Monday, April 23, 2007

Those marathon details

I promised you the full story of G's marathon.

Let's start the evening before.

He wasn't confident about his blood sugar levels and for several hours was doing blood tests every 10-15 mins and then hourly through the night.

Not ideal.

Sunday morning.

7.30am cab comes.
7.42am G calls. He's virtually the first person on Blackheath! Unsurprising since he's 2 hrs early.
7.47am G calls again. He's left his insulin here! Disaster! We rack our brains but can't think of any way to get it to him in time.
8.09am Another call. He says there are more people arriving now and the atmosphere is building. He feels ok.
8.21am Another call - to say his blood sugar is going up.
9.05am Last call. He's just run 20 times around the field, brought his sugar down a bit but now it's on the way up again.

10.00am First Born, Little Guy and I leave home and get the bus to Westminster Bridge.
11.00am Take up usual position on Embankment 100m from Big Ben.
12.15pm Meloney and family join us. (Mel ran the marathon in 2005 - they have always been a wonderful source of support. Thanks!)
12.30pm Start looking out for G. If he's going to bust the 3 hr mark (remember he was less than 2 mins outside that last year) he needs to come through in the next 8 mins.
12.40pm Accept he's not going to achieve his target.
12.55pm Accept he's not going to beat 3 hrs 15 mins.
1.10pm Or even 3 hrs 30 mins. Panic building now. Holding phone in hand (he has my mobile number on the back of his race number in case of emergencies). Something has gone badly wrong. But how bad??? Kids getting anxious and I can't reassure them.
1.30pm Imagine for yourself!
1.35pm Here he is! He stops. I've never seen him looking so ill. He has pain in his left hamstring, stomach cramps and he can't breathe. Not as in puffed out ... as in can't breathe!

Don't know if he needs insulin or sugar. Neither the Red Cross stations nor the ambulance he has approached have testing kits (!) and (rightly) they won't administer insulin. They can only offer to take him to hospital, which he refuses.
(In previous years he has been able to get his sugar tested en route, which is why he hadn't carried his own testing kit.)

He insists he still wants to get to the end. We agree to meet as usual in Trafalgar Square.

Crisis! The police are stopping everyone from going down the subway! We are directed the long way round. We jostle through the crowds, trying to keep an eye on 5 kids but we can't cross the road! The marathon cuts us off. There's no way to get to Whitehall and up to Trafalgar Square.

I talk to another cop. It's an emergency. I have G's insulin in my bag - it's vital I get to him ASAP.

Cop: (shrugs) Nothing I can do.
Me: But it's an emergency. He might have ketoacidosis (potentially life-threatening condition resulting from high sugar).
Cop: You could talk to St John's Ambulance people.
Me: How will that help? It's not me that needs the help! I just need to get across the road ...
Cop: They have transport.

St John's Ambulance person: We don't have transport. We could radio ahead to the finish line ...
Me: How will that help? I have his insulin ...
SJA person: You could try going round to the crossing point ...

At this point Mel and co break off so I can concentrate on getting through with kids.

At last! A wonderful marathon marshall breaks down the barrier and shepherds us across the road weaving between the runners.

FB grabs the insulin and sprints down Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, where we all finally meet up. Everything is now in one place: testing kit, insulin, sugar - and Greg - and we can take back control and he can sort himself out.

He's very disappointed with his time (3 hrs 53 mins) of course - nearly an hour longer than his aim. But it's all part of the learning curve and I'm proud of the way he's handling it.

Most important of all, he's ok. That's the only thing that matters.

From his point of view, he still finished (with a sprint!) and has a 7th medal for his collection.

Out of 7 marathons, he has completed all well within 5 hrs, 6 within 4 hrs, 5 within 3.5 hrs and 3 within 3.25 hrs.
Which ain't bad for a 49 yr old with diabetes!

You can still sponsor him as the site remains open 'til 22/6. Thanks.


Jane Henry said...

bloody hell, Debi. Tell him he is amazing. And so are you. You've had a marathon all of your own. Was there a reason why you couldn't give him insulin when you first saw him?

Glad he's ok, and I would be ecstatic with his time without any dramas!!!

love Janexxx

Jan said...

YOU raced a Marathon too ( AND with kids in tow!)
And not just on the day, either.

My brother partakes regularly but missed this year.
I hear the heat was amazing, more drinks drunk during the race than ever before.
It was a SUPERB sight on TV ....streams of runners, the sprawl of London, its people, its colours..

S. Kearney said...

Wow, bloody hell, you had m,e going with this; I really felt like I was there with you, rushing through the crowds, running with G. Well done to all. Now, spend a week at Minx's in her nice bathroom! :)

Unknown said...

OH MY GOD. Well I'm glad G finished OK, even if it wasn't the time he hoped for; he's still an inspiration to us all.

Debi said...

Thanks so much, everyone. G's getting all misty-eyed (but that might be from me punching him on the nose ...)

Jane - couldn't give him insulin as we couldn't check his sugar without a testing kit in case he was low not high - in which case insulin would be disastrous.

His testing kit was in his bag on the truck - he hadn't taken it cos on previous marathons he'd been able to check at stations en route.

Unknown said...

So proud, so very proud. Well done G - I can only look on in wonder.

granny p said...

Oh god, Debi. I only just got to this. What a nightmare - and how brave of him and equally of you. MARATHONS. xx

Anonymous said...


I think he's earned TLC, and no answering back, for at least a fortnight.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Greg! He has shown dogged determination, as have you and your family in beating the crisis that bureaucracy brings.
The best thing is knowing that he's ok - that's the most important thing in life. The very close second is that he completed and got his medal!
Greg's a darling of inspiration and I'm pleased to have sponsored him.

If anyone's reading this who has not sponsored him so far, Debi says it's still open, so please give it a thought. Refuge was a ground breaking charity in its day of set up through the remarkable work of Erin Pizzey. It has developed since and continues to respond to those seeking refuge from domestic violence, protecting them and helping them to gain a new life, where they can be respected and find the true meaning of love in an adult relationship.

I was but a teenager when a ground breaking "Play for Today" was aired on the BBC about domestic violence. I came from a family where this was anathema to our way of life and the play was shocking in the extreme. Later, finding myself in Chiswick where the first Women's Aid Refuge was set up and having read Pizzey's "Scream Quietly or the Neighbours will Hear", I did what I could at the time to support them then.

Like many charities, the reason for their being is not nice to know about, but it is always a great feeling to be able to help in some small way, whatever you can manage. It would be great to see Greg's own contribution and determination to complete his commitment honoured further, if you can help, and donating through this online method is as easy as 1,2,3. (I managed it at the last moment before he ran and what a run!)

Marie said...

Wow, that must have been so stressful for you all.

Glad he's OK. Well done to him.

Meloney Lemon said...

Man with fluctuating blood sugar - and wings on your heels. Boy done good!

Think of your split times... can you hear me. Hello?

Oh - you're out training for next year!

Debi said...

Minx, Granny P, Marie - thanks.

Fisherchap - No, no, no! Don't you dare tell him that ...

Cfr - huge thanks to you as ever. Listen to what she says, everyone! Refuge is a really important cause ...

Meloney - amazingly he's taking a whole week off. Can you believe that???

Unknown said...

Well done, G! And well done you, Debi, for all the support you've given him! Great going, family!

Debi said...

Lovely to see you, Aty. How are you? Has Novapulse forwarded the email I sent in reply to yours?