Hospice care

When you say hospice, most people assume that the care is for people with cancer. I did.

On hearing that nurses from a local hospice were visiting my dad, a question came my mind.

Did he have cancer? I knew that he had pulmonary fibrosis, which means that lung function gradually deteriorates. But was there something else?

The answer was no. The hospice team were doling their daily work, caring for people who are at the end of their life, whatever the reason.

I have worked in healthcare for my whole career — 28 years this month. Yet I had made the assumption that hospices exist to look after people who have terminal cancer. Why had I never considered end of life care to be for all?

That is what this short blog is about. Simply because I wanted to share the right message in case other people were thinking the same. And I know some are from the responses I have had when talking about my dad.

Taboo

Death and dying remain taboo in our society. There is much fear, mainly due to the unknowns.

We don’t talk about death as a part of life, despite it being inevitable for all of us. We will all experience the passing of people we know and love, and we will pass ourselves.

In some cultures, death is openly discussed and meditated upon to accept it as the cycle of life. In particular, Buddhism comes to mind. One of the tenets of Buddhist life is impermanence.

Impermanence refers to the fact that nothing stays the same. This is what makes life possible and can of course give great hope. For instance, no matter how you are feeling right now, it will pass.

Easing the discomfort of the discussion about death is possible by shifting the focus to living well. This is the view taken by Death Cafes that exist to widen our thinking and reduce the fear.

End of life care

Perhaps this is something we only consider when necessary. By the time it is, the importance is clear.

Each experience is unique. Everyone has their own set of needs and version of events.

Fortunately mine was positive. Having said that, losing a parent was surreal. The last few weeks and then days were accompanied by a knowing that the end was near, but never really knowing when. Time was suspended.

The one thread of consistency came from the hospice. The attention to caring, the frequency of contact with dad, and the little touches all made a difference.

Essentially, the staff use all their knowledge, skills and experience to make the journey as comfortable as possible. It sounds like a cliche yet what else would you ask for?

I became incredibly aware of the need for such care. I wondered how many people receive this attention? How many don’t? Everyone should.

This is the because, the reason for running the SDW this weekend (in just over 12 hours). Raising money is always a bottom line and I’m so grateful for all those who have donated so far. I know there is more to come too. We will exceed the target. But….

….there’s more

To me, what is more important is having this conversation. Raising the awareness of the work that the hospice staff do each day for people who need care at the end of their life, whatever the reason.

Raising awareness I think will result in more donations and funding as people will organically realise the importance. That’s my hope anyway.

If you agree, then you may like to support St Wilfrid’s, Eastbourne. Whatever you can spare would be much appreciated, a few quid, a tenner, £20, £50 or £100. It all helps.

See here for Richmond’s Just Giving page.

On the trail

I’ll be heading off from Winchester about 8/830am tomorrow morning. If you see me, give me a wave. If you fancy trotting along for a few miles, do.

On we go.

Tapering

I used to think tapering meant feet up, hardly any running and lots of eating for a week or so before the event.

Wrong!

For pro advice, you can read about tapering with coach David Roche here. For anecdotal experience, read on.

How I used to taper

I looked forward to the tapering week, sometimes two. Take it easy, occasionally run a few k’s. By a few I mean 3-4. So very little.

It meant a week or so of eating whatever I wanted. Awesome!

Days of sitting around, usually reading. That’s not so bad. There’s always something to learn.

But there was something that quite right. Reaching race day as I did in May this year, I felt heavy. Heavy legged.

My overall programme, which could be named hit and miss at best, was ending with a slothful period.

What was I thinking?

To put on a positive spin, it was a learning experience that has led to something much better.

How I am tapering now

Good training is sustainable training

David Roche

Tapering is part of the programme. With a measured, gradual approach to building fitness, speed, resilience, quality movement, stability and more, I have no need to spend a week or two resting to recover.

Been there…..

The week before SDW 100 miler, my training now looks like this:

  • Saturday: 20k easy on trails, hilly not steep. Run down hills with brakes off (building courage and skill)
  • Sunday: 10k easy + 4 x 30 sec hills (fast & smooth)
  • Monday: rest day, stretching/mobility, breathing
  • Tuesday: 10k easy, core/stability training
  • Wednesday: 8k easy
  • Thursday: 5k easy
  • Friday: 5k easy
  • Saturday: SDW

Feeling rested, ready, and relishing the opportunity to hit the trail next Saturday.

Now that is tapering.

Daily practices

Several times a day I stretch with micro practices dotted through the day – balance, stretch, mobilise, massage gun, roll, yoga pose, mindful breathing.

Most days I will sit and meditate. Other days are micro meditations of a few minutes. I am lucky because I get to practice with people most days as well in the clinic when we look at different ways to change state, create calm and clarity to help overcome persistent pain.

Walking. I walk everywhere.

Standing. At home I stand to work. In the clinic, I get up and move around often as a matter of course.

Our mind’s are embodied. Thinking emerges from the body state and the body state can depend upon what we are thinking. There really is no separation. We have just the one experience.

Hence, movement is a fundamental part of being at our best.

Upandrun.

Onwards.

RS.

PS/ If you would like to support the work of St Wilfrid’s Hospice, please donate here. We are over half way to the target, so your help is much appreciated.

The team looked after my dad and us so well in his final days. To help them continue this vital end of life care is so important to our society.

Thanks

upandrun 14 ~ round the block for the NHS

Richmond at 80k

On Monday I ran 100k around the block to raise money for the NHS staff at Kingston Hospital.

I dedicated the April upandrun ultra to raising money to support the staff at Kingston Hospital through the hospital charity. To date we have raised £3215 thanks to all the generous donations.

you can donate here

Considering the need for social distancing, I chose a 5k circuit that I could run twenty times. For variety, I changed direction with each lap.

5k x 20 laps

It was still dark when I set off at 5:08am. I love this time of day. It was so quiet, the sky is just starting to lighten and there were just a few people on their way to work or out walking their dogs. Soon enough the first kilometre was indicated by the familiar sound from my watch. 99 to go. I set my mind to the task, resigned to the fact that there were twelve or thirteen hours to go. There is always some comfort in that.

The day was perfect: a warm sun and a cool breeze. There was no need to carry anything as I could simply grab fuel and drinks on each lap, and even stop for lunch at home. My wife prepared a delicious bowl of plain pasta.

Each time I ran down my street, someone would cheer and clap, shouting out words of encouragement. This gave me energy. There was a purpose behind this run, as there is with each upandrun. Usually I am running to raise awareness of the problem of pain, but this time I was using my legs to show support for the NHS heroes.

No matter what discomfort I was experiencing, I knew that it would ease and that I would be in the bath at the end of the day. However, for our NHS and other essential workers (carers, teachers, delivery people, personnel running the public transport, supermarket staff and more), this goes on for now. The run was about them and showing appreciation for what they are doing to positively contribute to our society.

And so the day proceeded: round and round, legs heavier, strides shorter, but onwards I went. The toughest period was 60 to 80k. I had covered a good distance, but there was still a long way to go.

At 1245 I was interviewed on BBC Radio Surrey by Sarah Gorrell. This was a chance to tell listeners about the run and the cause. It was also a break in the monotony.

A friend who runs jokingly called this the Kingston Hospital Self-Transcendence race after the Sri Chinmoy 3100 that takes place in New York. Runners complete a 3100 mile course around a single block in New York. There is a film about it now: Run and Become. This was my version. A much shorter version.

My sense of time was distorted. I find that this always happens on an ultramarathon. I lose track of time, which is wonderful. I simply focus on the next step. The day begins to blur and soon enough, the end is near.

The final lap approached. For some reason, I was a few hundred metres short and had to take the lower road to loop round and make the 100k total. The neighbours were waiting, and as soon as they saw me coming the cheering and clapping began. It was a super way to end the day.

On we go.

upandrun
Richmond

RS