The Hero’s Among Us

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Waking up healthy every morning is such a blessing, yet most of us probably don’t really fully grasp just how much of a blessing it is.  We just get up and get on with our day.

For those living with Cystic Fibrosis it’s another story.

Every day they have to fight to keep their health and they have to fit in their treatments into what might be a busy day for them and just like you and I might have a busy day, CF’ers have to fit in so much more just to stay healthy.

A person with Cystic Fibrosis has to do physiotherapy every day of their lives to ensure their lungs are cleared of the sticky mucus build-up. They need to take their meds, do their thing on nebulizer, have physiotherapy and a person with CF has to take numerous pills each time they eat.

Growing up with my best friend, Emma alongside we would go to school together and then spend the afternoons together and naturally weekends too.  We were always together.  Our time together always included her treatments in the afternoon so we would sit in her room as she sat on her nebulizer, an inhalant machine, which helps with the treatment of airway blockage due to mucus build-up. Still to this day I can remember the smell of the medicine that pumped out of her machine. It was something I could never get used it. It had an odd smell, a medical smell. I really hope with today’s advancements they have at least done something to make the smell more pleasing to the nose. Just typing this brings that smell back to me as if Emma is the room with me doing her meds on her nebulizer.

These things weren’t something that was unusual in our friendship, it was just something she had to do and we always just incorporated it in our time spent together. Emma also had to do chest physiotherapy (PT) which at the time was done manually. Now, a mechanical vest is available (at a high cost) to do this therapy for those lucky enough to afford one.  The PT is repeated over different parts of the chest and back to loosen the mucus in different areas of the lung.

These treatments that Emma had to have was just a part of her life, it didn’t disrupt our friendship and it wasn’t something that seemed out of the ordinary because I was used to her doing it and for Emma, it was just a way of life for her. She knew nothing different.

7aaab5063ba471fbcc4c1a896e7de4cdOne thing though that always amazed me was the number of pills Emma could swallow all at once, it was literally a handful of pills she popped, always without even the blink of an eye, all at one go! I struggled to swallow one tablet at a time, but my best friend, wow she was master of swallowing pills.  She really was my hero! Every time she ate, she had to take these tablets, even if it was just a slice of toast we were having.  When you and I have a meal, we don’t even think about it we just start eating. Someone with Cystic Fibrosis can’t just do that. They need these pills which help aid digestion.

Below is an amazing video by Sophia Cerniglia who also has Cystic Fibrosis. The video is under 4 minutes but is powerful in showing you  people who have CF and what people with CF have to do and deal with every single day of their lives.

Their fears.

Their dreams.

Their amazing courage to do what needs to be done.

It is an amazing video to keep spreading the awareness about what Cystic Fibrosis is all about.

Most people have never heard of Cystic Fibrosis, and those who have might not realise just what a person living with CF has to do daily to clear their airways to keep their lungs as healthy as possible – to just be able to breathe.

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It’s a daily fight that CF’ers courageously face every single day.

Life for you and me is easy in comparison.

It is for all these reasons I will always be Walking4Air.

Spreading awareness.

Fighting for a cure.

So that one all those with Cystic Fibrosis can Breathe Easy.

And I will always do it in memory of my best friend, Emma who through it all showed me how to live.

347197aa735bd84cc6aa2460a7adb995~ Weather is still looking good for tomorrow’s trip to the top of Devil’s Peak, hold thumbs this time we might just make it all the way to the top! Climbing for a cure, if you would like to make a donation to support those living with CF, please click here. ~

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No Escape ~ Only Way Is Up!

“You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.” ~ Lito Tejada-Flores

After a 90 minute workout at the gym on Friday night the last thing I felt like on Saturday morning was getting up at 5am for some more torture, commonly know as hiking Platteklip Gorge. Late on Friday night my legs were tired and I felt what I used to get as a kid, ‘growing pains’ where my legs ached to bone. I was close to cancelling the hike but the crazy person in me wouldn’t let me. It will all be worth it, she said. When you are on the slopes of Aconcagua you will thank me for this, she said. I groaned as I climbed into bed that night, the hike at 6:30am was going ahead as planned.

Surprisingly, when my alarm sounded at 5am I felt surprisingly energetic and ready to face the stairway to hell again – It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do!

No-one else is brave (read that as mad) enough to join us on these Platteklip training hikes – yet. My email reminders to our hiking group lovingly remind them to pack their sense of humour along with a heavy back pack so they can commiserate with Judi and myself as we climb up. But no one else ever turns up. I can hardly blame them. I wouldn’t be doing this hard-slog-up-stone-steps-that-get-bigger-and-bigger-the-higher-you-climb if I didn’t have to.

Climbing up and looking behind us the mountains in the distance were standing clear and in different shades of blue as if bordering the pretty picturesque Cape Town.

Climbing up and looking behind us the mountains in the distance were standing clear and in different shades of blue as if bordering the pretty picturesque Cape Town.

The summer South Easter wind was howling again and not only did we have to contend with heavy backpacks on our backs but we had to push again the gale-force wind. With the sun already rising and warming the earth with each passing minute, despite the strong wind I was grateful for it as it kept us cool as we climbed higher.

Across the way, Devil’s Peak was perfectly clear and not a cloud was in sight. Today would have been perfect to hike that.

Across the way, Devil’s Peak was perfectly clear and not a cloud was in sight. Today would have been perfect to hike that.

The climb up Platteklip, as I have mentioned before, is one that zig-zags back and forth and the trail is made up of large stone steps all the way to the top. I have long legs but when I climb Platteklip, I always find myself wishing for even longer legs. As I near the top and I take another humongous step up, my legs grow tired with the weight I carry on my back and I find myself grateful for my trekking poles as they support me as I push up. One consolation is that although we will be climbing up on Aconcagua, it won’t hold big stone steps like the ones we are training on. Mostly we will have to deal with slightly smoother paths and loose scree where we’ll  take two steps and slide back down one step again. At least it will be fun to ski down the scree on our way back down!

At the start of the climb, about 20 stone stairs in, we contemplated going to put our backpacks in the car and doing Platteklip without the weight, to see how light and easy it would be. I image we would sail up and down. In fact, just thinking about it I felt light like a fairy! I imagine that is how it would feel. I longed to feel that and it was so very tempting, but I stood there weighing up the pros and cons. Carrying the weight was good training. However, climbing without the weight would feel so good, even if it was just once. I turned back and looked at the 20 stone steps we’d just climbed. If we took some weight out of our backpacks we would have to climb back down those stairs and back up again.  No, we decided, let’s keep pushing on. Really soon, on the slopes of Aconcagua, we will remember moments like these and smile knowing we pushed through the pain and did it anyway!

Final push to the top. Always a welcome sight!

Final push to the top. Always a welcome sight!

One thing I love about Platteklip is the camaraderie of the people going up. The encouragement that is shared, the gasps, the pants and the puffs and of course the laughs. Strangers somehow are all in this together, edging each other on, verbally willing each other to the top.

This time there was no South Easter cloud spilling  over the top of the mountain so we were lucky enough to get some beautiful views on top as we enjoyed a quick bite to eat before heading back down the mountain again.

Compared to our last Platteklip climb two weeks ago, this time we had a view at the top.

Compared to our last Platteklip climb two weeks ago, this time we had a view at the top.

The path leading to the table top and McClears Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain

The path leading to the table top and McClears Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain.

Heading back down again, the mountain side is green and it was a perfect day to be out in the place I love.

Heading back down again, the mountain side was green and it was a perfect day to be out in the place I love.

I know I say this all the time (and you probably get sick of hearing me say it) but damn, I live in such a beautiful city!

I know I say this all the time (and you probably get sick of hearing me say it) but damn, I live in such a beautiful city!

With the day growing ever hotter, by the time we were heading back down I was grateful we were the one’s walking down and not up like so many others. Climbing early certainly does have huge benefits in summer. Another successful training hike done, I headed home where I was hoped to have a quick nap (they are the best after a hike) before heading off to a dear friend to spend some more precious hours with her before taking her to the airport as she was heading back home to the UK.

This Saturday, hold thumbs, we are going to be climbing Devil’s Peak. The weather is looking good and although a strong South Easter is due to blow, we are going up whether there’s cloud cover or not. I hope to bring you beautiful pictures from the top of the 360˚ view and not of mist from inside the South Easter’s cloud (or should I say van Hunks puffs of smoke!) so keep your fingers crossed.

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~ 37 Days 22 Hours 16 Minutes 37 Seconds till our plane rolls down that runway for Argentina! ~

~ All Photos By Me ~

~ If you would like to make a donation to support those living with Cystic Fibrosis, please click here. ~

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