Rio 2016

I’ve been meaning to write something for ages, but I either haven’t made the time or wasn’t sure what to write. It has been a long time since I regularly posted anything and wasn’t really sure what to say. At times I know what I want to say but don’t know how to start and don’t write because I worry people think I might be being big headed and arrogant. Thinking that because I have access to a computer and post stuff online my opinion matters or is of some significance. Some of what I write is for others and some of what I write is for me. If I write it down then it is out there for other people to read and I might actually do some of the things I want to rather than putting them to the back of my mind and ignoring them. Then I also want to show people that you can over come difficulties. If I can get by then so can you. The main reason I started this blog was to help myself deal with illness. If I could talk about it openly then I could deal with it in a positive way. Yet I don’t want that to be what defines me in other people’s eyes. Sometimes I mention them other times I don’t. Of course most blog posts mention it and I share things about meningitis and inflamimaory bowel disease (IBD), so as hard as I try they are a part of my life. I should not be afraid to talk about them because if I was then the illnesses would have won.

Anyway so what am I trying to say. In October it will be four years since I had my large intestine removed. In March next year it’ll be ten years since I had meningitis (I can’t believe I still need to look up how to spell that!). So the 2016 Rio Olympics finished recently. I didn’t get much if a chance to watch them this year. Yet it was still inspiring when you see what people are able to achieve. I am also looking forward to the paralympics. I love the song that Channel Four are using for their ad campaign. It literally brings tears to my eyes. It has such a wonderful and simple message, if you think you can do it, then you can do it! “Yes I can!”

Four years ago I was able to watch the Olympics and Paralympics as I wasn’t really able to leave the house. I did try to get out and about at times. This was sometimes a mistake as I really wasn’t up to it, but I was determined to not spend all my time feeling imprisoned by a disease (sorry if that sounds a little melodramatic). The wonderful irony, one of the biggest sporting events in the world was taking place in my home city and I could barely leave the house. It was great to be able to watch so much on TV but it would have been better to be able to see an event in the flesh so to speak.

So the Olympics had some amazing stories of athletes overcoming adversity. I am sure there are many more athletes with inspring stories than the ones I mention. Both Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Kathleen Baker suffer from IBD and they won medals. At fifteen Chris Mears had a ruptured spleen which caused him to be put in a coma and suffer a 7-hour seizure. Their stories are great and I have no doubt the Paralympics will have even more.

I have achieved a few things over the past four years, most recently I finally got round to competing in an endurance event this year. I did my intellectual challenge of finishing my masters so I got round to a physical challenge. Ever since I had meningitis I wanted to do something like run a marathon. I came close in 2010 when I was going to run the Munich marathon with my brother and sister, but Ulcerative colitis (UC) got me and prevented me from doing that. So UC got a victory over me in that case. In July this year I swam a 1/2 mile open water swim in Royal Victoria Dock. I know not that great a distance but considering I was very anemic and had only had a month of proper training, I think it was a pretty good achievement. I really was so proud of myself when I finished. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to fully enjoy that moment of personal triumph. I did it in 25 minutes and 19 seconds and was 70th I have no idea how many people were taking part. Again not too bad and something I feel justified in being proud of especially when a few days before hand I was told I had 6.7 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood and a healthy level is 13.5 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter (135 grams per liter) of blood for men.

I would like to be able to build on this. More intellectual and physical challenges.

There is more I would like to say but as usual when I start writing I ramble. I’ll save the rest for other posts, which will hopefully be shorter.

To paraphrase a quote, pursue what gives your life meaning and deal with the stress as it comes.


The start of my medal collection



2 thoughts on “Rio 2016

  1. Jon, I had no idea you’d been going through this. I’m so sorry for my ignorance there – it’s certainly easy to drift post-uni but still…

    I’m impressed and (meant entirely in a non-condescending way) really proud of you, not only for what you’ve achieved in terms of your intellectual and physical endurance events, but as much for the attitude you’ve taken to dealing with the challenges you’ve faced. You reference how the Rio Olympics were inspirational for you, and you should know that your own story is very much the same. It’s not the eyes of the world on you, as they are at the Olympics, that determine to what extent you’ve achieved or inspired. I like the mantra at the end of your blog, and agree with it entirely – and the way you’ve chosen to deal with the stresses is nothing short of an inspiration.

    Good on you mate. I’m really, genuinely happy for you.

    Kia kaha,
    Chris Buckley

    • Hi Chris. Thank you very much. Sorry for the delay in replying. I wasn’t getting reliable internet at work, currently doing field work. And was busy this morning.

      Don’t feel you need to apologise for anything. I know what you mean about it being easy to drift apart after uni. I find it hard enough to keep in reuglar contact with my family let alone friends.

      I hope your leg is healing well. Stay strong.

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