Day 80 has sadly seen a seizure but has also seen 10 miles walked, some amazing meetings, some funny memories built with the children and Daddy’s clunky efforts at explaining Theology.

Yesterday was a day off which was going to involve a church service and then a quiet afternoon with James but so foolishly on arriving home on Saturday evening after the pantomime I completely forgot to take that evening’s dose of anti seizure medication. I went to sleep hoping for a 7am lie-in but instead woke at 5am and dozed until just before 7am. Up changed and making the bed I suddenly started to feel really very strange and it was then that I realised that I had forgotten to take my pills. I dashed downstairs and checked my pill box. Sure enough they were still there under Sat pm. I was lucid enough to remember that one can’t play catch up with the pills but just had to take this morning’s dose. I swallowed the pills with a whole glass of water and hoped that it would work quickly. I sat and waited; at first positive that a seizure was coming. But nothing came. The pills had seemed to work remarkably quickly. I was in the clear. Back upstairs I washed and shaved before waking the children. Heather was going to her pantomime performance but James was coming to church with me. A quick 1 mile dog walk staying close to the house just in case then back for breakfast. Still feeling good. Took James to church and had a lovely time as James, for the first time, took an active interest in the service. Reading from the order of service and singing quite audibly the hymns his lovely little voice distinct apart from my terrible attempts at singing. During the excellent sermon he sat close, held my hand and listened. I really felt he was engaging with the service and starting to try and understand what it was we were being taught that day from the readings, hymns and sermon. It was a lovely hour and not wanting this happy and relaxed time with James to end, after the service I took him up on to Main Street and in to the Buttercup Café for a Hot Chocolate and a piece of malteser chocolate slice. For me a Mocha. And a Chocolate Slice! We sat and chatted as various members of the village came and said hello as they came in. It was a cold frosty morning but warm and generous inside. As we walked home we talked about what to do in the afternoon and his initial thoughts were that we could go on a run together after lunch but then, as he breathed in the cold air, decided that he would rather not go splashing through the cold puddles in his shorts and trainers. I tried to convince him how much fun it would be but he wasn’t convinced. Instead opting for a lift to his friend’s farm to go and retrieve his bike and cycle home from the farm. Still a good plan but as they readied to leave, suddenly I was taken very weak, these incredibly powerful but very rapid vibrations wracking though my body. The swarm of bees was back and the queen must have landed on my head because that was where it felt that they were swarming as they worked their way up my body. My head became heavier and heavier until whoosh with a giant buzzing sudden release the swarm just left me and then I realised why. The only way to describe it is in such a way as you would imagine one would feel when having your very soul sucked out of you. Like the Harry Potter Dementor characters feeding on human happiness leaving only depression and despair I was suddenly weak, breathless and pleading for help. It was very powerful. It was relentless. I was at the sink in the kitchen propping myself up wanting to sit but needing to stand, to fight, to try and push it away. One final and rather weak plea for help, my knees buckling underneath me but held up as my knees hit the cupboard door the feelings passed. I had beaten it. James went for his bike and some air. Heather was picked up for her performance. I had some more cards to deliver and needed some exercise so went for another 3 mile walk. Back from the walk and James back with his bike we sat and watched his and I’s favourite programme together, ‘Countryfile’.

Tired I needed a great night’s sleep and got it. 7 hours straight. I woke feeling brilliant again. A 3 mile walk in slight rain but back feeling good and ready for the day. Two meetings today for the development of the challenge, a food shop delivery first with a plan to squeeze a run in at some point as well. I managed to get a good amount of planning done while waiting for the food shop and then my children had their first win on the prankster stakes. It is not something we do in particular in the house but this one was a perfect one – if it was – and certainly from the way the children giggled when challenged about it this evening – perhaps it was. What do you do when, very simply, thinking you have a pile of loo rolls behind the curtain in the loo, you sit, do a poo and reach behind you for the loo roll to find it gone. Then pull back the edge of the curtain to see the spare loo rolls gone too. And realising you are the only person in the house and therefore no one around to fetch a spare loo roll look around you in a mild panic searching frantically for some scrap of paper, in fact anything that might give you a chance of a clean rescue while desperately praying that the internet food shop does not arrive at precisely that moment!! Then realising that you have to do something stop and reflect on the quality of the movement. It had been good and fibrous and seemed to be complete. Nothing hanging about. I was going to have to stand and waddle to the other bathroom for a loo roll. I opened the door. Shut it again. The curtains were open and the blinds drawn. By Jingle!!. Trapped!! I had to get a towel and like a Geisha, with my trousers round my ankles and towel around my waist protecting any unsuspecting sole that might happen to peer through the window l had no option but to shuffle to the next loo. Grab a loo roll and shuffle back. I could of got angry but instead chuckled as I thought about how silly I must have looked and what I could have said to the delivery man out the window had the food shop come. Job done with no disasters, hands washed and downstairs. One planning entry made. Ding Dong the food arrived. Phew. That was close!!

Food unpacked and Ding Dong and the wonderful Heather MacLeod arrived. Heather and I, as you will remember, were setting up the Future Nation Foundation together, our Not for Profit designed to remove the element of chance that too often permeates the life chances of our vulnerable young people. While my diagnosis and prognosis was holding back any possible funding offers as a director of the FNF I felt that I had to formally resign but the wonderful Heather has always wanted to keep me engaged in it’s development and certainly once I can string a coherent string of words together without my quite regular brain freezes I am very keen to go and assist in raising awareness of this noble and remarkably simple and cost effective project. So today was a chance for an update but also a chance for me to look for advice and guidance from Heather. She has enormous experience in a number of fields and my head is brimming full of ideas. The Buttercup Café did us proud with a delicious lunch while Heather and I chatted away and I gained lots of encouragement and advice on the ideas and in particular how to further develop the raising of awareness of the challenge. Time flew and it was time for Heather to go and link up with her daughter in Glasgow and I needed to make a phone call.

After my appeal for help last Thursday I received a really exciting reply from a guy in Forres. I needed to have a chat with him, find out more about him, what his motivations were, what his skills were, how much time did he have available to help and was he aware that I couldn’t pay any wages and very little even towards costs. He was a web designer. As the website nears completion the additional work required to make all of Gordon’s hard work on it worthwhile was going to take time that I simply did not have on top of everything else. I needed some help so to have a guy who is a webdesigner answer your appeal for help was as good as having my prayer answered directly. Then it got even better because as I talked to him I became more and more convinced that he was absolutely the right man for the job not only because he brought a skill set in to the team that we really needed to relieve some pressure off of Gordon and allow the challenge to continue to grow as I start to bring my ideas in to fruition but because I was sure that he and I would get on well and seemed to be on the same wavelength. He was very keen to start but now that he knows more about the likely tasks and time requirements I asked him to balance it against the demands of his own business and sleep on it first before giving me an answer. Gosh – I hope he says yes!!

It wasn’t time to stop though as it was James’ first ever High School Christmas Dance with Scottish Country Dancing and Ceilidh dancing and I was determined to send him off well fed, happy and looking forward to the night. That meant that I had to start cooking early to feed him early enough to give him enough time to get ready without rushing. It turned out to be a great move as I was very conscious that they had both witnessed the partial seizure aura from yesterday afternoon. There was little I could do at the time so wanted to make a strong show of how much better I was now and not to worry. I picked a complex recipe that I knew would challenge me cognitively, but should taste good, give James a really healthy boost before eating all the rubbish he will inevitably end up snacking on this evening while showing a dynamic, happy and in control Father dancing across the kitchen as he tried to follow the Jamie Oliver Recipe singing along to his old favourites. Everything out and prepared, recipe read through I was ready for the show and on cue the children returned home from school. All were happy and James was looking forward to the dance. James went to get ready. I started cooking. Blackened Chicken San Fran Quinoa Salad from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals which to me in reality means a 60 minute meal. But I knew that and gave myself plenty of time.

An Evening Santa Parade in Doune
An Evening Santa Parade in Doune

I switched on my Ipod . I have nearly every song I possess loaded on to the Ipod but found that if I listened to the music according to my mood it would merely accentuate my mood rather than perhaps stabilise it which, when going through such stark periods of treatment could be quite dark. Far better therefore to have it on shuffle and sing my heart out, as long as no one else is listening. I did try and sing my Stairway to Heaven song to Heather MacLeod earlier this afternoon before she left but she advised me not to give up my ‘day job’ as she ran out the door!! I really must learn to sing. I was dancing around the kitchen like a true consummate professional (in my own mind at least) singing along to some 80s classics and enjoying this delightful dish taking shape. I have had a suggestion that some would like me to compile my recipes that I like to cook together, especially the ones that the children liked, in to a challenge cook book with all proceeds from any sales going of course towards the 5 challenge charities. I think that it is a great idea and today took it a step further. I am no professional in the kitchen . I am quite sure that if any trained chef was to watch me cooking that they would be having nightmares about it. But that is exactly why I should film myself cooking in the kitchen to go on the website. To inspire and encourage those who, like me when I first took on the role of Daddy Day Care, had never cooked more than a bowl of porridge before and just picked it up as I went along. Made it up as I went along but importantly, as long as I did as it said in the recipe it came out really well, tasted great and was so much better for me and the children than another processed option. And the more I did it the better I became even if I don’t necessarily use the knife professionally or cut vegetables in the right way but I am learning. Continuing to learn. The children and I are eating so much more healthily than before by my cooking from scratch and it is helping me to keep them healthy and beat the beast. I just had to develop the confidence to do it. I think that it is a great idea if it inspires and encourages other Mums and Dads to eat healthily and feed their children more healthily. I have been surprised at how well mine have adjusted to eating more healthily and perhaps, just perhaps, by doing so we can give them a head start in the race against cancer. I would love to know your thoughts – perhaps it is a crazy idea – in which case let me know or if it is a good idea perhaps there is a Mum or Dad out there who is keen on such a project, has some knowledge about publishing and would like to help with the development of the idea. I leave it out there because I had to get the quinoa cooked and the fresh red chilli, baby spinach, spring onions, fresh coriander, and fresh mint blended in to a salad to mix with the quinoa and the fresh mango, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, fresh avocado and natural yoghurt ready for adding to the quinoa salad while cooking the chicken breasts, seasoned with Paprika and Allspice (and flattened with a rolling pin – hugely satisfying!) and the peppers to go on top of the salad. Job done and smelling great I served up with a dollop of natural yoghurt on the side and held my breath. Smiles all round they didn’t love it but they like it!!!!!! Then the fun started. James was clearly excited and as I asked him to eat up so as not to have to rush he started to tease me about the hair do he had planned which of course involved cutting a line in the hair with my electric razor. I smiled and called his bluff. ‘ Okay James, as this is your first High School Christmas Dance let’s relax the rules a little on the hair. Go and get the razor and we can do it for you right now.’ James’ eyes popped out on stalks. ‘You won’t do that Dad’. ‘Just go and get the razor James’. He ran upstairs giggling thinking he was going to call my bluff. He was about to learn that I don’t bluff!! He passed me the razor the beard trimmer up, ready and buzzing as he giggled. I took the razor and asked him to sit. I stood and then asked him to lie on the bench seat and turn his head to the left for the first line. As the razor got closer and closer his nervous giggles became more and more desperate. ‘Alright Dad. Dad, Dad DAD PLEASE. You win!’ Thank goodness. We had a laugh then he genuinely asked me to trim his sideburns. He made some extraordinary noises as I did so as carefully as I could but I guess he just wasn’t sure, as he squealed nervously, before he could judge for himself in the mirror. I had done well. Just as James was going to get changed the annual Father Christmas float came around collecting money and spreading Christmas cheer. They do it so well so we stood at the door and waved them a Happy Christmas. A donation made and a packet of sweets in return James went upstairs to get ready.

As I was washing up James came down and asked ‘Dad, doesn’t it mean that if you enjoy Christmas that you are a Christian?’ A fascinating question which gave me a chance to try and settle the minds and expel any doubt that might be lurking in the children’s minds after yesterday. ‘No James it doesn’t necessarily’ ‘You can enjoy the festivities of Christmas and even the amazing story of Christs’ birth but not necessarily be a committed Christian.’ He looked at me quizzically. ‘What I mean James is that to be a committed Christian you need to first understand who Jesus Christ is, what his coming meant for us all, and commit your life to following his lead and example. To welcome him in to your life with true belief and commitment to follow his example for good.’ He still looked at me quizzically. ‘James you know how I try and set you a good example. Well Jesus has already done it and it is his lead that I follow trusting him in the path that he leads me on. On Saturday I wrote a song as I walked and that might explain it a bit better.’ I wasn’t doing a very good job of trying to explain Christianity to him but I could try and convince him that I was okay because I had faith and believed that I could Heal. It was a long shot but I had to give it a go.

To make it more fun I tried to sing it to them which lightened the mood and made them both giggle, Heather listening from the kitchen, as I broke down the song line by line:

‘There’s a man here who’s sure all that’s round him is God’s.
‘All around us James is God’s Creation and we are supposed to be Earth’s caretaker’ And he’s building a stairway to heaven.
‘But I want to be sure of going to heaven when the time comes so I must build a stairway to heaven brick by brick with good works’
If he gets there he knows, that all his pain will be gone.
‘James nodded. The meaning was clear.’
With a word he can get what he came for.
‘I trust James that God will deliver his promise of peace when I ask for it’
Ooh, ooh, and he’s building a stairway to heaven.

The writings on the wall but he wants to be sure.
‘This is an old saying that basically meant that if your name was on the wall your time was up.’
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
‘But for me James I think I have been called forward for the path I have been put on in the challenge not because my time is up.
In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird that sings.
Sometimes all of our thoughts are mistaken.
‘So rather than getting all wrapped up worrying about the disease, have faith in the example set by Jesus Christ because the writing on the wall is asking me to go forth on the challenge and in so doing be healed’

Ooh, it makes me wonder.
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the heavens.
That my spirit is crying for healing.
‘I look to Jesus Christ for healing and have faith that he can and will heal me’
In my thoughts I have seen, so many random things.
And the voices of those whom I know not.
‘Yes the auras have been difficult but every time I have listened to the voice it has led me to someone who has helped and encouraged me or who needed inspiration and encouragement themselves. I now believe that I have been listening to Jesus Christ and he has, I am sure, been leading me.

Ooh it makes me wonder.
Ooh it really makes me wonder.

And it’s whispered that soon, if I keep singing the tune.
That the piper will lead me to healing.
‘If I truly believe and have faith the piper when I hear him will not be leading a funeral cortege. He will be playing a tune in celebration of my successful healing’
And a new day will dawn for those who believe.
And the challenge will breath life in to so many.
‘James I will be healed and in being healed I can help so many more through the challenge’

I really wasn’t sure how well I had got the message across that yes things looked messy, and even though my singing was messy, by truly believing in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and listening to him I can not only be healed but help so many more people at the same time.

The response? They laughed at my singing and told me it was terrible!

Heather reassured me and said that she wished that she could sing so hard that one day she woke up and could sing. ‘It was really weird but I could sing!’ One day Heather will realise that her wishing, her prayers, were answered!

James just gave me a reassuring hug and smiled at me. He understood entirely. He bounced upstairs to get some money. It was time to go!!

Me? I knew I didn’t have career in Theology waiting for me and perhaps I should wait until I have recovered from my treatment before attempting some philosphy!! It was a very poor attempt at trying to describe something complex to the children but some of it seemed to sink in and most importantly of all they appeared happy that it was going to be a alright.

Georgie needed a walk and more cards to deliver so another 3 miles walked.

A good walk planned for tomorrow.

So the challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 79
Total Miles Cycled: 477
Total Miles Walked: 380.5
Total Miles Run: 23.3
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.945.8
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: 4
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 8
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 3
Press Ups: 174
Pull Ups: 45
Sit Ups: 174
People Met and Hands Shaken: 284
Pots of tea shared: 18
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 1
Pills popped: 342
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 77 – £5,395.

Considering I started this challenge 12 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 £70.06 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