Changing gears…

There’s just 4 weeks to go until I return to the challenge of running to John O’Groats. I have invested heavily in this as it’s a cause that is really important to me. It also gives me some sense of purpose and reason to be in this strange world I now find myself in.

The campervan has been paid for, so have the campsites we’ll be staying at. Kerry, my support crew/driver, has really kindly helped out with the campsite side of things.

Now all I need to do is find the damage deposit, fuel and food money! There are still a multitude of things I need to order; socks, protein, compeed… the small stuff that really can’t be neglected!

It was all going ok until yesterday, when the clutch on my car packed up. It never rains, right? I had gone out to make the extravagant purchase of a bin that I can use as an ice bath. You see, for the last few weeks I’ve been really suffering with cramp-like pain in my calves. A trip to the physio (another outlay) and there’s no physical cause for concern that she can see. A relief to hear! However, there must be a cause. It started a week before my training load increased, so I’m quite certain that wasn’t the cause. I can run with it, but it’s the most uncomfortable feeling I think I’ve experienced whilst training.

Trying out the “ice bin”!

To add to the challenges I already face, last month, I was diagnosed with extremely low ferritin levels. Low for Jo Bloggs, and very low for somone who is ultra training. It’s at the point where, if it doesn’t go up in the next month or so, I’ll likely be going down the route of an iron infusion, for which there is an 8 months waiting list. Having looked into the symptoms this can cause, in addition to the usual suspects, palpitations, breathlessness and fatigue, it can also cause calf pain. Who knew?

So, my anxiety levels are currently through the roof… add to this the usual family demands, training, planning the challenge, waiting for my latest brain MRI results and then the latest disaster!

That extravagent £8 purchase! I ventured out and had a mooch around the local B&M at all the stuff I really don’t need, found my bin and headed to the checkout. I stood there, waiting to pay, totally oblivious to the guy on my left who was trying to get my attention to say I could go in front of him. The joy of hearing loss, right there. Another moment of wishing the floor would swallow me up to add to the collection of embarrassing moments.

I drove through town, heading back home, when suddenly, the clutch started to slip on my car. My heart sank, my stomach churned. I just about managed to limp home but my nerves were shot.

A quick Google search revealed the cost of fixing that clutch will be around £700. I can’t not get it repaired, because I have two sessions of outdoor ed work booked in next week. I wish I could fall back on cycling… I would embrace the opportunity to be an eco warrior and do my bit to help the environment, but since my surgery, I’ve been unable to ride my bike alone on roads, because I’m a bit of a liability to say the least! That’s why I prefer running shoes to tyres!

Only two days ago, I shelled out £270 for car insurance. I’d not even earned that the previous month as work has been so quiet. Any savings I had were long gone when I had to finish work. I am angry/upset/fed up.

bank notes

Here’s the thing that no one talks about.

When I received my brain tumour diagnosis, not only did it have a huge impact on my physical and mental health, but also my finances. I went from having a reasonably well paid job, to having my own business (because I couldn’t return to work in a school environment because of my hearing loss, tinnitus and balance issues – not helped with lots of little people running around) which I struggled to keep afloat, again because of some of the physical issues post op. I can’t even get a critical illness policy that I wouldn’t have to sell a kidney to cover the cost of. Literally every aspect of my life changed, yet people around me expect me to be same as I was before…

I pivoted and found work in the outdoor education sector, which is awesome. I love it. It’s freelance, which suits me because I can manage my workload (as long as I remember to say “no” occasionally – something I’m not that good at!) but, I really struggle to work full days because of the fatigue issues I continue to have. I work on average 2-3 half days each week in Summer term, then it dries up as demand drops off. I recently turned down the offer of a permanent position, because I know physically, because of my ongoing fatigue etc., I would struggle, and it’s not the type of environment where you can get cover at extremely short notice.

Working in the forest with a group of children

I was chatting with Kerry about this earlier, as I am so frustrated; I HATE being financially dependent on others, feeling like a free-loader. I hate having to say no if my kids need a loan until payday, I hate that Neil now pays all of the bills. I hate that we still haven’t replaced our worn out bedroom carpet from when Neil decorated our room when I was sick, so I could shut myself away and relax. I hate that my dated kitchen needs a new ceiling. These are all the things I would have covered in the past, yet can’t. That said, I am grateful that I have a bedroom, a bed, a carpet (albeit worn out) and a kitchen!

But the clutch is just another straw that almost broke the camel’s back!

So today I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to get showered and dressed. My anxiety is through the roof for so many reasons, and I’m sat here, looking blankly at the screen, offloading my thoughts whilst waiting for people to call me back about car repairs, scared of training in case I pick up an injury before I even reach the start line… I’m also looking around at what bits I can sell to put a few pennies back in the pot.

Did you know, you can help support my writing projects and work to raise awareness of the impact of brain tumours for the cost of a coffee?

Published by Sara C

It's hugely important to raise more awareness of brain tumours and the implications they can have on patients' lives. I aim to help to create wider understanding of the effects brain surgery and a diagnosis can have on an individual and their families on a emotive level through my own experience.

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