Thursday, 21 March 2019

Broken - Tears for Fears

Between the searching and the need to work it out…

It’s three years to the day since I had the first symptoms of Guillian-BarrĂ© Syndrome (GBS)- 1095 days if you’re counting. Funnily enough I’m heading into London this morning just as I did back in 2016, only this time I’m feeling pretty much 100% - both physically and mentally. I remember I felt ‘Broken’ on that Monday morning yet somehow I drove to London, delivered a coaching session, made a short foot-taping film for folk going to the MdS that year and drove back home to Cardiff. When I say ‘Broken’ maybe ‘Crushed’ or ‘Shattered’ would be more descriptive, but I’ll let you decide – all I can tell you is I felt ‘Destroyed’.

I stop believing everything will be alright…

So, in true ‘Coleman Style’ I did nothing as I believed everything WOULD be alright. I felt my day of ill-health would pass and that in a few days I’d be back firing on all cylinders and attacking the Marathon des Sables with my usual gusto of a starving man attacking an all you can eat buffet. 

Only it didn’t - and things went from ‘Bad to Worse’ and then ‘Critical’ without me kinda knowing as the GBS slowly creeps into your immune system, undetected, slowly damaging the peripheral nervous system, eating away at your very existence.

Much to my annoyance at the time, I felt totally f@cked, still believing things were going to be alright. If you know me, you’ll know I’m very determined, call it bloody-minded if you like, it’s a great strength – it’s also my Achilles-Heel as it masks any weakness or underlying issue that might prevent a negative outcome.

By the end of April 2016, I was paralysed yet I still deluded myself in thinking that I’d soon be okay and in a matter of days, I’d be back to my old self and jogging around the local park.

Instead, I was confined to a hospital bed with only one thought. I wrote about it during my recovery and it’s clear to me now I was being ‘Fixed’ physically but mentally I was in a pretty dark place. 

Here’s the Extract from my next book ‘A Runner Reborn’ – at the point where I’m hospitalised for the first time.

The first thing you want to do under those circumstances is to escape. So you try your damnedest to get out of the place. But I’d convinced the medical experts that I was better in a much better state than I actually was. I simply wasn't well. And I certainly wasn't in any condition to go home.

By the end of May I could 'sort of' walk with a Zimmer frame. But at that stage, what the doctors are interested in is your functionality. Can you function as a human being? And cynically-speaking, if you are able to function as a human being by yourself with help, then in their eyes you're taking up a hospital bed that someone else might need. It got to the point where they were just administering me drugs, which I could take at home. I had a wife that could look after me at my in-laws home that had a toilet on the ground floor, so I was away. After a further couple of weeks we ventured home to our terraced house in Pembroke Road, Cardiff.

This is where I got even worse. I got to the stage where I couldn't stand up because every time I did I would fall over, I simply didn’t have the strength to hold myself up. Zimmer frame walking was disastrous, I had in fact become dangerous, especially with Baby Jack crawling around on the floor, and my wife at that time being heavily pregnant. The opportunity for a serious accident was genuinely on the cards.

Eventually, my routine became sleeping on the lounge floor at night because I couldn't climb the stairs to bed and then transferring to an armchair in the morning until 5pm, when my bum was literally so numb I couldn’t stand it anymore and needed to lie down again. When I say routine, it was more of a vicious circle. I felt so weak. I simply couldn't stand up. My knees wobbled like Bambi's. They would literally just buckle from underneath me and when I fell, it was like a puppet having it’s strings cut.
My ankles were totally useless. Whenever I lifted my knee my foot would drop. My feet were dead, like dead pieces of meat and because there was no strength in my legs at all, nor any strength going into where your hip flexors are at the waist, I had no core strength either. Then to make matters even worse, because GBS affects all the muscles in your body, I couldn’t pee and I was just completely bunged up internally. I was in a real state. So my wife phoned my consultant and explained how much trouble I was in.

He saw me the following Monday and realised that I was really ill again. They admitted me straight back onto the hospital ward, bypassing A&E and the Medical Assessment Unit all together. To be back at square one with my recovery felt disastrous and I felt I’d wasted nine weeks getting absolutely nowhere.However that's different from me accepting the scenario I was in: after all I had the GBS for some time, and I now realised that it wasn't something you couldn’t just fight. It was a process.

Broken - We are broken…

I got a bit of a cold-shiver reading that if I’m honest as I can’t believe my state of denial at the time. My Life’s ‘Key-Driver’ the determination and mindset that has brought me so much success and happiness over the years, had nearly taken me past the point of no-return.

But when your world’s turned upside down or when you wake up in the cold light of day as I did - ‘Broken’ by Illness, Addiction, Obesity or Plain Fatigue, putting the pieces back together isn’t as difficult as it first appears.

When Life takes a turn for the worse it isn’t like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle back together without knowing the picture or how many pieces are in the box. Life’s jigsaw comes with a plan and you decide what it looks like.

It might not be the ‘Old You’ but it can be whatever design you like. Complete or even with a few pieces still to place – it can be both fulfilling and beautiful.

I'm walking uphill being turned around and round…

For me it felt like being in a storm, a tornado or emotions, a time of great uncertainty but then one of great calmness as I regained control and enjoyed the building process and success that recovery brings.

In my mind's eye, one little boy anger one little man…

And am I angry? No way – I’m relieved if I’m being honest. Empowered almost by the journey I’ve had over these past 1095 days. Am I fixed – hell no. I came to the conclusion yesterday when I nearly fell off a step ladder putting up a curtain pole that my proprioception is still very flaky but who’d have thought I’d be able to do that three years ago. And if you are ‘Broken’ feel ‘Broken’ or being ‘Broken’ right now – I know how you feel. The thing is that it won’t be forever. Things DO get better and sometimes as I found out, you need to reach out for help as you can’t do everything yourself no matter how ‘Determined’ and ‘Bloody-Minded’ you are.

Funny how time flies…

Thanks to Tears for Fears for today’s Blogsong’ – it’s one of my favourite tunes of 1985 and ‘Broken’ is part of the track ‘Head over Heels’ – take a listen hereand consider whether you are a bit ‘Broken’ yourself.

1,032 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry

Sunday, 10 March 2019

I Don't Remember - Peter Gabriel

Gabriel - 1980

I don’t remember, I don’t recall, I’ve got no memory of anything at all...

So here’s a question. How’s your memory? As sharp as it ever was? Can you easily recite all the class of ‘73 or all of your Dad’s car registration numbers he had when you were a child? Bet you can but can you remember when it all started to go wrong? When did the occasional drink become the every evening tipple and then the nightly anaesthetic? If that’s where you are right now - go on ask yourself.

When did those 32 inch trousers become a tight 42 inch? Or a Size 8 slacken off to an 18? When did it become the norm to stop looking sharp and cover up in a baggy grey leggings (my pet hate) btw.


When did it become the norm to say I can’t give a shit, I can’t be bothered or My Mojo has gone? These are the questions that go unanswered for years I’ve found until finally folk reach out for help.

All of the above come from a lack of self-respect and if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve forgotten how to move, walk or even feed yourself you’d know everything comes from SELF-Motivation - YOU - no-one else.

Yes, you have to get off your arse and start to remember who the f@ck you used to be. Been there, got the T-Shirt myself so I feel qualified to preach.

I reckon most of the folk that read my blog can associate with one part or all of the above. If you are in doubt - call me and I’ll point you in the right direction. I won’t hold your hand but I’ll be by your side as you remember how you used to feel all those years ago.

1,030 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry

Thursday, 7 March 2019

More than a Feeling - Boston

More than a Feeling...
This 1976 AOR classic has been played to death over the years, especially by me but interestingly it took song-writer Tom Scholz five years to complete! Its multi-layered mix is how I see life being built up of layers of excellence based on a firm foundation and rhythm, over a number of years - it’s kinda cool ain’t it. The lyrics are a great observation on modern-day life.

I looked out this morning and the Sun was gone…

It’s a familiar feeling for lots of folk, as the pace of life increases (daily it feels) and the demands placed on folk by their super-busy work and home-lives leaves no time for adventure and enjoying the great outdoors. 

Life’s more about than survival than achievement.

There’s literally no time to breath, to come up for air and make plans to be the person you really want to be.

The lyrics are right in saying that the Sun has disappeared in the lives of many people. There are so many folk living in the dark shadows of depression according to the media. Luckily, the short hours of daylight are nearly over and the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I know only too well myself, will disappear and the long Summer evenings will provide respite from the ‘Daily Darkness’. No wonder Vitamin D levels are so low in office workers – (according to this Daily Mail article anyway) and no wonder the Nation’s mood is also at an all-time low.

I lost myself in a familiar song, I closed my eyes and I slipped away…

And so, these abnormal times are becoming the norm, it’s just like a song that becomes familiar – just like ‘More than a Feeling’ has for so many. Take a listen but his time with a fresh attitude, you’ll discover new parts of the music you’ve previously overlooked. When I was ill three years’ back, I looked at life with a fresh attitude and made considerable changes. I’m not saying get a life-threatening illness - just cut back to basics and investigate where things are going wrong. What makes you unhappy and where you are wasting your time.

So many people have come and gone, their faces fade as the years go by…

It’s so true. Time definitely speeds up in some kind of ‘Back-to-the-Future-Flux-Capacitor-Type-Way’. These are the thoughts of a 57-year old man of course, that although has circled the world a couple of times with tread-to-spare and it’s far too easy to be or become cynical. 

My attitude is to look forward with hope and back at my youth with great warmth and affection for those times and the people that I shared it with. There are a lot of blue skies to think about in my book.

Yet I still recall as I wander on, as clear as the sun in the summer sky…

And I’ll keep recalling, wandering on and enjoying the Sun in the Summer Sky when it returns to Wales, hopefully before a couple of months. ‘More than a Feeling’ is simply that. A Feeling. A feeling of Well-Being, of being contented. Knowing you’ve got the most out of every day you’ve had at your disposal. You know how that feels?

When I'm tired and thinking cold, I hide in my music, forget the day…

It’s the line that always resonates with me. And you know the kinda days I mean - the ones you can’t remember that skip along at an alarming rate between life’s highs and lows. The one’s we need less of and the one’s I don’t allow myself to have anymore.

Think on today about what’s really out there for you and make it ‘More than a Feeling’ and ‘More of a Reality’.

1,030 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry