In this guest blog Kim Mangelshot tells us why she undertook the Outlaw Triathlon for MS-UK...
As I walked around the village with a friend, our doggies, and my hubby today I noticed a gorgeous blue sky. Two years ago, on the 17 March, we all said our formal farewells to Jeff, my brother – the bloke that added some ‘glue’ to our little family unit. Jeff would wake up every day and no matter what card was dealt to him he would see the blue skies and now his soul soars in the blue skies every day. Free as a bird; caught on the warm air that circulates above us; sending smiles into our hearts when we remember his ‘Jefferisms’, a phrase I coined on his send off and day of remembrance.
Jeff had multiple sclerosis – MS. Jeff was diagnosed in 1996, aged 24 and at the time his symptoms were fairly mild: fatigue, he dragged a leg, fell over occasionally. By the time his time to soar in the sky came he had changed his view on what was acceptable living standards, almost every day. Jeff could barely speak in the last year – the muscles allowing him to control his speech were weak. He had a peg feeding tube for all nutrition: he still loved to smell foods and drinks and it may seem as if he was being taunted but he would insist on sniffing a cup of coffee when we went out. He could not move by himself or do any of the normal functions that we take for granted. But every day he woke up and with the support of his amazing care team, he lived every day to end. A simple trip to the shops, a medical appointment, a day at the seaside watching others eat ice cream and fish n chips, his pop concert trips – all made him smile. His catch phrase became ‘whatever’ and he mouthed that with a cheeky smile right to the end.
What you may not know is that our Mum also had multiple sclerosis. She had a very different journey with her disease, via a condition called Arachnoiditis also she had breast cancer in the mid 80’s and was finally diagnosed with MS in 1993, age 53. She was told she had probably had it for 30 years. She fought to live every day – her pleasures were knitting, making pickled onions, keeping company with her pet dogs. She died in 2000, aged 60 from bronchial pneumonia associated with MS.
On the 23 July I participated in my second long distance triathlon – the Outlaw: a 3.8km lake swim: 180km road bike ride and 42km run – all back to back after 22 weeks of training. I hadn’t planned to set such a big goal this year as I have had 18 months where I have run very little due to a serious knee injury. I had surgery mid-December to sort out the four things inside and started rehabilitation. Then I won the space from a sponsor and the rest, as they say, is history.
This journey to Outlaw I decided to dedicate to all those living with and affected by MS. Everyone involved in the journey of MS – whether you are the patient, a family member, friend, or support network, medical teams, advise support teams – you make days easier for all. I want to honour them all by raising a little bit of money towards MS-UK who have supported our family – and families just like us. I completed the Outlaw in a new personal best time of 13 hours 19 minutes and 50 seconds.