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What's your mountain

Mountains can be physical or psychological. 

Last week I climbed Blencathra. I never thought when I was being told I had acromegaly 14 years ago that I would be able to walk 8 miles, never mind 8 miles up a mountain and back. You see the most obvious, lasting symptoms of my condition is that my joints are damaged. Particularly my knees, hips, elbows and hands and feet.

Three of those are essential for climbing mountains. Having been told many times over the years that if I put too much pressure on my knee joints I would need a knee replacement I have been scared to push myself. 

It’s so easy to tell ourselves we can’t do something, isn’t it?

When I was first diagnosed with acromegaly I was scared. My daughter was only 2 years old and I couldn’t see what my future would look like. I was in pain and couldn’t imagine how long life would continue like that. When my surgery was so successful I was filled with gratitude. I cried and vowed I would always be grateful for this second chance I had been given. 

I don’t believe it is possible to always be grateful, all day every day. We are human and sometimes we feel frustrated and angry. I try though.

Over the years I have had days when my limitations have caused me so much frustration I have sat and cried. I can’t knit any more. When I sew for more than a few minutes my fingers cease up and that frustrates me. I know that I am a 45 year old with much older joints, but I have decided to modify my life so that I don’t feel limited. 

It works for the most part. Most days I am just grateful and I feel as normal as anyone can. 

Some days though I am reminded that my body is not in any way the body of an average 45 year old. This was the case when we were climbing the mountain. There were 11 of us walking, ranging from my 6 year old niece to my 69 year old Mum. Despite working really hard on my fitness and muscle strength recently, I struggled the most. This photo is one of many we could have taken of me sitting mopping my brow while quietly weeping in frustration. My lovely Mum held back with me to support me and keep me going, but it wasn’t easy. 

mountain

Did I make it to the top?

Hell yes! I was not going to let a little think like frustration and worrying about letting people down stop me.

Did the whole thing remind me over and over again that my body can’t do everything my head thinks it can? Oh yeah! 

You might think that this is a negative thing but it really isn’t. I made it to the top of a mountain, and not an easy mountain. Everyone found it challenging and my stepson, who climbed Snowdon a couple of years ago, said it was harder than Snowdon. (He may have been humouring me, I don’t care, I’m taking it!). 

Mountain summit

Challenges aren’t supposed to be easy 

They are supposed to push us to our limits. Your limit will be very different to mine. When I was first recovering from my surgery being able to walk to the kitchen was an achievement. Now I have climbed a 868m mountain! 

A challenge for you might be running 12 marathons in 12 days. You might be able to run one easily. 

Your challenge might be to learn to read or to swim or to show someone a painting you have done. 

What is challenging for you will change many times throughout your life. But whether you are 6 or 66 years old it is important to keep growing and pushing those boundaries, while at the same time being immensely grateful for what you achieve. 

You are amazing!

Some days achieving something might be getting out of bed and having a shower. (You will only understand the energy it takes to have a shower if you have truly been ill and struggled with fatigue, it is not as easy as you might think!). It might be climbing a mountain or being brave enough to talk to your boss about a pay rise. Whatever your challenge, believe in yourself and celebrate when you achieve it. 

How did I celebrate? Well, I cried a lot. I allowed myself to feel truly proud of myself. I hugged a lot of loved ones, oh and my Dad bought me a badge to show that I have conquered Blencathra which I will be sewing onto my new rucksack when it arrives. You see, I have decided that this is something I really enjoy so I am going to be doing much more walking and mountain climbing. Not all as big as this challenge, but I will be setting myself lots of walking challenges over coming months and what makes it even better, is that my family are going to join me on them.

Quality time with my loved ones and a physical challenge, nothing better. 

 

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