Sunday, 1 September 2013

Wow - all done!

For a while there, I wasn't sure that I'd manage to complete my aim of trying out 20 new activities this year but I have done it! The self set criteria was that they all had to be new activities that I'd not done before and couldn't have done before my heart transplant; it has been a busy (and expensive) year which has included:
  • FLYING A TIGER MOTH - WOW
  • testing my powers of endurance through activities like walking Hadrian's Wall, climbing a mountain and even the 5k trail run at Wimpole
  • overcoming my instinctive fears of height and open water by climbing, sailing and high wiring
  • undertaking child hood rites of passage that were missed and only now caught up on such as skipping and hula hooping
  • trying out a few new exercise classes with spinning and zumba - spinning wins!
  • testing a few moves with tap and belly dancing 
  • having lots of fun!
It has been amazing to try out so many new activities and a positive way to celebrate the gift that I was given 20 years ago. Now I'm into my 21st year of healthy post heart transplant life, I want to: spend a bit of time getting better at some of these activities, finally learn how to swim and keep trying new things.

My final two challenges:

Challenge 19: Spinning Class
Normally I avoid aerobics classes like the plague but as spinning involves a bike, albeit a static one, it sounded much more promising.  The instructor explained the three different riding positions: standing, sitting (yes done those before) and hovering somewhere in the middle.  This I could do even without my glasses on.
 
It was an hour of fairly solid cycling to the backdrop of loud music, with lots of standing, sitting, hovering and "sprinting".  I managed the whole class with no stopping, although my sprint was probably about the speed of everyone else's easy ride!  Could feel my heart pounding in my chest and the sweat pour down my face; this was much tougher than your average fenland cycle. Came out feeling really energized and wanting to go back for more...

Challenge 20:  Kayaking with the kiddies on the Cam.

31st August was a gorgeous day for my final challenge, a kayak trip down the Cam with my family. We opted for two double kayaks, Keith and Bel in one and me with Joe in the other. It was a balance of skills as both Keith and Joe have kayaked before; Bel has too but only a couple of times.
 
Standing on the floating deck, waiting to get in the kayak, I felt a little surge of my non-swimmer anxiety but pushed it to one side.  Joe and I climbed into our boat and instantly I knew it would be fine; with such a low centre of gravity on a shallow slow moving river, you'd have to go some to capsize it!

All we had to do was paddle. All the blogs I'd read had made this sound much more complex than in reality it was, so it didn't take long for Joe and I to get up to speed.

We had a few races with Keith and Bel, bumped into the odd punt & kayak and splashed our way down the river, going for synchronised strokes where we could. It was a fantastic way to spend the morning and something that we will all do again as a family.


All done!  
  1. Climbed My First Mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned How To Punt
  3. Learned How To Hula Hoop
  4. Road Bike Ride
  5. Tap Dancing
  6. 5K Trail Run At Wimpole Hall Parkrun
  7. Archery Session
  8. Learning how to climb on an indoor wall
  9. Zumba
  10. Belly Dancing 
  11. High Wire Course
  12. Learning to skip - now over 100 skips in 2 minutes
  13. Segway ride
  14. Tandem bike ride - bringing up the rear!! 
  15. Insane Terrain - obstacle course
  16. Flight in a Tiger Moth
  17. Hadrian's Wall National Trail Walk
  18. Sailing
  19. Spinning Class
  20. Kayaking 
 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sailing

I should start this post by explaining that I'm terrified of open water and can not swim so have usually avoided most sports that require open water. For me this challenge was a big deal.

Of course, you don't actually need to be able to swim to do sailing as the life preservers mean that if you end up in the water, the worst that will happen is you get wet.  As a non swimmer - my brain knows this but doesn't necessarily take it all in when faced with the practicalities of water!

Swimming as one of those vital life skills that I was unable to learn as a child.  Although I took swimming lessons for a while after my transplant, I moved around an awful lot and in the end it fell off the radar.  Perhaps this would be a good challenge for my 21st year.

We started the course with  mini briefing on how to rig your VERY TINY  boat which you will be sailing all by yourself - scardy cat. At least this bit was on dry land...

One of the other participants kindly pulled me in my boat out into the water and across to the starting point. We needed to zigzag out of the harbour due to the wind direction.  In the photo I'm chatting to one of the instructors, whose telling me to follow the red power boat.  The word "flotilla" is used and fills me with the dread of other people's expectation. 

I try to remember the instructions on steering, how tight the sail should be, and am relatively OK whilst going in a straight line although get stuck on turning the boat as am sat into the wind.  The instructors were both in powerboats and every time they came near, I felt my tiny craft lurch beneath me. 


Having had a mini sailing taster in a bigger boat at Grafham earlier in the year, I'd anticipated that the lesson would be in a similar boat with an instructor on board, so hadn't been prepared for this. I really wanted to get off the water. 
Fortunately one of the instructors joined me on my boat, managing the sail, whilst I did the steering. After a few crossings of the lake I began to get the hang of things, feel more relaxed about being on the water and even started to enjoy myself!!

Will definitely have another go at sailing, as I know that all I need to do is build my water confidence!!



18 out of 20 Challenges complete and only a week to go to finish...
  1. Climbed My First Mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned How To Punt
  3. Learned How To Hula Hoop
  4. Road Bike Ride
  5. Taken Up Tap Dancing
  6. 5K Trail Run At Wimpole Hall Parkrun
  7. Archery Session
  8. Learning how to climb on an indoor wall
  9. Zumba
  10. Belly Dancing 
  11. High Wire Course
  12. Learning to skip - now up to 103 skips in 2 minutes
  13. Segway ride
  14. Tandem bike ride - bringing up the rear!! 
  15. Insane Terrain - obstacle course
  16. Flight in a Tiger Moth
  17. Hadrian's Wall National Trail Walk
  18. Sailing

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hadrian's Wall - the anniversary walk

Walking the Wall - First National Trail

Wanted to do something memorable for my twentieth heart anniversary that would embody what I've been trying to achieve with my challenge, so we decided to walk some of the Hadrian's Wall National Trail. The plan was to walk from Carlisle to Newcastle's Tyne Bridge, finishing in Newcastle on my twentieth anniversary; this would be a walk of approximately 64 of the total 84 miles, in 5 days.

Saturday 3rd Aug - Day 1: Carlisle to Walton - 11 miles

We took the train to Carlisle, arriving in the afternoon and started our walk to Walton just after 3 pm; here I am taking my first steps onto the trail!   It was a pleasant walk out of the city, although it took a while before we reached the line of the wall and found our first recognisable earthworks.
First recognisable earthworks!
The 11 miles took longer than anticipated and I frequently questioned the accuracy of the National Trail bods in measuring out the miles, feeling sure they may have forgotten to include the up and down bits - hmm.  Even got Keith to check that it wasn't actually more like 13 when we arrived at the B&B; it wasn't!

Sunday 4th AugusDay 2: Walton to Steel Rigg 17 miles

When planning the route, I hadn't realised what a tough day I'd set for us with approximately 17 miles of the most strenuous sections of the wall; this was to be our longest, hardest walking day.

Hare Hill
Keith at Hare Hill
Banks East Turret 52a





The Centurion at Birdoswald (photo for Joe and Bel)
















In the morning we walked to Birdoswald Roman Fort, having our lunch there, whilst I used up valuable battery power on my phone to share this experience with the twitterverse.
Knowing we still had lots of miles to cover meant no time to look round , too much of a route march as we still had about 8-9 miles to go!
Roman Bridge

Milecastle 48 at Gilsland.

Thirwall Castle, 
Stopped for a rest at Milecastle 48, one of the best preserved Milecastles on the wall, taking my boots off to pour valuable drinking water over my feet to cool them down.

My feet were beginning to hurt, particularly my toes on the down hill stretches. Whilst fine for Fenland ambles, my boots were clearly a bit too small for all day hill waking. Still a long way to go...

Loved seeing the remains of 14th Century Thirwall Castle, built with re-cycled Roman stones from the Wall. It is now preserved by the National Park Authority.

The climb up through Walltown Crags was incredibly hard work but rewarding. Love getting to the top and looking out over the valley below; am a country girl at heart and you can't beat that feeling.

Walltown Craggs

King Arthur's Well


Walking was becoming increasingly hard. Keith's knees were hurting, my feet were painful and my ankle was beginning to feel the brunt of many footsteps.  Our pace had slowed considerably since early in the morning; the day was getting older, our phone batteries were dying and we knew that we couldn't risk heading up onto Windshield Crags for the final part of our journey.

Determined but not stupid; we finished that day's walk on the B6318, arriving at our accommodation in Twice Brewed around 8:30pm in the evening. Exhausted after more than 10 hours of walking, the need for rest and the need for food were both equally strong.

For the latter stages of the walk I'd been using the last vestiges of power in my phone to keep in touch with Eleanor and Pete, who we were meeting up with for dinner that evening; their son is also a heart transplant recipient. Eleanor had been following my story on twitter and kindly offered to feed us a meal. Given how tired and walk weary we were, I don't imagine for a moment we were the best dinner guests, but we thought that the food and company was fantastic. Thank you so much for a lovely evening! x

Monday 5th August - Day 3: Steel Rigg to Housesteads 3 miles

Hobbling down the stairs to breakfast the next morning, the impact of yesterday's walk was evident in our joints. The rain that had started last night was still falling.
Milecastle 39

Our aim today was to walk to Chollerford, a distance of about 11 miles; in the planning phase of this walk I thought that this would be our easy day, giving us time for a leisurely look around Housesteads. Had it not been for the rain and the limping, this might have happened! 

The climb up to Housesteads Roman Fort was beautiful but the rain persisted, gradually soaking through my clothes and down into my boots, so I was wet, cold and limping when I arrived.

Disappointed doesn't cover how I felt about giving up on the days walk but the idea of my Challenge was always about trying new activities not feats of endurance. Keeping safe and well had to come first and our bodies were clearly paying the price for over "overdoing it" the day before.

At Housesteads we dried off a little, managed to buy some walking poles in the Visitor Centre, before getting the bus into Hexham, where we found a cafe selling the best pea and mint soup in the northern hemisphere.



Tuesday 6th August - Day 4: Chollerford to Heddon on the Wall  15 miles

Day 4 saw sunshine again and the walking poles we bought at Housteads made Tuesday's walking much easier.


The countryside was much gentler, with none of the drama of yesterday's landscape. Much of the time we skirted the edges of the B road into Newcastle, before crossing over the A69 and down into Heddon in the early evening.




Wednesday 7th August - Day 5: Heddon on the Wall into Newcastle-Upon-Tyne - 10 miles

Anniversary Day! Twenty years ago today my life changed for ever when I had my heart transplant in the early hours of the morning.  This is the day that the whole challenge has been about and the day I planned to return to Newcastle for the first time in around ten years.

The walk into the City was the gentlest yet, down into the Tyne valley, following the course of the river for much of the way. Our joints were tired and feet aching from the 5 days of walking, so we didn't make fast progress, arriving at the Tyne Bridge at just after 1:30pm.

The Bridges over the River Tyne - the last half mile of our walk. 
Think that the 21 year old me would have been amazed that I managed to walk 56 out of the planned 64 miles in 5 days; something I could NEVER have done before my heart transplant. A true 2020 Heart Challenge.

17 out of 20 challenges complete: - .
  1. Climbed My First Mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned How To Punt
  3. Learned How To Hula Hoop
  4. Road Bike Ride
  5. Taken Up Tap Dancing
  6. 5K Trail Run At Wimpole Hall Parkrun
  7. Archery Session
  8. Learning how to climb on an indoor wall
  9. Zumba
  10. Belly Dancing 
  11. High Wire Course
  12. Learning to skip - now up to 103 skips in 2 minutes
  13. Segway ride
  14. Tandem bike ride - bringing up the rear!! 
  15. Insane Terrain - obstacle course
  16. Flight in a Tiger Moth
  17. Hadrian's Wall National Trail Walk 
Only three more challenges to go now by the end of August...

Click on the link above to find out more about organ donation and join the register.
You can follow me on twitter at @angie_ridley

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Anniversaries

Anniversaries; they come around with reassuring regularity. But this one has felt different, bigger and rounder than any that preceded it, taking up lots of space in my head.

Thoughts of my donor, who died from a cerebral haemorrhage in her early forties; thoughts for her family and friends left with their grief; the unknown family whose kindness changed my life. My donor had a strong heart that is still beating.

On an emotional level I wanted to do something that honoured my donor and her family, recognising how their gift has transformed my life.  I also needed to do something positive that stopped me googling "life expectancy of heart transplant recipients" and other variations!

As I write this, there's just over a week left until my 20th anniversary on 7th August.  On that day I plan to complete challenge number 17, walking the length of Hadrian's Wall, finishing in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.  It will be strange to be back in the city with the memories of twenty years ago, some as clear as yesterday, whilst others have blurred into the past.

Please do support my 2020 Heart Challenge by making a donation to The Papworth Hospital Charity or the Freeman Heart & Lung Transplant Association. These charities make a difference to the lives of other heart patients, particularly whilst they are waiting for their call or in those early and often difficult post-transplant days. To make a donation, please click on the links above. ..

Thank you for your support,

Ax

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Flying High..

Challenge 16 - Tiger Moth Flight - Sunday 7th July

So I was Amy Johnson for the day, well an hour, and it was exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure as I had the opportunity to fly in a de Havilland Tiger Moth, a 1930s bi-plane.

In the red hot sunshine of this July day I donned a huge, heavy and very warm flying jacket, the smallest they had, and wandered across the runway to the Tiger Moth. Baking in the sunshine, we  needed to wait for the plane to have its safety checks and get re-fuelled before it was flight ready.

Finishing the 1930's look off with the flying helmet and goggles, I climbed into the front seat via the specially marked route up the wing, treading carefully so I didn't put my foot through the wing.
Once on board I chatted to the pilot sat in the seat behind, who explained via the headphones what would happen during the flight, including what to expect if the engine cut out. I posed in the cockpit for my photo, my thumbs up hidden by the enormous jacket.

There was a short delay before we set off, whilst the ground crew and pilot finished their checks and the ground crew helped start the propeller. According to Wikipedia, because the Tiger Moth has no electrical system, it must be started by hand.

Once in the air, we flew down to Audley End, circled around the Cambridgeshire countryside  and back up to Duxford for a 30 minute flight. The weather was fabulous with just a little haze on the horizon, although to see the horizon I had to look out to the side as you can not see forward past the engine and propeller. The pilot in the rear seat had a much clearer view.

Having the opportunity to take control of the Tiger Moth was fabulous but terrifying as the ground crew had impressed upon me how sensitive the steering was on the Tiger Moth, so I was extremely gentle with my manoeuvres, terrified that an over enthusiastic steer on my part would have us plummeting to our doom! 

Up in the air I didn't feel like quite such a potato, baking in my enormous jacket, as even though it was a warm day, it was cool up in the sky.  When I popped my head round the side of the cockpit to have a look at the ground below, note to the pilot if reading this - I wasn't "in control" at that point, I could feel the wind pushing against us.

What a brilliant experience and definitely to be recommended.  I learnt when I arrived back on the ground in one piece having not broken the lovely yellow 1930s bi-plane, that a video was taken of me during the whole flight, doubtless picking my nose and uttering amazing witticisms such as "ohh- that was a bit scary", so I'll be stocking up on the vino and inviting everyone round to watch it when it arrives.  Donations to FHLTA & Papworth, please click above!!  

Challenge 15 - Insane Terrain -Sunday 30th June

Took part in a "mini" Insane Terrain running obstacle course in Histon as part of their feast week celebrations.   As well as running the course, climbing under and over the obstacles, I cycled the 7 miles there and back from my home village to take part.

Thinking about signing up for their longer 5k obstacle running course in Doddington in Cambs, in  which I'd expect to come LAST but it looks awesome. Anyone else up for it?

16 out of 20 challenges complete: - .
  1. Climbed My First Mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned How To Punt
  3. Learned How To Hula Hoop
  4. Road Bike Ride
  5. Taken Up Tap Dancing
  6. 5K Trail Run At Wimpole Hall Parkrun
  7. Archery Session
  8. Learning how to climb on an indoor wall
  9. Zumba
  10. Belly Dancing 
  11. High Wire Course
  12. Learning to skip - now up to 103 skips in 2 minutes
  13. Segway ride
  14. Tandem bike ride - bringing up the rear!! 
  15. Insane Terrain - obstacle course
  16. Flight in a Tiger Moth
Only four more challenges to go now...

Hadrian's Wall: we've been doing lots of planning for the BIG one, my walk of Hadrian's Wall with Keith, ending in Newcastle on  7th August, my 20th anniversary.  As I've not been up to Newcastle for nearly 10 years, there are lots of emotions around this one.

Sailing: I've got my sailing taster session booked at Grafham Water in late August, that had to be re-scheduled from earlier in the summer.

And for the other two - I'm thinking of some kayaking with the kiddies, maybe another crack at mastering ice-skating or even a roller-coaster ride at Lightwater Valley - the theme park of my Yorkshire Childhood.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Two wheels good..

Challenge 13: Segway ride

Feeling happy with my double challenge day success after a Segway rally and a 20+ mile tandem bike ride at Grafham Water Park on Monday. This was especially pleasing as I'd been feeling a bit guilty for not having completed a challenge in the last month. 

Segways are two wheeled self balancing battery operated vehicles, designed for a single person to operate by shifting their centre of gravity.

It didn't take long to get the hang of operating the segway, leaning forward to make it go faster, to the left or right for corners and backwards to reverse.






It was fun to take part in team relay games, weaving in and out of cones, forward and backwards on the same basis as everyone else; a level playing field.

My favourite part was off road in the woodlands, where we free ranged round the pathways. 


The segway ride was over all too soon and as Keith and I had a rare child free day to ourselves, we decided on impulse to hire a tandem bike for a ride around the Waters.





Challenge 14: Tandem Bike ride

The tallest person goes on the front of a tandem apparently and as Keith beats me by a good foot, I was the designated back saddle driver.

It was strange to have no control over the speed or direction of the bike and not be able to see where we were going; definitely a trust exercise!

The route round Grafham Waters is just over 10 miles, mostly off road  with a few ups and downs. 

We rode round it once anti-clockwise in about an hour and a quarter, stopped for lunch in the cafe and then rode around it again in the opposite direction; a bit faster with some flapjack inside us.

The bike was a wee bit crunchy and the gears made some interesting sounds as we were changing up or down and Keith said for him it was definitely much harder than cycling a single bike. I thought it was fine ;-)

In the photo I'm modelling the iLiveiGive T-shirt, to help promote organ donation. There are photos of hundreds of people wearing these T-shirts on their Facebook & Twitter feeds and amongst them is me! 

14 out of 20 challenges complete: - .
  1. Climbed My First Mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned How To Punt
  3. Learned How To Hula Hoop
  4. Road Bike Ride
  5. Taken Up Tap Dancing
  6. 5K Trail Run At Wimpole Hall Parkrun
  7. Archery Session
  8. Learning how to climb on an indoor wall
  9. Zumba
  10. Belly Dancing 
  11. High Wire Course
  12. Learning to skip - now up to 103 skips in 2 minutes
  13. Segway ride
  14. Tandem bike ride - bringing up the rear!!
I had a go at a netball taster session a couple of weeks ago but was driven home by the freezing rain and my  unsuitable clothes after 40 minutes, so didn't manage to complete the challenge. A netball in the face didn't help much either ;-) 

It did look like lots of fun but team games are a toughie for me as I know that my heart functions significantly less well than that of a regular person and coupled with no tactical knowledge or skills, it doesn't make for your first choice team mate! 

Other ideas for the last 2 months of the 2020 Heart Challenge include: a taster sailing course at Grafham Water Centre next weekend, a flying lesson in a Tiger Moth, ice skating, kayaking with the kiddies and in the days before my anniversary -  a return to the north for a walk along Hadrian's Wall. 

Just one more challenge to think of...maybe a roller-coaster ride, my boy Joe is definitely up for it!
 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

National Transplant Week


It is National Transplant Week between 8th and 14th July! 

The message of National Transplant Week is "Pass it on", a reminder that if you have joined the organ donor register, it is really important to tell your loved ones about your wishes, as they will be the ones making the final decision. This is much easier for them if you've already told them what you would want to happen in the event of your death.

Film Competition
As part of National Transplant Week, NHS Blood and Transplant are running an "organ donation through the lense"  film competition. The short listed videos are here and there are some very funny entries, each with a powerful core message. Many have been made by families directly affected by organ donation.  The winner will be the one with the most youtube views, so click on the link above and vote with your fingertips. 

Joining the register
If you haven't joined the organ donor register - then what are you waiting for?  There is a link at the top of my blog that will take you straight through to a registration form. 

If you have questions about joining the register, maybe concerns to do with your religious beliefs, or questions about other aspects of organ donation, then NHS Blood and Transplant have got lots of useful information on their website to help. 

Pass it on.



Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My Story...

The 2020 Heart Challenge is a personal challenge to do 20 new activities by August 2013 that I could not have done before my heart transplant operation in August 1993 at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle Upon-Tyne.   

Birth to 21...
I was born with a complex congenital heart disease which included five separate defects; the biggest was transposition of the main arteries. This meant that I effectively had two circulation systems within my body, some really well oxygenated blood going from my lungs to my heart and back to my lungs again and some very poorly oxygenated blood going round the rest of my body. The life saving defect was the hole between the two parts of my heart that allowed the blood between the two circulation systems to mix, enabling a small amount of oxygen to circulate around my body.

Mum says that when I was born the doctors told her that there was nothing they could do and I would die, so she took me home.  I didn't die but was a very poorly blue baby who fed badly, put on little weight, slept intermittently and cried a lot.  After a few months I started to have regular fits and without any medical intervention, would have died.  However at seven months old, I had my first operation; this was a shunt, which allowed a greater amount of oxygenated blood to circulate around my body.

This operation saved my life but did not fix the underlying condition and my heart still had to work hard to to supply my body with the oxygen it needed for every day life. This meant that my heart beat fast and became enlarged; I took beta blockers to slow it down, however severe chest pain and dizziness were a daily part of my life.

As a child I was curtailed in the activities that I could undertake; I couldn't walk very far, certainly not up the hills of the Dales where I lived; couldn't climb stairs without being out of breath; couldn't learn to swim; couldn't ride a bike; was unable to take part in PE at school; couldn't join school field trips. The list goes on....   Compliance not exactly being my middle name, I refused to use the wheelchair that might have made life easier for my family or wear the medic alert bracelet that marked me out as different.

Despite the limitations in my daily activities, my health was otherwise good and I attended the local Primary School, went on to secondary school where I studied my GCSEs and A-levels, and then left to go to University in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, living independently in student halls of residents. Not bad for someone who would be likely to have learning difficulties and probably never learn to walk.

Consultants at the Freeman first raised the possibility of a heart transplant when I was 11 years old as my health had begun to deteriorate.  This was in the early days of transplantation where there were a lot more unknowns and my mum felt that she couldn't make this decision for me, it was too big. Fortunately a change of medication stabilised my health and the subject wasn't raised again until I was studying for my A-levels. At that time I didn't want to go ahead with a transplant, as I felt that I was managing OK. 

Living independently as a student took its toll on me and at the end of 1992 I talked to my doctors again about the possibility of a transplant, underwent the transplant assessment and was put on the active list in the New Year of 1993. Although I was in my final year at university, I didn't take my finals that summer but went back home to my family, where I waited for my call.

Transplant and beyond..

My call came late one night in August 1993, I'd gone to bed early, as I wasn't feeling very well. My Mum answered the phone, woke me up and within a few minutes I was in the back of an ambulance on my way to the Freeman.  Still remember seeing the blue lights from inside the ambulance but not hearing any sound.   The operation was longer than most transplants due to my dodgy plumbing but was successful and within 14 days, I was allowed home from hospital.

My health has generally been good since my transplant and I took my finals and passed them the following January. Since then I have rarely looked back and my pre-transplant life feels like a distant memory. 

In the time since my transplant I've lived a full and active life, have got married, am mum to two gorgeous children and have developed a career working in the local voluntary sector.  

Its very hard to write this without sounding cheesy or overly serious, both of which I usually try and avoid. A heart transplant isn't a cure and there are always niggles with the side effects of medication, but it has given me a life that I never could have had.  When I had my transplant it was all so new that they talked about heart recipients living 5 or 10 years post-transplant but nobody could promise anything further because that is all they knew.  Now there are people alive who have lived more than 30 years since their transplants and I see hope for a future.

Why 2020 Challenge?
I lived 21 years with a heart that didn't work very well and still remember vividly the joy of doing new activities for the first time post heart-transplant that I could never do before, like learning to ride my bike.

This challenge is not about endurance activities; I'm not trying to impress anyone with how fast, or far, or high I can go.  It is about doing things for the first time, things I couldn't have done as a child or young adult and that people currently living with heart failure on the transplant list can not do. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Challenge 12: Jumping for joy!

Challenge 12 complete: I can continuously skip for more than 20 jumps without wrapping the rope around my feet, neck or anything else. My technique needs some work, as I do a funny little hop skip which hurts my right knee after a while, so I'll have to learn to alternate my skipping leg or jump with both legs together instead.

I actually managed 21 skips back at the end of April but have angst about whether to include this as a completed challenge, partly because I'm dissatisfied with my technique but also because of the faces that some people pull when I tell them about it, which say things like "well that doesn't sound very hard" or "my five / six / seven year old son / daughter can do that".  I also started a new job at the end of April so have been a little pre-occupied with that; blogging has slipped down the paired down leisure time list of priorities below washing enough pants for everyone each day!! 

In a way I can understand the unimpressed faces, my seven year old daughter can skip beautifully too but then she has a perfect cardiovascular system. When I was seven there is no way I could have completed this challenge and even now it is hard work for my heart which requires an extended warm up period before it deigns to beat a little faster.

The point of the 2020 Heart Challenge was not that everything should be an endurance test, but that I should try 20 new activities. Having attempted to master skipping on and off over the last 19 years, it wasn't exactly a first for picking up the rope, but it was a first for managing to skip continuously for a set number of turns.  

Having achieved 21 turns, my little girl instantly raised the bar to 30, so I'll have to keep going and definitely need to change my technique to achieve this, or risk hurting my knee! 

12 out of 20 challenges complete: - well pretty much.

The challenge is to try or learn 20 new activities by the end of August 2013; whilst each activity is something I couldn't have done before my transplant, some of them are more of a challenge than others. 1,2, 6, 8 and 11 have been the toughies so far...

  1. Climbed My First Mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned How To Punt
  3. Learned How To Hula Hoop
  4. First Road Bike Ride
  5. Taken Up Tap Dancing
  6. First 5K Trail Run At Wimpole Hall Parkrun
  7. First Archery Session
  8. Learning how to climb on an indoor wall
  9. Zumba
  10. Belly Dancing
  11. High Wire Course
  12. Skipping - I know it sounds easy, but its hard for me!!
Some ideas for the next 5 months: netball taster session, segway rally, sailing, flying an aeroplane, ice or roller skating, walking Hadrian's wall, kayaking, maybe climbing Scafel Pike, fencing, I'm open to ideas...

A difficult decision made by one family nearly 20 years ago transformed my life when they gave me the gift of a new heart. This challenge is about acknowledging that gift, celebrating the life I've got and raising vital funds for two fantastic charities along the way...  

Please help me achieve my goal of raising over £1,000 for each of my two charities; your support means the world to me and makes a big difference to local heart patients.


Follow me on twitter  @angie_ridley  #2020HeartChallenge y