Day 56 has been spent mostly on buses yet been one of strength training, medical appointments and more incredible people met.

It started on the bus to McLaren High School with this time only a very small protest from James. I behaved myself and stayed away from the back, sitting at the front instead. As before the children were polite and beautifully behaved and it was only on arrival at the school when they came pouring down from the top did I realise that there was an entire top deck of children on the bus. I jumped off and headed for McLaren Leisure Centre and booked in for a session in the weights room. I had somehow managed to get my cards all muddled up but the delightful, and very colourful Lindsey looked after me beautifully and couldn’t have been more helpful if she had tried, so thank you Lindsey. It was another pleasant session in the gym with more senior pupils joining me in the gym but that annoying fuzzy fizzy feeling was back in the back of the nose and front of the head. I even felt slightly off balance at one or two occasions and just didn’t seem to be able to shake it. A quick shower and then I had to change quickly to get back down to Callander to catch the bus to Stirling in time to make my appointment with the epilepsy specialist nurse at the Stirling Community Hospital. I made it down in time but still couldn’t shake the unpleasant fuzzing.

The bus arrived. I took my seat and at the next stop the entire flavour of the day changed. The bus driver leapt up out of his seat to extend the ramp at the door and then on came this disabled young man on a powered wheelchair. He gave the driver some money and then with some expert manoeuvring parked his chair in to the disabled slot. I noticed that the driver had his change so I jumped up to take his change and bring it back to this gentleman. I gave this young man his change and then took my seat in front of him for him to light up my day. His name is Paul McIntyre aged 26 and is suffering from Muscular Dystrophy. He had the most enormous smile and was interested in nothing else but me. I didn’t want to tell him what I was up to in terms of the ‘what do you do conversation’ as I thought that it would have been a little insensitive so instead tried to enquire about him and how he was managing his disability. Paul was having none of it and dragged all the info about the challenge out of me and immediately chimed in with the importance of positivity and doing what you can. He was also using Golf like me as a form of motor/cognitive training. He also agreed entirely with me about the importance of physical exercise and then I discovered that he had walked the London Marathon and even managed to do it in 3 days rather than the planned 4!! We talked and talked and my mind was reminded of a quote I once read by Pericles that states that what one leaves behind that matters is not what is engraved on stone monuments but what is woven in to the lives of others. This wonderful young man who sat opposite me for 16 miles on the bus has just woven himself in to my life with such courage in adversity, positivity and as broad a smile and love of life as I would ever think possible that not only will I never forget him but will also hold him in my mind as a memory to come back to whenever I need a little encouragement. He carried the Olympic Torch in to Stirling Castle to keep the flame alive for the city. Now he carries my flame and may it long burn in him. Thank you Paul for being such an inspirational person. I hope you come and find me on the challenge and join me on the journey. The fuzziness has gone again!!

Another piture from the Cimbing Wall at the Peak in Stirling, Day 55
Another piture from the Cimbing Wall at the Peak in Stirling, Day 55

Mention should be made here of the brilliant bus drivers we are lucky enough to be served with by the First Buses Company in Stirling. Yesterday, as I rushed back from the climbing wall and arrived at the bus station the bus was pulling away. This time he saw me. Stopped and opened the doors. Then on he way back, as we turned towards Deanston, the driver saw a lady stood on her own in the dark on the other side of the road. It was a quiet road and it was clear so he pulled over, slid back his window and checked that she was okay. Today Paul was trying to get on the bus but even with lowering the bus on it’s suspension he still couldn’t get on. Quick as a flash and before I had really understood what was happening the driver was up and pulling out a ramp from the undercarriage to let Paul on. It was less the doing it, because you could quite reasonably argue that that was his job but more the positive and helpful manner in which he did it jumping out of his cabin as soon as it was safe to do so. Paul was such a master driver of his powered wheel chair so all that was left for me to do was to help both by collecting Paul’s change. I am so pleased that I did because that led me to meeting Paul. Having such thoughtful, cheerful and courteous drivers makes a huge difference to the quality of one’s life when the bus is, through necessity, such a large part of it. So thank you.

This afternoon then saw Stirling Community Hospital visited for an appointment with Darren Wilkinson, my epilepsy specialist nurse. I have long maintained that I musn’t get wrapped up in the treatment of the symptoms of the tumour rather than treatment of the tumour itself but recent events have confirmed for me that trying to get the balance of anti seizure medication right can make a real difference to the quality of the life that I can lead. However the very point in the post treatment cycle that I am on makes it exceptionally difficult to pin the recent seizure activity on to one particular area of my life be it the lingering effects of the treatment, medication, food, activity or any other possible trigger. The brain has taken a real battering with Brain Surgery followed by Radiotherapy followed by 12 months of Chemotherapy so will take about 6 months to settle down,if not longer. During that settling period there will be significant peaks and troughs in epileptic activity but over time should start to settle. I am exceptionally lucky in that the form of epilepsy I am suffering from is partial in it’s manifestation as auras and although the auras are powerful and all encompassing I maintain conscientiousness and suffer no violent spasms. The auras have even given me some excellent material for some of my posts!! So I am unlikely to be able to get on top of the seizure activity for the near future but can hope to see small improvements over the next 6 months. In the meantime I need to take copious and detailed notes to try and identify a trigger for the activity. So I could have left feeling a little disappointed that there was no quick fix to my seizure activity but instead left with some words of encouragement from Darren. When I mentioned how much I was enjoying meeting all these amazing people during the challenge he noted that the reason I was meeting these people was because I was making the conscious effort to slow down and make the most of every opportunity that comes my way, which when living life, is clearly meeting people and taking the time to talk to them. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms but thinking about it perhaps he is right. I am convinced that God is playing a part in some way but while certainly the primary purpose of the challenge is to live life to Beat the Beast, the unifying purpose is most definitely to raise money in order to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people and without question the greatest rewards on this challenge have come directly from the positivity of the great people I have met. Smile and the world smiles back!!

So what a delight to have the remainder of the afternoon punctuated by people. I was totally busted as I had a quick lunch in McDonalds before catching the bus home but could not resist jumping up and down to say hello to a dear friend Kate Mitchell with her children Noah and Niamh. Then on walking up to Computer Division to collect my computer from the brilliant team up there I find my computer fixed and upgraded for cost. Thank you very much guys – my daughter Heather is thrilled to have her computer back!! Then on the way back to the bus stop it was a delight to bump in to Vicky MacDowell who stopped for a quick catch up and then, just as I thought the afternoon couldn’t get any better I bump in to Paul again and even got to meet his brother Scott. Sadly I didn’t get the opportunity to chat with Scott as he had to dash for a train to Perth but it was nice to meet him none the less and Paul was having a good giggle about the fact that I was back on the bus 2 hours later to bring James back to Stirling for climbing after school. The seat in front of Paul was sat in so it was difficult to talk across the bus over the noise of the engine but it was a delight to watch him weaving himself in to and lighting up the life of the lady sat in the chair in front of him.

Back home, crabmeat Linguine with fresh fennel, red chilli, lemon zest, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil made, children fed and back on the bus to get to the Peak for James’ climbing while I write this post. A busy day but a hugely positive one.