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Friday, February 26, 2010

We Shall Overcome

I find myself writing in a sombre mood this evening. My mum and sister have just departed for the airport after a wonderful week that was filled with laughter and regalement. Watching my children in the middle of all this mayhem was just inexplicable. Pearl was in such joyous spirits each day and slept better than she has in such a long time. Its hard to to say whether it will last or not as Autism can be a case of one step forward and two back sometimes. Nevertheless, I can say for us all at chez McLoughlin that when you are surrounded by your most loved and cherished ones things just work out. The constant battles of everyday, stressing over bills, making your way through what sometimes appears to be a cruel world, can be a great heft on the shoulders of anyone. But the support of friends and family can help overcome. That's my message for today, appreciate the people in your life who are there for you, because in the end nothing is insurmountable.

Any-who, moving on from my doleful first paragraph......

Pearl has been expressing herself more vocally than ever this past week. (her ability to use actual words will take some time but she is repeating a little bit more when prompted, lots of vowels, but you can tell from the look on her face that she is trying her hardest) It could be the fact that she was constantly around people and engaged most of the time. Or it could be that her sleeping pattern has stabilised somewhat (knock on wood) or a combination of those or other factors. Needless to say we are super encouraged to work harder and get that little voice out that we know lies within our little treasure. Our therapists are currently swapping e-mails to organise another "summit" to see what steps are to be taken next. So kudos to them for their energy and hard work, its great to have the three of them as our team. Next week will be a slight change of routine as first thing tomorrow morning myself and the two kids are going to stay with my mother in law for the week. (Alicia will have some peace and quiet) Its in the sticks, big style. Lots of forests, lakes and fields. The children love it and it means that I can really up my training in the mornings. With the 100K's less than three months away its a case of raising the daily two hour runs to three hours plus. My legs are feeling strong at the moment but the concept of being on them for 10-11 hours without a break is still newfangled. I must say though I am incredibly excited about this endeavour, I never would have imagined that this type of event would find me. But find me it did. It's through Autism this has evolved into what it has. In the beginning "Running for Pearl" was just an idea and three words that got stuck in my head. Now its growing and has helped some people who have contacted us deal with some of the obstacles they have faced. I know that the only limits on us are the ones we set oursleves. I leave you now for the week as in the countryside there is no Internet and barely mobile phone reception. But I will be back blogging to share the adventures that lie ahead.

See you round the bend.


"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, February 19, 2010

The week that was.

Hey Up,

Well considering I'm here can only mean I survived last Sundays race through the forest. What can I tell you, it was bedlam. It had been snowing solidly for ten days before and at zero degrees the forest floor had become a compacted, fully buffed skate fest. It was like trying to run across an ice rink and to make it just that little bit trickier it was up and down all the way. There had been a few races before ours which was the main event and last race of the day. At 11.30 the gun sounded and I set off with the leaders, bad idea as these guys were fast. They just put the hammer down from the get-go. I did however managed to stay up with the lead bunch for a few kilometres of the first lap and it gave me a fitness confidence boost for sure. The second lap proved more tiring as I realised I had gone out too fast, too early. My legs are used to a longer distance like a marathon or half marathon and by the time it had finished I was only getting into my stride. It was however a fantastic day and was really well organised by the local club. If you have a scalding cup of tea waiting for you at the end you cant go wrong.

Unfortunately the week went downhill in spectacular fashion after that lovely day. Alicia took off early on Monday morning, London bound for two days of meetings. Pearl became very sick that day and got no sleep on the Monday night due to an ear infection. Her appointments for Tuesday had to be cancelled as we spent the afternoon at the doctors office. Trying to get her to take the medication was akin to torture, she hates the taste of the stuff. By the time Alicia got back late on Tuesday night her temperature was 40.5. No sleep that night either and her MRI scan was set for the next day after having to cancel the last one at Christmas due to her being sick also. So we all got ready to head to the hospital and drop Dylan off with his cousin for the day. What's the next obstacle?? Some thug has smashed the window at the back of the car. Fifty-something cars on the street, a well lit and fairly busy stretch of road and they pick us. Talk about bad luck. Alicia managed to get hold of an uncle who kindly brought us there and said he would pick us up too (cheers Francois) Alicia must have spent half the morning trying to get through to police/insurance company/glass repair shops etc. In the meantime Pearl is having her blood taken which took so long I though time had stood still. I held her in my arms as she roared and wriggled in pain and distress. She was also nil by mouth for the MRI which was scheduled for 12.30. The trouble with the MRI is that kids have to be asleep, you can try and do it naturally with the help of a drug they give you, or put them under. We opted for the former but it was a disaster. The scan was so loud and claustrophobic that she freaked out. For any kid it would be a nightmare but for an Autistic kid I can only imagine the difficulty at being confined in this alien type tunnel. After trying for an hour I decided enough was enough and we took her home. She was distressed and turned out she had an infection in her mouth which stopped her eating. Back to the doc and more medication and more sleepless nights. Thankfully today she is a bit more my little Pearl after the four horrendous days that have passed and maybe we will all get some sleep over the weekend.

I had an hour and forty minute run this morning while she was at creche, it was bliss. My mum-in-law is here for a few days celebrating her birthday which is nice. After today Dylan is on holidays for two weeks and on Monday my Mum and sis Alison arrive for a week. I have not seen Alison in almost three years as she just got back from Australia. Cant wait to see her and take her running. Lots more to fill in but that's the bones of whats been happening here. Hopefully next week with the extra help around the house I may even get to spend some time with my wife who has been burning the candle at both ends with work. She needs a break that lady.

Right folks, be well and see you round the bend.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Olympics... In Paris??

I was looking forward to a nice two hour run today. But yesterday, Feb. 10th, YES Feb 10th, brought a blizzard of snow like I have never seen. Its been months of snow in Paris now and apparently there will be another week of it. Still, not one to be kept inside I decided I was going to go out and "play" anyway. My pace was going to be much slower than usual so I took my camera with me to show you just how spectacular it looked. It turned out to be one of those runs you never forget, inexplicably calm with the unspoiled blanket of snow crunching softly under every footstep. I encountered one other runner and a quick nod between us seemed to be the code for "You are as mad as I am". Still, with only 3 months until the 100km race every step is vital, regardless of the weather.

The view of the lake as you enter the forest, my favourite playground

The slippery slope

So that's the story for the moment. I can only predict lots of falls, scrapes and general mayhem as 500 of us crazy runners hit this undulating trail for the 10 km race this Sunday morning. Bring on the Valentines massacre.

See you round the bend (maybe)


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ignorance is bliss, until they take your bliss away

I knew in the beginning that our battle with Autism in France would be tough. Never had I imagined that some of the most prominent politicians would shock me with such flippant, and degrading comments regarding this handicap that affects millions of families the world over.

My title and opening paragraph refers to recent remarks made by Christine Lagarde. For a petite background allow me to elucidate. She is the current Minister of Economic Affairs, Industry and Employment of France and, in 2008 was ranked the 14th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine. Quite the C.V. don't you think? So what does she blurt during an interview on the radio whilst talking about a French businessman? She said "Mr Proglio is intelligent, he is not an Autist"
Having that power and influence does not excuse her from making remarks in a derogatory fashion towards any person with a handicap. I will slate anyone who attempts to do so because, politician or not, people like her will never know the struggle of everyday life with an Autistic child.

So Alicia starts getting the Autistic support community involved and gets the pot stirred up real good on Face book etc. and Madame Lagarde gets bombarded with e-mails ripping her a new one. Job done, case closed???? Not quite.
French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche was the next one, just a week later, to stroll down the catwalk of ignorance. Reading an article in the Guardian on-line (click here for link) he was having a swing at the Tories saying they were "castrating" Britain's position within the EU by adopting an "autistic" approach that would take Britain off the radar. The political argument is not in question here. The language used is exactly the argument. This is also a snippet from the Guardian article "Giving vent to frustration across the EU, which has so far only been expressed in private, Lellouche – who said he was reflecting Nicolas Sarkozy's "sadness and regret" – accused William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, of a "bizarre autism" in their discussions. Later in the day he backtracked in comments to the BBC, saying by "pathetic" he had meant "sad," that he didn't realise autistic could be offensive in English, and that he thought his comments had been off the record. NOT OFFENSIVE! It's disgusting no matter what tongue it is uttered in. Here for full article from ebusiness.

Now Mr Sarkozy I have a demand, an televised apology from both of them and action taken. How can we teach our son Autism is not to be treated as an insult? What are other parents going to tell their kids? its OK to insult a human being like this. This disgusting episode needs sorting because when my daughter gets bullied, or my son gets in a playground fight defending his sister, its our family that will have to worry and soldier on. We have enough to deal with as it is regarding the financial burdens and psychological battles we fight everyday. So get your act together and learn how to run your country. Because in my opinion you wouldn't run a bath.

I am currently flat out training for the 10k "Cross de la Sabliere" next Sunday. I'll blog more on that during the week (when my blood has cooled)
See you round the bend.


Running for Pearl

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Pearl who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in August 2009. My goal is to raise funds and awareness by doing what I love....Running.