Challenge Track: Week 6 – over half way

We’re now on day 42 of the challenge and I have achieved over half of the mileage. I’m on 58.7 miles – not bad.

I’m still only doing what I need to do, and am looking forward to being able to do more than I need to, but at the moment I’m pleased with the progress I have made.

As always there’s still plenty of opportunity to sponsor me and support the work and research of The epilepsy society. The link is below.


So two days ago I said my farewells; I went into the school for the last time (as a member of staff) and was able to spend some time with my colleagues and then to say goodbye.

The school I worked at was on the top of a hill, there’s a formidable driveway leading up to the school. I had walked up and down that driveway so many times, it was one thing that I really associated with the school, and one thing I have been saying over the last year was that I wanted to walk down that drive for the last time.

I was grateful for the opportunity to go in, to say goodbye, to walk down the drive for a final time, to go to the local pub for a pint – as I have done on many Friday afternoons and many ends of term.

It was a really positive experience, I’m not sure it would have been a few months or even a few weeks ago. I needed those 17 months to accept what has happened, decisions that were made. I may not have been grateful for the time as it was happening but at the end I was and it allowed me to have a positive memory.

Wednesday Wonders: Tight Tensions

How do you act when you are feeling tense?

I’ve recently started to crochet 🧶 and what I’ve learned is the most important thing is the tension. What you’ll see above is two projects I’ve given up on, you might think they look neat, which they do, but the tension is so tight that it’s really difficult to move on and the ends are just a mess. By keeping the tension looser you’re able to move through the pattern quicker and it’s generally just easier. I’ve mastered mini Christmas trees but bigger projects – not so much!

When I first started crocheting I was told to hold my hook like a pen. Problem is I never held a pen properly, and I’ve always written quite slowly because I hold so tight. I guess it was slightly inevitable that I would crochet tightly!

When I have a tonic chlonic (grand-mal) seizure my body goes really tense. After the seizure I am well and truly confused, absolutely exhausted, but mostly my body hurts. Even if I haven’t injured myself, my muscles will be aching for days, and after that happening numerous times it takes a toll on the body.

I guess, whether it’s crochet or seizures, the tension isn’t just a one off thing it has an impact so it is something we need to be aware of. So it is in life, it’s something that happens, but we need to be aware of it so we don’t get taken over.

Challenge Track: Week 5 still ‘normal’

So it’s week 5, day 36/100 and I’m currently on 49.4 miles and am 203/963.

So nearly half way through the miles in the first 1/3 of the time. I’m still only really counting the walking that I would be doing normally. I hope that in the coming weeks I’ll be able to do additional to the normal. My back is considerably better but I don’t want to push it and make it worse. Slowly but surely! There’s still 64 days for you to support me, as always the link is below!

Wednesday Wonders: change – an ode to my piano

Change is a necessity of life but it can be difficult.

Sometimes we don’t even notice change is happening.

Sometimes it’s so big that we might be apprehensive about it, may even try to run from it.

Over the last year I’ve been playing piano and singing a lot more at church. This has also led to me playing at Canterbury Cathedral. I’ve had to make a decision though, and that decision was to get an electric piano. An electric piano is in tune, and I can put headphones in if necessary.

I’ve had an upright piano since I was 11, but it was incredibly out of tune, keys were sticking, and it was difficult to practice for playing at church which then affected my confidence. We don’t have the room for both, and I’ve had to make the decision. Yesterday the piano left (it was taken, it didn’t walk!)

I am so grateful that my parents got me a piano when I started playing piano music rather than keyboard music. I knew people who had to practice at school, but I was able to practice at home – I’m not sure my brother would be grateful for that. Yes, I was able to practice for piano exams etc… but more recently my piano has been the place I go to when I need to rest and unwind. I love playing, it takes me away, it gives me safety when my head is causing me friction.

I have loved my new electric piano but it has been difficult to say goodbye to the upright. It has literally taken a month to get rid of it, partly because pianos are awkward to move but also because I have been holding on to it. But yesterday I was reminded that I can’t hold on to things, that doesn’t help us to move forward.

As you may well be aware I’m facing A LOT of change at the moment. There is a lot that has led to this and that will enable me as I move on. I can’t hold on to it though as it may held me back.

Change is a necessity in life, it is always happening, it can be scary, but it’s necessary as we continue the journey.

Challenge Track: Week 4 – ‘normality’

The back is still uncomfortable but considerably better than it has been. This means that I am walking a lot more, sometimes tricky in the morning but always gets better as the day goes by.

So… how is the challenge going? I’m still only walking what I need to walk but I’m on 36.4 miles; I’m 240th out of 960 people; and I’ve reached my goal of raising £200 – thank you SO much to everyone who has sponsored me.

I’m hoping to start stretching the walking over the coming weeks and will always welcome more support verbally and financially if possible. This all goes. To supporting research and support for those who have epilepsy, and those who care for them. If you would like to sponsor me then the link is below…

Wednesday wonders: clearing the way

I’ve just spent the weekend in a rather chilly Birmingham. We had a lovely time however every time we went out in the car in the morning we had to clear the ice from the car windows. If we didn’t do that then mum wouldn’t have been able to see clearly to go on the journey. Even the smaller parts of the windows were necessary (which I may not have necessarily realised as a non-driver).

All sorts of things affect our vision and ability to see clearly – practically and metaphorically- it’s important to recognise what those things are do what we can to clear the way and make the journey.

Challenge Track: Week 3 improvement 😁

It’s the 22nd day of the challenge and I’m on 21.9 miles – nearly on track with a mile a day! My back has been much better this week, still uncomfortable at times but I’ve been able to walk much more. I’ve also spent some time up in Birmingham we took the dog for a nice walk, and then had to walk through Birmingham to go to the Utilita Arena to watch Strictly live, then a final near mile today walking to the pub and back!

Most importantly I feel like I’m back on track. I’m also at 75% of my target £200 sponsorship. WOW! I’m not going to change my target, but would still love to see the sponsorship either little or large to support the epilepsy society and the amazing research and support they provide. Once again the link is below

Wednesday Wonders: importance of rest

So about 2.5 weeks ago my back started hurting, it has been incredibly painful, I have struggled with walking and even struggled with standing. There have been a lot of sudden spasms, a lot of painkillers, an X-Ray. It has NOT been fun.

Sunday (3 days ago) I was able to stand through my two talks at Church which I was very pleased with as I’d been worrying about it all week. Yesterday and today I managed to walk quite a bit as well.

I don’t think the above would have been possible if I hadn’t rested last week. I got up and walked around the house to ensure I didn’t seize up but I rested.

How often do we just keep going, working through the pain. So often we need to make that conscious decision to stop, to put us at the top of our list. Recognise that if we don’t rest we might not be able to have the energy and ability to help others.

Once again I am aware the pot is calling the kettle black, but the reminder is always helpful!

Ending. Waiting. Changing. Beginning

Regular readers of my blog may have noticed some cryptic writing over the last 17 months, I can now say. I am retired. Let me tell my story…

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. My mum was a teacher, I enjoyed learning and I enjoyed sharing what I had learned with others. I would often teach my toys, or be the teacher when playing schools with friends. As soon as I was old enough I would lead groups at Junior Church, Beavers, Rainbows, Holiday groups – all sorts really! my work experience in year 11 was in a school which I continued when able in sixth form. My year out was working as teaching assistant in a school which I returned to part time after uni.

There were odd moments when I persuaded myself that teaching wasn’t for me; when I look back this was because I was worried either I wouldn’t be good enough or that my health would get in the way. Would I be able to be a teacher with epilepsy? Whenever I had these moments I was drawn back to teaching.

In 2004 a couple of weeks after getting married I started my PGCE secondary education focussing on Religious Studies at the University of Birmingham. Then in September 2005 I began my first job as Religious Studies teacher in Canterbury. I loved it, there were no two days the same, amazing questions asked and amazing statements made. Yes there was challenging behaviour at times but there was also the opportunity to build relationships with the classes.

I started off by not telling my classes that I had epilepsy, I didn’t want to be judged, for them to treat me differently or be afraid. This changed after I had a seizure in the classroom. After that point my first lesson every year started by telling the class that I had epilepsy, what that meant, what they had to do IF I had a seizure, and most importantly some of the horror stories of seizures I’d had including bones broken and other injuries. I only ever had two seizures in the classroom but I was always so overwhelmed by the response of the students, wanting to know more but also coming to find to tell me not to watch certain films because they were too flashy, or not going on certain bus routes in the summer because of the sun coming through the trees! This continued every year.

One of the things with epilepsy is that it is so unpredictable – mine is anyway. Yes there is medication to help to control but then there are times when there are more seizures, times when there are none, then there’s all the different types of seizures as well. Over recent years I have been having more myochlonic and absence seizures. Myochlonic is small jerking movements, I would drop things, lose footing or more seriously spill tea 😱. But it was the absences that became more apparent – especially to me, I would lose track of what I was saying or doing, I couldn’t thing of words all of which led to more frustration and further stress and the seizures getting more frequent. Once again the pupils were amazing and would tell me what I had been saying, or suggest words that they thought I was trying to think of!

In July 2021, following a occupational health meeting, a suggestion was made that my health was affecting my ability to teach the curriculum, but also that the stressful environment of the school and the nature of teaching was not beneficial for my health. This was a huge shock, and I wasn’t entirely on board at first but in September of 2021 I filled out my application for ill-health retirement. 3 days ago (January 2023) that was agreed and finalised and now, at the age of 41 I am retired!

It really has been a rough time. The job that I had always wanted to do, was taken away from me. I know I made the application of my own accord but that was after decisions made which were affected by a health condition that I never asked for. I didn’t know what to do, I was still being paid but I wasn’t able to go to work. I was always one of the first into school, I’d get up early walk across the city, put the 80s music on, and get myself prepared for the day. Now I was still waking up early but not knowing what to do with myself. This was not aided by the husband starting an apprenticeship, so he was suddenly so much busier, working, going to uni, studying, doing assignment and placements. The sofa became my friend.

Around the October time I started doing some voluntary work on a couple of days, this got me out the house, gave me some routine but I was always SO aware of WHY I was able to do these things in the first place. The process just seemed to go on and on and on, which was unbearable as I didn’t know what the result would be and I couldn’t really move on to do anything until everything was finalised. I was in limbo and I did not like it, regular readers will know I like to know what’s happening. I’m order for the process to move on I had to get medical evidence, this possibly one of the hardest things, I know that they needed to write what they did to support the case but I did not like reading them and it made me sound like an absolutely decrepit and useless human being.

As you can probably imagine my mental health took a bit of a battering throughout this time. I was angry at people, at places, at my brain – I was really not in a good place. After a visit to the Doctor who was apprehensive to put me on more medication, I was referred to CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). This was possibly one of the most positive parts of the last 17 months and was a turning point in my thinking.

I was given the opportunity to explore issues that I had with myself, my health, my situation. But also to explore that I was not defined by my job, there are so many skills involved in teaching that I will be able to use in other aspects of my life but also as I start to think about what next. It was so challenging and involved a lot of tears, but it helped me to see myself in a different light as well as giving me the tools to deal with difficult situations in the future. Let’s face it the epilepsy isn’t going away, but the way I live with it can be very different. It also helped me to see that possibly the voluntary bits I was doing are not necessarily stretching and fulfilling me. They were necessary at the time and were so helpful and have helped me make new connections but now there might be something more.

So I felt everything had ended, I was waiting for ages in a land of limbo, I was able to change my perspective on myself and on life and now well… it’s a new beginning and I am actually really excited to see what’s in store.

One thing I must say is that there is absolutely NO way that I could have got through this last 17 months on my own. So THANK YOU especially to the husband, my mum, the mother-in-law, E, L, my church family and SO many more – you know who you are!