending you our hugs. ThanKyou Tim. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

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