Some background…

Over the last few days, I have picked up quite a few new subscribers/followers so first of all, welcome!  I thought now would be a good time for this post as it includes history about me and also explains why I have chosen to walk run this path.  It also explains a little about Billie-Jane and her illness, which I have not done much of since starting Jog On Jules.  A shorter version of this post was recently featured on Fitblogger.

I am 37 years old; I was born in the decade of bright, gaudy wallpaper and disco music.  As a child I was quite active and would cycle for miles on my Chopper push bike.

I enjoyed cross-country running and Netball until I reached my teens, when my interest turned to music and computer games…and that’s how I stayed.  The next 20 years of my life were spent avoiding exercise if I could.  If I could see I was going to miss the bus that just turned the corner of the street, I would never run for it, it’s OK, I could just wait for the next one!  The weight started to pile on and as my weight started to climb my health started to decline.   Over the years I have suffered from crippling back pain, where some mornings I could not get out of bed without assistance.  At my lowest point, I could not walk more than a few meters without my legs going out from under me.  Recently I have been diagnosed with high Cholesterol.

On 3rd Jan 2003, my niece, Billie-Jane was born.  It was the first time I had become an auntie, it was so exciting.  I have 2 younger brothers and we are close.  So when my brother, Paul told me that he was going to be Daddy, I was thrilled. During the pregnancy, we told the news that Billie-Jane had a condition called Holoprosencephaly and it was not known if Billie would survive birth.  We were devastated.  All we could do was wait.  We were told that if she survived birth, she would be a very poorly child and would be unlikely to make it to 4 months.  I was heart-broken.

Well Billie did make it to 4 months but it was hard for my brother and his wife.  Billie had to be given lots of medicines at regular intervals and was in a lot of pain due to the fluid on her brain. I don’t know how my brother and his wife got through those early months.  When she reached 4 months, the Doctors inserted a shunt into her brain to drain away the fluid.  This would reduce the swelling in her brain and relieve some of her pain.  Things changed radically once the operation was done.  It was obvious that Billie was no longer in pain and she started to grow into a happy child.  We knew that she would never walk or talk but the happiness was there for everyone to see.  She would laugh all the time.

Our happy little Lady!

Billie-Jane reached her 1st birthday, but it was apparent that taking care of her was stressful and hard work.  Paul and his wife started to receive help from an organization called Hope House Children’s Hospices.  Every so often, they would take Billie for a weekend to give her family a much-needed break.  They were amazing and if it were not for them I don’t know how Paul and his wife would have coped.  Time went on and Billie reached another milestone…she started school!  Something we didn’t think would happen.  Feeding her was difficult as it would go down to her lungs so she had a tube fitted into her stomach so she could be fed without choking.

On 19th Oct 2010, I was woken by a call.  I saw my brothers name on the screen and I knew…Billie-Jane had passed away that morning.  She was 7 years old.  She had developed Pneumonia during the night.  It had taken hold very quickly and there was nothing anyone could have done.

My entire family was devastated.  Even almost 18 months on I find it hard to talk about her or look at the pictures.  Hope House were amazing, they supported the family throughout Billie’s short life and still support them now.

Billie in the sensory room at Hope House

I always knew that I wanted to raise money for Hope House but I just didn’t know what to do.   I decided to take part in a fun run later this year.  My plan was to walk it, then I decided that I would try to run as much of the course as I could.  So I started the Couch to 5K plan.  I also started blogging about my journey here, the rest, as they say, is history.  Blogging has put me in touch we so many people, all over the world that have supported me and offered advice.  The Blogosphere is a huge family!

It has been a long slog for me with a couple of false starts but slowly but surely I am learning to run.  To start with I thought I was going to have a heart attack but bit by bit I have improved.  I am only just starting this journey and I know I have a long road ahead of me but every step is worth it when I think of how the money I am raising will help Hope House.  It feels amazing to be able to give something back.

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