Day 94 has seen 4 Miles walked, a wonderful trip to a New Year’s concert, a near seizure averted and a Benny Hill sketch re-enacted.

It was a lovely 2 mile walk along the river first thing this morning, the rain falling lightly on my coat. The river flowing in great but almost silent swirling torrents past me. The dawn breaking into a form of twilight that descended upon us like a bluey, purpley, blue/grey blanket. The morning broke silent. Not a bird sang, the only noise the occasional gentle clattering of Georgie’s claws on rocks, the occasional pigeon flapping through the leaves startled from its roost and me squelching through the mud. I was quietly content and looking forward to a concert and a day with the children. I burst into prayer. Earnest. Quietly spoken but a heartfelt emotional prayer of thanks for another day. A beautiful day to enjoy with a dear friend and the children. 

The 128th New Year performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Edinburgh Royal Choral Unions with the Edinburgh Pro Musica Orchestra
The 128th New Year performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Edinburgh Royal Choral Unions with the Edinburgh Pro Musica Orchestra

Back home and after breakfast the children and I jumped in to the taxi to get to Dunblane station and once at the station the excitement about the day broke through. James had Heather and I in hysterics as he recounted funny stories from Christmas and New Year. He was bubbling with excitement ready to burst. Then the train arrived and I got my teenage children back as they pulled up their hoods to shut out the world, disengage and go to sleep. I let them sleep and watched over them quietly as they rocked with the motion of the train. Me contented. Then James woke. The silence shattered with the over exuberance of a 12 year old Heather was stirred from her sleep. Time for a card game. Uno!! Now I do not know what it is about this game. Perhaps it is the way it was designed. Or perhaps there is a secret code designed and used by the children but I appear to be completely incapable of winning a game of uno. Not even one. I did come close today but then I forgot to say Uno on my last card, so surprised was I that I had actually got to my last card, that I had to pick up a penalty two cards. They were rubbish cards. I lost the game – again.

We arrived in Edinburgh to be met by Allie and then escorted up to the Usher Hall for the concert. We were a little early so nothing for it but to go for a Mocha. I offered the children a Hot Chocolate but Heather was determined that she wanted a Mocha too. I was kind of touched but then thought it a bad idea. Sensing my dilemma Allie very cleverly suggested asking for a small deCaf Mocha. I didn’t know that they did such a thing but of course they did and once I thought about it it made so much sense. Genius Allie – thank you.

Mochas drunk it was time to go for a quick wee before taking our seats as this was going to be a long concert and we were all thoroughly looking forward to it. It was to be the 128th New Year performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Edinburgh Royal Choral Unions with the Edinburgh Pro Musica Orchestra. The children had never been in the Usher hall before and so the size and grandeur of the surroundings immediately captured their imagination as they looked in awe around them with Heather a little nervous of the height at which we were sat in the Upper Circle. We talked about the four voices of a choir and how they were represented in the strings with the Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass and then the concert was set and the music started. The rich tones of the orchestra rolled like a velvet mind wash around the auditorium. We were whisked away in to our own various worlds of different memories and emotions as the music ebbed and flowed through its own emotions, telling it’s own wonderful story. One by one the two tenors then the two sopranos stood to sing and as they sang so beautifully I was given over to quite powerful flows of emotion through myself. We broke for the interval, a dab of the eyes and the packed lunch I had brought for us all of yep, tuna mayonnaise sandwiches on a bed of spinach, rocket and watercress served with raw tenderstem broccoli, tomatoes, carrot, red grapes and of course a flapjack. I then pointed to the Edinburgh City Coat of Arms above the stage with the motto “Nisi Dominus Frustra” ‘All in Vain without God’ and blew the children away with my knowledge of latin!! I then had to admit that I didn’t really know latin and had just learnt it as part of my interest in my Regiment! I think that they were quietly still quite impressed but the concert resumed and very soon I was distracted by a growing series of alarming sensations. I had a very numb bum yes, but my goodness I felt like I was being softened up for some enormous seizure. My right lower eyelid started vibrating really annoyingly, my lips started tingling, then I felt hot pins and needle like sensations charging around my facial muscles like a pack of teenagers running around my face like they were chasing a football with spikes on, left to right, right to left, up, left, down, right then back again then instead a flow of hot liquid down my cheeks. It was a stampede of emotions across my face. I focussed in hard on the music trying to fight, terrified that I might have a seizure not just in this auditorium but right here next to the children. I had been feeling fine. This just wasn’t right. I started to receive involuntary twitches in my hands and arms. My left arm started to feel steadily weaker loosing any sense as to what the fingers were doing. I tried to force them to do as they were told against my leg, my arm, my other hand. As the music flowed through me I felt like I was loosing the fight. That with every note another small piece of cognitive and motor function was lost. I was close to panic and then Allie must have sensed something was up. She gripped my arm and asked me if I was okay. I mouthed wobbly as I wobbled my outstretched hand from side to side. She nodded and squeezed my arm in reassurance. It was then that I realised the significance of the plaque of Edinburgh City with the motto “Nisi Dominus Frustra”. I immediately felt a slight relief. I suddenly understood what it actually meant. Not just as the straight translation as part of the motto of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. “All in vain without God”. The message was loud and clear. Stop panicking and ask God for help. Then I remembered the other motto on our capbadge. “Inveritate Religionis Confido” “Strength in thy True Religion” was how I remembered it. Probably not a perfect translation but it worked for me. I just had to trust in God and ask for his help. I cleared my mind and focused on the music. Of course this was Handel’s Messiah, in English. I just had to listen to his words. This was an oratory on the many wonderful examples shown in Jesus’ life from his birth to his death and ascension but also served as a reminder of God’s promises. As we stood for the Hallelujah chorus I tried to stand strong and true but felt strange almost as if something was trying to take something from within me. It was a short lived but very odd sensation that I struggled to describe later and was instead perhaps just the emotion of the moment but the sensation was most definitely there, I am sure of it. But I continued to try and fight it using the words as a handrail on which to gain strength and the wonderful music and the children’s enjoyment of it as a distraction. The concert continued with the wonderful choral music crescendoing at times in to quite startling volumes as the enormous organ joined in with trumpets and timpani. James on several occasions nearly leapt out of his skin. Heather just lost herself in the beautiful voices of the sopranos and I started to feel better and better. The odd twitch but was loving the music and loving so much that the children were so entranced by it. And more importantly I didn’t have a seizure up there in the Upper Circle. That would have been awful for us all. Instead all I had to do was remember that ‘Nisi Dominus Frustra!’ and focus.

Then as we were treated to the wonderful chorus of Amen’s I started to feel more settled. My lower right eyelid was still twitching and my lips were still tingling but I was otherwise starting to feel more normal. The concert finished . I leant across to Allie and thanked her for her reassurance during that difficult few moments and told her how much better I was feeling and how I felt that God had helped me. Allie just leant across and said, ‘glad you’re feeling a bit better, I knew you weren’t right so prayed for you’. I thanked Allie for her prayers because I was pretty sure that they had helped and so a game straight out of a benny hill movie started in which the children went one way down the stairs and we went the other thinking we were following the children and then realising that we weren’t and that they were still upstairs having diverted to the loos so went upstairs as they realised that we had gone downstairs so went downstairs and we were then directed to another set of stairs by a kindly usher who saw the panic on our faces as we searched for the children. Yep we went upstairs and then downstairs to find the children who had far more sense than us and had stood still just outside the door. A quick hug of relief and then I shot back inside to go to the loo myself only to find that in my haste I had started another Benny Hill sketch and had half of the security guards and ushers chasing me down the stairs until they caught me at the bottom. As I turned on hearing a plaintive cry of ‘Sir, SIR!’ I immediately understood my error as the remainder of the chasing pack caught up and almost bumped in to each other as they came to a sudden halt at the bottom of the stairs. I apologised profusely with a broad smile which I was relieved to see was reciprocated and then I asked if I may, after all this excitement, be allowed to have a quick wee. There was an almost audible sigh of relief as I was ushered to an opened door and shown in. Something told me that they were wanting to lock up and quickly!!

The Edinburgh Coat of arms above the Usher Hall
The Edinburgh Coat of arms above the Usher Hall

Back outside and we walked back to the station. Perfect timing for the train and even time to grab a takeaway Mocha. Hugs and huge thankyous all the way around and we jumped on the train. But then it was that, shortly after my second Mocha of the day, that it slowly dawned on me what might be the cause of all these very small but highly annoying partial or near seizures. I was fine this morning, had a Mocha and an hour later felt awful and close to seizure. I was fine this afternoon, had a Mocha and as we got into the car at Dunblane station an hour and 15 minutes later had another near partial seizure that was most uncomfortable. I had been warmed but didn’t want to believe it as the Mocha was my own little treat but as I sit here at my desk typing this, despite having given the dog another 2 mile walk this evening to try and settle everything, my right bottom eyelid is still physically twitching and my lips are fizzing. Perhaps I ought to grow to love Green tea. It doesn’t even come with nasty coffee breath!!

Thank you Allie for such a wonderful day. It had huge impact on us all for as I sit here finishing my post I do so with the children singing like angels from their rooms the music flowing down through the floor like a warm security blanket. I am smiling and tomorrow is to be very exciting and a brand new adventure.

But until then have a lovely evening but before you do the challenge in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 94
Total Miles Cycled: 511
Total Miles Walked: 469.0
Total Miles Run: 25.6
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 8.4 
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1014.0
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,645 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 17
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: 4
Press Ups: 188
Pull Ups: 48
Sit Ups: 188
People Met and Hands Shaken: 330
Pots of tea shared: 20
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 3
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Pills popped: 408
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.