Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Needle of Happiness in a Hay Stack of Sadness

So life can be pretty shitty sometimes, right? Sometimes it just throws you a curve ball at the last minute and no matter how good you claim your reflexes are or how great you can catch; sometimes you just don't expect it and it hits you right in the face and knocks you flat on your back side. Right!? Sometimes you have everything planned out and you get that curve ball, you panic, you feel embarrassed but you adapt and adjust and make new plans for your next move, right? But then for that small minority of us, life decides that's too boring and too easy so guess what? Yeah, you got it! It throws you another curve ball, and in that moment, you want to give up, you want to just.... (i'm really trying not to swear now more of my family read my blogs, shush i know i swore in the first sentence.) Okay i kinda forgot where i was going with this..

Anyyyywaaaayyyyy back to my point. Sometimes life knocks you on your ass more than once in a really short amount of time, and you just have deal with it. But you also have to smile, or at least that's what i have to do.

Why I'm writing this blog...

Okay, so. Over a month ago I found out i was pregnant. For a second time. For those close to me they knew how utterly screwed i felt and how panicked i felt. My first pregnancy had ended in a pretty shitty way, for those of you who are new here (welcome!), i had a molar pregnancy a form of miscarriage that leaves you confused, scared and with months of blood and urine tests to ensure you don't get a form of cancer that can come from any remainder cells of that pregnancy. See...? shitty.

But yeah, i was pregnant so while i was terrified this could have been another molar pregnancy and making the plans for what i would do about University. My mind betrayed my sense and started thinking of baby names, imagining my life with a successful and healthy pregnancy, a little baby, a first smile. ALL of that stuff. So with all those wonderful thoughts in my head my only concerns were that my baby was going to be okay, and it was in fact going to be a baby and not a tumour/molar/blob of cells that weren't going to develop. What was not on my radar at all, was an Ectopic Pregnancy.

So life had thrown me the curve ball of being pregnant, but i dealt with it, i smiled, i cried, i made plans. I was ready for a second time to be a Mom and do all those Mothery things. BUT life threw me another curve ball. And i tell you what, it truly did knock me onto my ass for 3 weeks... of bed rest.

I'm not going to go into great deal about what happened, because this post is not all about my second (failed) pregnancy, and i'll be honest i don't want to.. But here it goes:

Sunday 7th August - I started to bleed and pass a few clots. A&E told me there was nothing to worry about and i just needed to rest. The bleeding stopped after a few hours and we put it down to attachment bleed or spotting. Hope was built up again.
Tuesday 9th August - I go for a Scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit, nothing shows up. There's a mass in my left tube. My bloods HCG level indicate I'm pregnant. I'm told its Ectopic and readied for Surgery. After hours of crying with my mom, the consultant came to tell me they think there is still hope and i need to go back for regular blood tests. I could still have a healthy baby, yay! So rocking a killer headache i went home.
Thursday 11th August - My bloods dropped from 860 to approx 840. I start looking for other explanations, such as vanishing twin syndrome. I'm still hopeful.
Saturday 13th August - My bloods dropped to 790, I'm starting to give up hope. But something keeps telling me I'm fine, maybe its just a blip?
Monday 15th August - Another scan, still nothing to show. The mass on my left tube appears to still be there. I'm left on a ward with my mom battling with my emotions and trying to come up with a positive spin. We played I Spy for about 2 hours. My bloods increased to 890 which made my heart leap for joy. But the consultant said it wasn't enough and gave me the heart wrenching news my pregnancy was definitely Ectopic and she wanted to give me the Methotrexate Injection instead of putting me through surgery, while it was a better option, i have never experienced so much pain through an injection but I'm not going to go into details. My pregnancy was going to be over, i was not going to have a baby.


So there it is, a week of roller coaster emotions, heart break, hope, self doubt and most annoyingly. The development of my needle phobia. I am 20 years old and i now need my mom or dad in the room with me when i have my bloods taken because my brain goes into ultimate panic mode. The following weeks after my injection have been pretty rough. I once cried because i was having to walk around like an old lady and it took me forever to get up the stairs (10 whole minutes). My mood flips from laughing to suddenly hating the world. I was worried i would lose my hair from the injection, I've not been allowed in the Sun because i could burn easier. My immune system has lowered and i was still at risk of my tubes rupturing.

If i am perfectly honest with you even now, just over 2 weeks since my injection, i only have more energy than normal because ive drank an orange lucozade. I would also be saying this was the first day i haven't cried, if i hadn't watched Me, Earl and the Dying Girl this afternoon and cried like a baby.

I'm healing, my bloods have dropped all the way down to 56, my body is getting stronger, my appetite is returning and I've made plans for University in a few weeks time.

Okay so, the reason I've wrote this blog, is:

1. To raise more awareness on miscarriages, molar pregnancies and now ectopic pregnancies and offer support to all of the amazing women and men who have either lost a baby through these quirks of human nature, or know someone who has.


2. Because i want to tell you how important it is to smile. I've started to believe that life has these quirks and throw us these curve balls to remind us how good it is to smile, and how important that smile is. My heart had been ripped in half on that Monday and i could have easily slipped into Depression as i stared into nothingness sat on a Hospital bed in pain, but my mom sighed and said "I spy with my little eye something beginning with..." and despite everything i was going through i couldn't help the silly little smile that came to my face or the chuckle as i gave in and started to play.
I could have easily ignored the accidental call from my Co Specialist at Summer Camp (where i worked all Summer in America) after i accidently pocket dialed her, because i was in such a terrible mood. But i didnt, i answered and we had a small 10 minute chat and i laughed so hard, my face hurt from smiling. And i felt good. Really good.

Since i lost my first pregnancy, i could have given up and let grief engulf the rest of my life. But i learnt to smile and laugh again. It was hard but i did it. Life picked back on up, and i finished College with 3 Distinction Star grades and got my place into my dream University to study Sport in Secondary Years, I was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive my Gold DofE Award. I worked a Second Summer at Camp Allyn Ohio, and made even more amazing friends. I became pregnant for a second time and experienced all that excitement, but then the heart break of losing that pregnancy.

A Needle of Happiness in a Hay Stack of Shittiness

Despite the crap I've felt over the past few weeks, I've found its important to smile. And that no matter how terrible that curve ball is that life may (or may not,) throw at you, you can still smile. There's still somewhere in you that needs to be fed happiness and not be drowned by sadness. I feel that when people go through these things, they don't know how they should feel. Should we feel guilty for smiling and laughing when we have just lost a child? My answer, No. We all need to smile,

I read a beautiful article (i'm sorry i cant remember the name or who wrote it) but it was about how Buddhists or those who follow some of the teachings of Buddhism deal with miscarriage and there was a quote in it that made me feel really really good and brought a smile to my face.
"She was a Mother from the moment the universal light settled briefly within her." 
For me this gave me a reason to smile through my grief and sadness, because that little cluster of cells from my Molar Pregnancy AND my Ectopic Pregnancy made me a Mother. While i don't have a baby bump and i don't have a child to show for that, it doesn't matter. I was and am still a Mom, and that's a reason to smile. I'm a mother of those memories, of those cravings, feelings, mood swings and body changes. And that's only 1 in a huge list of reasons to smile.

I've learnt that sure life can knock you down, but I've learnt the best way to defeat guilt, sadness and negativity is by being positive and smiling. It might seem obvious, but trust me when you feel like you're worlds been shattered around you, the thought of smiling feels like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. But just like finding a needle in a hay stack, its not impossible, it is with a lot of time, energy and effort and POSITIVITY (see what i did there?) very possible.

I love my life, even with the shitty parts, because i doubt i would be this positive, this strong and this confident as a human being, if i hadn't gone through the heart break, fear and character building I've been through, especially over the past 2 or 3 years.

I want to also point out, that my mom and dad have helped me grow a lot through these horrible situations i have been put in despite how horrible it must be for them to experience their child go through such horrible things. I want to thank my mom for coming with me to every blood test I've needed to have since, and being so supportive. See, if that's not ANOTHER needle of happiness in my haystack of shittiness i don' know what is.

Trying to finish this blog...

I hope this blog makes sense, and you can take something away from this blog (even if its googling what Methotrexate is) because it means a message of some form is being sent out to you.

I want you to smile, i want you to find small things that may be stupid but they make you smile. Play I Spy the next time you're out shopping, its a great game, and i promise you'll smile. I want you to remember that no matter how shitty you may feel at times, and how unfair your life may seem, (we've all experienced and will experience this again at some point) you should still smile. You should still keep that little flame of happiness glowing. And if you see that someone feels down, or looks sad, be there for them and help remind them that the little needle of happiness that's been lost in the hay stack of sadness/anger/depression can still be found. Hey if you use a needle in the hay stack metaphor for that, they might just crack a smile because of how crazy you might sound.

Keep smiling guys, i love you all dearly. Even the people who might not know who i am because this is a public blog and can be found by anyonnneeeeee, i want you to know that for whatever reason it is you found my blog, remember to smile and that this crazy British girl is sending some love your way.

Until next time, and i promise one day i'll start writing blogs more frequently

Much Love

Hayley Kati x

"No matter how tired i am, how bad my skin is right now, how crappy my body has been, i still have reasons to smile. And boy, does this smile make me feel good!" - Me

Song of the Day - Not Alone by Starkid (from A Very Potter Musical)

If you have been through a miscarriage (of any kind) or know someone who has, here are some links that you may find helpful. Or leave a comment and i'll get back to you!
The Miscarriage Association
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Anniversary

Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Celebration at Buckingham Palace

Yesterday (Monday 16th May 2016) was a very important and special day for over a thousand young people, including myself, as they celebrated their Duke of Edinburgh achievements at the Diamond Celebration which took place in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. With over 50 celebrities showing up to hand out awards, and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Earl of Wessex and HRH The Countess of Wessex also meeting and greeting individuals throughout the day. It was clear this was going to be a really big, special and important event.

Arriving at the gates with my personal guest, my dad, we headed through security, past the Palace itself and into the gardens of Buckingham Palace. There are no words for how surreal it felt entering the gates and looking up at the beautiful structure of the Palace and seeing the gardens get closer. I couldn’t help grinning like a fool as I looked at my dad and exclaimed “Dad we are inside the gates of Buckingham Palace!” We were also blessed with brilliant sunshine throughout the day which definitely helped contribute to the high spirits and great atmosphere.

The Gardens ft. Spot the Secret Agent

Walking around the gardens I had no idea what to expect, seeing everyone dressed up in suits, or dresses. The event was most definitely formal and special, and everyone looked amazing! So as me and my dad did a lap round the gardens we had no idea of the sheer size of the place, with a large pond filled with wildlife in the centre of the gardens, it’s hard not to be jealous. One thing I noticed was how clean and pristine the gardens were, sure this is to be expected when it belongs to the Royal Family, but still everything was perfect. The lawns mown with symmetrical stripes, the flower beds flourishing and the trees healthy and beautiful. Apparently according to my dad even the “Lavatories” were clean and super posh, with framed mirrors and a scent that wasn't of typical toilet smell. The sights throughout the Gardens made me really wish I could have photographed them. As we continued walking around me and my dad decided to play “Who’s the secret agent” pointing out random individuals within the ground who we believed would be a Secret Agent, giggling as we pointed out the most random people.

Having a Cuppa in Buckingham Palace Gardens - one for the Bucket List surely!

As we saw the stand for Tea and Shortbread, me and dad while not hungry decided we definitely needed to have a cup of Tea in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Let’s face it, it’s awesome! So as my dad ordered his tea the lady serving us looked at me and said “Ma’am can I get you anything” to which I said I would love a cup of tea, and handing us a drink she smiled at my dad and said “Sorry its ladies first”. So polite and formal! I felt slightly special. While drinking a cup of tea in the Palace Gardens me and my dad took in more of the sights, the hundreds of people, the beautiful sunshine and Buckingham Palace itself. After having more of a wonder around we noticed that there was a large group of individuals forming outside the Palace on the steps. So being nosey, we had a walk over to see who it was. While I knew from Twitter and Facebook that the likes of Steve Backshall and Colonel Hadfield were going to be at the event, I had no idea how many celebrities were showing up. Like an over excited child, I whispered to my dad as we pointed out the various stars including Anton Du Beke, Anna Friel, The Phelps Twins, Larry Lamb, Phillip Schofield and Ainsley Harriet to name a few. This day was going to be amazing!

Time to make my Nan very jealous... and the fan girl in me explode!

Personally for me, I have always wanted to meet Anton Du Beke since a child I have had a crush on him and I ALWAYS without fail route for him every year on Strictly Come Dancing. So imagine my excitement at the age of 20, and 10 years of wanting to meet this man, as my dad leads me over to Anton Du Beke himself and introduces me as one of his biggest fans! With a huge hug and a smile Anton told me I had the best hair he had ever seen (bright pink hair if you were wondering) and we went on to discuss cycling as I shared my Gold DofE experience of cycling John O’Groats to Lands’ End and he shared his experiences of cycling in France. He laughed as he told me how he hated cycling in France due to all this hills and I responded saying “Try cycling in Dartmoor where every hill you’re coming down you’re looking at the next one you have to get up!” We laughed a bit more and he told me how well deserved my Gold Award was and how proud of me he was. Guys! ANTON FREAKING DU BEKE told me was PROUD OF ME!! MEEEE!!! This man who is my idol and childhood crush was proud of me! With another huge hug and kiss on the cheek I said Goodbye to Anton and went on to see who else I could meet before the presentations. I may have wiped away a tear of excitement too.

Now to make my mom very jealous... and be completely starstruck (see what i did there?)

 Amazingly, I got the experience of meeting Colonel Hadfield who is a huge idol in my family; my mom absolutely loves this guy and here I was standing in front of him, and as I shook his hand I was in awe. This man had been to space!! He had looked down on our planet and shared some of the most beautiful images with us, he even performed Space Oddity in SPACE! This guy was absolutely amazing and such a brilliant role model and here he was giving 5 minutes of his time to talk to me about my DofE experience and to discuss my work in America! Absolutely amazing. He asked my dad about what type of work he did and they shared a few comments, then focusing on me he asked all about my experience on my Gold DofE and we ended up discussing where he grew up as a child and the seasons in Ohio (where I worked Summer 2015 and where I will work this summer) Shaking my dad’s hand he told him “Please tell your Mrs I am sorry I can’t meet her,” and gave me a hand shake saying “You really deserve this award, well done and enjoy your day.” I walked away with an even bigger grin on my face, still slightly bummed out I couldn’t take a photo though. But even so, I had just met Anton and Col. Hadfield. AMAZING!

It was so strange seeing all these stars walk around the events, have conversations with guests of the Diamond DofE and seeing them so natural. Anna Friel walked past me twice and smiled, and it was just the weirdest thing ever. I walked past Larry Lamb as he spoke with a group of individuals and Phillip Schofield. Seriously it might not seem that big of a deal, but seeing them so natural and relaxed without being horded by hundreds of fans just showed how brilliantly set up this event was going to be.

Presentation Time!!

Getting into our groups we were briefed on how the presentation would run through the afternoon. Suddenly we were asked to stand in silence and face towards the palace as the National Anthem was played by the bands to announce the arrival of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. As he made his way around the groups, we were introduced to our guest speaker, for my group (Purple 13) we had Nick Hewer known for his time on The Apprentice. As we stood in our order to receive our award (I was happy Lauren who did my Gold DofE with me was also with me in my group) he walked down the lines asking us about our Gold Expeditions or how far we got with DofE. Getting to me and Lauren we shared our experiences of cycling the length of the country. Nick asked us if we camped to which we said we did camp in tents, he then asked if we fixed our own punctures, Lauren was happy to tell him she didn’t have one puncture for the whole trip; while I said I did get punctures and we would just pull up on the side of the road and fix the punctures ourselves. To which he laughed and said it would probably be because of my bright hair. I don’t know either, but hey its Nick Hewer talking to us!

His Royal Highness Laughs

One by one we were handed our Gold Certificates by Nick Hewer who congratulated us with a big handshake and a smile. Posing for photographs we each had 15 seconds to get our photo right due to how many individuals the photographers needed to get through and photograph. After the young people were given our certificates the Licensed Organisations (schools and providers who give the young adults the opportunity to do Duke of Edinburgh) were given plaques and also the opportunity to be photographed with Nick Hewer. Then a lady arrived to our group to announce his royal highness was on his way to our group. Honestly I became slightly nervous, I was about to meet the man who created the Duke of Edinburgh Award, I was about to meet the Queens Husband. Absolutely amazing. He arrived into our group and greeted the LO’s before turning to talk to us. He was gentle and smiled at all of us as he asked if we all walked for our expedition to which I spoke up and said that me and Lauren had cycled. I didn’t think anything would come from this, but his Royal Highness walked over to us and proceeded to ask us about our journey, I could not believe it! Asking us where we cycled I told him we cycled the length of the UK from John O’Groats to Lands End, he went on to ask us how far that was and how long we did that for. So I replied saying it was 14 days and 1067 miles, to which he laughed. The Duke himself laughed and said “I think you did a bit too much,” before asking if we were able to walk after, laughing me and Lauren said we were, and I told him we played Frisbee on the beach the day after the trip. The Duke laughed again, congratulated us then congratulated the group as a whole before saying Goodbye and making his way to the next group.

Time to say Goodbye

Once our photos were taken, (on my photo Nick asked if my hair was magenta coloured, and I replied saying it was supposed to be purple, he laughed) and we received our awards, me and my dad wondered off to get a drink of water and have one last walk around the gardens before leaving. Smiling we discussed the day and just how brilliant it had been. Smiling at Phillip Schofield as we left the grounds, saying goodbye to the palace. Once outside the gates, we took out our phones to get a quick photo opportunity outside the gates together with my Gold Certificate and together. And then it was time to phone my Mom and gush about just how amazing the day had gone, that id met both Anton and Col. Hadfield and I made the Duke laugh. Fangirling a little as Anton walked past us to get into his taxi, I was buzzing when me and dad sat down in our own taxi to head back to the train station.

Memories to Cherish

What an amazing day and experience this had been, not only had I met two amazing personal heroes of mine. I’d got to meet Nick Hewer and most importantly. I got to speak to the Duke of Edinburgh himself and make him laugh. All taking place inside Buckingham Palace Gardens. One of the most special places in the UK. Definitely this is a special one off event I will be lucky to ever experience again. Memories to cherish and i got to spend them with my Dad. And the one huge thing I took away from this day, that while we were there to celebrate our awards, we were also there with people we looked up to as role models and idols. People that we gave our own time to love and watch on TV or in shows. But yet here they were, not for themselves but here for us. Here to celebrate our achievement and present us with our well-earned awards. A true honour in my personal opinion. 

"Never Give Up on Your Dreams"

As usual i will say write soon and most likely forget to Blog.
Forgive me.

Much Love, Always
Hayley Kati xx

Song of the Day - Counting Stars by OneRepublic 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Dear April!

Okay, so I've been pretty rubbish at keeping the blog a regular one, and for that I can only apologise. I hope everyone is well, enjoying the lovely weather we are having, and doing the things you enjoy. 

I just want to start off by saying a massive thanks to everyone who has read, shared and contacted me regarding my previous blog on my own Molar Pregnancy experience, i can't put into words how much all the support means to me. 688 views is pretty impressive, in my opinion! I've been playing around with the idea of hitting Youtube to speak about my experience in a hope to raise more awareness, but i really don't know about this one! And if you have no idea what I am on about well you can check it out at this previous post.

This entire month has been a huge one of reflection for me, looking back at what has happened to me over the past few years and what is happening to me now. I once hated my past, regretted every decision i ever made, and to be honest felt pretty crappy, especially after losing Dalton. BUT i come to realise the other day, if i had had a normal pregnancy i would be at home, with my ex, struggling for money, not in college and i certainly wouldn't have a job. But getting pregnant showed me the truth behind my ex, what he was truly like, it gave me that push to realise i shouldn't be with him. And then when i lost the pregnancy, whilst it was crappy and to this day devastates me, its allowed me to accept the past and move on with my life. A fresh start so to speak.

Since September i have been studying Sport and Exercise Science at College, and i have been loving it. My relationship with my family and friends has only grown and got stronger. I have a job working for my favourite coffee shop in the world, and to be honest with you i love being a Costa Barista. I have found the person who i believe to be the love of my life. And next month I am off to America!! America!! This month i realised if i had had a normal pregnancy i doubt any of these things would have happened, i most certainly wouldn't be off to America to fulfill a pretty big dream of mine. So while my past sucks, and is filled with stupid decisions and mistakes, i accept it, its made me... me. And would i change who i am? Not a chance.

I have worked in a Chinese Restaurant, i now work at Costa. I have gone ginger, blonde, red and now I'm stuck at a pinky/orange hair colour. I have fallen in love, i have witnessed my friends fall in love with people, i'm witnessing weddings in the next upcoming years. I have made new friends and old friends, I have gained more tattoos. A lot has happened in the past few months since my last post and most importantly Camp America cropped up into my life...

So next month I am off to America participating in the amazing opportunity that is Camp America. I applied just before Christmas and had an interview in March, on the same evening of my interview i found out i got the place! I am to be an overnight counsellor at a Camp in Ohio for Disabled People. You can check out the camp and the company here. I cannot put into words how excited i am for something that will be the most amazing thing i have ever done, 2 years ago it was the JOG to LE bike trip, and last year it was overcoming a tragedy and this year it is helping others and working with some amazing individuals, in a country i dream to have a future in. 

If i'm honest i am absolutely pooping myself in regards to going to America, but my excitement is definitely outweighing it all. I've already made friends with some of the people working on my Camp, and I am pretty much ready to fly, once i have brought all my stuff for Camp. Working with disabled individuals is such a dream come true, especially as im considering it as a career within the Sport Industry. So I am so so thankful to be doing this. AMERICA!!! Ahhhhhh!!

If there's one thing I've learnt since the age of 16, its no matter how much life gets you down or how many times the people you look up to put you down or think you wont get anywhere in life. No matter what anyone says to you, or how bad it all gets, and how close you get to wanting to give up entirely. Don't! Find that hope, that reason to carry on, and i can promise you life will get better. Jump for any opportunity you get through work, college, school, family etc. 

And if you want to go to America and experience working in an amazing camp with amazing people just apply to Camp America like i did. 

Right, i need to get back to my Sport Assignment on Football... *yawn* So this is the end of this rambling post, and i promise to start writing more regularly!!

Much Love

Shannon x

Like my tattoo and my favourite character of all time states: To Live Will Be An Awfully Big Adventure.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Time Heals, Sort of

It's nearly been 4 months since my operation to remove my Molar Pregnancy, and my god have things changed since then.

Every month i receive a box in the post to take a urine and blood sample to send off to Charing Cross Hospital in London so they can monitor my HCG levels, if they stay high for too long it normally means the Molar Pregnancy has progressed towards something more serious, for example the Choricarcinocoma. (The Cancer previously explained in my last Blog Update)
Luckily for me, my results have been normal since they began, and all i have to do is go to my doctors for another 3 months and hopefully I will be given the all clear and the go ahead to try again, if i choose to, which at the moment will not be happening..

But its the constant reminder when you see that box and go for that test that makes you remember what could have been, where my life could be right now. If things had gone normal i would be 31 weeks (minimum) pregnant, not in work or college just trying to work things out to make my baby have the best possible life i could provide. But thats not the case, since my Molar Pregnany I have had a huge incentive to make the best of my life and my youth.
Don't get me wrong i would do anything to have my baby bump, and baby, back. But time heals that for me, because the longer it is since that day the more i realise that life does get better.

I have found an amazing support group on Facebook (again mentioned in my last post at the end) that is a pretty awesome community of girls and women who come together to support one another through the loss of their baby or pregnancy due to this rare Trophoblastic Disease. The support we all recieve is amazing and it reminds you that you really arent alone, and that while it is rare to have this form of pregnancy, you're not the only one out there. It also gives you the incentive to try and help others not to be afraid to step forwards and speak. And while we cry and mourn the losses we have, we celebrate the lives that have been created since, we celebrate the day someone is told their levels are normal, or that their chemotherapy can stop.

Since my Molar Pregnancy life has really looked up for me, because while i mourn my loss, and help other women of all ages who are going through what I have been through, and in some cases worse, I'm getting on with my life.
I have a job where within 1 month i was promoted to Supervisor, and I'm at college doing an amazing course (Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science). With new friends, old friends and meeting different people everyday, time does slowly heal that gaping hole i once had.

I know i will never forget the day I found out I'd lost my pregnancy, or that i had to hold onto my Auntie because i felt like i couldnt function while she tried re explaining to me what was happening and calming me down as i had huge panic attacks in the doctors room when they explained the operation to me. I will never forget my grandad literally carrying me from my Aunts car to her house because i just couldnt talk, speak or bare to move. Nor will i ever forget asking my older cousin to come to the hospital because i needed him to be there with my auntie when i woke up. (My mom was in Greece when all this happened and I didn't want my dad to see me in such a state at the hospital so told him to work.) I understand i will never forget the dark memories, but i understand that time heals, and what is meant to be will be. It wasnt my time to have a baby, something out there knew i wasnt ready to be a mom, but i know one day i will be..
    Seeing the success stories of the other women who have been through this "Quirk of Human Nature" boosts me a long this path of healing and recovery. It gives me hope, and that is what everyone who has been through this needs. They need to have hope that one day when the times is right you'll have that new life to raise and love and care for.

This blog doesnt really have a huge message like my last one, its just a few things i wanted to say, to speak about and to share my sort of success health wise regarding this quirk of human nature..

And also I want to include a thank you note:

Thank you to my amazing Aunt who was by my side the entire time during my Miscarriage of my Molar Pregnancy, she was so strong for me and held me together so much, words will never cover how much you mean to me and how much i love you for what you did.
I want to thank my older cousin for coming to the hospital at such last minute to hold my hand before my operation, to make me smile and talk when all i wanted to do was shut off. I love you with all my heart, and the Chilli Doritos hit the spot perfectly.

Thank you to my Grandad, for turning up as soon as i found out, and holding me as i cried. Not a day goes by where I don't remember that moment, You're my hero and best friend.
Thank you to my wonderful parents who have been there for me, through the moodswings, the anger, the tears the sickness and the desperation. I seriously couldnt ask for any better.
Then theres my family and friends, the support you have all given me has been amazing, I cant thank you all enough, but you all know i love you and cherish each and everyone of you. 

This world we live in is a strange one, each day someone out there is given awful news, while others are given the best news in the world. Life is rare, its something special that needs to be treasured. And while it has its bad moments. It also has its good moments. Hold onto those good moments and never let them go whether theyre in the past or yet to come, hold onto them. And don't forget the bad moments either because they are what makes each and everyone of us stronger.

Life is shit at times, but it doesnt mean its not amazing or special. It doesnt take away from the miracle you are just by standing there breathing. You are here for a reason, we all are. Things happen for a reason, the good and the bad. You just have to keep on plodding through life.

With much Love as always, i finish another blog. I hope you are well and life is treating you well, and if it isnt dont be afraid to leave a comment for me to contact you. And if you've gone through something similar or know someone who has remember help is out there..

I'll Write Soon, Promise



QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Don't Be Afraid Of Your Fears, They're Not There To Scare You. They're There To Let You Know That Something Is Worth It" - C. Joybell C

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Quirk of Human Nature

Good Afternoon,

Has it really been this long since my last post? Is it really practically a year since I did the mahoosive JOG to LE cycle trip with the Gold DofE Bunch and Horizon Expeditions? Time sure does fly past if you let it and for me one of my favourite quotes from the movie "Inside I Am Dancing" (starring Mr Hotty Pants James McAvoy) sure does apply here. "Did you see that? That was life passing you by."

A lot has happened since that Bike Trip, to the world, to my friends and to me. And this post is not about an adventure or a sporting event i have done, it is about something very close to me, that a lot of my friends don't know the details about.

A Happy Surprise

About 5/6 months ago, i became pregnant. Being 18 and recovering from Glandular Fever it really was the scariest thing to happen to me. I didnt know what to do, what to say, whether to be happy or whether to curl up in a corner and cry.

I was perfectly healthy, i was visited by the midwife and all was positive. I was planning my baby names with the support from my family, close friends and extended family. There was no doubt at all that anything would go wrong. So when it came to my first scan, i was already super excited to see my little munchkin and had announced to the world how i couldnt wait to be a mom, and that i was pregnant. So off i went with my Auntie for my dating scan.

And that was the start of the worst couple of days of my life.

Please God No, Not Me

I remember standing on the scales being weighed just before my scan, and my heart pounding as my weight hit 61kg, considering the last time i weighed myself i was 70+kg i figured i had a reason to worry. But everyone said it was normal sometimes, but the doubt was already trickling in. Smiling nervously at the nurse, i lay down and lifted up my tummy. Closing my eyes i begin to pray, and im not religious, but i just had to pray all was well. I wanted it to be perfect, i wanted my Aunt to gasp and laugh, the heartbeat to be heard. But there was nothing, repeatedly i was asked how far gone i believed i was. I didnt have an answer as i hadnt had a period since coming off the pill. Jesus i couldnt even think about anything else. As i sat up and dryed my stomach off i looked at the screen and could only see a small black mass, and i knew that shouldnt be there. That there should be a baby. But the nurse was positive and sent me off to the Womens Hospital to the Early Pregnancy Unit as she thought that i wasn't that far gone or the baby could be lying in an awkward position. Did i believe her? God no.

So then came the long drive to the womens, my three best friends texting me to stay positive and they were here whenever i needed. I couldnt speak, my mouth was dry and i couldnt stop the tears. The nurses smiled as they greeted me, handing me tissues and holding my hand as they gave me words of hope and comfort, and off i was sent for my second scan. I was asked if i was okay, i laughed shaking my head. Lying down once more i lifted up my top and was given an unltrasound scan, the entire time i looked at the scanners face, trying to find a flicker or something in her expression. Nothing. And then she said the words that no woman wants to ever hear, "I am so sorry, but it looks like baby passed away." My heart shattered, my mind exploded and i sobbed my heart out, not wanting to move, praying i would wake up from this nightmare. But i didnt.

A Quirk of Human Nature 

As it turns out, from looking at my scan doctors believed i had something known as a Molar Pregnancy. A rare quirk of human nature that affects 1 in 1200 pregnancies. Not many people know about it, none of my family did and those friends i told didnt either.

A Molar Pregnancy is where the Trophoblast (the part where thge placenta and membranes develop) grows in a disorganised way and basically takes up the space that would have been taken up by an Embryo. As the mass swells and fills up the womb, it is known as a Hydatidiform Mole.
On top of being given this information i was then told about the two types of Molar Pregnancies, one is known as a complete mole where when the sperm and egg join there is no sharing of genetic material (this can be due to the egg not containing any genetic info) normally the egg would die, but rarely it can still implant the womb, when it does instead of an embryo growing and becoming a baby. Only a Trophoblast grows.
Then there is the partial mole, this is where two sperms fertilise the egg (which according to doctors should be impossible) there is too much genetic material, and as a result the pregnancy is abnormal with the placenta actually outgrowing the baby. Sometimes there is a foetus, other times there are not, but if it is there, the baby does not develop. (pretty crappy right?)
I was then told about how a Molar Pregnancy could become Invasive, this is where the complete molar invades deeper into the womb than it should.

Out of the above my panic rose hearing about the Invasive Molar, as it can spread outside of the womb forming Choricarcinicoma. Which is a very rare tumour as the trophoblast cells become completely disorganised, invade and spread widely, and that have become cancerous. While in my head i was screaming "So what i lose a baby and could have cancer now!?" I was comforted (sort of) to know that it is detected very early with an almost 100% cure rate.

What happens now?

So coming off the boring factual part, most of you probably scanned over... On to the quirk of human nature, the nasty side of having a Molar Pregnancy is that your body still releases all the normal hormones of being pregnant, i had the food cravings (Jelly and Sea Weed), i had the morning sickness and the saddest of all, i was starting to get a pretty decent sized bump. However once your between 8 to 16 weeks (we believe i was at the top end but who knows?) you begin to have the symptoms of a miscarriage.

What happened after being told this information wasn't nice, i had no control or say in the matter. It just had to be done. I was admitted into hospital the next day to have the mole (my pregnancy) removed via operation. To do this in a nut shell they use a suction tube and basically vacuum it out of you while you're put under. I was terrified. I'd never had an operation before, i was scared of going to sleep. I didnt want doctors to see me, let alone take my pregnancy from me! I was a state, i didnt want to talk, and i just couldnt stop asking the question, why me?
However the operation while waking up in a hell of a lot of pain (Big thank you to the wonderful nurse who came to check on me in recovery and gave me the hugest hug as i broke down in her arms) it was successful. One solid mass was removed, now all i had left to do was heal. Fun!

Weeks passed, my bump vanished, my boobs went back to normal, it was like i was never pregnant. And thats the strange thing no one understands about Molar Pregnanices, because yeah sure there is no baby, depending on the type you have.. does that mean you shouldnt grieve? Does that mean you should just pretend it never happened? Of course not, it did happen. That stupid quirk of nature happened to you, did it happen for a reason? Maybe. Is it shit? Hell yeah it is! But life goes on.

I named my loss Dalton. Yes I don't know if he was ever there, i never asked what kind of Molar Pregnancy I had, and to be honest I don't want to know.. Would it help knowing that my baby suffered or even that my baby was never there in the first place? Who knows, but I am content knowing that my little one is at peace, and I will do everything I can to make my angel proud...

Some people may not think like that if they go through Molars, some might choose to forget, others may never give a name, while others might react the same as me.. Women all recover and think differently, but for me it helps. It was much easier to tell people i lost my baby boy, than to go into all of the above details and tell them I dont actually know if the baby ever existed and so on.

Don't be Alone

I want to start raising awareness which is why i have come out with my story about my Molar Pregnancy, because i cannot believe the amount of people i have heard of close to my friends or family who have been through the same, and feel like they cant talk about if for lots of reasons, one of them being its not a baby you have lost, or the embarrassment of having this stupid quirk of nature happen.

Teenagers are taught all about STI's, AIDs, Sex, Contraception and babies, but i have never heard of schools teaching Teenagers about other quirks of sexual nature, such as Molar Pregnancies. More people need to be made aware that this can happen to you, no matter how healthy you are, and you might not even have a proper explanation for why it happened to you (there are lots of guesses but no exact answer). Molar Pregnancies are becoming more common, from looking online at multiple forums, i cannot believe the amount of people who have suffered from somthing that is meant to be so rare.

SO this is it. My Molar Pregnancy Story, My Pregnancy, My Miscarriage. All of it, out in the open, and I hope people become more aware of Molar Pregnancies, and for anyone scared of being pregnant, or have been through a miscarriage whether Molar or not, there is always support out there, whether its by leaving a comment for me to respond to, or the websites posted at the end of this post. There is the support, and there will always be someone there to listen to you.

Its a strange world we live in, and when you feel like you're on top of it something new will come and sweep you off your feet.

Thank you for reading, and i hope you "enjoy" (not sure if thats the right word but hey ho!) this post.

Write Soon

Shannon x

Song of the Day: Bells of Freedom by Bon Jovi

http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/information/causes-tests-and-treatment/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwxZieBRDegZuj9rzLt_ABEiQASqRd-sW3kRfhL6YzGYxWO2DVcFrHtlmiaR0u3VXVbPo9138aAmZG8P8HAQ#molar - The Miscarriage Association, giving info on Miscarriages including Molar Pregnancies.
http://www.molarpregnancy.co.uk/ - The Molar Pregnancy Support and Info Group (I found lots of support on this website and it was this website that made me realise i really wasnt alone)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/218351778227611/?notif_t=group_r2j_approved - Facebook Support Group

Monday, 28 October 2013

Blimey, time flies...

My goodness, it has been a while since i last blogged.. So much for me trying to keep this blog a regular one. It has been a very hectic couple of months since the amazing trip that was End to End. It has been the start of a new Sixth Form, returning to my job at KFC, and fitting in exercising and a social life.

Training since coming off the trip has dipped, but i knew this would happen, i have been so busy any spare time is usually spent with me falling asleep. Trying to fit in training has been hard, though every few nights i do visit the gym in the garden just to do an all over body workout. BUT with a Ram Run coming up on the 12th January i really need to kick my arse into gear and start training!

Other things i have planned is a Wolf Run, Half Marathon, Triathlon, Tough Mudder, and there are a few ideas for an End to End to End, There and Back Again (yes i want to say "A Hobbits Tale" too!)
I am so eager to do all of these events, having never competed in anything like this its something new, and very exciting.
Whats not to love??

My passion for the outdoors and climbing has fueled even more since going to the Reel Rock 8 Tour, in Birmingham with my friend. The climbing and videos were so inspirational, the entire time i watched them i wanted to be them, i wanted to be there doing that climb. I would love to meet Daniel Woods and Hazel Findlay, both of them are absolutely brilliant. Getting a climbing lesson off either of them, or even just chatting to them would be a dream come true! Since going to the film tour i often find myself in any spare time i have watching videos of them climbing or watching Bouldering competitions on Youtube. I am entirely sold on to the fact that could, no.. That will be my lifestyle. And it gets me so excited.

Its only a short and sweet blog tonight.

Life is going very well, and i have so many amazing adventures to begin.. I cant wait.

I'll Write Soon.. Ish

"Everything breathes, and i know each breath, for me it means life. For others its death. Its perfectly balanced perfectly planned. More than enough for this man." Steve Perry, I Stand Alone (from one of my favourite kids films Quest for Camelot)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

End 2 End - Our Final DofE Adventure.

A quick word..

First off I would like to say, this is a new blog, on a new account. My old account was old, and i deleted it, which meant all my previous blogs associated to that account were deleted. Oops. So here we are! And I would like to say a huge thanks, for following me still and keeping up to date with all my adventures..

So, to begin!

As some of you may know, myself and my DofE Family (20 of us in total if i include our instructors) chose to do the amazing adventure that is End to End Cycle. For those of you that don't know End to End, is cycling the length of Britain, from John O'Groats in Scotland all the way down to Lands End in Devon. It's a huge task, that pushes you to your limits. And we, a group of teenagers from Birmingham, chose to do this for our Gold Award Expedition.

Our training programme was a year long, and yes not everyone religiously followed it, but many of us trained hard and pushed ourselves to prepare for this huge trip. The weeks leading up to the trip everyone began packing, getting last minute items and, for me, worrying and stressing about the trip. I cannot put into words how i felt about the trip, i was speechless, i was scared, nervous, excited. I was a hundred things. But as we landed on the 22nd July and headed to our school car park, we knew there was no going back now. It was here, and it was happening, we were going to go cycle the length of Britain. 

It took us two days to get to Scotland, two very long, very hot days. Nerves and tensions were high in anticipation for the trip, people were getting restless just wanting to get on the bikes and go, others were worrying about what the trip was going to be like. Finally on the 23rd July we were at John O'Groats. The furthest possible place in Britain away from home, we were hundreds of miles away. And the next day we would be making the long journey back.

Throughout the trip we had daily songs, they would be the last thing we listened to before going out on the bike, and they would be the first thing we do/listen to when we roll into camp on the afternoon/evening/night.

Day 1

Our first song for our first day was Some Nights by fun. This song really hit home for me as it is in one of my top ten favourites, and made me think of home, but also about the oncoming adventure. It was a good song to start off our trip.

Soon we were off, making the long journey down to Lands End. For me, the first day was the worst and ended up being my crap day. Where i felt like i was cycling through quicksand, my legs were killing me for the first 50 miles, and i felt so unfit often falling to the back of the group. I lost my temper a few times going up hills because i knew i could do so much better than what i was performing, and i just didnt understand why my body was letting me down. Yes i had a good hard cry up one of the hills, i was beyond annoyed. The first day of cycling and i was struggling so much, what on earth would the rest of the trip be like!! BUT as the day continued and we went through some amazing views my body began to accept the work, and wake up more. My legs began to remember how to cycle and soon i was back at the front pushing up every hill, my mood and motivation high.
 Its bizarre how much your mind can impact your performance, if you start beating yourself up and making yourself feel crap because of how badly you feel you are performing your body responds. It doesnt do what you want it to do, but as soon as you find your positive mental attitude you manage to pull out all the stops to do better! 
 On our first day we met a man, i cant remember his name for the life of me, so lets call him Dave. We met Dave after about 15 miles leaving John O'Groats, he approached us with a huge bag on his back and walking sticks in his hands. He began to tell us he was on his own adventure walking from his hometown in Leeds, all the way up to John O'Groats, where he would go all the way down to Lands End and then back up to Leeds. He was doing this entirely alone for charity! What an amazing adventure to embark on, and what a huge task! But he was doing it, and even as i write this blog, sat at my kitchen table drinking a huge mug of Coffee, Dave is somewhere out there walking down to Lands End, he won't be home until late September, early October.
 We cycled about 96 miles on our first day, and oh my goodness did the last 10 miles drag. Especially when we were told we only had 11 miles left, and this turned into about 25!? It was one long winding road, where there were hardly any houses or towns. Wait there were no towns! The odd house would appear here and there making our hopes rise thinking "We're at Camp! Yes!" only to be shot down when we realised it wasnt a camp site. But eventually with one of our team mates being taken down by heat stroke all of us got to camp safe and sound. Rather sun burnt and very tired.

Day 2.. wait, ermmmm.. Okay Day 3, you're up!

I cannot for the life of me tell you about day 2.. erm.. damn.. you'll just have to make do with key things i remember.
 As we cycled through Scotland we slowly began to find civilisation, day by day we cycled through more towns, saw more people and were able to stop off at Coffee Shops. The views as we cycled through the Scottish highlands were amazing.
 We cycled the length of Loch Ness which was absolutely awesome! For someone who had never been to Scotland before, this was a bloody good way to go sight seeing. And as the days passed, the cycling became easier, yes we all had sore hands from holding the handlebars, and the back aches was out of this world. But it did get easier. We also cycled "under" Ben Nevis, looking up at its peak, I remember thinking how much the Scottish Mountains make the Mountains in Wales look like hills! They were huge, one of the campsites we stayed at, where we were all eaten alive by Midges, had a brilliant view of the Mountains.
The above photo was taken on Day 3, which was the day we cycled Loch Ness and visited a memorial at Fort William. While we were having a quick 5 minutes at this memorial a group of foreign tourists asked us to have a photo with them. Slightly surprised we stood with them amused and had a photo, making a quick exit after as they began to ask us lots of questions we couldn't quite understand!

The about photo was also taken from outside our campsite. Day 3 was also the day we had a manic walk to get to a Restaurant, we left the campsite at 8:50, they stopped serving at 9! But we made it! Not that the main chef was too happy about having to cook an extra 20 meals. But even so, we had our meal, we laughed, relaxed, and shared stories as one big group. And prepared ourselves for the next day.

Day 4

I remember Day 4 was quite a hard day to get up to, the keys to our trailer were missing for ages the previous night so none of us were asleep before 11, which wasn't too great! But hey ho, on with the next day.. The beginning of day 4 was a hill, not just a short sweet hill that you get up in 20 seconds. Oh no, dont be so silly!! This hill was 10 miles long. Yes that's right 10!!! Miles! Argh!!
 But Team Alpha stayed with one another and helped push eachother up the hill, at one point i remember we stopped to let the traffic go past and we could hear bag pipes that were being played at the bottom of the hill! It was brilliant, but we didnt stay to listen long, we were back on the bike pounding the tarmac. My legs burnt, my back ached and all the went through my head for the entire 10 miles were the lyrics to our daily song (I believe it was Fall Out Boy's My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark!) as well as "Left, Right, Left, Right." But soon we were done, the hill was complete and it meant we were out of the Scottish Highlands! They were done and dusted! One milestone down, our next target? The border of England!
 But first all we had on our minds was getting to camp, which we did, arriving in beautiful sunshine, where we lay in the sun chatting to one another, wandering where the other Team were. But soon our thoughts were filled up with "oh god its raining! hide! no wait pack the trailer!" a quick panic as the heavens opened and we rushed to get all the suitcases back on the trailer, 5 of us girls crammed into one tent, listening to music, chatting and waiting for the other team, and wandering how one of our fellow girls were doing.
 Soon the other team arrived, and the girls went to the rescue of our other, hugging her and helping her get through her "crap" day. And then it was chippy time! Yep, we had a meal the night before and now we were heading off into town to go order take away.. Hey! Don't look at me like that, we had cycled 300 odd miles in 4 days.. We earnt it! Annnnd it was totally worth it..

Day 5

Today it rained. A lot. Yeahhh, this is all i seem to remember about Day 5.. I remember it raining practically all day, we got drenched. But Team Alpha pushed through it, oddly staying in a highly positive mood, making eachother laugh and helping one another up the hills and keeping team morale high. And we just got on with it. We were tired but we just powered through it. And i believe we arrived at Mount View campsite.. hmm don't hold me to that! 

Day 6

Day 6 was our rest day!! Today was a lovely and welcoming 40 miles. And today was the day Team Alpha went out on the road without our leader. The route seemed to be just one long boring road, that seemed to go on forever and ever and ever. But Team Alpha blasted through it, closely followed by the other team! We got to camp at the lovely time of 1:15, with the other team arriving 15 minutes after us. The sun stayed out and this allowed us to get our clothes from the previous days rain dry and not damp. Also today was RESTOCK DAYYY!!! The day where we were taken to a super market and let loose, to restock on food and get much needed crisps and chocolate.. mmmmm..  Dinner tonight was hot dogs for me and one of the lads, he brought the hot dogs and i brought the rolls and red sauce.. And they were bloody gorgeous, filling as we had three each but so so so good. 

Today was also the day we visited Robert De Bruces cave, the very same cave he hid in for 3 months before going to war and beating the English.

 It was surprisingly small, literally just a small room, no tunnels or channels to other openings.. Nope none of that, just one small hole. And as a team we listened to the stories from our Team Leader, Ryan, and we took in the motivational words, as well as the realisation that this was our last adventure as one big team. Deep words, and deep thoughts. 

Day 7

Today was the second milestone for me. The border! And Team Alpha were cycling without Ryan again today, so we were using our own Navigation Skills and having to come even closer together as a team!

 Today we cycled the last stretch of Scotland and into England. We did the typical joke of jumping from Scotland to England.. And then got together for a team photo. It was such an awesome feeling knowing we were now in England, we were a week away from the finish line! And we had been cycling for a week already!

This day also turned into one of our longest days with lots of random things happening throughout the day. We ended up with one of Team Alpha breaking their pedal, which led to a long stop while it was fixed. We also lost a Team Member due to injury, which a 20 minute wait for the Mini Bus to come, resulted in over an hour. Which none of us realised because we fell asleep in the Sun for what felt like five minutes! 
 As we carried on cycling one of our Team Members then broke his bike, the rear mec completely broke and twisted into his back wheel, and the gear cable snapped. BUT he didnt fall off his bike, and he laughed it off brilliantly.. So again we were left having to wait for over an hour for the Mini Bus to come find us and give him a new bike.. 

Back on the road we tried picking up speed, it was beginning to get late and we needed to get to camp. But then the same person to break his bike, fell off the new bike hitting his head. None of us actually realised he had hurt himself as he got back on the bike insisting we carry on. So we did, and we sped through the last 10+ miles, keeping the pace high, and some of the team taking energy gels to push through the tiredness. Team Alpha cycled with the sun setting behind us, (made the view and the road so pretty!), and we rolled into camp laughing and smiling at 10pm, surprising everyone at camp who werent expecting us until gone 11! It was also back at camp we realised that our team member who fell and hit his head didnt actually remember how he got to camp, or the last 10+miles for that matter.
 This day was the day that i realised how lucky i was to be a part of this team, and how much i loved Team Alpha.

Day 8

Day 8.. This was the day Team Alpha didnt get back until late, and the lads from the other Team didnt get back until 1am ish i believe!
And i'm pretty sure this was the day we went through Bolton, probably the worst place we went through on the entire trip. However i got a bacon, egg and sausage sandwich for £2 which was pretty great.. But no we weren't impressed. Plus it was raining, alot!

 We were camping in a place near Frodsham i believe, or in Frodsham. Team Alpha didnt get back until late, but we had stopped off at a Co Op 5 miles before the campsite to buy some food, so i brought a pasta meal i could eat cold as i knew i wouldnt want to cook.
 Lying in bed on the night, i couldnt sleep knowing that the other team were still out on the road, so i ended up lying awake playing on my phone in silent mode. And eventually after what seemed like forever i heard the team arrive, getting out my tent i greeted them and the few of us that waited up and the lads from the other team crammed into the mini bus to listen to the days song. Which was All Summer Long by Kidrock. Once the song was done, i showed them where all there stuff was and after a while i crawled back into my tent to get some sleep in preparation for the next day..

Day 9

This was the day many of us were looking forward to, today was the day we were able to see our parents. Having been away from home for 11 days already i was beginning to miss my mother and father. And seeing them was the only thing that got me through this day. As this day was a day of pure pain and agony for me.

 We had lovely sunny weather which everyone was happy about, and the entire day was backwards and forwards with which team was in front. Sometimes it was Team Alpha, sometimes it was Team D.
 The route was meant to be smaller today, but it didnt seem this way at all. The minutes dragged, it seemed like we were getting nowhere, it was literally just a case of keep pedalling and focus on getting to camp and being taken for a pub meal.
 As we got halfway through the day, the sun was shining, it was great. Until i began to chafe, now we had all been told to use Chamois Cream to stop chafage. But did it work on this fine day? Ofcourse not. The burning was torture, every bump in the road sent a pain through my body, every time i got off the saddle i was holding my breath and biting my lips to stop any noise escaping. I cried alot this day, i refused to even consider getting on the bus despite the burning agony i couldnt do anything about, and by the time we were five miles from camp i was in pieces. The road was rubbish, my you know what was on fire, i wanted to die! All i could think about was getting to camp, and my team mates knew how much pain i was in. Thankfully they helped push me through it. Especially when we had about 2 miles up hill until we got to the campsite. I didnt care at this point, i didnt care about crying or whimpering everytime i got off the saddle. I hurt, i hated the bike, i hated the trip, i hated myself, and i was so scared i would end up missing out the next day because of it. So the last 2 miles i cried, sometimes quietly sometimes loudly, all the way to the campsite, two of the lads from our team, who ended up being my hill buddies, pushing me and helping me get to the top. No one commented on my crying or even attempted to comfort me. Reading this, you might find that harsh and mean, that they didnt comment. But the thing with Team Alpha is, we all know what works best, they knew if they commented on it or tried comforting me i would most likely break even more. I needed to be left alone in my bubble with just the words "Keep Going Shannon" being said. And I did it, i got to the camp with my team, still in burning agony and unable to walk normally. But we got to camp as a team, listened to the song and went off with our parents for a meal.

Seeing my parents at this point in the trip was perfect and just what i needed, i needed the chance to be all emotional without my team around me. I needed to see them and speak to them. I had a lovely Gammon Steak, with Egg, Pineapple, mushrooms and chips. And it was bloody delicious, and at 10pm they took me back to camp and wished me luck for the last leg of the trip.
 Of course i ended up crying, first to my friends mum, who set me off! And then to Ryan, our instructor... Yeahhh.. I cried alot that day.

Day 10

I've literally just remembered what happened on this day! This was the day we cycled through the Forest of Dean! I think!? The hills on this day were huge and tiring and one of the hills we encountered was ridiculously steep, but my hill buddies stayed by my side, pushing me up the hill, singing the daily song This Isn't Everything You Are by Snow Patrol, as well as talking to me in a Jamaican Accent as well as Australian. Seriously without these guys next to me there was no way in hell i would have been able to get up the hill on my own without stopping. But they pushed me, and i fought for every bloody inch of tarmac up that hill. I yelled, i growled and at one point when i nearly crashed i did scream. Oops. But we did it, we beat the hill.
 The realisation of how far i pushed myself became apparent when my blood sugars dropped and i was left a shaking state feeling completely disorientated. But Team Alpha stayed with me, feeding me ridiculous amounts of sweets and just being the awesomeness that is Team Alpha!
 We carried on cycling, the hills seeming much easier after the previous one, and we were closely followed by Team D throughout this day.
 And as we cycled up a mammoth hill to reach camp, we could hear the other Team behind us which only pushed us to go faster. But the hill went on for miles, it wasnt overly steep it was gradual, but enough of a gradient to make your legs burn after a while. But we gritted our teeth and got to the camp. About 5 minutes later the other team arrived and we all stood together and listened to the group song.
 Heading off to the showers, the heavens opened and the rain we had was ridiculous. It was so loud and heavy, and after we had all cooked our dinners, the heavens opened again causing the majority of us to squeeze onto the mini bus as we were greeted with thunder and lightning. Which was pretty ace as it was so close, but you cant help but get paranoid that you might get hit, especially as we were surrounded by bikes and metal poles in tents!
 Eventually it died down, and we headed off to bed. Not long until we reach Lands End!

Day 11

Today we crossed the Severn Bridge, we met up with the group halfway across the bridge to have group photos. 

It was a great feeling crossing the bridge because for me this was my third milestone. Our legs were pretty much used to the cycling at this point, and our team was like one family, watching out and caring for each other. So standing on Severn Bridge realising how far we had cycled, and how little we had left to go, we really began to realise just how quickly the trip was speeding along, and just how soon it would all be over. 

We cycled through Bristol on this day, and we did end up getting a little bit lost, but with the help of some locals and road signs we were soon on our way and heading to camp and found our way into Glastonbury!

I liked Glastonbury, you had the Tor, which i really wanted to climb up but we didnt have any time let alone the energy. But i liked the town and the locals seemed quite friendly.

On the night we gathered as a group, some people had gone to bed or were walking and talking on the phones to their parents but those that stayed sat in silence enjoying eachothers company. While two of our team played Guitar and i sang a few songs. Youre Not Alone by Avril Lavigne, The Way We Were by Carrie Fletcher, A Team by Ed Sheeran and Youll be in my Heart by Phil Collins were a few of the songs i sang that night. And soon it was time for bed, and for me and Charlie (the girl i shared a tent with) this meant sleeping on the Mini Bus.. Why? Because we simply could not be arsed to put a tent up at 11:30pm.

Day 12

This was the day we cycled through Exeter, and was also our first day riding in the dark (wasnt our last day either!)
 I'm not too sure what exactly happened on this day to make us fall so far behind time, all i remember is we seemed to have a lot of punctures on this day. And we did end up making a few wrong turns. One of these turns leading us up a steep hill that one of our team members fell down twice. Remember when i told you about one of the lads falling off their bike and hitting their head? Yep? Well it was the same guy, and I haven't laughed as hard as i did then, in ages! It was the funniest thing you could ever witness, and like a complete genius, he laughed it off more than we did. Thinking about it right now has got me chuckling to myself!

By the time we reached Exeter it was already dark, and we were all hungry and wanting to get to camp. When we were told that we could not have take away pizza we were.. well annoyed. That was until the mini bus drove off revealing a KFC restaurant sat opposite us. Looking at one another, we all knew what each of us was thinking. KFC for dinner, but of course we didn't want the other team to know, or our instructors to know. So we all promised not to snitch, and we ordered a KFC knowing fully well it would mean cycling to camp in the dark. But was the KFC worth it? Yes, oh yes!

So onto riding in the dark.. It is possibly one of the most bizarrest things to ever do, we found we completely forgot how to ride our bikes in straight lines. I and some others in the team had to really concentrate on keeping straight and not crashing into the person next to us. Which i did end up doing when i realised i was cycling next to a drop, yeah, i may have had a little panic..
 Team Alpha pulled together big time when we cycled in the dark, staying in a formation so those that didnt have a light could use someone elses light, and everyone stayed together and no one got left behind. Going downhill absolutely killed our hands as we all held onto our breaks for dear life simply because we could only see about a foot infront of us!
 But eventually the mini bus found us, and drove behind us giving us much needed light, all the way to camp, where the other team were not! They arrived about half hour after us, and were very smug about a chinese they all had. So we decided to spill our guts about our sneaky KFC dinner.
 Tired, and looking forward to our last full day of cycling we headed to bed, tension and nerves pretty high as we all focused on the finish line.

Day 13

Our last full day of cycling! And this turned into one of my favourite days.

But this was also our hardest day of cycling. We were all focused on the finish line, but we all needed to remember to not let it cloud our vision for our last day. We needed to take it all in, work as well in a team, and pull out all the stops because it was going to be hard.

My god were they right within 3 miles of leaving camp we were faced with a huge hill that had a 22% gradient slope. I switched into my easiest gears and headed up the hill, some of the lads zooming off ahead in what i think was a race. But as i climbed this hill the pedals became harder to turn, i was forcing all my weight down onto them, pushing as hard as i could, it was so difficult and seemed impossible. Losing my balance my feet hit the ground as i looked up at the hill, id made it about half way up the steep part and i was knackered! But after a few stop starts i got back on the bike and pushed a little bit further, my knees screaming in agony each turn sending a sharp pain up my legs. I knew if i pushed id end up hurting myself and wrecking my knees so after a few more attempts i admitted defeat and walked up the hill. And i tell you what, just walking was tiring enough, my legs burning, my body sweating. I pushed the bike and as the slope levelled out i got back on the bike and cycled to the lads who were waiting for us at the top. I was still happy with my attempt on the hill, even if i didnt cycle the entire length of it. I still pushed myself and i still cycled as much of it as i possibly could. 

My legs were aching and as i looked up through the rain all i could see was hills and more hills. We were in Dartmoor and the weather was atrocious, it was already 2pm and we hadnt even hit the 30 mile mark yet. We all knew today would be a very long day and we wouldnt be back until much later. Having already been delayed for over an hour waiting for a new wheel, we were behind time alot.
 The rain was so heavy it was painful and each push killed my legs, it was the closest id been to wanting to get on the mini bus, but i knew there was no way in hell my team would even let me consider it. So with the help of them, i pushed through the rain, had a very angry cry, and with their help got through Dartmoor, our spirits lifting when we looked left and could see the sea! We knew we were getting close!
 Stopping off in a small town it was about 4pm and we knew we had so much more to go, but we were cold and hungry so made the group decision of stopping at Spar getting something hot to eat and to drink before continuing with the rest of the day.
 Little did we know we would get absolutely lost. The hours passed and we continued to cycle, all of us sharing conversations on what we would do the following day, and who was coming to see us. But as the clock hit 9pm Team Alpha were completely lost, ridiculously tired and hungry and we were devestated to know we still had over 40 miles to go until we reached camp. But as we cycled along this country lane we came to a small opening in the hedge, and we could see the sun slowly disappearing, and together Team Alpha stopped in silence to watch the Sun disappear.

 Once it had gone we were back on the bikes knowing we had little time left until we would be cycling in the dark, but at this point we didnt mind, we were focused on getting to camp as a team and keeping positive. No matter how late we got in, we would still be crossing Lands End tomorrow.
As it hit 1am we were greeted by Tim (the other leader) who gave us the amazing treat of cheese covered Garlic Bread.. It was perfect!
The night was getting colder, but we had extra lights, and the extra push to keep going.

So when it hit 2am and Ryan found us in the mini bus and told us we had 18 miles to go, we were a little disheartened, but we were too tired to care. We stocked up on food, and Mars Bars, we had a moment to sort our heads out and i nicked our drivers hoody because i'd been stupid enough to let my spare layers get wet and cold. All of remaining Team Alpha (we lost two of our members due to injury in the morning) got on our bikes, looked at one another and set off to camp.

Hallucinations. We encountered many, one person was convinced there were ducks crossing the road, and that someone was cycling with his pillow, another was convinced there was a basketball being bounced next to him as he cycled, at one point we were all pretty sure it was raining, yet we were all bone dry like the ground was. And for me, well i can tell you i was sure a blonde woman was jogging backwards and forwards as we cycled, i also went through a stage just coming up to the campsite where i felt really drunk and giddy which did nearly knock me on my ass outside the tent!

The minutes went by, and Team Alpha were forcing our eyes open and forcing mars bars down our throats. I ate so many mars bars and cereal bars that night!
Team Alpha were tired and refusing to give up, we would get to camp no matter how much we wanted to give up. We constantly kept a conversation going, one of mine being a discussion on McDonalds Secret Sauce in their Big Mac burgers, which i had no idea even existed until this conversation!

The mini bus drove past and the words "7 miles" were shouted at us, gritting our teeth we carried on.
"5 miles! Keep going"

"3 miles"
"1 mile!"
At 3:48am Team Alpha, very tired, very exhausted arrived at Calamankey Farm Campsite. The stars shining brightly, a few shooting stars flashing across the sky. We had made it, 18 hours on the road and Team Alpha had arrived at camp as one team. It was such an amazing experience, not every day are you pushed to your limits and tested as much as were that night.
At any point in the night we could have gotten on that mini bus and gone to sleep straight away, but none of us did, we stayed out on the road in the freezing cold, focused on getting to camp and not giving up. And do you know what? I was still in a brilliant mood.

Day 14 

It was our last day. And after an hour and a halfs sleep, i really couldn't wait to get to Lands End. But at the same time i didnt want to go, i didnt want it to end!
The morning we were greeted with brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies, Team Alpha looked knackered some of us including me only having had over an hours sleep. But everyone was in high spirits.
To start off the day, we went off on a tour with the owner of the farm to do the morning feeding of his Llamas. It was a good start to the day.
Soon 18 of us, 20 including Tim and Ryan, were stood outside the mini bus getting together for the first installment of the end of trip song. I did a big job of fighting back the tears, as i looked around at my team mates. The song which was A Heavy Abacus by The Joy Formidable, was a good end of trip song. It fit the trip and the day perfectly. 

And then we were off, to cycle the last 30 miles of the trip. The pace was good, and we were racing against the clock a little having left late. But we kept going, pushing one another, and letting positive thoughts run through our minds.

Before we knew it we were back with Team D less than 5 miles before the finish line, and we were stood in a circle our arms around one another listening to the song as part of the trip for the last time before we were thrown out of our individual bubbles and into the crazy world our parents would yank us into as soon as we crossed the finish.
It was an emotional get together, many of us shedding a few tears as we listened to the song, or as we took five minutes alone in silence to absorb everything we had been through in this trip, and come to the realisation of just how soon it would all be over.
Both teams riding alongside one another, the 6 girls at the front we began the last 5 miles down to Lands End. None of us knowing how to feel, act or what to expect. As we got closer my heart began to race, nerves kicking in, i couldnt wait to see my family and cross the finish line, but i didnt want it to be over. I wasnt ready to say good bye to DofE and the trip.As we came around this corner we all looked up to mass of people surrounding Lands End, we could see it! It was so close! And there were so many people, loads of people! People driving past us in their cars bibbed and cheered us on, giving us all even more of a reason to smile. We were close. We were so close.

And as we entered the gates and did the last stretch to the finish line the crowd were going crazy, a few sobs escaped me simply because i was overwhelmed! But i pulled it together and we all stopped a foot before the finish line to stand as one big family, after a few words from Ryan we all took the steps together and crossed the finish line. It was done. It was over.
Seeing my Mom rushing towards me in the manic bustle of the crowds made me burst into tears as i realised it was over. Everyone around me full of happiness and tears, it was such an awesome atmosphere. Getting together for photos and hugging one another, full of joy. Families coming together to congratulate and hug everyone, i remember getting hugs off parents i'd never spoken to before this trip!
It was such a perfect way to cross the finish line, my parents and my nan and uncle hugging me, telling me how proud they were. And the weather was amazing!
 Me and my mom

After a few minutes where we could get drinks and food, i had a bottle of coke and the most amazing chocolate shortbreads ever! We headed round to the back of the Lands End building where we all signed the book which records everyone who has completed the cycle from John O Groats to Lands End. Ryan left a message with our quote of the trip "Stiffen the Sinews, Summon Up The Blood" and then all of us one by one wrote our names underneath.
We had cycled 1067 miles, and had done what people had told us would be impossible. A group of teenagers from Birmingham, cycled 1067 miles and completed John O'Groats to Lands End.
My amazing Duke of Edinburgh family had done it! 

Lands End

So the trip had finished, we were the second ever DofE group to cycle John O'Groats to Lands End. And after the craziness of being whisked off by my parents to have a meal and just enjoy their company we were back as a family, sat watching the stars listening to acoustic music off my Iphone.

The next day, we all slept in until half seven, all of us used to getting up and heading out on the bike. It was an odd feeling not doing that!
We all headed to the Cafe for breakfast, and i had an english breakfast and a mocha, we laughed and chatted about the trip and just about normal things.
 The afternoon saw us heading down to Lands End beach, we felt like we were in some tropical island beach. The ocean was so blue and the beach was perfect, we stayed for a few hours paddling in the sea, playing frisbee and burying 5 of the lads up to their necks. 

The evening saw us heading to our End to End meal. Everyone able to dress up smart and do there hair and makeup. It was a nice opportunity to just feel nice again, and the food was delicious. 

After the meal we went onto a garden thing round the back of the cafe, where we put benches together and we had a meeting. We reflected on the trip, chatted about the future, chatted about home life and how we couldnt let ourselves fall back into the pattern of doing nothing but watching TV. We were all set the challenge to sign up to something once home, whether it be a half marathon or another cycling event for example. We were also given a gift, every single one of us. A book from Ryan and Tim with a personal message written in the back for our eyes only, we could share it with others if we chose to, but i dont think anyone did. 
 It was an emotional night, as some of us were left thinking what on earth would we do next, others didnt want to say good bye the following night. So as we sat at Lands End watching the sun disappear and soon watching the stars shine in the sky, we all took in the journey. I chose to sit alone for most of it, not because i didnt want to sit with everyone, but so i could absorb everything, i was emotional, as the trip had become a huge part of me, and helped me find the real me properly. I really didn't want it be over. 
We sat under the stars back at camp, and quite a few people fell asleep under them, waking up in the morning it was time to pack up and go. Some of the lads had slept outside all night, and were woken up to a bright sunny morning.

As our DofE family we said good bye to some people at Lands End who chose to stay with family, and we began the long journey back to Birmingham. 

Once back, we gathered in the car park of Colmers and had a final chat, basically rounding up any loose ends and then it was time for Good Byes. Hugging and saying good bye to my team mates, i got into my grandads car and headed home. The adventure being brought to life again as i told my Grandad all about it.


And so it is the end of this blog. This very very long blog detailing everything i can possibly remember from the trip. 

It was an amazing journey that i will hold close to me forever, i will never forget how hard this trip pushed me, how much it made me and my team mates realise what we were capable of. And i will never forget the people i shared this amazing trip with. Team Alpha you guys will forever mean the world to me, and Team D you guys will never be forgotten either for being the awesomeness that is Team D!
And Ryan and Tim, thank you so much for this amaaaaazing oppurtunity and being such an awesome part of this trip!

This isnt the end of the adventure though, this is just the first step. Whats next for me? I'm training for half marathons, wolf runs, triathlons as well as rock climbing courses and my ML in March. 

A huge thank you if you made it that far through my blog, and thank you for your support and sharing in the adventure through my words and pictures.

 Until next time!
Shannon x

At the finish line with Ryan and Tim, no idea where
I would be without these guys.