Day 26 has combined the building of physical fitness to build back up a strong immune system with the development of cognitive and motor function in order to ‘Beat the Beast’ and has involved a 2 mile run and some Curling which led to a decision on which aura should I be telling you about today.

Sunday was a pleasant day with a great service in the morning and a delightful afternoon sharing a pot of tea and catching up with cousin Jamie who I had last seen many years ago and meeting his delightful family Anna, Jaaquin and Lyra. Despite such a lovely day surrounded by great positivity and cuddly children the chemo’ was constantly present in the background, fizzing gently in the back of the nose and throat. This morning, after a relatively unsettled night I was still feeling particularly foggy and knew that I had to embrace the run I had planned to do previously. It was hard work to get going. My balance was very poor and poor Georgie the dog was having to be particularly patient as I struggled to keep upright. The legs were full of lead and fighting against being dragged forward. I must have looked quite a sight as I worked my way to the start of the 2 mile route through the wood of Doune. This was my first run since the fun run at the Summer Doune Gala and started to wonder whether an additional 3 months of chemotherapy since the last run was saying go home Archie. However I was encouraged to push on by the most unexpected event post the fun run at which I attended the prize giving and after I had cheerfully applauded the winning boys, girls, men and women, thankful that I had made it around, nobly escorted by Georgie and my daughter Heather, there was an additional award announced. I thought immediately that it was quite right and appropriate that the village thanked Sue Harvey of Harvey’s Maps who sponsored the Gala year after year. Suddenly though I heard my name. The village was presenting me with an award for setting such an example in the manner in which I was trying to fight the beast. I was choked and in my haste to give a huge hug to the organiser knocked the prize from her hand scattering the pieces of clear plastic of a lovely generations for peace puzzle through the air before they fell to the ground. The children flocked to help me rebuild the puzzle so what could have been hugely embarrassing became hugely entertaining for the crowd and of course the children. The memory brings a smile to myself each time I think on it. It was a humbling experience but one that energised me to have the courage to start the challenge. It made me realise that some might believe in what I hope to achieve with the challenge and the way in which I was doing it. It gave me the confidence to go for it………. Clearly therefore I owed it to all those who showed their belief in me after the fun run and now here, in the challenge through their sponsorship, to stop being so feeble and just get on with it. There were no ‘chariots of fire’ moments or records broken but I did slowly find my rhythm and start to enjoy the run in the sunshine.

This picture was actually from another day of Curling on the 22nd of October 2015!
This picture was actually from another day of Curling on the 22nd of October 2015!

Curling was a delight. To be stood on the cooling ice with the Doune Curling Club who have welcomed me so warmly was great. I had done some scratch curling once or twice years before but had never been taught how to curl properly so was delighted to have been given the chance to learn a little of the technique. The coach Lynsey was so very generous with her time for me. Perfect for my balance, cognitive and motor function I found such encouragement and belief in my ability to get there so enriching and finally managed to get the push and slide technique right. There is a lot of practice required but I had a lovely evening and thank the club for the opportunity. It was the roaring of the stone over the ice that reminded me of the roar of a train or underground train on tracks as one goes at speed through a tunnel that told me which aura I was to tell you about today.

During Radiotherapy despite being given huge support in the many offers of lifts and even a driving rota being set up I was just starting to form the basis of the healing plan and saw the cognitive and motor challenge of taking the bus, train and bus to and from the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh as a tool to use in trying to beat the beast. It was tiring but to my mind, in order to form the back up generator in the left side of the head, when the right side of the brain was tired and struggling was absolutely the time to force the brain to find a way to function. Indeed I had been managing perfectly well and was enjoying some of the conversations on route and even one or two entertaining debates on the independence referendum on the bus!!

When in radiotherapy, and having adjusted to having one’s head locked down in a tight fitting mask to ensure 100% accuracy of the amazing radiotherapy machine I used to relax and try and visualise the tumour being vaporised out of the side of the head and when I started to develop a small (3cm in diameter) brown scar on the right side of my head I was hugely encouraged until one day, as I lay, drifting in and out of sleepiness, visualising the vaporising of the tumour with the quiet hum and rapid ticking of the machine in the background, PAC MAN CAME TO VISIT!! He was small round and yellow munching away quite rapidly at the ragged edges of the tumour left over from the operation. I needed to get him to start munching on the fingers extended deep in to the brain and that were posing the greatest risk to me but how. It was obvious. I visualised a big yellow handled joy stick and guided pac man on to the fingers. Quite a moment but sadly he clearly wasn’t hungry and the visualisation of the vaporisation was just that and only that as subsequent scans showed no change in the size of the tumour. They couldn’t even see Pac Man!!

Radiotherapy did leave me tired though and it was on the way back from an appointment that I had this particular aura. I was tired but not unsteady and the train was not too crowded so managed to get a good seat at a table with no-one else so could just relax. As we trundled our way out of Edinburgh I started to feel slight aura like twinges in the back of the nose. As we gained speed out in to the countryside I suddenly had a very powerful and very real déjà vu that the train was about to have a catastrophic accident involving a huge derailment and significant casualties. It was carnage and I needed to warn someone. I needed to warn every one and quickly so I jumped out of the seat to run down the carriage screaming brace, brace, brace and throwing old and very young people under tables for protection. Something in the brain kicked in, grabbed the table leg and hauled me violently back in to my seat from where I started to have a very vocal but internal dialogue with myself along the lines of don’t be so bloody silly the train is not going to crash – NO the train is going to crash it is going to be horrific we need to save as many as we can there’s no time – NO Archie for goodness sake get a grip, sit down and calm down etc etc etc etc. Slowly I came down from the aura and sat relieved that it was all just an internal dialogue. Or was it……………..As I adjusted to the atmosphere of the carriage I noticed it to be one of nervousness. As I looked around me I could see couples of various ages and a mother with two small children looking sideways in my direction, not wanting to make eye contact, the Mother holding her children tight. I tried to smile reassurance but had no idea what had happened. Then an older lady came and asked very sweetly if she might sit next to me. She asked me if I was okay and I said I was thank you. I had just had a partial seizure quietly in the corner but was over it and fine. I then asked why there was an atmosphere in the carriage. What had I missed? ‘You dear’ she said. ‘Unfortunately your seizure was very obvious as you jumped into the carriage and back onto the seat then back into the carriage and back again, time and time and time again arguing with yourself about the train crashing but we’re not going to crash are we dear!’ She knew the answer to the question and in fact I now realise that it wasn’t a question at all but a point of reassurance. I shook my head and then this lovely lady turned her head to the carriage as she held my right hand and patted the top with her other hand. She addressed those closest in the carriage including the Mum. ‘Don’t worry He’s all right. Just had a wee turn’. The sense of relief – not that the train wasn’t going to crash; I guess they had worked out that one, but that they weren’t sharing a carriage with a dangerous madman – was palpable. I sat quietly, feeling awful for those I might have frightened or concerned and hugely embarrassed but relieved. Relieved when as at each stop more from the carriage got off to find just myself left for Dunblane. Then I looked for the lovely old woman who had left me to recover quietly but she had gone. I think of her regularly and thank God that she was there and with the courage to help me. She is an inspiration for me and came in to my mind again when on the bus coming back from another appointment at the Western General Hospital a man had a full seizure on the bus behind me. Before I knew what was going on a group of passengers had gathered around to provide assistance. To have experienced such powerful expressions of human kindness in the very centre of a busy city was hugely reassuring. We are not perhaps all as bad as we sometimes make ourselves out to be!! I am however again hugely pleased to be able to say that these types of partial seizures are now under control so I should never be in such a position in which I might upset other passengers again. I am so terribly sorry to those I did upset and I promise that I am going to do all I can to ‘Beat This Beast!!’