It’s been about a month since I took part in the 10km Walk It event for Crohn’s and Colitis UK, where I walked 10km (obviously) around Manchester city centre with a bunch of other people supporting the cause.
Leading up to the event I’d been a bit miffed, to put it politely. My family didn’t really seem at all bothered about my fundraising, they didn’t ever acknowledge my walk; I’d post things on Facebook about it regularly in the hopes that they would see and sponsor me and nothing much seemed to happen. I started fundraising in March and had planned to do the walk with my boyfriend. I’d suggested to my mum that she it might be nice if she came and did the walk with me, I said she could bring her girly friends if she wanted as I know they’d enjoyed doing a Race For Life event a little while ago, but she said she’d feel bit weird walking with my boyfriend and I and at some point she actually said “and what would I wanna do that for?”, as you can imagine I was feeling pretty upset about the situation. A lot of my family members take part in runs and various other charity fundraising events and I’ve always been as supportive as I possibly could – sponsoring them, sharing their Just Giving pages, being at the event to support them, so I was feeling pretty rubbish about them completely ignoring my event, especially as this was such a challenge for me. Since being diagnosed I’ve found walking any amount of distance to be extremely tiring and often painful, my hips and knees suffer terribly when I walk and so this was going to be tough. I know 10km isn’t far, but to people with Crohn’s it can bloody well feel it. So the fact that the majority (there are a few that are very supportive who I can’t fault but mostly the rest have been pants) of the family just didn’t seem to care had severely dampened my spirits.
As some of you know I do something called paper cutting for a living (click here to see exactly what that is) and I’m part of a wonderful crafty group on Facebook run by a famous paper cut artist and someone I consider a lovely friend, Paper Panda and I will often turn there for help and advice and to just rant about life in general, as many of the members of this group have come to be good friends of mine. Anyway, I told them about how I was feeling crappy because my family were acting crappy and they cheered me up as they always do. But they did something even better than cheer me up – they supported me! One lady asked for the link to my Just Giving page and all of a sudden I’d passed my £100 target! In one night! And the craziest thing about it was most of these people were complete strangers, they were just being kind. A few shared with me that they too have Crohn’s or Colitis, or they know and love someone who does. People were so generous. One lady told her staff about my walk and her staff very kindly donated all of the tips that they had earned that night – I couldn’t believe it!
So it was safe to say that my spirits had been lifted, but I still couldn’t help but feel disappointed at my family, I got that they don’t understand Crohn’s and quite frankly I don’t think many of them care to and that’s fine, but whatever their cause has been, whatever they’ve ran for and raised money for I’ve supported, not because it’s necessarily a cause that I support personally or understand but because I know that they care about it and as someone I love and care about then that has always been enough for me to support them. Eventually the sponsors started coming in from my family but it still felt like it was a bit half hearted, not to sound ungrateful I am grateful for every penny we raised, but it felt like they were doing it out of politeness.
About a week before the walk my parents had said they would come to see us cross the finish line, I couldn’t be happier, this is all that I’d wanted- my family to share the day with me, I was starting to feel excited about the day now.
The day finally arrived and my boyfriend arrived in Manchester bright and early in our purple ‘Crohn’s and Colitis UK’ t-shirts on which made me feel a bit uncomfortable because my girly prudish side was telling me that it just isn’t appropriate to wear something that has the word ‘bowel’ on it in public and then I saw about 200 other people wearing the same t-shirt, all with the same word ‘bowel’ on the back and it strangely didn’t seem to make me feel any better – I was starting to wonder if this was even a good idea. I’d never really met anyone else with this disease, not in real life and to be honest I was a bit scared of someone talking to me and asking me what my story was and selfishly it was because I didn’t want to ask them what their’s was, not because I don’t care, I do care more than anything in the world, that was the whole point of me doing this walk because I care. I was just scared. I’m scared of people telling me how bad their story has been, I’m scared that someone will just show me a colostomy bag and I’ve never actually seen one and if you’ve read my blog from the beginning you’ll know that it is one my biggest fears, though I congratulate and admire every single person who lives with a bag, I couldn’t imagine ever being so brave. I was scared that people would tell me how great they are despite their illness and I’d feel guilty because I’m just not very good at this thing we call life, I’m always a bit lost and now I’m unwell I just haven’t really managed to find footing at all – I was just scared of coming out of my own little bubble I suppose but luckily everyone else seemed to be just as shy, which thinking back is a shame really, hopefully next year we’ll all be a bit braver.
Anyway, my boyfriend and I arrive early, and because I’m an anxiety filled divvy I wanted to sign in right away because well what if lightening strikes down and we’re not signed in? What if a giant comes and steals the sign in sheets and I’ve not had the chance to sign them? What if they just don’t know I’m here and the world will just end? But my boyfriend wouldn’t let me and he was driving me mad! I didn’t get it! Why can’t we just go and sign in and then it’s done and we don’t have to worry about? But no, we must go and get some breakfast first says my boyfriend who doesn’t eat breakfast, but I do so I’m swayed by the promise of food and a cup of tea and I settle my anxiety down after one more “but if we just sign in now…” and being shut down by my boyfriend and off we head to a lovely little tea shop next to the Cathedral.
Whilst at the tea shop my phone is stolen from right under my nose, nope not by a masked burglar but from my boyfriend. It was at this point I clicked that he was onto something. I protest and kick up a fuss about how he better not put a stupid status on my Facebook like “I have piles” because surprisingly that isn’t funny to someone with a bowel disease and he ignores me and leaves. He goes outside and makes a phone call as I turn into James Bond and begin searching my phone for clues of what he used it for – not Facebook it would seem. He’d been in my contacts and the silly man left it open on my mums number. All sorts of things are going through my head and eventually I settle with “oh sh*t he’s going to propose”. He walks back into the tea shop with a little shifty look on his face “you better not propose to me on this walk!!” I blurt out, but he plays along, he looks all hurt and upset that I wouldn’t want him to propose here, today (he’s on strict instructions to only propose to me if we are in front of one of my favourite castles – no not historical castles, either Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World or Hogwarts Castle at the Harry Potter studio tour in London). I ask him what he wanted my mother for and for a moment he looks shocked – I’m not just a pretty face after all 😉 but again I’m stumped when he tells me that he was just letting her know where we had parked the car so her and my dad could park in the same place later when they arrived.
Our tea and toast arrived after what felt like an hour, though I’m sure it wasn’t and we left to rejoin the other crohnies at the Walk It event. We take a seat on some grass near the the starting line as my boyfriend still refuses to let me sign in and I look up to see my mum walking towards us with one of those purple bowel t-shirts on that we’re all wearing, I was so happy and then behind her I see her friends! I’m made up! they’re like extra family members so it was really special that they turned up. Then behind them is my nans husband, he’s as good as a grandad to me, he’s been there all my life and I couldn’t ask for a better husband for my nan – when I saw him I lost it, I was crying like a little baby. It was so amazing that he had done this, that all of them had, I couldn’t believe it, there they all were with their purple bowel t-shirts on. After they’d all had a laugh at how oblivious I’d been to it all and had a laugh at me crying I was finally allowed to sign in!! I realised that it was because if I had signed in I would of seen my mums name next to mine and my boyfriends cover would be blown.
We took a few photos and one with the mayor and off we went on our walk. The walk was lovely, the weather was nice, blah blah blah…. let’s skip to the end. We’ve all arranged to meet in a local pub/restaurant to celebrate completing the walk – great I think, sounds like a good plan. So we go our separate ways, my boyfriend however decides that instead of going straight home we’re going to nip to the Trafford Centre first (a big shopping place, like a mall) so we can have a sneaky Barburrito and a Krispy Kreme, again I thought yeah, great plan, we’re not meeting the others for another couple of hours, why not? So we eat our burrito and I decide that I fancy having a look in Waterstones, and then I want to have a look for some new flip-flops, my boyfriend is growing impatient however and is spending a suspicious amount of time with his head in his phone. Eventually we leave and make our way to my house.
I walk into my house with every intention of going and flopping down on the coach and not moving until we have to go to the pub. There are lovely congratulations banners in the hallway as I walk in though, “aww” I thought, my sisters must have done that – cute. I see my dad in the kitchen and head there to give him a telling off for being in on the secret of my mum and co turning up for the walk. I walk round the corner into the kitchen and hear “SURPRISE!!” and all of my family are there – again I cried. In fact I went into shock and had to take a moment because I was shaking so much!
I couldn’t believe my mum, dad and boyfriend and done all of this. I had cakes supplied by my grandad and his wife, champagne from my nan and her husband, there were balloons and food on the go, bunting in the garden and I hadn’t had the foggiest of ideas that any of this was happening. On the one hand I was so happy but then on the other hand I was feeling awfully concerned about how well my parents and boyfriend can keep a secret.
The worst part was, that week I’d been shopping for my mum for party things. I thought we were shopping for my little sisters communion which was a few weeks away at the time. So it was me who chose the lovely bunting that was now hanging in the garden for my surprise party, it was me who chose the crisps and nibbles that were on the table for people to enjoy and all of a sudden things start occurring to me. My mother had recently asked me what she should get me to drink if they were to ever have a party again, I’ve not drank since being diagnosed and have only recently started having a beer or two when out or at parties, so I told her beer. I thought it was a bit of a random questions but didn’t think much about it after that. When we went shopping she seemed all too willing to let me choose things like decorations and cups and plates etc and I’d thought she was just being nice or that she just couldn’t be bothered choosing for herself. I’d thought that she was being really good preparing for a communion party that was almost a month away, but no. They were all lying to me. The worst part of it all was that my mum had said the night before my walk she was having a little get together at our house with her friends that night, so as is always the case in our house with five children it often looks like a bomb has hit it so she asked me to help her get the house in perfect order before they came so I spent the day before my walk cleaning the house and making sure the garden was looking nice – her friends didn’t come round, that was another lie, to make it worse her and all her friends were posting status updates on Facebook as though they were all together at my house. I honestly don’t think I can trust anyone anymore!
Despite the shock of it all and the rollercoaster of anxiety and paranoia mixed with happiness and excitement and relief, I had a really great day and to make it even better we raised over £600 for Crohn’s and Colitis UK!