“The way to be happy is to make others so.” -Robert G. Ingersoll

Jade in hospital bed with roses

It is Sunday, and it is dark and cold… well, the weather is anyway! But, in the Gadd household we are full of warmth and light right now. Let me expand:

Being a family with chronic conditions to cope with, and having long periods of time with members of the family, house or bed bound can be tough. Trips to hospital, dislocated joints, pain medication, bedpans, medical staff in the living room, and broken night’s sleep are all part of the package and are part of our norm. But that’s not who we are. We love life even when it is tough going, and one of the many reasons we do, is the people around us – both near and far.

First, I will make a small mention of this; because it is a true honour:

It seems my family, friends and students got their heads together to nominate me for the BBC Unsung Hero Award for Sports Volunteers and my nomination made it to the final three in the region! Wow!

It was a massive surprise (as you can probably tell if you saw the footage) and I am humbled by their love and regard shown in nominating me.

BUT honestly, I  also feel conflicted about it!  Because I know that they, the nominators themselves, should be the recipients of the award rather than me! The award is supposed to be about contributions to “sport”,  but the focus of my nomination was about my personal circumstances and carrying on the martial arts lessons during the last 6 years.

Whilst it is true that I did do that; I wasn’t alone and could not have done it alone.

I am acutely aware of all the people who were there to support me in so many ways. I need to mention here my black belt students / assistant instructors who take the class when I can’t – often at very short notice; my students, who also know that I might need to cancel or rush off to hospital at a moments notice, and my in-laws, that do all the front of house stuff for me. They are there, four times a week, rain or shine, because they want to make my life easier and support us all.

Jade and Tony themselves, of course, who have always encouraged me, no matter what was happening for them, to keep going. It must have been/be so hard for them to watch me walk out the door, to manage for that time and know that I am going to classes that they both used to be part of and now cannot take part in no matter how much they want to. Jade once said it was like a bereavement, but she has never asked me to stop. How big hearted is that?

I also want to mention an amazing martial artist and thought leader, Master Tom Callos, who is a huge influence on me and inspires me to be true to my values always.

I was, and continue to be; held up by them all. Emotionally and physically. The lessons, and the participants in those lessons, are part of my support mechanism that keeps me balanced, healthy and able to do the rest. I don’t think I am a hero, I am just me, stumbling on the best I can, supported by you!

So – “Look everyone – we are all doing good! You are all MY heroes! “

Next, we had a British Taekwondo Association seminar for Jade Aid. Full of wonderful people who were there to support Jade. It was an amazing day with four Grandmasters, including our President and his wife, generously travelling to Durham and giving their expertise to make a wonderful seminar!  What a wonderful group of peeps, doing their thing to support others and giving a very informative “street self defence seminar” too.

After that, we were the first customers for @The Green at Coxhoe, having a scrumptious buffet at the end of training!

@The Green is so special to us as it continues the family dream that we had, before the health issues, as Tearoom @Wabi-Sabi. This dream seemed to be gone when Jade and Tony became ill. It was heart wrenching to see all our hard work seemly gone in the blink of an eye.

But along came Amanda, Joyce and Windy, with the want to build a community, serve good food and spread happiness. They want to combine that with promoting health through arts and martial arts. It seemed too good to be true, but there they are. They have just opened and are walking the talk. Visit them at www.thegreencoxhoe.co.uk

We can’t tell them enough how much their work means to us. We can see our dreams in their dreams and feel peaceful that we laid the foundations and it was not for nothing. We get to support and be part of their adventure as they support and are part of ours!

Last thing to mention this time, is the amazing Longovicium Legionnaires of Lanchester who put on a night they can be proud of for Jade Aid!  This motorcycle club is made-up of bikers with big hearts and determination to support Jade. Last year they put on a night for Jade which was great, but the very best thing was them! The love and support from the ladies and gentlemen of the Legionnaires was the most precious gift and Jade felt stronger to face her challenges because she has a whole load of new big brothers and sisters. After so much hate directed at her because of her disability she was pretty low and they lifted her up! She wears her torc on her wheelchair with pride.

This year, they have made her an honorary member! And their word, to work to make her life better, is their bond. Last nights event was brilliant. Unfortunately Jade was too unwell make it to the event personally, but by the power of technology, she got to see them and feel the love!

Now they are planning more events, so watch this space!

Anyway, the point of this post is this: people say to us all the time that they can’t believe all that we face and that we are still smiling and achieving. Part of this is that we choose to see the best in each situation and to find the lessons where we can. We are in fact genuinely happy for the most part. We are grateful. We have our low times of course, but we choose to see the light and welcome it. With that in mind I need to change the quote a little:

“The way to be happy is: to make others so & to open your hearts to receive the happiness being offered right back! ” -Rozalind M. Gadd

Challenges – ‘One joy scatters a hundred griefs” – Chinese Proverb

Yesterday I had so much planned. I had my mind set on being productive, and then, the Universe had other ideas! As is the way with chronic complex conditions, all plans were changed due to a routine catheter procedure going wrong for my daughter and having to rush to A&E.

The way my family works as a team always amazes me. Together we carried Jade down the steps of our home, managed to get her into the vehicle and off to A&E along with our dogs who were very concerned for her. Jade, it has to be said, is a powerhouse. She may be small but she is fierce! It was clearly very painful for her and and she was frightened that she may need another operation if she didn’t get seen soon enough – but she dug deep, as she always does, and helped us to help her.

At the same time, Tony discovered that one of his few remaining teeth, left after his cancer treatment, was moving in a worrying way and needed an emergency dentist. Quite emotional too to think of loosing another tooth. Push to the back of our minds until later…

I hurriedly arranged for my classes to be cancelled on the way to hospital so could concentrate on Jade. My students are just amazing, understanding and supportive.

Next was a nervous time. We knew a few things: Jade needed an intervention before her wound closed up. Without the constant flow with the catheter, it was a short amount of time until she started to have seizures and all the dislocations that go with that, and, she was already in bladder retention, which is very painful.

A&E was very busy and although the nurse had rung ahead to say Jade needed to be seen on arrival – it was still nearly an hour before we were seen. In the meantime – as predicted there were spasms, seizures and a speculator overflow in the waiting room. Jade met it all with dignity.

There we were, all smiling and talking calmly but the pressure was building up, knowing if she wasn’t seen, the consequences would be very unpleasant. Jade has been through so much the last few weeks, it was not a pleasant thought at all. The minutes passed by and our hopes started to dissolve with each.

Eventually it was Jade’s turn. We were resigned and honestly a bit crest-fallen. We had made such a huge effort to get to A&E in time. But no-one seemed to quite understand the urgency, and then when finally seen by specialist nurse we were told, she “should have been seen straight away” …we all swallowed words of frustration down and explained that we had tried etc. Partition it off !That can be something to tackle another day..

Sad and heartbroken for Jade, we watched as the nurse confirmed that we were too late. Jade laid back and sighed. Defeated…and then, she remembered that she felt that the wound always ran off to one side, would the nurse try again? The nurse got the smallest catheter and tried as directed by Jade and… No, it would not go through.

“Please try again”, Jade steeled herself.

The nurse said of course, she really wanted to save Jade the trauma of what what was to come if unsuccessful. She tried… “No. I’m so sorry. Hang on…there’s little channel…”, just as Jade said and “We are in!”

A cheer and round of applause! Everyone in A&E must have been wondering what was going on, but we were jubilant. All of us we just so happy. Yes, it is not over. Dilation beckons but for now we are over the moon.

It may seem a small “joy” but it is huge to us. And suddenly the pressure cooker feeling is gone. Angry thoughts oscillating with feelings of defeat have dissipated because we are so very happy that we got the right nurse, we have a warrior Jade and well, we can see ‘wee’! WHEEEEEEEE!

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