Day 76 has seen a surprise donation, 7 miles walked, a book compiled and been one of mixed feelings and emotions bolstered by the good company and advice of friends.

It is now 2 days since my last big adventure and I have plenty more in the pipeline but despite a reasonable nights sleep last night knocking out 6 hours straight for the first time in a long time, and having lots to do, as the day has worn on I have been getting steadily clunkier.

I took Georgie for a good 2 mile walk with a nice wee slope in it to get the blood pumping and wake me up for the day. I had collected some litter and was feeling okay until I started down the street to home. It was as if my entire brain was seizing every second or third step because everything just froze around me then jumped on, then jumped on like some sort of slow strobe effect. I was stumbling and feeling a little odd but then it suddenly dispersed. All except the fuzzy fog which was hanging around me like a big grey sulky cloud of depression. The children coming down for breakfast helped considerably as they reminded me what was on the agenda for the day and therefore what time I would need to have tea ready et al. I remember that we had quite an amusing couple of bits of conversation but cannot for the life of me remember what they were now. Just that they made me smile. I smile now thinking about it even though I know not why. Heather was looking and sounding a lot better so my Pasta Marinara from last night must have done the trick. Soon enough though it was time for James to go to school and soon after Heather was collected by the wonderful Pauline and Liz to go to get ready for the Pantomime. I opened an envelope that arrived last night for me and in it was a very generous donation from a friend in the village who couldn’t come to the fundraising tea and despite having paid for a ticket any way he felt he should make a contribution too. I sat and thanked God that I lived in a place with such a strong sense of community. I will say thank you personally shortly but until then thank you. Your donation has made a huge difference.

I switched on the computer to start to check up on the emails while I waited for my Rector Alison to arrive. She was popping in to drop off some cards that the three different churches in Doune had produced jointly as a Christmas Card for all the houses of the village but also advertising what services were on over Christmas in the 3 churches. I had offered to drop them round the village so was awaiting the cards and instructions. I needed something to help clear the fog and like a prayer being answered I saw it. Sent to me at 1045pm last night. A wonderful message of support and encouragement from a friend that not only lifted the depressive cloud hanging over me but burnt it off altogether like the sun. The fog was still slightly present and I was feeling slightly emotional when Ding Dong. Alison arrived.

It was great to see Alison and was sad that she couldn’t stay for too long but understood entirely how busy she was but there was still time to chat about how the challenge was going and share with her a couple of examples of some of the extraordinary meetings with people I have had so far on this journey. As I did so tears started to well in my eyes. I was clearly not completely out from this big grey cloud of emotion but these tears were not tears of sadness or even tears of happiness but just tears evoked by the strong emotions stirred by the recounting of such wonderful meetings with like minded and incredibly courageous people over the journey so far and on recalling how close I have felt to God at times. How it was, at times, almost as if he was talking to me, guiding me, keeping me safe and on the right path.

I shared this message with Alison who immediately saw the brilliance in it and how useful such a message of encouragement and advice might be to others with me on this journey. Alison was right. I had to share it with you but needed the authors permission first as it was a very personal message. Alison left me the cards and very clear instructions as to which houses I was delivering too then sadly had to go. So I messaged my friend and hoped that I might get a yes. Couldn’t wait any longer in the house so got changed, put my boots on and took Georgie for a good 2 mile fast walk on another good route with a nice slope in it to get the body working properly. I cracked the route in 27 minutes which was a good show for a walk with boots on up that particular slope. Back home and another 3 overarm pullups, 13 pressups and situps then shower and lunch of you know what. I felt sluggish and cumbersome in the upper body but otherwise okay.

After lunch the theatre safety curtain of tiredness came down and smothered me, it’s weight hanging heavy on my shoulders and pulling me down. I had to sit but couldn’t give in to tiredness as that would start to compound the problem at night. I made a cup of tea ate a box of raisins and sat at the computer. I needed to push on through the tiredness. It has happened before and as long as I keep pushing on the curtain will start to lift – quite quickly in fact and I am sure I can even hear the clankety clickety clanking of the gears in the winch system as the curtain lifts. I needed to compile the posts I had written from Day 1 complete with the photos I used for a file for the library so that those in the village who cannot or do not want to access the internet or facebook can read up on it and follow the journey of the challenge in hard copy. It was a useful exercise in firstly maintaining an electronic and hardcopy archive of what I had done on the challenge. I have already noticed that facebook has lost 5 separate posts so far. Thank fully I had all but one of them in a word document but should that have corrupted I would have lost the posts forever. Some would perhaps have been cause for celebration but certainly I would have been sad to have lost them. It was also a useful exercise in reading back over what I had done and how dark it had become at times during the treatment. In reminding me how far I had come. That I had survived a prolonged and very intensive period of treatment but then I remembered how useless I felt yesterday and started to sink back in to the whole what is the point if I have no worth doldrums again. I sat compiling more posts and sinking into a sticky treacle like mud, more posts and sinking, more posts and sinking, more posts and sinking, being pulled even deeper in to the mud with me almost moaning a long morose what’s the point moany sigh out load. Whenever I start to sink there always seems to be some spark that recognises the risk, stops me sinking further and jolts me in to some kind of action.

The children burst through the door. One at a time but in they came. Full of life and bringing light and the exuberance of life back in to the house. It was like a kaleidoscope of colour as Heather does one of her tappety tap excited tadahh dances still buzzing from a successful performance of the pantomime and James feeling all cuddly and excited about his first performance of his pantomime. The curtain was up, I was out of the mud and smiling. I had some cards to deliver around the village and children to feed.

I took Georgie for a 3 mile card delivery walk which took an hour and gave me exactly an hour to have tea ready in time for James to eat before heading out for the show. Tea was perfect for the day and the way I was feeling. I still wasn’t 100% and started to feel a little awkward, clunky and cumbersome as I neared home. I tripped over my own toe at one point and stumbled back in to the house. Oven on. I was going for a Protein power house tonight. Sausage and bacon roll with, of course, some spinach, rocket and watercress salad on a seeded roll with tomato ketchup with a pudding of tangerine or orange. As one would expect it was a hit especially when I went for the easy option of a TV tea. Washing up done, James ready to go, it was time to check my emails. Could I or couldn’t I?

Bingo – I got the answer I was hoping for. I can share her brilliant message with you and hope that you get as much from it as I did. Now and in the future.

So for us all advice from a dear friend:

‘I really don’t want to preach at you so please forgive me if the next bit comes across that way… As I read yesterday’s (07th December 2015) post I could feel your frustration at not being able to drive when you so wanted to help Heather and her friends, and I understand it. I’m sure I can only begin to understand in a small way the frustration and upset that goes with not being able to drive, something I used to rely on so much when I lived in the countryside. While I’m sure you know in your head that it’s the right thing just now, I think it’s very normal that your heart gets cross about it, especially when you want to help someone, particularly your daughter. But Archie, please don’t ever think you are surplus to requirements, impotent or helpless. I think you need what a previous boss of mine used to call an ‘ego file’, basically when someone says something nice about you, or sends you an email thanking you for something you’ve done, you keep it, and on a bad day you can get out the file and read the messages or cards to remind yourself of what you have done and can do, rather than thinking about the things you can’t. I’m quite sure I need to say this to myself as well, I think we’re all too good at focusing on what we can’t do whatever the reason…

I suspect you have many things that could go in your ‘ego file’ already, but I’ll give you a few more for good measure because I felt so strongly about this as I read the post – just yesterday you have cooked another amazing meal for your children (I have to confess reading some of these posts makes me hungry!), and your love for your children shines through what you write day after day; you have inspired 523 people to join you on this journey and encouraged numerous other people through the conversations you have had with them along the way. That encouragement gets passed on as they talk to others about their conversations with you (that happened just yesterday as I was talking to some people after church). Just from what I’ve read on the Facebook page, you have a small army of friends and family who are rooting for you and cheering you on – and that’s their response to who you are and what you mean to them. You are putting your faith in God in incredibly tough circumstances and seeing Him at work day after day as He reminds you of His love and care. You get up and cycle 75 miles, run or walk through mud, wind and rain, remember to take photos of it, and describe it in such a way that we can experience it with you. And I’m sure there’s a long list of things to be added by people who have known you longer than the two months I have! So – please – think of all the things you have done (even in the last 75 days of the challenge) and are doing, and be encouraged, there is no way you are impotent or surplus to requirements.
I will be praying the traumatic lesion heals quickly, for good restful sleep for you tonight, and encouragement in abundance tomorrow.’

Clearly replace some of the things I have done with the good things you have done, no matter how small they may seem, the point is that the sentiment remains exactly the same. There is nearly always something that you and I are doing that is helping in so many ways, far more than perhaps you or I realise.

As for her prayers for a restful sleep and encouragement in abundance I think, looking back over the day from the solid 6 hours sleep, unexpected donation and happy children onwards, despite sinking in towards the doldrums the prayers were answered. I never got to the doldrums.

The challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 76
Total Miles Cycled: 469
Total Miles Walked: 348.5
Total Miles Run: 21.0
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.903.5
Total Height Gained under own steam: 29,897 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 15
Days of Voluntary Activity: 5.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 3
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 7
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 3
Press Ups: 133
Pull Ups: 33
Sit Ups: 133
People Met and Hands Shaken: 280
Pots of tea shared: 17
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 1
Pills popped: 326
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 65 – £5,029.

Considering I started this challenge 9 weeks ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. So far that is £77.36 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.

If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you

Yours aye