I was going to start this Christmas post with the good and exciting news that I have been seeing tiny wee improvements in my brain’s performance. Little tiny things that would normally go unnoticed, but in a brain in which such tiny things pose such an enormous challenge, to see such tiny improvements in memory function, face and name recall, word recall, sentence construction and motor function coordination, is a wonderfully exciting step in the right direction towards a completed healing and a mind and body fit and ready for the world of work. I had sent out my hard copy and electronic Christmas cards full of hope and expectation for 2018 until, after a couple of emotionally and cognitively demanding days, I found myself struggling to breathe, struggling to swallow, struggling to speak with lips that felt as if they had swollen to the size of a cartoon fishes’ and were twitching completely out of my control. I lost nearly all motor function in my left arm and as the seizure started to tighten its grip further I found myself pacing around the flat while contorting my mouth in order to try and take back control of it, while twisting my torso left and right in order to flap my left arm front and back in order to try and get some blood, some sensation and some motor function within it. My face felt like it was melting and as I moved ever closer to the sensations that led to the gagging seizure which would have killed me had I not been in hospital, I was toying very seriously with calling an ambulance. I held off as Allie was pacing around the flat with me and not letting me out of her sight for one minute and thank goodness I did as the seizure let slip its icy grip and disappeared away into the ether. It was not epileptic. It had none of the metallic hallmarks of an epileptic seizure but it was a seizure. One born out of the neurological dysfunction triggered by the brain damaged by the tumour, treatment and epileptic seizures, and it was a bitter blow as it laid me flat for the rest of the evening and most of this morning and reminded me once again, just how fragile my recovery was and just how far I have to go until I have anything like the endurance needed to be able to hold down a job.

I could quite legitimately have wrapped myself up in a blanket for the day and bemoaned my poor lot, but instead I got up and went for a 20 minute walk before breakfast and tried to shake the post seizure hangover from my head and body. Sadly, after just 30 minutes work at the computer I did have to retreat to the sofa, wrap myself up in a blanket and lose myself in an episode of ‘homes under the hammer’ in order to try and unravel the mind. It worked. I have no idea how much profit the purchasers made and I felt a little stronger on waking from my dose. I got up and made lunch for Allie and I of my usual health and brain boosting lunch. As I scrubbed and chopped the carrots, scrubbed the tenderstem, washed the red grapes and cherry tomatoes, and poached an egg while toasting seeded wholemeal toast and laying alongside a small spinach, rocket and watercress salad before topping it all off with a couple of brazil nuts, I counted my blessings:

I was thankful, so very thankful for Allie to have the courage to marry me in the face of such uncertainty.
I was thankful, so very thankful that the children had never given up hope on me and inspired and encouraged me, in their own indomitable way, to keep fighting.
I was thankful for the very fact that I was still breathing, that I had beaten the prognosis, that the tumour that couldn’t be shrunk, killed or cured had disappeared completely.
I was thankful that the reduction in my anti-seizure medication hasn’t seen a return of my epileptic seizures.
I was thankful for all the people from banks, to accountants, to web designers and facilities managers, to bike shop owners, to golf clubs, to organ teachers, to coffee shops, to advisors and mentors, to friends and followers of the challenge, who do all that they can to encourage me on and help me to heal.
I was thankful to the NHS for all the incredible treatment that I had and continue to receive.
I was thankful for my friends and family who have carried me through all this last year.
I was thankful for the food on the table, the roof over my head and the money in my pocket.
I was thankful that I had the will, the opportunity and the growing health to be able to continue to try and do whatever I can to improve the lives and life chances of as many people as I can.

So tomorrow, my incredible son and daughter come to stay for a two day mini Christmas and the best bit of the whole weekend, after the welcome hug at the station, is probably going to be when they come with me to help feed the homeless of Edinburgh their Christmas Dinner, to help, on this weekend of celebration, to bring some Christmas cheer to those who need it most.

Yes, I have faced, and continue to face, many challenges completely out of my control, yet by acknowledging and embracing my blessings, I manage to find a way to smile and help others because that helps me to feel a whole heap better.

Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection’. Winston Churchill. May I wish you all a wonderful, happy and healthy Christmas followed by a fruitful 2018.

Yours aye