The last week of the programme was also Christmas week! Christmas is a time when we need to stop thinking about ourselves and our own agendas and think about the important people in our lives; whether that be family, friends, co-workers or even the people we have lost. It can also be a very lonely time for some, the people without family, without friends, without a home or a bed on Christmas. I am very fortunate to have a nice home and a loving family, I appreciate this every day. However, it hasn’t always been this way. I have had more than my fair share of lonely, painful Christmases, feeling like I do not belong or fit in. What has always got me through, whether Christmas or just a normal day; has always been my faith in life and knowing no matter how bad my life felt at the time, someone somewhere had it worse. My Christmas message I guess is don’t look at what others may have, stop and look around you and appreciate what you have got.
Day 78 – Monday 24th December 2018
I have always enjoyed Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is exciting, everyone is usually that little bit kinder, more caring and compassionate. I used to work in a department store in the electrical department and hands down it was the best job I have ever had. The staff in that department was like a little family; that also includes Jackie and Zoe from the cook shop. Christmas time was a special time there. The atmosphere was different, people were happier and we played games (well, me and Jill would play games whether it was Christmas, New Year or just a regular Tuesday). If any of my former colleagues from those days are reading this; thank you for some good memories, Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year.
Even though it was Christmas Eve I still put the work in and did both the push and pull workouts so I could have a guilt free day of not exercising on Christmas Day. Laura was working until early afternoon, so it was just me and my girlies. We had lots of fun playing, dancing to Christmas songs and just having a wonderful Christmas time (thank you Sir Paul McCartney). The postman delivered me what I had been excitedly waiting for since August; my parcel from America. Well it was a card saying the parcel was at my local sorting office awaiting import duty to be paid; but it was still exciting. After confirming the sorting office would be open, I quickly (but efficiently) bundled the girls into the car and off we went. When we got there, there was only one lady in front of me (Christmas miracle maybe?) and what a delightful lady she was; shouting at the postal worker whilst Brooke-Haze asked “why is that lady shouting?” Fair question; she was shouting because she messed up and didn’t want to accept it was her own stupid fault. After the shouty lady left, I was able to get my long-awaited parcel, yay!
We went home, parcel in hand (Brooke-Haze’s hand) and got back to the Christmas fun. Laura arrived home and we went out for tea. I think it was the start of a new family tradition, going out for a nice meal every Christmas Eve. When we got in, we presented the girls with their Christmas Eve box which consisted of a book each, chocolate, a board game and matching Christmas pyjamas. Also, the elf had left behind a special plate for the reindeer’s carrots and Santa’s drink, and a magical key so Santa can get in as we don’t have a chimney.
We finally got both girls in bed and asleep; time for the elf to build their doll house for Christmas. I am sure the elf was excited to build it this late on Christmas Eve.
Day 79 – Tuesday 25th December 2018
IT’S CHRISTMAS!!! Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all you lovely people. I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with love, laughter and Christmas cheer. My day was tiring but so very special. Just as I was snuggling down to get some shut eye, I heard the pitter patter of tiny feet approaching my door. Brooke-Haze had woken up, at 12.30am!! She saw Santa had left a few little presents in her stocking. Santa probably knew Christmas day was going to be busy and wanted to get to sleep as early as possible so he could enjoy his day. I went and lay with her until she finally fell asleep around 1.20am. I couldn’t sleep so I went to check on her at 2.00am and she was sat upright in her bed wide awake. I was tired and feeling ill, so I woke Laura up and told her what was going on and Laura went to lay with her. The difference is Laura will easily sleep in Brooke’s bed whereas I can’t. Laura came back into our bed at 3.30am and we didn’t hear from Brooke-Haze until 6.50am. So all that equates to a very tired but joyful Dave.
We had to wake Ember up in the end because Brooke-Haze was fixing to burst with excitement to go check to see what was under the tree. But first they sat on our bed and opened their stocking presents. It was so heart-warming watching their excited little faces while opening their gifts. After all gifts were opened, looked at and appreciated we went downstairs. Now, nothing will beat the reaction from Brooke-Haze two years ago when we stayed at my Nans for Christmas. We walked down the stairs and she saw the carrot had been eaten, the drink had been drunk and her reaction of “oh wow” was pure magic. Even as I recall that moment now, my heart still warms and my eyes begin to well up. As the girls entered the living room, they saw they had been blessed with many presents and Santa had also left them a note. After a crazy morning of unwrapping we all had breakfast together. After unboxing many toys/games for the girls, we started to get ready to go see my Nan, auntie and cousin.
We arrived after midday and it was nice to see everyone. The food was good and the girls got to open some more presents. My brother, sister in law and nephew Freddie arrived around 2.30ish. We all said hello then it was time to all sit and watch Nan (the Queen) on TV for her Christmas speech. It is family tradition to sit and watch it and try to keep quiet while Nan listens to her favourite member of the royal family. I am not a huge drinker; being the son of alcoholics, I don’t like to drink in front of my girls. Also, I don’t like the idea of being unable to drive in case of an emergency. However, my hunky uncle Tony does buy top quality whisky and I did have the tiniest of sips of one of his Christmas tipples to see if there was any difference between that and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Quite simply; yes there is. After a few inappropriate versions of Brooke-Haze’s new game “Think Words” with Mark, we went back home so the girls could have a bit more time playing with their new things and have a snacky tea.
I like to watch Gremlins on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day but this year it didn’t happen. Laura always says she will watch it with me but she either falls asleep during or doesn’t even try to make it through. Overall, it was a nice day and it is always invigorating seeing the girls so happy and showered with love. I ended the day exhausted and full of food.
Day 80 – Wednesday 26th December 2018
Boxing Day is my oldest brother Neil’s birthday. Even though our relationship is not what it once was, if he does read this (I don’t think he does) happy birthday. This year was the first time we didn’t have to go out on Boxing Day as Craig, Laura’s brother, his wife Kat and their little boy Gary came round for a second round of Christmas celebrations. Usually we go to see Neil on his birthday, but Laura doesn’t get to see Craig as much as she would like because life gets in the way, so it was nice to have a day with them. On previous Christmas days we would go to my Nans for Christmas dinner; then go home and Jeanette (Laura’s Mum) and Craig would come round for party food and games; usually Monopoly. One year we played Catchphrase (one of my favourite gameshows of all time) and I thought I was the king of this game, but Jeanette was like a Catchphrase ninja and wiped the floor with me.
We had a lovely second Christmas dinner. The Rimington’s cooked the turkey and brought it with them and I slaved away (I didn’t really, Laura did but it is my blog so I can write what I like) in the kitchen cooking the vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, desserts and extra roast potatoes because Craig is like a terminator with them; he won’t stop, he will just keep coming for more. It was a delicious meal followed with a delightful trifle (see what I did there, it rhymed) and then a cup of tea to finish it off.
We sat and watched TV, relaxing and just having a chilled afternoon. It was a nice day, although Craig and Kat bless them were looking a little tired. Their Christmas Day night was like our Christmas Eve night with very little sleep. We played a few games and the girls enjoyed having their little cousin round.
Day 81 – Thursday 27th December 2018
Thursday was a recuperation day for the mind as well as the body. Both have taken a huge hit over the last few days. The girls got to indulge with their new toys and games and I got to indulge by catching up with the laundry, flattening boxes and a sneaky five minutes of lying on the sofa.
I did my stretch exercises as my body really needed it after all the excitement.
Day 82 – Friday 28th December 2018
Ember got a game off my Nan, which we finally opened, called Giggle Wiggle!!! Ember goes crazy for it; she loves that giggling wiggling worm/caterpillar (I am not too sure what it is). The game is this unknown creature stood up tall with white gloves on each hand/foot and you have to get all your balls (keep it clean, it is a kid’s game) in its hands/feet before the other players do. I was surprised and impressed with how well Ember played this game. She has got good hand eye co-ordination and for someone who can be a destructive little force she can be really delicate when she wants to be.
I felt happier today than yesterday as I felt so unproductive and a little useless because of how little I did with the girls. I did my balance workout but have been staying away from the core and leg workouts. I wanted to finish strong but with the pains and spasms I have been feeling I am not pushing myself beyond my limits.
Day 83 – Saturday 29th December 2018
Saturday was a very special day as it was the first birthday of our nephews Freddie and Gary; happy birthday boys!!!! It is tricky having two nephews being born on the same day as we obviously want to see both boys on their special day. I obviously want to be there for Mark and Freddie, especially as I don’t see as much of Mark as I would like. We both have responsibilities now and both have been feeling broken this year; so it is difficult finding the time and energy to get together. Laura wants to do the same for Craig.
Being the genius that I am, I had the great idea of taking the girls down to Mark’s house early before the party started to get extra time with them all and spend more quality time with the birthday boy before all the craziness started. I was feeling anxious about how many people were going to be there, partly because of the numbers, but also because I don’t know them. I was anxious of the burning question that everybody asks “so, what do you do?” Which even though it shouldn’t, it does bother me and then there’s the general anxiousness about looking an idiot. I took the girls down early and they got to have lunch with Freddie and I got to spend some quiet time with Mark and Jenni. I played with Freddie who is a very smiley cheeky boy, well with me he’s smiley; clearly I am his favourite uncle. People started to arrive, and I was worried about nothing. Everyone was polite, and no-one asked the question I was fretting about which shows how much of my anxiety comes from my own thoughts.
Laura arrived in time for some cake and blessed the room with her cockney London (not cockney) singing voice (also not a blessing). It was time for Freddie’s nap and people were starting to leave. I was feeling really conflicted in myself with what to do. Stay longer or race to Craig and Kats with Laura and the girls. I wanted to stay for a bit longer because I was having a really nice time but I also wanted to go with Laura as I knew how important it was for her to be there for her brother to try and make up for the loss of their mum. That is something I can relate to and I wanted to support her. It was also extremely windy and I was concerned with Laura driving back at night. I am notorious for not going to “family” gatherings involving Laura’s side of the family. This is a reputation I am slowly trying to change (Laura went to her cousins wedding earlier this year without me as I stayed home to look after a poorly Ember. Everyone was so concerned with condescendingly asking where I was, they did not realise Ember wasn’t there). In the end, after constantly battling in my mind (whilst sneakily stealing the meatballs off the meatball pizza) I decided to go with Laura and the girls.
We drove on Lincolnshire’s most boring road all the way to Spalding. Unfortunately, Gary was poorly on his birthday, but he still enjoyed watching his Daddy and Grandad play with his new remote-controlled toy. I was really hurting at this point and took some ibuprofen with a nice cup of tea. The girls enjoyed playing with all of Gary’s things; Ember is sometimes not the best sharer (except with Brooke-Haze) and took a toy or two off Gary; sorry Kat.
It was a full-on but lovely day. As you can imagine; I didn’t do a workout today. Happy birthday Freddie and Gary we love you and are glad you both had a fantastic first birthday.
Day 84 – Sunday 30th December 2018
I was left all alone with the two little monsters, and after such a busy day yesterday I knew it was going to be hard work. Laura was at work so I let the girls wake up slowly; by that I mean let me wake up slowly by letting them play in Brooke-Haze’s room. Brooke-Haze is such a good big sister. We did a few bits of playing but it was very much a lazy Sunday with films, snacks and lots of cuddles. Who doesn’t want that?
After Laura came home we went on a little walk to let Brooke-Haze ride her bike and Ember ride her scooter. A painful but nice family day.
I have now officially completed the MS Warrior Programme, thus making me a fully-fledged MS Warrior against evil Emperor Zurg… no that is Buzz Lightyear. It may take our lives but not our freedom!! Wait no, that’s Braveheart, you get the gist. All jokes aside, taking the step to sign up and agree to do this programme has probably been the most positive step I have ever taken in my journey with MS. For years I neglected my body, poisoned it with junk food and substances which we won’t name and neglected my attitude towards it. This programme not only introduced exercises which have become a part of my daily routine to help with mobility and strength; it also educated and motivated me. The daily emails I received were full of information on nutrition, mindset, warning signs and more. I have genuinely enjoyed my daily emails as they were a constant reminder of what I was aiming to achieve and it was an electronic kick up the backside when I was falling behind. The thing that makes this programme that Dom offers so great is Dom himself. His passion for helping others is sincere and genuine. This really comes across when you speak to him and if you take the time to read his own story. I admit sticking to the diet has been the most difficult part for me, partly because I love food and because not all members of my household were on the programme; which is one of the challenges Dom mentions that can make implementing the changes more difficult. I have also struggled with my own fear of breaking myself. By this I mean I put a lot of pressure on myself to ensure my MS does not get in the way of Brooke-Haze’s and Ember’s childhood as much as possible. So when it came to the leg exercises (especially as it has gotten colder) I have been wary of completing them or even attempting them at all. This was out of fear of how my body would be affected afterwards and the impact it would have on my ability to perform my daily Dad duties. Anyone who has MS and like me, is not experienced in the world of fitness and finds all the information out there a little overwhelming; I highly recommend giving this programme a go.