Jussie sails with Clipper 11-12

Jussie sails with Clipper 11-12
I sailed the last leg (8) in 2012 - USA,Nova Scotia,Ireland,Netherlands & UK. Travelling 4,000 miles, approx 22 days at sea, with 4 races in this leg.

Monday, 30 December 2013


And so 2013 is almost over, so I decided to reflect on my year - hence the title Reflections. It's been a roller coaster full of life in the fast lane and trying to keep well.

A year at Essex Boot Camp, and taking on many outdoor activity challenges/days out (all to which I have previous journalled about).

I have just recently over the last month started to train in running, towards my first ever half marathon in March next year. I had a breakthrough too and achieving a mile continuous in 17 minutes - it's only taken me 18.5 years to do this. This is broken down by 10 years ill on/off, 1.5 years waiting for my transplant, and 7 years post transplant building on my fitness, ongoing health issues. Running is always something I have struggled with - with my breathing. But, I am very positive and determined, and never stop trying to pursue.

Also, this year saw me return home from Durban in South Africa, from the World Transplant Games with two bronze medals.

photo taken by Chris Rushton Essex Chronicle photographer
My goals for 2014 have already been typed up in my last blog entry - so if you fancy seeing what mischief/challenges I have set myself for next year, please do. But, no doubt this list will grow, and it has since I last wrote up this journal.

Thoughts go out to my friends who have gained their angels wings, especially to an amazing lady called, Nicola who inspired me. Nicola was 24 years post double lung and heart transplant. Below is a photo of us taken way back in 2009 at one of Harefield Hospital's fun raiser days. I have many pics, but decided to use this one.
Nicola was a great help to me when I had my own struggles post transplant, as it isn't a cure and there are/can be many other medical/emotional/mental issues to deal with after surgery. I had someone to talk too who understood my complications. It was a very sad day to hear of Nicola's passing recently, and it was also a great loss to the transplant community.

Transplantation isn't a cure, but, it extends life and one that I especially do not take for granted and every day/breath I wake up to, is a bonus. I have lost many friends whose journey has ended, but, it's a lesson I say time and time again.... we all should live life for today and don't wait 5 years to do something. If you have a dream/goal/something to aspire too - try and reach out as soon as you can/feasible. Who knows what is a round the corner for any of us!

It is amazing that on July 9th 2014, I will be reaching my 8th year post double lung transplant!! Not long to go and I have a hospital check up in March ('14) aslong as all stays well prior to that.

It is almost bitter sweet, when one person looses their battle and another person lives on through consenting to be on the Organ Donor Register. But,  when your body is at rest - you do not need your organs in heaven. They can save a life, like it did mine. If you still haven't become a donor please open this link How to become an Organ Donor

Some facts on Organ Donation (taken from NHS Organ Donation website)
  • You are more likely to need a transplant than become a donor.
  • A donor can donate a heart, lungs, two kidneys, pancreas, liver and small bowel and can restore the sight of two people by donating their corneas.
  • Donors can also give bone and tissue such as skin, heart valves and tendons. Skin grafts have helped people with severe burns and bone is used in orthopaedic surgery.
  • The age of people who have donated organs after their death has changed in the past decade with more aged over 50 and fewer younger donors. Older donors are less likely to be able to donate as many of their organs as younger people, as some organs may become less suitable for transplantation as people age. But organs from people in their 70s and 80s can be transplanted successfully.
So, taking that all into account - please also express your wishes to your next of kin too, so they are aware of this. Many thanks. Ok ok no more on this passionate subject deep rooted to me.

Now......massive gratitude to all and everyone - my parents, family, friends who have continued to support me.  Lots of love to my Mum and Dad, always there for me and extremely supportive.

To all at EBC, and the directors James and Glynn who have encouraged/helped me along with all the other instructors to grow and build confidence in my fitness abilities. Below, I am being awarded by James and Glynn, Most Inspirational Member (2013). Please also check their website if you live in Essex or fancy getting your corporate firm involved, and see what other services are on offer with EBC  Essex Boot Camp's Website

It has been life changing for me in many ways, and not just helping me in my health but making so many wonderful friends and EBC is like a family :)

James and Glynn EBC Directors
Christmas Party EBC
Below now are also some of my favourite photos over the year. I have perhaps hundreds and hundreds (thousands...lol) ..so, I have tried to put some here to depict highlights for me in 2013.

Family shot my Birthday (February)

National Lottery Run:Catherine,Jo,Maureen,Lara

National Lottery 5mile Run

Having fun on my Birthday

Celebrating 7years post transplant!


Natalie,Mark and I

Lactic Rush with EBC

Pre-World Transplant Games promo photo

Teletubby fun Eating Clean regime with Tracey,Jade,Janine


EBC sponsors at World Transplant Games,South Africa

Capturing my moment in Durban,South Africa

Collage of outdoor & EBC photos

Promoting the cause ;)
Well, there we have it. Is this perhaps my shortest write up, with the biggest amount of going on's for 2013!? If you do prefer to read more about my year in details - then best to get a big cuppa tea/wine and a few yummy biscuits and sit back and scroll backwards to read all about it!

I wish everyone a great New Year's Eve, and a beautiful year ahead as we all approach 2014. May it bring everything and more and good health. May my friends still waiting for transplants, wait not much longer, and those poorly to get better soon.

Enjoy your life, be grateful, and live your life!! Oh and my book is still in progress - I will get there, just it's very painful re-living experiences and writing about them. I hope to either finish my book next year or get a large chunk of it finished. If anyone knows of a publisher too - please let me know. Many thanks.

Lotsa Love to you all xxxx

Always Smiling and Always Will

Red :) x

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A Year at EBC

The New Me....
A year at EBC, same clothes - different shape ME
 It has been a hard year grafting with the exercise and pursuing the fitness regime and learning through Essex Boot Camp about a new way of eating called, Paleo. My weight remains the same but my body shape has become more defined.There have been many highs and some lows (when health blips) but overall it has been a great success with amazing results. Enjoy this journal and thanks as always to all at EBC.
In the photo above it was from November 2012 when I had tea with Samantha Cameron at No:10, Downing Street, the day I became Top 5 Inspirational Woman (Daily Mail) a very humbling day/experience. 

October 2012
So, how did it all begin? I guess I was part of the...Oh I can't do bootcamp that looks too tough and how does anyone do that? Fear and angst how I would ever be able to keep up and put my body through this type of fitness. My friend Mark (Ahlin), who most people know always used to talk about EBC. Mark used to say I should try this...no...nope, never, not for me was my normal response......then the Groupon offer came out and also the opportunity to have a free trial first session. So, I thought why not try a free session and see.

My first night, the instructor, Gabs (Gabriel) had the misfortune of helping me. I could barely do anything - my puff/lungs so bad and barely able to run around a small car park. Oh, how things have changed over the year. I actually enjoyed it and decided to go for the 10 sessions and then see how I felt about continuing. I arranged a visit to meet the directors, Glynn and James and explain my health situation. As no one would know to look at me I have had a double lung transplant and can struggle with shortness of breath. It was the reassurance I needed and then the rest is history as they say.

I was a quiet and shy person at the sessions - yer right!! Soon after much banter and my character was born as Fraggle aka RED, which I am nicknamed today. Or, Laymond (from James (director)- when in trouble) and JJ from Gabs.

Before the year was over, I was being tested to see if I had a brain tumour and to my relief got the all clear. Lymphangioleiomyomatosis LAM disease which brought about my need for lungs (a rare circulatory condition affecting mainly the lungs, kidneys and in some cases the brain). To say I was overjoyed - most definitely YES!! Ok, so now I am living with a secondary lung condition called, Obliterative Bronchiolitis (which is a progressive lung disease in which the small airways are compressed and narrowed by fibrosis (scar tissue) characterized by fixed airway obstruction, resulting in shortness of breath. However, I remain positive and you will always find me smiling. 

Throughout my year at EBC with a determination to keep my lungs working by exercising and maintaining a good eating regime, it has helped. The year has seen stability on my health and a slight increase in my lung function. I have to take a daily concoction of medications to help my lungs from rejecting/immune system (which also make me very tired).  Now, it's time to read all about my incredible year.

Joining up just before the year end, saw me doing sessions in the snow which were fab. Who would have thought building snow balls and carrying them around would be hard work, even snow ball fights ;)

Winter bootcamp
Tinsel for Christmas time
January 2013
So, after a few months the year saw me challenge myself to various events - why not? I did and I guess I do still worry that I am very slow and can't keep up with everyone. But, through my determination NOT to give up and the encouragement from the directors and the people who also go to EBC saw me realise that it is finishing and not the speed. However, I am my own worst enemy and still wish I could run as fast as others or run continuously without puffing about...but, such is life. Just taking part HAS helped...

So my first event for the year was the Hylands 4k race. It was great to have Karen help me get round this woodland event and coming last was the start of the rest of coming last at all future events...hahahaha. But, at least I finished!

With other EBC lovelies who took part
Loud and Proud
This day was quite challenging and I just kept pushing through and taking many pit stops to get air into my lungs. Tears nearly rolled down my eyes as I was approaching the finish and could see people waiting for me and cheering me on. Also, the support of the EBC members was a great encouragement. Thank you.
With Karen

Paleo food regime
A 30 day challenge was set up to educate us on a different way of eating (which I did blog about earlier in the year). This saw fat drop off my body and be replaced with lean muscle - well - I looked slimmer, still working on the 6 pack ;)
It was quite tough at first learning a new way to eat, and the key is preparation to ensure no naughty foods or convenient foods getting consumed. I followed quite religiously but admittedly did have some blips, but got back on it afterwards. The challenge was set again later in the year to which I tried again. Moving forward, I have adapted some of this lifestyle but not 100%, as I do enjoy my food. I do believe though and always have, that YOU are what YOU eat! Exercise and correct foods can and DO help health, well, it has for me.

What I like about Essex Boot camp is that it is constantly expanding, and new sites crop up. I went to my first ever launch at Wickford. The launch sites are some of the best sessions with a large turnout to support the instructor on the day. The atmosphere is electric and such a buzz. Some members also make a point of travelling from different sites in Essex and also it is a great way to meet new people too.

 Wickford Launch

 This was Lisa's launch site

I had so much fun taking it easy as a group dragged me up a muddy hill on the tyre, check out my cheeky smiley face. Oh but oh, it was my turn to heave ho after we reached the top......was I still smiling then ;)

The month of my Birthday (12th) no rest for the wicked and still in my paleo food regime for 30 days. And an all day bootcamp (Bentwaters) that I decided to go for. For anyone wishing to read about my Bentwaters Day (I have written an earlier journal if you scroll through with also the Paleo food regime containing lots of photos).

WOW! What a day, challenging both the body AND mind, and we were informed that at some point in the day your body will want to give up, but, that the MIND will kick in. The mind is a powerful tool, I know that for a fact dealing with a horrific illness when it was at its worst. It is so easy to give up and let the body perish. I had to fight, fight to stay alive and fight to breathe. Not easy and through surviving my 15 lung collapses, a 3 week coma and learning to walk again...I knew I had strong mentally, but it was definitely tough and inner strength was needed.

With Lisa (instructor)

The Bentwaters Group


South Woodham Ferrer Launch
Today was the launch for Gabriel's site, it was a very muddy and obstacle orientated one and going through lots of puddles!!

Gabriel's  SWF Launch

Oi pass me that tyre ;)

Braintree 5 mile race
Time for another challenge at the Braintree 5 mile road race. Yes, I came last - hahahaha!! But, I really had to dig deep and keep going. Sometimes a little upsetting as no one about and most had finished and most supporters who were watching had left. However, it was a route that you backed up on yourself and so you were able to see the marshals that you passed, then as returning to the finish. The marshals here were great and I had some very positive remarks as I walked (or jogged). And, to my amazement a couple who saw me at the start and read my top (which said I've had a double lung transplant) wished me luck....they waited for me to return and cheered me on and said didn't want to go until they saw me come back and took photos. Aww, how sweet and I was quite touched by this. Lovely again that the EBC'ers who also ran in this race waited for me at the end. And Mark and Nicki came to find me at the last mile and helped me to finish with a few others running with me to the finish line.

One aspect, that did stick in my mind was that I was holding up traffic and had no idea.......until it was mentioned and I turned around to see a pile up of cars behind me and a police woman on a horse to stop traffic overtaking me! Ohhhhhhhh..oops ;)

So, being a part of Essex Boot Camp I have decided to list what I like about it as listed below (and in no particular order) Oh, and this is not an opinion just for May, just something to add for this month - this feeling stands all year round to the present day!

1) It's friendly and fun
2) Great banter
3) I have made so many new and lovely friends
4) Lots social events happen outside of EBC
5) The instructors are fab at what they do and work to all fitness abilities
6) Love the fact people have their own goals too from weight loss, fitness etc
7) The support/encouragement we all give each other
8) EBC is like a family :)
9) The flexibility that you can go to any site
10) Sessions vary from mornings, lunch times and evenings and on every day in many places
11) The fact it is outdoors  and any weather sun/rain/snow it still happens
12) Each session is completely different, no boring routine like being in a gym
13) I also get inspired when I see people improve or loose weight
14) The instructors are not bad looking (sorry that has to be said ;)

Lactic Rush
There is also a detailed write up on Lactic Rush (if you scroll through my journal from earlier in the year).

My first ever adventure event with EBC around 7 miles and 30 obstacles (to which I did 26 obstacles)

Finishing!! Yay 
I was last even though there was a chap behind me, but he started in a different wave. I started very early and finished very late. But, was happy Mike,Judit and Rebecca and the EBC directors (Glynn and James) waited for me.
Cake from Rebecca as a reward for finishing - nom nom


Cambridge Launch
It was great to attend another new launch outside of Essex and for the instructor James H, to start something new and exciting. Again, a great turn out from members at various Essex sites and people from Cambridge too - to see how we roll. The day was finished by a picnic in the park :)

EBC Girlies


Plank and Smile

I'm not sure with the photo below if it was June, but, I wanted to add this to show a photo of the marine, Glynn (director) taking on all the sites and surprising us with a marine session. We all turned up for a routine session, this was at the Braintree site and then out of nowhere, loud shouts came from the trees and there Glynn  was!!! Ohhhh noooooo, but, it was so much fun even if somewhat grueling. Something different, and good how EBC likes to mix it up and have a bit of banter saying ..where will the marine turn up next!? :)


National Lottery Run - 5 miles
Another day another challenge to which my parents came long to watch and enjoy the atmosphere within the Olympic Stadium. I was actually debating signing up for this as a few days later, I was flying to South Africa for the World Transplant Games. I am so glad I did! What a great day!!

Jogging the last 100m

For me, the best part was running towards the finish and entering a tunnel leading out onto the track in the stadium. Music was being played in here with the sounds from the audience of the Olympics day itself. Wow! What a buzz and as I entered the stadium and saw the thousands of people it was very emotional.
All of my fellow EBC'ers had finished and I did hear my name being screamed and later blamed for lost voices, lol. It was hard to find where the screams initially were coming from - but focusing and seeing RED tops - yay!!

A very memorable experience and another to add to my achievements for the year so far, as jog/walk for 5 miles. Now to pack and head off to Durban, South Africa.


World Transplant Games
I have already written a journal in full about the World Games (if you would like to read) prior to this entry.
Massive thanks to Essex Boot Camp for being my sponsors, and I was very proud wearing my Team GB with EBC logos on my kit.

And here I am below with my 2 bronze medals returning back to bootcamp.


EBC Olympics
My most recent event was the Olympics, a day of individual and team events. I did get lost in the endurance event and was so far behind and ended up scaling most of the forest grounds!! But, found my way back onto the road and hearing noises of people and using that as a bearing to get back to somewhere not lost! And, great that the Team Admirals went searching for me too, big smiles all round when re-united, phew.

Team Admirals
There were sets of individual challenges and I put myself forward for 50 metres of chest to floor burpees with press ups for the whole distance. I knew it was going to be hard and hence why I choose it.

I think I held everyone up and all had finished but, I was just determined to finish. Trying to get air into my lungs doing this quite tough and using all my power with each movement. I had lots of support as you can see with the instructors below, and a lot of noise around me (I think claps and cheers but I was just trying to focus on my breathing).


Yay Team Admirals at the end of the day

What I also love is the comradery between each site - yes, perhaps we are all competitive in our own rights. But, for me it is about that and also having fun. A good buzz and fun day as usual supporting one another.

My year anniversary at Essex Boot Camp!!!!!

My journal was prompted by the fact a year has passed, and I think I have achieved so much and actually seeing it written down shocks me. I feel I can run a little further/faster (still a tortoise - but not a tortoise carrying its shell) Still breathless - but, still determined and will not stop training.

My mission to myself now is to complete all sites and meet all instructors.......

So there are 28 EBC Sites (2 extra as Corporate)

Sites I have visited over the year (12) :- Chelmsford:- Admirals Park, Beaulieu Park, Hylands Park; Billericay; South Woodham Ferrers, Great Dunmow, Rayleigh Fairview Park, Wickford, Braintree, Brentwood, Loughton; Chafford Hundred (and outside Essex - Cambridge).

Sites I have plans to visit before the year ends:- Colchester, Basildon, Southend and Grays . If I do the four listed here before the year ends - then only 12 left to do and I will complete all of the sites :)

November/December months 
The next all day Bentwaters in November (Sunday 10th) - bring it on take two!!! And my last challenge/event for this year.

Then time for more sessions and keeping fit and well before the madness of Christmas and New Year, lots of socialness/parties.

Which instructor's leg?
Everytime I was trying to do a push up (in the photo above), this instructor thought it would be funny - to push me back down - face in the mud. Little did I know at the time, he took a photo and was the laughing stock for a bit. I don't mind the banter and I can take being laughed at. But, I will get my own back on you!

This photo summaries EBC and how much I love it. I remember this day clearly, I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. Gabs took this photo and he was telling me to stay still but I was slowly falling forward with the weight! There is no way I could move any steps like this (though some people thought I did, lol....no chance). Trying to breathe whilst pained face says it all.

My all time favourite photo!!!

So what does 2014 Hold?

What are next year's challenges in the pipeline at the moment.....

March - Brentwood half marathon
May - Rat Race 13miles 150 obstacles
September - Great North Run 13.1 miles
September/October - Australia for their National Transplant Games!!!
Finishing my auto-biography........and obviously staying well.

My next hospital check up is in March aslong as all stays good until then. I'm sure it will. As you can see, I have done so much over this year and since being part of the Essex Boot Camp. I have seen changes in my fitness, body shape and abilities as to what I can do. It is a very slow process for me, but, it is happening. Appreciation to everyone's patience and understanding and letting me feel part of a very warm welcoming family no matter what my capabilities.

Thanks to all at Essex Boot Camp once again, to all instructors and EBC'ers too.

Don't say "I can't do this", if I can YOU can :)

Cheerio for now
Jussie xx