Two weeks to go…

Yes, I’m nearly there. Nearly at the start line of my first event. 2 exactly yesterday in fact is event number 1, the Exmouth triathlon, then exactly a week later, the Great West run half marathon, which I hope to complete using my normal everyday wheelchair. So, a few weeks have passed since my last post. My wife and I drove the great West run route. Shocked doesn’t even cover it. It was said to be relatively flat! It definitely is not. But I’m glad I knew in advance to get some hill work in. There are 5 very long, very steep hills, that would require standing if cycling up… (gives you an idea of how steep they are!). The worst being University hill past Exeter University. It scared me… But since then I’ve managed to get up an equally long and difficult hill, without too much trouble, so my confidence is not too bad!

Hill training (photos never do justice to the angle!!)

Along with this, I’ve been getting out there on my handbike and of course, swimming. This has been rather tricky, I must say, as I’ve had to relearn how to swim with one leg. I’ve found that I can’t kick at all, as this sets stumpey off in a shivering tangent, which closely follows my sinking, coughing and spluttering!! (Rather embarrassing). So, I’ve had to learn to swim with just arms, and tbh, I’m still learning. So the Triathlon will be a very hard event for me. But I’m super excited.

Getting out on the handbike.

Last week, and this weekend has probably been the most difficult in terms of training, and acceptance when I can’t. I’ve been suffering a huge increase in pain in my stump. Thus followed an appointment with my amazing consultant Miss Tania Cubison. The result being that she thinks there is a problem with another nerve in my leg, and I need to go to East Grinstead again, for an ultrasound and nerve block. So, the pain has been hindering training for a few days. Then I managed to get in a good long wheel, in my fastest time ever, but then my body decided to have a fibro flare, which I’m in day 2 of now! Blooming bad timing as always! If only we could predict these things! I’m hoping that because it’s now, it won’t be when the event is?!

My fibromyalgia, like many other people’s is triggers by a few specific things. Hormone changes is a big one, so being female is a pain. Then there’s smells, hair spray, and cigarette smoke are the worst. Also, stress, so again specific times of the month are against me. For almost 2 weeks straight or sometimes longer, I battle against pmdd, fibro and crps simultaneously! (My poor wife is a Saint!). I train every day that I can, and every opportunity I can. It is hard. It is annoying. But I can’t give in. I met a man out the other day, who asked if I was training for something. I told him what I was doing, and immediately he told me it wasn’t possible (apparently because he hadn’t done it, and he had done EVERYTHING!) And that I was stupid to be event trying to do a half marathon using a normal wheelchair, let alone a full marathon. Well, I was left firstly annoyed, then upset, but now it just makes me want to push through stronger. I told him that not many women have done what I’m doing and I’m hoping to set a world record. His answer was that no one has done it because its stupid! (Thanks for the support!!) But then I suppose you have to expect some people not being supportive. I have the support of blesma, my wife and a couple of online friends. They really carry me through.

Medals collected so far during training and my last good wheel.

So, as for the time being, I’m stuck convalescing on the sofa. Better than yesterday where I barely woke all day (typical fibro!). I’m hoping that I may be able to swim later, but if not, I have to accept that these days happen, and the more I fight, the longer they last. This is the most difficult part for me. Not the training, or the agony of training. It’s my body not letting me train when I want to. Or the looming possibility of more treatment, which could get in the way of it all. The negative people I have encountered are annoying, but I try (now) not to let them get to me. Just prove them wrong! 😉

So, fingers crossed 🤞 and toes! I hope to be fighting fit for my first event, and hope that all goes to plan. That’s all I can do… hope, and keep listening to my body.

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.

Mount Everest, here we come…

Virtually of course! I wouldn’t get too excited! But, for a very long time, since I first discovered climbing when I was at secondary school, I’ve wanted to climb mount everest. Now, as you may guess, this is quite a feet (no pun intended) when you only have one! So unless I can wear a prosthetic long enough, this dream will remain so. Also, the wife! She will not let me go! She is terrified, that with our terrible luck in life, that I will never come back! I have to say that with our luck, it is a real concern. But we have agreed that if I ever can, then we will go back to Kathmandu one day, and do the Everest Basecamp treck. There I get to see her, the big one, up close. Just wonderful! So what does this all have to do with now? Well, I discovered the Challenge medals. Virtual distances where you can run, cycle, or in my case, wheel a certain distance, to get to a certain place. They have Mount Everest on their list. So that was it…straight away, I signed up. One week in and I’m 55% there. I set myself 3 weeks to compete the 64km, but should hopefully do it in 2.

The journey so far…

So, why these? I needed some inspiration to keep getting out there. Anyone with CRPS and fibromyalgia will tell you, that the cold weather is not your friend. It sets off both conditions. So going outside, deliberately to wheel for an hour or more is quite mentally and physically taxing. So I needed some inspiration to get me out that door. I have found it. For some reason, as soon as I have a task to complete, my brain can’t cope if I don’t do it! So there we go… or off I go! It has been rather challenging. I haven’t had one dry day as yet. It hasn’t been terrential rain, but wet on the ground and sporadic rain. But the weather would be worse at Everest, so I keep going.

I would encourage anyone to set themselves goals such as these with crps or fibromyalgia. It has been clinically proven, that exercise helps with both conditions. I certainly feel better. I find it hard to go out, but when I’ve finished, I am alot happier (mentally). The physical side can be difficult. I’ve been having alot of flares of my crps lately, which is very draining, but I try to carry on.

I missed my wife’s Christmas party due to a crps flare!
My wheeling route…

With views like the one above, on a nice autumn day, it is so wonderful. So, hopefully by Friday, I will have completed my challenge, and then it’s decision time, as to which one I do next. Most people know that I’m hoping to wheel from lands end to John O’groates at some point. Hopefully 2023, if all goes well. I will be doing this for blesma. But I could always do the distance in training as well? Huum???

Come on! Let me train!!!

Well, as you may guess, I’m starting to go a little stir crazy! This infection is relentless. I’m now on another type of antibiotic, Co-amoxiclav. The Flucloxacillin ran out the other day. It was very strange. I went to bed feeling a bit better. Then by lunch time the next day, after not having any antibiotics, I was back to feeling awful again. My heartrate was over 100 again, known as Tachycardia. I felt extremely tired, to the point that I couldn’t stay awake. I felt very sick and had no appetite at all. I also felt quite shakey. I had no temperature, but have not had a significant temperature (pyrexia) throughout the whole period of my illness. There is a common misconception that you have to have a temperature to have an infection or sepsis. My consultant said he thought I was septic when I finally received IV antibiotics. There is such a thing as hot sepsis, where you have a temperature (a temperature above 37.6) and cold sepsis, where your temperature is normal or below. Normal is different for everyone, but in general the normal range is 36-37 degrees. I am normally 36-36.5 when I’m well, so I know if I’m at 37.5 I’m usually not too well. We’ll my temp was a bit up bit not into the 38 plusses, which is where worrying begins. So at first they just focused on that. Until they finally realised that my other observations, like high heartrate (over 100 bpm) and low blood pressure was telling a story. Normal blood pressure is 120/80. Low is considered 90/60 or below. High is considered to be 140/90 or above. Mine was 60/40 at one point. My heartrate was 140-160 at rest, whilst laying in a bed. So there was no doubt I had a problem.

So, observation lesson over, I was basically feeling rubbish again. I decided to try 111 first before going to A&E, hoping to speak to an on call Dr. I spent over an hour with the phone on hold, and eventually gave up. So we were off to A&E again. We’ll bloods were taken and my platelets were high, my red blood count was low, and my crp was up. All showing infection. So I started on antibiotics again! The next day I felt a little better. Then on Monday these ran out and I fortunately spoke to a great GP at my local Dr surgery who decided to try another one. So here we are. Awaiting more blood results today! But still feeling rubbish to be honest.

Me training!

So here I am. Still feeling to rubbish to train. We now have access to a new pool and gym. My wifey, who is amazing joined us up to David Lloyd whilst I was in hospital, as she knew how desperate I was to swim again, and start training for a Triathlon. So now I’m at home, my handbike now accessible, my wheelchair itching to get going, the new pool and gym waiting for me…and I’m still stuck to the sofa. Finding it difficult to eat more than a bowl of cereal and a piece of toast in a day. My muscle mass is deteriating, and I’m feeling absolutely rubbish. No energy at all. Then I’ve been sat watching the Olympics, which makes me want to train more than ever. I want to do my half marathon, but now I know I can’t. I want to do a marathon. I want to start training to do Triathlons. Hopefully one day an Iron-man. I have so many ambitions, and yet being glued to the sofa, is not one of them! It is quite depressing to be honest. I’m not too patient at waiting to do things I love! I just wish this infection would listen to me, and GO AWAY!!!

So for now, it’s fingers crossed. Try to eat, and be patient 🤣. One day I will be back out there…and that day will be amazing!!

Ive got a logo!

My new logo for the challenge.

This is my new logo for the event. I have made some clothes trying to get things out there a bit. I have a hoodie, baseball cap, T shirt, vest, and a long sleeve T shirt. All with my logo on. Cat also has a hoodie. Theyre all awaiting sponsorship logos. I still havnt got any definate sponsors as yet. I am sending emails out all of the time. I will persevere and perhapse change the email. I was sent a T shirt and hoodie from Saltrock which will come in handy post training. Sunwise are also sending me a pair of sunglasses. All of these things are absolutely wonderful, but none of them are getting me closer to my goal. I need to get my event out there. I have been speaking to the British Legion about my wheelchair, and they said they would help me. Im just awaiting a home visit at the moment. Ive just joined BLESMA too. Which is for veteran amputees. They have also been really helpful so far, and will be sending someone out to help. So I have made some progress. Now keep all fingers and toes crossed for the new chair. I only have 15 to cross now, so I need help with the others.

Thankyou to Saltrock for my goodies!

I had a really nice suprise last week. Steel bones had put a feature on their facebook page and web page about me, and what Im doing. I thaught that was lovely. So things are getting out there more and more. But not enough yet. I despirately need some sponsors. But I think that everything is a learning curve, and what doesnt work the 1st time, may need to be changed and adjusted. I will not give up.

TRAINING:

This has been steady. The Gym sessions are going great. Getting some good strength and endurance. Were trying things that weve never done before, which is so much fun. The wheeling or pushing, some people call is, is going well in some ways. But I really just need the chair. The NHS finally came up with my replacement. I was really hopeful. I thaught that it must be a little better than the one I had. It futs better, in that the width of the seat is smaller, and so it fits, but that is it. The extent of the improvements stop there. It isnt lighter, even though its made up of half plastic! The seat is too short. The wheel I use for self propulsion is really difficult to grab and I cant use it without gloves. My padded gloves dont stick at all, like they used to with the other one. I could go on, and on. Safe to say, it is a huge disapointment. I went out today for my 1st training session and it was disasterous. Really slow. The wheels seem to love to go towards every gradient. It doesnt free wheel at all, even downhill! It does have anti tipping, which is amazing. I actually think that the red one was better for training, and thats saying something! But as always. I will keep trying. Keep plodding on. Theres always a plus side to everything. Maybe this is supposes to be this way. Give me some good strenth before I get my real chair. I hope so anyway.