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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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,
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.