As my departure date draws near – barely over two months now – it seems that the days pass more quickly. This is a difficult challenge just as I’m stepping up my workout schedule with heavier weights, higher intensity cardio and more training days each week. It’s especially difficult as work and business-related travel haven’t lessened at all. When I wrote my last blog entry, I was at my office in Iqaluit putting in long hours with my partner/husband, wrapping up a client report.
As I write this now, I’m on a First Air flight back to Iqaluit for an intense work-filled week before heading to St. John’s. The air travel, time zones and access to gyms puts a kink into the best-laid training plans. Sometimes it means that I’m working out at 10:00 p.m. and then up at 5:00 a.m. or at times in the gym at 3:00 p.m. when I anticipate a long night of work ahead.
Every day I wake up thinking about how and when I might fit in a Kili-focused workout. Most of my clients start their day three hours ahead of me due to time zone differences, and I can never be sure of the pressing urgencies awaiting when I check my email… or my iPhone before I even get out of bed. At the same time, I have a couple of determined training partners at home – Atii and Sakku – who apply alternating strategies of barking, howling, whining and staring until I finally relent and take them for our 90-minute fast-paced walk around our island neighbourhood. No matter what, there’s no skipping that workout when they’re around. They make sure of it!
While my overall health has improved through this strict training schedule, I still have lingering issues related to my own lung health and my episode with pulmonary emboli (severe blood clots in the lungs). My veins were damaged as a result of the blood clots and three years after being hospitalized, it’s evident that these lingering issues are not going to improve on their own. This leads to distended, often visible, veins in my legs and unusual swelling. I must still take blood thinners and diuretics and one day may have to seek more extensive treatment.
Had I realized the telling signs of lung illness sooner, I may have been able to avoid this, and that’s another reason why I have established the Kili Climb for Life initiative. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath can be a warning sign of so many things – COPD, tuberculosis, pulmonary embolism – to name just a few. If nothing else, I hope I’ve conveyed the importance of seeking early treatment.
Through all this busy-ness and the increased pace in which the days are passing, I find that I’ve let myself down on the fundraising end of this endeavour. I’ve participated in many fundraising events – all for very worthy causes – but nothing as personal as this one. Other initiatives have had the benefit of a group of like-minded volunteers united by the same focus. Often there has been significant corporate backing and/or a promotional and advertising campaign behind it providing additional exposure and awareness.
Except for the support of my husband, my canine-training team and a couple other key individuals (who I plan to highlight in another blog entry), the bench strength behind this initiative has quite simply been me. I am a team of one, which means all the training, communicating, planning, writing, provisioning and preparation have been solitary efforts. I also purposely decided to cover my own travel costs so that all monies raised would go directly to the Canadian Lung Association to support research and good lung health.
If you’d like to know more about the personal reasons that have driven my efforts, then I invite you to read “My Story”. The primary reason for establishing this initiative was to combat the helplessness I felt in seeing a loved one, my mother, struggle for every breath for so many years. I witnessed her relentless spirit in fighting her disease (COPD) with such determination and her unfailing faith that a cure or treatment would be found before she lost many more years. She only faltered when her hope for an experimental treatment – long in the waiting — was denied due to her age.
Had we only known about treatment sooner, had it been more accessible, had more funding been available, more patients been successfully treated, my mother may have enjoyed more time and certainly in better health. That’s my motivation for pursuing this climb – to build awareness and raise funds so that others do not face the same struggle as my mother did (or bear witness to it)… but also to respect her fight, as I truly don’t know that anyone else could have fought as hard as she did. There definitely should have been a better outcome for Shirley Mae and there can be for someone else who may face that struggle.
Help me help others breathe a little easier. That’s what is getting me through the training sessions, often with jet lag and fatigue, and what will get me up that mountain: knowing that it may impact even one family and give them a better outcome for their loved one. Please contribute to Kili Climb for Life and secure a better outcome for someone….it may even be you!!! You’ll breathe easier for it.