My Mum had a stroke

Saturday 21st October 2017

This is why I don’t shop at Tesco, but I’d had to, I needed supplies for the Halloween Party! They’d managed to sweet talk me into another Costa.  Watching my two girlies demolishing their cakes, I was oblivious of the turmoil about to unfold.  Walking out of Tesco and my phone rings.  It’s Si, “Where are you?” “Just leaving Tesco now babe, won’t be long” I reply.  “Well get home quick” he responds. We hang up.  I didn’t need to ask any questions.  I knew it was Mum.  I pack the girls into the car, switch off from their sounds and drive out of Tesco.  I can’t help it, I have to glance at my phone to get confirmation.  There it is, a missed call from Dad.  Adrenaline runs through me, I drive that little bit faster than normal, and am thinking the worst. “Stroke, Heart Attack or Death” Please, please don’t be death.  Not yet, I’ll never be ready to lose you, but not yet.  By the time I get home I can’t feel my fingers, adrenaline still pumping.

I walk through the door, Si is sat on the sofa.  I look at him and question “It’s Mum, isn’t it?” He responds “Ring your Dad” No answers still.  I take the landline and head upstairs, away from the girls.  I ring Dad’s mobile.  It takes him a while to pick up and when he does, I can’t remember exactly what he says.  “Mum is in hospital, I hate do say this, but I think she’s had a stroke, she’s had a scan, I’ve seen the picture and I can see blobs, but I don’t know what they are, they’ve not told me yet” I stare out of my bedroom window at the beautiful autumn scene of the field behind our house,  I look at the window sill and start rubbing the dust off. “Where are you?” I respond.

I find out they are in a place called Molde, Norway.  They’d been on a cruise you see, around the Artic Circle.  They were having an amazing time, I was getting regular selfies from the different locations they’d been stopping at.


Greetings from Tromso, this one had said.  When I saw this picture I replied to Mum, asking if she was ok.  She didn’t look quite right to me.  She’d told me she’d had a bad headache and had taken some codeine but it had gone away again, she felt a bit tired from it.  This was after seeing The Northern Lights on the Tuesday night and taken on the Wednesday.  She then suffered another bad headache the Thursday night and headed to bed.  By the time she woke up Friday morning, she was a bit confused and Dad had taken her to the sick bay on the ship.  Her systolic blood pressure was over 200, if you don’t already know, that’s bad, really bad.  The sick bay gave her some medication and brought her blood pressure down a bit and discharged her just after lunchtime.  She was back again by teatime and the next day when they docked, she was taken via road ambulance to hospital, where the only word she could say was tablet.

I rang my little brother, he’s not actually very little, he’s just short of 6ft 6″ and told him.  Inbetween phone calls from Dad asking questions like “Do you know what medications she’s on?” Si, Jon and myself looked online to find ways of getting to them.  I even looked on google maps to see if I could drive there.  It would take 1 day and 3 hours.  Si told me not to be stupid and came up with the logical suggestion of driving to Manchester to be with my brother so we could travel together.

I’d also rang 111 to see if I could get in touch with the on call GP to find out Mum’s medical history and medication even though I knew most of it.  I didn’t want to miss something important.  They were really helpful!!

I had to pack, the first thing I put in were my trainers.  Mum would be cross with me if I didn’t keep running.  I was on a running streak, day 294 of running every single day.  Si asked me about the Halloween Party I’d organised for the next day.  I told him to carry on as normal, it had all been arranged, the girls were excited, it couldn’t be cancelled now.  Si hovered around me, looking worried, but keeping his humour because that’s how we work.  He told me he was most put out I was going to a country he’d not been to, and fancied a road trip with me.  The girls had gone to a birthday party at the village hall.  I popped into say bye and told them I was going to go and look after Nanny as she had a bad headache, they didn’t question it, they were eating party food.

I got in the car and drove.  Jon lives in Manchester so I just headed in that direction without any planning.  By the time I got on the M62, I kind of twigged I’d probably gone the long way.  The weather wasn’t great, Storm Brian was hitting England and it was very wet and windy.  I arrived in Manchester and after having some food with Jon and Josh I fell into a surprisingly deep sleep on the futon.



Day 372 – my running streak ends

Today would be running streak day 372 of running at least a mile every day, but I’ve decided to stop!! Purely because my husband is leaving the country for a month and I can’t drag my girlies out at 6pm at night, just so “Mummy” can go for a run.

The reason I started running everyday was because I read a blog about a lady who had completed a year of running everyday, so I am sharing my experiences with you, incase you feel the urge.

I have absolutely no regrets about running everyday for a year and although I can’t say I wanted to step out of the door for every single run.  I have learned a lot from it.

No excuses

There is always a reason to not go out for a run.  It’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s raining, it’s dark, I’m too tired, I haven’t got enough time,  Well that’s a load of rubbish!!  I have ran every single mile outside, I have ran in minus degrees, I have ran in nearly 30 degrees, I have ran in a dark village with a head torch on, I have run after 12 hour shifts, most of them being night shifts and time……….. there is always time, you just have to make it.

I would have never chose to run after a night shift.  Those of you who have ever worked them, will understand why.  You feel hungover, without the perk of the good night out.  So when I braved my first post night shift run, I really wasn’t feeling it, but I loved it.  Sometimes after a night shift I would run my best runs and feel so much better when I got home.

My ideal temperature is about 10 degrees, I’m ok in the cold, and terrible in the heat.  I love running in the rain, getting completely soaked and grinning inanely when cars drive passed and soak me even more.


A particularly soggy run!

Time was going to be my biggest hurdle though and I remember grumping at my husband in the first 2 weeks.  I work shifts, my husband works shifts and also disappears out of the country for weeks/months at time. The early days were hard to fit those 10 minutes into my day, the longest part would be putting my running kit on.  Some runs I would have to get up silly early or go stupid late.  Soon I found I could squeeze a mile into my day though.  I realised I would just go a bit slower if I had a tummy full of Roast dinner.  Wine made me go faster, but would sober me up.

When I walked in from work my husband would be cooking tea and smile at me “you’ve got 15 minutes”  I must have driven him mad, going for a run everyday, but he never moaned about it, it just became part of our day.  My 2 daughters got used to it to, and would often ask if they could come with me.  My 8 year old is fab at running, but gets bored and grumpy after 2k.  My 4 year old loves it, but can’t run very far at the moment.  They love putting their running leggings on.


Aches, Pains and Ailments

So some of you might want to skip this part because I am going to be very honest!!!

Poo – Oh my word, there is a thing called Runners Trots.  So I suffer a little with constipation (I did warn you) but as soon as I’d start running I would need to go.  An amazing cure!! I would often plan routes so I could pop back home and carry on.  I haven’t found the cure and it is the only thing that I worry about on any race day!!

Chaffage – I have boobs and when they get hot and sweaty I get a rash between them.  Again I don’t have a cure.

Anxiety – I don’t like sick!! Before some races I would be absolutely terrified of being sick and even ended up wretching against a tree on my first park run.  No cure, apart from my trusty polos in my pocket.

Weight – I’m a skinny minnie anyway, but I lost half a stone last year, because unlike many runners I struggle with appetite when I run long distances.  After I ran a half marathon, I couldn’t eat for hours.

My hip – I was born with congenital hip dysplasia.  Basically that means I have a clicky hip that doesn’t sit in the joint quite right.  When I was doing my longer runs, this gave me a lot of grief.  Some runs I would have shooting pains of sciatica going all the way down to my foot.  Stretching massively improved this, also running less miles did too.

My knee – after running my first and only half marathon, I was elated, but I also thought, excuse the language “I am never doing a marathon, my knees are f*cked) That half marathon was in September and although I recovered ok, I had a niggle in my left knee after, when I go up the stairs, it makes a strange creaking noise.  I couldn’t kneel for particularly long.  Then in the middle of October I looked down to find a big old lump.



Initially I self diagnosed runners knee, then my team leader at work suggested bursitis.  I ignored it and carried on running anyway. I gave in and saw an osteopath who suggested it may be a cyst or ganglion.  Gross, whatever it is.  They’re still not sure, and currently waiting results of an MRI.  Sadly, I had to significantly drop my mileage down as anything over a couple of miles would really cause me bother.  The osteopath did however tell me, he didn’t think it was related to running and told me to carry on.



Runny noses, headaches etc – At the beginning of the year, I had some stinking colds where my nose would be pouring.  I still went for a run though and I found it actually helped a huge amount of everyday ailments.

Mental health – I think running massively helps anybody suffering from low mood.  When my Mum was taken poorly in Norway and I had to jump on several planes to get to her.  The first thing I packed was my trainers.  Those days in Norway were particularly challenging, but those minutes of the days when I went out and ran, grounded me!!

Races, Distances and Times

I completed my first sub 30 min 5k, best 5k – 27 mins and 39 seconds

I completed my first sub 60 min 10k, best 10k – 58 mins and 21 seconds

I completed my first half marathon, 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Best mile – 8 mins and 7 seconds

I won’t tell you about every race, but my favourite one was when I randomly signed up for the Great North Run in Newcastle.  The atmosphere was incredible and what a first half marathon to pick, don’t think I’ll be able to top it.  There was a chap running a similar pace who kept shouting “Oggy, oggy, oggy” to which we’d all reply “Ai, ai, ai”  The crowds were huge and so supportive.  I lost count of how many cheered me on by shouting “Come on Jemma” makes me feel teary just writing it.  So many people were offering sweets and on mile 12 there was a local ale stand handing out free alcohol!!  Just under 50,000 people run it. Wow!!


My second favourite was a local race, the Worstead 5 mile which starts the Worstead Festival off.  It was a small run, I felt sick to begin with and got a headache halfway round, but still I really enjoyed it.  I think it was because it was an evening race and it was all windy country lanes.  The local villagers were standing outside their houses cheering us on.  I managed a good time too.

Friends and Family

Most peoples reactions to me running everyday is a look of astonishment, some people have thought I’m completely bonkers, others have told me they have found me inspirational.  At the end of the year I was all set for stopping on day 366, but my neighbour told me we were going for a run, and my current feed on strava is full of my friends setting themselves the challenge of running every day in January.

I can’t thank my little family enough for supporting me.  They had a particularly long day when I did the Great North Run, but look back with fond memories of it.  They have ran with me and generally been amazing.



I have also ran with lots of my friends – thank you Hayley, Gemma, Peter, Chrissie, Jenny, Jess T, Jess W, Smith, Lori.  Sometimes you guys really helped me get out there.  P.s, sorry if I forget any of you.

What have I learned.  Running is awesome.  It doesn’t suit everybody, but it suits me.  I love challenging myself to go faster or longer.  Equally I love going out and just plodding, taking my surroundings and just loving life, sounds corny I know, but I have seen some beautiful sights from running last year.  Huge moons, beautiful sunsets, hot air balloons landing, plenty of countryside views and running in Norway! Barefoot beach running is just the most amazing feeling too.  It makes your calfs ache, but so worth it.

So…….. I’m done.  But I’m not really.  I’ve got a 10k in February with a load of midwives and the London Landmarks Half Marathon in March to tackle.  Hope I’ve given some of you the inspiration to get out there, I hear the couch to 5k app is amazing!!