Monday, November 23, 2015

the realities of growing old

i prefer to keep this blog about my triathlon adventures but a big part of the process is trying to achieve your goals while managing what goes on in your other life.  and my other life has been extremely difficult and very stressful.  not only has work sucked and continues to give me major stress but my parents are at the point in their lives where they are really struggling with their health. wrapped around all of this is the break down in the everyone's relationship with my brother.  i call him 'the snake' and will just leave it at that but our family is no different from many others.  it is not perfect and it is very sad to think that the people who should look out for you the most can be the ones that cause the greatest harm.

my  mum has been diagnosed with parkinson disease for quite awhile now.  we all handle the challenges that life presents differently from the next person and my mum choose her path.  which to me it looked like she just gave up right from the start.  my mum is now living in full time care.  she has her good and bad days but she is not the one we worry about the most.

my dad has been diabetic for awhile and it is managed by diet and drugs.  he has never done this well. then two years ago he had a pacemaker fitted.  this doesnt seem to cause too many problems.  then earlier this year he was told he had prostate cancer.  dad decided he didnt want to do chemo or radiation.  it is not the aggressive type and is very common in his age group.

in july he came up to perth and we went to the wafl hall of fame dinner.  we had a great time but the next day he fell at the perth train station and ended up in royal perth hospital for five days.  he was having issues with his balance and blood pressure and they needed to make sure he had not broken anything or banged his head too hard.  he did have a few scrapes and bruises.  they then diagnosed him with parkinson disease as well.  seriously.  i could not believe it.  the thing i hated the most was that they just came out and told dad without consulting anyone.  dad has always had a confused idea of what was happening with  mum.  some days he had this idea that she was going to get better and the next he needed money to pay for the funeral.  there are many different types of parkinson but my dad doesnt understand this so mums future became his.

so dad came home with more drugs and things just went a little downhill everyday from there.  in the last six months my dad has been separated from his wife of 55 odd years, was moved from his home of the last ten years, had his car taken away, gave up his dog because it was too difficult in his new home, had all his possessions taken out of his control, diagnosed with cancer and then parkinson disease and then struggling everyday with his memory and health.  some of these things should never have happened and that is on someone else's conscience.  my sister and i were left with picking up the pieces.

dementia comes in different types and is caused by many different things.  parkinson disease can contribute to it.  dad had a few episodes of wandering off and some times he was confused and wasnt making sense.  his short term memory was terrible but his long term memory was unbelievably good. then you could get him on a good day and everything was fine.  but then it just started getting bad and there were less good days and then none.  my aunt called me and dad was being taken up to hospital as he was not making sense and was being aggressive.  i left work and drove down to bunbury.  when i saw dad he did not look the best.  he looked very tired.  but he knew who i was and he was still aware of his surroundings.  at first we thought he was suffering from delirium. i stayed for a few hours and talked to him and made sure he was okay and told him that i was going to look after his cat jingles and he wasnt to worry.  that was the last real conversation i may possibly have had with my dad. later that night he had a major shift and became very aggressive and virtually sunk into severe dementia.

my sister was meant to be here but had broken her ankle and had to delay her trip.  i had to email her and tell her that the dad she knew wasnt around anymore.  i had to go back down to bunbury and meet with all the doctors.  the news wasnt good.  they had tested him for everything and changed his medication.  but there was no explanation for the immediate and sudden loss of dad's ability to look after himself and communicate.  he was talking but it was stuff from his past and it was all over the place.  i went back a week later and he knew who i was for a moment.  that is such a huge thing.  we sat and watched the cricket and i got glimpses of the old dad.  a small positive.

my sister and i are now looking for a place where dad can go.  he requires a high level of care and secure care.   we are hoping that once he gets settled there will be more improvements.   i am looking at places in perth so at least i can visit on a regular basis.  there is much more to all this but i dont think i need to elaborate here.  i miss my dad.  like anyone you find it hard to see them like this because he was always so strong and healthy.  i was lucky that day that i could get away from work and that i could talk to dad before his mind went into a tailspin.  you never think that it will be the last conversation though so i was very lucky.  i have always had a better relationship with my dad than my  mum.  i have some really great memories and for now they will have to do.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

it never happened - mandurah

so it has been awhile and last time i signed off saying i needed to get my shit together and start training consistently for mandurah.  well that never happened.  the only thing i did consistently was swim which is an advantage in that it prevents drowning during the race.

prior to the race i hadnt ridden my bike for close to four weeks.  the last ride was four hours long though.  the longest run i had done was 9.89k.  not even a 10k.  and mostly i had just run once a week between 5 to 7.5k.  not exactly suitable training for a 70.3.

so why you may ask ?  well i just could not get motivated and had way too many interruptions and distractions.  the last 18 months have pretty much sucked and i am not quite sure what i did for this run of shitty things.  anyway this is how my race went when you dont train.

i decided to cancel my accommodation and just drive down the saturday to drop the bike off and then again on the sunday.  it saved me quite a few dollars in accommodation and boarding fees but i did have to get up super early sunday as race start was earlier this year.  bumped into some familiar faces on saturday and it was great to catch up.  felt a bit nervous when i got up but i think that was just fear of the great unknown.  would i make it ?  i was hoping for a really good swim as that had been going well.  i enjoy swimming because it is the only time my brain turns off from everything else and all i am able to think about is hanging on and not getting dropped.  biking and running gives me too much time to think.  i wasnt too worried about the bike as i knew i had enough base fitness to easily get through the 90k in under three hours.  while there had been no bricks during training i figured i would hang in for the first 10k and then just wing it from there.  so i had a plan.

first mistake was leaving the house and forgetting to put sunscreen on my arms, shoulders and hands. the second was wearing a cap that doesnt cover my head and getting my scalp sunburnt as well.  i arrived in time and relaxed getting my transition set up.  i was determined to reduce my transition time at least.  got the wet suit on and headed down to the swim start.  said hello to a few people but didnt have long to wait.  the water was quite fresh and chilly but since we were in it for five minutes before the start it gave me time to adjust.  i had given myself wetsuit rash on my neck swimming in it thursday night and note to self that fixomull does not stay on in the water.  i started fairly well and then had a patch when i struggled and then i was fine.  it seemed to take forever and there was no tide assist at all.  in fact there was a section where i was sure i was swimming against the current.  i kicked some guy in the head but he should have been watching where the fuck he was swimming. climbed out and felt quite good.  swim time 37.25.  last year i had a crappy swim and my time was 33.52.  in 2012 it was 35.29 and not a great swim either so it was a neat tide this year for sure.

i only took 4.26 in T1.  and that included quite a run from the swim exit.  wet suit came off easy. shoes on etc and i was off.  checked the tyres were still pumped out this time too !  felt okay and there wasnt much wind around so started out at a nice 32-33k pace.  normally this course has wind on the way out and a tailwind back in.  not this year though and probably didnt take enough of an advantage on the first lap.  turned down pagoni and was heading back and starting to enjoy myself when i heard something strange and then wham - flat back tyre.  i could not believe it and pretty much screamed fuck fuck fuck.  then i got my shit together and started the process to change the tube.  you can really lose it at this point and i was pissed because i wasnt going to be fast to begin with and this put me even further behind.  but luckily it all went fairly smoothly and got the nasty back wheel back on no problems.  the only issue i now had was that my back started playing up because i had been crouched over fixing the flat.  i also lost track of my fluid intake and didnt drink extra to make up for the time that i was stopped.  the next hour was pretty painful but then things eased off and riding back into the headwind wasnt too bad.  i was looking forward to getting off the bike though.  bike time was 3.20 and from my garmin it took me about 20 minutes to change the tube so i need to speed that process up.  i was pretty stoked though that i was self sufficient and no chance of any accusations of outside assistance this year.  i have only had two flats in races and both have been at this event. i was okay with a 3 hour ride.

i had put my compression calf things on right from the start and had swam and ridden in them so in transition all i had to do was get my toe socks and shoes on and i was outta there.  still took 5.08.  the compression thingies never bothered me all day so that is something i will continue to do.

well i felt like shit.  i walked the first 20 metres before breaking into a jog.  i had to run because the first two 2ks go through the main part of town with all the crowds and not a good look to be walking at this early stage.  on my way back i saw rae and stopped for a chat.  told her what had happened and how i felt.  decided my plan was to keep running until i got to the first aid station and then walk until i felt a bit better.  so this is what i did.  i actually found the further i went the better i felt and i was running more and having little walking stops less.  of course i walked every aid station.  the lack of fluids on the bike was now a problem.  i wanted to pee but nothing to pee.  i was surviving on coke and water.  no gels on the run at all.  i think this combined with the hydration problem made me lightheaded towards the end.  the wind out towards the headland was terrible.  especially since you had to run up hill.  so i walked it and then ran it with the wind on the way back down. 

after the first lap and 10k i came past rae and tim who had now finished.  i wasnt sure if i was going to finish.  i didnt care about the time or who was in front of me.  just that there were enough people behind me.  tim had his towel and medal and they looked pretty nice so i decided that i had to keep going.   so i just ran as much as i could and walked when i had to.  saw a few people i knew and that kept my mind off things.  george was out there and he had trained less than me so i had no excuses.  

finally i came over the bridge and did the last little turn around and i was across the finish line.  gave pete murray a high five and i was done.  run time was just disgraceful but i was happy that my finish time still had a six in front and i beat george.  got my towel and my medal and sat down.  i was fucked.  started feeling quite ill and thought i was going to keel over.  havent felt that bad after a full ironman.  for many reasons i wont be doing that again.  it isnt much fun when you dont train for it.  i kinda enjoyed myself but it was agony at the same time and i seriously considered pulling out during the run on a few occasions but something kept me going.  

got all my gear together.  my feet were pretty banged up and i was burnt to a crisp.  went and bought a nice cold choc milk and salted chips and drove home.  i made sure i took care of all my gear before having a shower and sitting down to pig out on pasta and an icecream.  i think i was in bed by 7.30pm.

now to get my shit sorted so i train for ironman australia.  i might be able to wing a half ironman but there is no way i am doing that for a full.