Onwards, albeit allergically

Thanks to local sponsor Sturgess Suzuki for these smart wheels

Thanks to local sponsor Sturgess Suzuki for these smart wheels

My sign off with my last blog was that I was going to get healthy again. After four nights in hospital (during which antibiotics not only stamped on the pneumonia but I also adopted a wonderful 93 year old called Peggy as my new grandmother)  I was allowed out and home. Home. Home! How exciting after half a year away.

Outen vs. Outen

Sadly, my immune system had other ideas and I had a severe allergic reaction to the family dogs on that first night back. The whole not-breathing thing is really not cool. I appreciate now the fear that asthmatics have at not getting air in and out.  A massive hooray for my very brilliant GP at this point for taking such good care of me and Mum and Luce and Jan  too. I decamped to a dear friend’s dog-free house to let the steroids and anithistamines do the work and my face and lungs return to something more like a normal Outen, before focussing on sleep, rest, friends and family these last few weeks. It has all been brilliant but for the fact that my immune system continues to rebel and I still cannot be at home on account of the  dogs. We are still working on coming down off the drugs so that we can see what my body is capable of coping with on its own. For now, I am still rather allergic, challenging my eyes, skin and lungs way more than normal.

Usually when I come back  home from an expedition or move from one phase to another, it is the psychological and emotional challenges which are greatest. This time my head feels as happy and calm as ever – it is just my body going a bit nuts.  I have the genetics for autoimmune conditions – underactive thyroid, eczema, alopecia – but this is the most challenging of all thus far. A real Outen vs. Outen battle. Given the lasting nature of it and the severity of it, I reckon this might be a pattern of things to come for the future, a notion which makes me a bit teary. Dogs have always been a part of my life.

Very very happy to be back with Lucy

Very very happy to be back with Lucy


Of course I didn’t make training with paddling team mate  Justine this month, and of course that doesn’t matter at all. We have busied ourselves with excited chat and wide-eyed wonder at the Aleutians paddle next year. I am looking forward to visiting Justine next week to pore over maps, make lists and plans and try out some new boats. My lovely boat sponsors Rockpool Kayaks  will be making me a 3-piece kayak for the expedition next year, making it easier to transport than Nelson. We are also going to rig and learn about kayak-sails, to help us across the big passes. With changeable weather, some chunky distances and feisty currents, we need to be able to harness all the power we can get if we are to make it safely. It is going to be an awesome leg of the journey.

Justine and I paddling in Russia 2011


More on all this another time. For now, know that I am still alive if not rather allergic, grateful for everyone’s lovely Get Well messages and cards and, with my business hat on,  on the hunt for speaking gigs. We will post details of public talks between now and April, and meanwhile I am keen to fill my diary with gigs to pay for the next part of the journey. Contact events@sarahouten.com for more information on getting me in to speak to your business, school or organization.

Finally, thanks everyone for the L2L charities donations.  If you would like to add your pennies or pounds to the role call then please do so here.

All very best,

Sarah x

P.S An update on Happy Socks. Thanks to Coastal Transportation she is now in Seattle, having been ‘barged’ down the coast from Adak. She is awaiting containering and a passage home to the UK for a refit.

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19 Responses to Onwards, albeit allergically

  1. Lisa Schell says:

    You are an absolute inspiration and treasure, Sarah Outen! Get well soon, stay strong and keep up the awesome work.


  2. Karel says:

    keep getting well

  3. Helen Outen says:

    Sooooo lovely to have you back “at home” even if you do have to sleep elsewhere. It was lovely to go for a walk with you and the dogs this afternoon. I have told them that you still love them, even if you can’t be with them as much as you’d like to……..and especially lovely to have you around to share in my birthday too!!!
    Carry on getting well!!!!

  4. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Hi Sarah and of course your lovely Mum too,

    Been away for a couple of weeks and the links did not allow me to keep in touch. Sorry to hear of your problems and more so your beloved dogs but lets hope that in due course things will settle themsleves down and you won’t get too many problems in the future.

    We are just so glad that you were able to share in with your Mum’s special birthday, Hope you had a wonderful day.

    Just concentrate on getting better and back to good health.

    Much love and a big hug to you all

    C & K

  5. christina watts says:

    Thinking of you lots, just enjoy the time now with Lucy, family and friends … and take one day at a time.
    Big hugs

  6. Gigi says:

    So happy to hear that you’re more able to relish being HOME now…please continue on the path to full wellness!

    Hopefully, once all is said and done, the auto-immune issue will resolve either on its own or with the assistance of medical intervention and you can once again enjoy the company of your beloved pups! I can’t imagine life without mine!

  7. Gigi says:

    So happy to hear that you’re more able to relish being HOME now…please continue on the path to full wellness!

    Hopefully, once all is said and done, the auto-immune issue will resolve either on its own or with the assistance of medical intervention and you can once again enjoy the company of your beloved pups! I can’t imagine life without mine!

    Interesting reading about the new kayak design and the challenges you will face on this next leg of the adventure! Oh the photos we have to look forward to!! 🙂

    ~Gigi in Virginia Beach

  8. jill ohalloran says:

    Dear Sarah,
    you might want to check out Kinesiology. It has helped the ‘unhelpables’….. A lady here in Perth has helped all sorts of people who otherwise couldn’t get help for one ‘incurable’ dis-ease or another… including my husband! I won’t say too much just have a read. She also combines it with Neuro-balance treatment…. so maybe look this up too. HOpe you find some answers!
    kind regards and all the best

  9. June Bibby says:

    Dear Sarah, It must be great to be back on ‘terra-firma’ but I am so sorry to hear of your problems.
    It can’t be very pleasant! Your body is probably crying out for a rest. Do take care my dear.
    God bless you.
    June x

  10. Wonderful that you are home and safe Sarah. As I say to myself quite often when arthritis is aching or I don’t feel in top form, ‘At least I got up this morning and I am on this side of the turf!” You are young, resilient and positive so I am sure, with the help of your team you will be back to normal very soon.
    Nothing is etched in stone, do what you can and ‘live’ life happily and successfully.

    Pamela Cherry – ‘Cheekiweeki’

  11. Tim says:

    Hope you get your body back to normal soon. The dogs will surely be missing you. Sounds like your going to be busy ! Good luck on your speaking engagements.

    from the shores of Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada

  12. Outen vs. Outen – now that’s what I call a real combat! I get asthmatic with cats so I can sympathise. As a confirmed dog lover I feel for you having to be away from them. Maybe a doodle dog would work (eg labradoodle, golden doodle) – as they dont shed hair? Just a thought.
    Hope to see you up north at a speaking gig. RSGS maybe…?

  13. Bruce says:

    Thanks for the update, Sarah. Hope you’re feeling better soon and can give the poochies a big scruffy hug. Onward. Bruce

  14. Jack says:

    “The Boat That I Row…” http://youtu.be/E5usk2yrw0E

  15. Ray Girard says:

    So very good to hear from you. Having a bad allergy is nothing to sneeze at, as it is an indication of something else acting up. Enjoy your joy, and everything else will come together.
    Even though you aren’t doing anything (haha) right now, we are all still following you.

    Love and breath,


  16. Margaret Ponsonby says:

    I hope your recovery continues. The kayak crossing will be a piece of cake compared to the rowing legs but still needing strength and endurance. And lots of chocolate. Get fit soon and have fun with the kayak sail practice. Flat Earth ones look good. Have seen them fitted to kayaks and the users love them for energy saving downwind.

    • Sarah says:

      Definitely not a piece of cake up North! It’s going to be immensely challenging. Immensely beautiful and rewarding too. But Justine (aka. The Machine) describes it as the most challenging paddling she will have ever done. Gulp!

  17. jill lewis says:

    Thats terrible. I would die if i couldnt cuddle my poodles.
    I was going to email you that if you seriously think the worst as you mention, then you must look into poodles or labradoodles, and I see that James Ogilvie suggests the same.
    I have had poodles for 50 years. They are referred to by my friends as “country poodles” like their owner.
    Before the poodles i had “bitzers”.
    You probably would have met my 2 when we were loading boats at RPYC Fremantle, you for Mauritius and us for Rottnest. I had then a silver called Paddington and a black called Matilda, who I still have,aka Tilly.
    Get well,
    Jill and Stan.

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