Saturday. It started off a cold October day in 2010, but in a few hours it will be hot, hot hot.
Or rather, I will be hot, hot hot. As of course, I always am.
But the bottom line is, today I have feet, including a particularly attractive big toe. Tomorrow, who knows.
This evening (Oct 16th) at about 9pm-ish, after two hours of training and psyching up – which no doubt will mainly consist of conversations along the line of “what the hell am I doing?” – I will be walking over hot coals.
Call me mad if you like. I’d prefer to call it barking mad.
All with the aim of raising cash for Clatterbridge Cancer Research in Wirral.
On the grand scale of things it’s not a life-changing action; I’m not setting new Olympic records; I’m not rescuing Chilean miners from the depths; I’m not flying to the moon; I’m not brokering a Middle East peace agreement. Mind you, no-one else is either.
But for me it is a little step forward in my life, a noticeable derring-do-devilish action which 18 months ago, no six months, if even maybe four, I wouldn’t even have considered. Or rather dared to consider.
Over a year ago I wanted to challenge myself to 50 things this year; 50 mini-accomplishments to celebrate my 50th birthday (it’s nearing, oh yes it is). But that wasn’t to happen as I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome which left me wiped out.
When you have CFS it’s not like feeling “tired”. It’s feeling exhausted. Consistently. But it wasn’t “in my mind” even though some people no doubt thought it was. Essentially my body clock was arse over tit; I couldn’t sleep; I was exhausted.
I needed much more adrenalin than “normal” people just to get me through the day; but the adrenalin itself caused the mischief. The chemicals in the adrenalin didn’t leave me. Instead they lingered. Like unwelcome guests at a party, they wouldn’t bugger off.
Imagine the ebb and flow of a tide. The tide comes in, and out it goes again, leaving behind flotsam and jetsam. Apply that to adrenalin – of which I needed loads just to even get up in the morning. When it should have withdrawn (ie after I stopped doing whatever I was doing) it didn’t. Or if it did, it left behind chemical flotsam and jetsam that I had to clamber over, hobble around, negotiate for days on end.
For me that flotsam included leg pain, lack of concentration, a complete inability to structure thought processes, a constant ‘pins and needles’ feeling in my face like I was having a bath in dandelion and burdock. I rarely crossed a road or drove a car for three months because I couldn’t work out how.
I couldn’t remember words when talking to people. Or I’d use the wrong words. Luckily my t’other half adjusted to my strange Stanley Unwin CFS-speak. (Google him …. I am nearly 50 you know.) T’other half has got so good at it he’s going to publish a CFS Dixie Mary. Oh, sorry. Dictionary.
So 50 things to celebrate my 50th birthday went the way of most of my plans for this year. I had as much chance of succeeding as Owen Coyle has of organising a Festival of Fun in Burnley town centre.
But I’m on the up … sort of. Touch wood. Or perhaps torch bloody wood.
So. Along came firewalking for a cancer charity.
I’ll do that I thought. I’ll do that for my 50th, for charity, for fun, to put a marker down that I’ve turned a corner without bumping into anything on the way.
But I’m also doing it for everyone whose lives have been blighted by the horrid disease which is cancer. I have family and workmates who are being treated, or who have come through the treatment and are feeling positive again.
But more than anything I’m doing it as a 50th birthday present to a very dear friend who lost his life last year because of cancer. A friend, about six weeks older than me, who I really miss. While I was struggling to string a sentence together, he was fighting for his life.
I’m still around to celebrate being 50, he isn’t; although we sometimes joked about being old fogeys and remembering the 70s and punk music. Today I’d say Gareth, do you know that 30 years ago Message in a Bottle was Number 1? And we might laugh as it feels like yesterday.
But cancer took him away and to mark his 50th, and mine, it would be great if I could help raise only a little bit of money to fund cancer research. So that someone else, if not Gareth, will have the chance to be teased on their 50th birthday about their taste in music and the punk trousers they once wore; or even be given the chance to see their soon-to-be-born first grandchild.
As a birthday present I once gave Gareth a box of scotch bonnet chillis. Tonight I’ll be giving him some hot, hot coals. I hope he appreciates the theme.
- If you’d like to sponsor me, and my equally-mad pal Jamie, please follow this link http://www.justgiving.com/Jane-Clare