2 down, 5 to go…

Where to start? It’s been a heck of a few weeks. As the title gives away, I have managed to battle through my first 2 challenges. The Great West run on Sunday the 22nd of May (only a few painful days ago) and The Exmouth Triathlon exactly a week prior. What can I say? Both events were epic, in so many ways. Firstly hills… I can honestly say I have never encountered hills like them in my training at all. Not handcycling for the Triathlon or wheeling using my non-sport wheelchair for the half marathon. Then the support… There were so many people cheering me on. I did not account for that level of support. It was just incredible. I almost burst into tears coming into Exeter Stadium on Sunday.

Some photos from the Triathlon

This was my first ever triathlon. I had dreamt of becoming an age grouper before my amputation and was training my socks off, which is when my feet began to become even more problematic than when I was in the Army. So when I thought that I could not only never realise my dream, bit never do a triathlon, my world almost fell apart. Then Blesma and the Aaron Lewis Foundation stepped in and helped me by providing a handbike, and I began to realise that this may be possible after all.

The event itself was hell…. but a good hell. I went out too fast on the swim, took in half the pool and almost drowned… so my time was terrible. Then got stuck in transition as it was very off road, and I had to get in and out of my wheelchair. Then came the handbike, against an enormous headwind. I battled through. I’d cycled 10k many times, so thought to myself (you’ve got this…) oh how wrong I was. The hill came, and it continued, and continued, and continued… it was probably about 4k long, bit felt like it was 25. I saw a snail on the way and felt the need to comment “I know your pain!” I was going that slow. To give it context, imagine doing seated rows at the gym on your maximum effort, continuously for about an hour! That’s what it was like. The coming back down the hill was good though. Then into transition. Most people had finished by this point and I still had my wheel to do. This really is my thing… but again I was wrong. Across uneven grass, I got stuck. A Marshall then told me the wrong way to go. To be fair to him it wasn’t his station. Then the wind increased and the heavens opened. I battled through and came into the finish to a soggy applause from the organisers, and my amazing wife, who waited for my in the pooring rain. My wife, came 3rd in her category. I was and am so proud. I missed her presentation though, which I am so gutted about. But how well she did.

Someone took a photo for me, wifey is on  the left.

After a week of ice, heat, massage and recovery we were onto event 2, The Great West Run.  My first ever half marathon using a non-sport wheelchair,  or any wheelchair for that matter. We arrived in the village, and I had a lovely interview with ITV Westcountry whilst in the epic que for the loo. There were no disabled toilets, but luckily I can hop a bit. I was, to be fair the only wheelchair entry. Stood in the line of 4’000 people, the excitement built…then bang! We were off. First came a downhill. Then up hill… then more up hill…then steeper up hill… then a few down hills where I flew…then back to uphill… then near the end was the worst hill ever! I could barely move. But again, my lovely wife who was with me, was there by my side. Telling me I could do this… and, “what would chiefs women do?”. We are big supporters of Exeter chiefs women rugby team, and I find their courage, sporting ability and resolve under immense pressure, very inspiring. Hence the comment!

Official photos of event 2.

I made it up the very large hill, and thought I was home free. Iwas wrong. Then came more hills..  and more…and, well, you get the gist! But finally after 2 hours 40 minutes my wife and I came over the finish line. I could have been happier. I got the word out about my challenge and more importantly Blesma. I really can’t thank the crowds enough.

My 1st official sponsor.

I’ve also managed to secure my 1st official sponsor. Rebel HR who are an amazing company who help make workplaces more bareable (you should take a look). I will be wearing their logo with pride, throughout the next 6 months of training, and everywhere I go.

So after a half marathon, what do you do? I’m not sure what everyone else did, bit we went straight (via a quick bath) to Sandy Park to watch our Chiefs women beat Bristol bears and secure a place in the Allianz 15’s Final! Gosh this made that day one of the best days of my life, so far.

Exeter chiefs v Bristol Bears

Well, that’s it for now. I’m still a little sore. Strangely my right leg is the worst! Odd considering I don’t use my legs! Now it’s a week of rest and recovery, then training commences for the next event in 5 weeks, Triathlon 2 in Plymouth, then a week later, the Cardiff half. So no let up. Plus I’ve got to begin wheeling further than 13 miles on the ramp up to 26.2 for the Marathons. Wish me luck!

London marathon here we come…

https://blesma.enthuse.com/pf/lexi-chambers-799fb

Above is hopefully the link to my fundraising page for Blesma. So, you may have read on pervious posts that I plan to complete a series of events this year to raise money for Blesma. As you also may have read, this charity is very close to my heart. They have helped me and my family so much since my amputation. So I feel it is only right to try to give back. Last week I received the wonderful news that I have been accepted to complete the London marathon as part of #team blesma. I am so honoured to have been selected. I am hoping to raise at least £2000 for them. I have set a fundraising page to include all the events I plan on completing this year. I will be completing 2 half marathons, 2 marathons and a Triathlon. On top of this I will be completing a number of virtual events. All of this will be completed using my normal everyday wheelchair, my Quickie Argon 2. I have heard that I will be the first woman to complete a marathon using a normal wheelchair like this. I know lots of women have completed a magnitude of distances using a sport chair, but not their day one. Maybe I’m the only person crazy enough to try! Ha ha!

Here she is… The chair which I will be self propelling all those miles…

I have set up a Facebook page, titled the same, and shared my page amongst my 400 Facebook friends, yet so far only received 1 donation, and I can’t thank that lovely chap enough. I am hoping my page may be shared far and wide so that I can raise as much as I can for such a wonderful charity for limbless veterans.

I will be keeping everyone updated along the way of this journey. My CRPS and Fibromyalgia are going to definitely present a challenge, but I am extremely motivated and have longed to complete a marathon and Triathlon for years. It was whilst training for these events over 8 years ago that my feet began to hurt, which led to my 1st surgery, which led to my CRPS, which 8 surgeries later, led to my amputation, which brings us back to my having crps again! So, if you can’t run it…wheel it!

Bring on the London Marathon…

https://blesma.enthuse.com/pf/lexi-chambers-799fb?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=EnthuseSendGrid&utm_medium=Email

So the above link is for my fundraising page. This year I will be raising as much as I possibly can for the wonderful charity, Blesma. Most of you may know that they have helped me a great deal since my amputation almost 3 years ago. They have been there through some of the toughest times, and helped with my independence, sporting activities, my change of career and been a huge advocate for me when no one else would listen. I owe them so much. So I have planned 2 years of challenges. This year begins in May with a Triathlon, and a week later my first half marathon using my wheelchair. I then plan on completing the Bideford half marathon, The Goodwood marathon and I’ve just been accepted to be part of Blesmas team to complete the London marathon. In between these I will also be completing a series of virtual events. My hope is to raise the agreed amount in order to be selected for the London marathon, which is £2000, but I really hope to raise at least £5000. I will be completing all events using my normal, everyday wheelchair.

Out wheeling. Getting some training in.

Now, unfortunately I have exhausted my usual friends for donations. Well, let’s be honest here, hardly any of my friends have actually donated at all. I think people are a bit strapped because of covid. So I am asking for people to please just share my page. If you can, donate a small amount. Even £1 is helpful. Anything is helpful. It all adds up. This charity is much smaller than the other charities for veterans like me, but they do just as much. They deserve so much, and give so much. I will keep everyone updated with my progress. I am still doing my virtual challenges along the way. I’m currently half way through my kilamanjaro. Then will come more. I even plan on slotting in a couple of virtual marathons during the year! I will let you know nearer the time when these are.

We finished our 90 sit ups a day for January challenge.

So, as you can see above, we finished our 90 sit ups a day for blesma challenge. It was actually great fun. Tricky doing proper military situps with one leg, but I managed it with the help of a belt to strap my legs together. My left hip flexor is now very strong!!

My wife will be completing the Triathlon and two half marathons with me, also for Blesma. She will be running hers. We hope that this year my body will allow me to complete these challenges. I never know what CRPS is going to do, from one day to the next, or the Fibromyalgia. They like to rear their ugly heads at the most inappropriate times. So we’re keeping all fingers and remaining toes crossed.

2022 here we come…

Yes we see 2 weeks in to 2022. So it’s a bit late to say ‘happy new year’, but I’ve said it anyway. For the past couple of weeks I have been suffering a bit. One of those things that people with crps and fibromyalgia can’t control! So it’s taken me a bit of time to writs my ode to 2021! At the moment, I’m laying on my sofa, still suffering a flare of fibromyalgia, so please bear with me if my writing is gobbledegook!

2021 in photos

So, 2021… What can I say? It was a difficult one. It began for me on new years day heartbroken, as just a few hours before I lost my sister, Linda. I had not seen her in a very long time, and because of covid, didn’t get to say goodbye either, which was very tough. Then things looked up a bit with the booking of my TMR surgery. However, the actual surgery was very difficult, and I was in hospital for a month trying to get the pain under control. But eventually, and thanks to an amazing team at East Grinstead hospital, we did, and I got home. Then almost immediately came the access in my hamstring, and the diabolical treatment at the very hospital I had worked in for almost 20 years, the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. I was left in a bed for 17 hours in agony. Had my pain medication stolen from my bag, by a nurse when I was in the bathroom. I ended up discharging myself after receiving no treatment at all. A few days later a huge access was found in my leg and I was suffering with sepsis. It was only thanks to my amazing gp that I’m still here at all.

So I eventually recovered from that, and sadly had to retire as an NHS registered nurse. I qualified a few months before meeting my wife. So had been a nurse for 15 years. I loved the nursing side of things, especially my time in theatres. I am a very technically minded person, so found it absolutely fascinating. I met some lovely people, and got along with the Dr’s very well. On my exit interview, with a nurse and friend, she saw how upset I was and said ‘you will always be a nurse’. A phrase I will hold deer. 💔

My early days as a theatre nurse

I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia later on in the year, which was not a surprise. But it is rather annoying. It gets in the way of my life in a different to crps. I end up not being able to move for days on end…and for someone like me, who never stops doing stuff, it is a cruel and unusual punishment. Bit it is just another battle that must be fought.

The good bits… I have been out wheeling lots, and managed to complete the blesma 11k, and Mt Everest (virtually). I also wrote the first and second draft of my novel. I am still editing it to try to get it to where I want it to be, and soon will be sending it off to a professional to sort it out, so that I may stand a chance of someone taking it on!

So what’s next? This year I have lots of plans. Finishing my book, and good willing, getting it published is my biggest goal (fitness aside!). Also, I’m working on my usual entry for wildlife artist of the year. I’ve got a few more paintings in a gallery now, which is brilliant.

A few of my more recent drawings using pastel pencil.

Fitness wise! Well, there’s lots. My wife and I began on the 1st of January doing the blesma 90 sit ups a day challenge. Which we have done everyday, and will continue. I have also began my virtual wheel to Mt Fuji, of which I am half way through. I’ve also entered the following: The Exmouth triathlon on 15th May, The great West run half marathon on 22nd May, The Bridgewater half marathon on 04th September, The Goodwood marathon on 25th September, and am still hoping Blesma will let me join their team to do the London marathon on the 02nd of October. Also I am hoping to complete a few marathon distance virtual races along the way. All of which will be raising money for Blesma.

January so far…

So, although January hasn’t got off to the best start, it could be worse. Plus, when you have crps and fibromyalgia, you learn to take everyday as it comes. It isn’t easy, and I’m still learning to be patient with myself. I get very frustrated when my body doesn’t behave in a way I want it too, but I will keep trying. I hope that I get to achieve all the go’s I’ve set myself this year, and will keep plugging away. I’m also hoping that the pain from the TMR surgery will lessen, so I can wear a leg for a few minutes more. I can only wear it a few minutes a day, when my leg is behaving at the moment. Which is great, but I could do better! I am very hopeful for 2022. I hope all my friends have a wonderful, healthy and happy new year.