Wednesday 21st March
I started out this morning in fog, the beautiful view from the top of the hill had been hidden. It was very cold, so I welcomed the first few hills, cycling up gradients in excess of 20 percent definitely warmed me up. I came to a busy road after an hour of feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere and had a hot chocolate and stood inside to warm up.
I got back on my trike and was even colder than I was before I warmed up, my fingers were burning so much it felt like they were going to fall off, to make it worse the path then went along a river further down into the freezing fog. I was hoping for another hill and luckily didn’t have to wait too long, I warmed up as I continued onto Wisemans Bridge where I hit the sea again. I stopped to take a photo and stood for a while just listening to the crashing sound of the waves. There was support for me on the side of the road in Saundersfoot, we had a quick chat before I continued onto Tenby for lunch.
I had given myself an hours break for lunch, which gave me the time to write down my thoughts from the morning;
Cycling on my own today has given me time to think, they are not new thoughts but have been whirring around in my head all day nonetheless.
This challenge is really tough, my body hurts, my leg muscles burn more than they have ever done before. I have battled all of the elements that have been thrown at me. I spend the majority of the time cold unless I am cycling up a steep gradient. I am tired from spending so many hours on my trike outdoors because I am slow and the miles are taking longer than expected. When I finish cycling for the day I spend hours planning, reading comments, writing my blog and trying to raise publicity. I haven’t been resting apart from the time I have spent asleep. As painful as all of this is, IT IS NOTHING compared to the pain I endured before and at the beginning of the diagnosis of the conditions I have. Nothing compared to the constant 8/10 headache I had for 3 years, the frequent joint dislocations (especially my shoulders from rolling over in bed), the difficulty I had remaining upright for periods of time because of my POTs, the constant chronic fatigue, difficulty digesting food, the embarrassment of not being able to get to the toilet on time and reoccurring life threatening anaphylaxis. On top of all of this and perhaps the worst aspect was the frustration, frustration of not being believed, not being able to achieve and watching my parents and friends question why this has happened to me. This is only a snapshot of what others with chronic illnesses like EDS and it’s comorbidities go through everyday. In getting a diagnosis and help managing my conditions I am now able to do what I am doing, many having to wait much longer than I did to be believed and to get any help. I need to raise awareness to help others!
Having time today to think has been a healthy reminder that the pain I have climbing these relentless hills is easy to endure compared to what I have been through in the past, and I shall remind myself of this when it gets difficult. When I show my positivity, my genuine smiles and my brave face it doesn’t mean that I’m not hurting inside but that I know that it is possible to hurt more.
I love my life, I am independent and strong enough to undertake this massive challenge and I know that I have all of you, Danny, my family and my friends (both old and new) behind me! I will strive to raise as much awareness as I possibly can!
I continued onto Herbrandston the end point of my day. I cycled past the castle in Pembroke where I stopped and chatted to a lovely lady for a while and then had a stop in Milford Haven where I had a drink at Foam.
I had a fantastic evening in the local pub (The Taberna – Herbrandston), all of the locals rallied around for support, I was gifted dinner from the pub, given a big bag of treats from the local shop and they even called out a local journalist who has written a story about me here: http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/42733/milford-haven-natalies-brave-5000-mile-cycle-along-british-coast/
I gave them all a big hug and thanked them for their kindness and generosity. Unfortunately I was too tired to take a photo, but I won’t be forgetting this village! The best I have visited!
Thanks again everyone at the Taberna in Herbrandston!