Talking Point


On 18th February I am going into hospital, for elective surgery. That means, in short hand, surgery I have chosen to have. Who knew I would ever do that? I have a lot of time this week (I know it is only Wednesday) reflecting on why. And those reflections were sparked by a reflective run on Sunday.

In 2016 I started running and I have never stopped. My thoughts and reflections on running are well known, it has changed my life. For the better. It has been utterly revolutionary.

In 2019 I toppled over and fell in Soho, after a few too many sherries and a lovely dinner with friends. The pain in my left knee wasn’t too bad – I walked at speed to my hotel for the night. But the next day, despite walking around the House of Lords in heels, it was a bit uncomfortable, but in the weeks to come it got worse and worse.

After a few appointments, my physio asked, “Is it always painful after running?”. “Oh yes,” I said, “always, but the running does not make it better or worse, it’s just always painful.”

I was in front of the orthopaedic consultant a few weeks later, with a diagnosis shortly after, of advanced arthritis in my left knee cap. On 18th February they will cut my bone and realign my knee cap. At least I hope they will. Because I have a dream. If it’s too bad, they won’t be able to, but I have been working so hard to strengthen my core and my legs…….my surgeon thinks they will.

On Sunday 6th, I ran 10k with a friend. Not any friend. My amazing, inspiring, cancer surviving friend, mum to two children – one with additional needs – friend. My friend Julie who is running 50 10kms to mark her 50th birthday. My friend who has been there for me this last two years listening, counselling, my friend who has loved me and (when we could) hugged me – but most of all just reflected alongside me. Sunday was an extension of our year, it was simply wonderful.

We worked at the NHS in Bristol together, although we only met years later through running. So we think we must have been in meetings, me as the Director of Comms, Julie as a senior manager, but we cannot remember (thisstatement clearly has nothing to do with our age!).

So on Sunday we ran to the hospitals where we worked, had our kids, learnt how to manage, how not to manage, what passion and resilience looked like. I shared some of my fun facts:

1. The Bristol Eye Hospital is the second oldest eye hospital in the UK, after Moorfields.

2. I had to write a letter to the keeper of the Queen’s Seal to ask for the Royal Insignia to be removed from the old entrance to the Bristol Royal Infirmary as no RI can be moved without royal consent, and it had to come from a director.

3. The ‘Old Building’, the original BRI which is now being demolished was the oldest working hospital in the UK – not something we were ever proud of.

And we spent a lot of time talking about different people we had both worked alongside and then, ages and ages, desperately trying to remember their name!  Which we then reflected was probably de rigeur for a 50 and 48 year old.

My reflections on all of this, are:

Elective operations offer the chance for change. Every hill on Sunday, Julie and I had to walk up. The pain in my knee is too much. Post op I want to run up those hills.

Running and chatting is amazing. I felt and experienced this again.

Female friendship is invigorating.

The stairs, with an arthritic knee after a 10k are not your friends.  I want to change this.

My running tribe, This Mum Runs, is life changing.

Memory lane is not full of joy. Through our work and life reflections on Sunday, we shared pain and really upsetting and unacceptable behaviours. We gave each other a lot of support and we showed understanding – and we listened.

In all of this time, what is missing? A HUG.

When we can, please form an outrageously disorderly queue.

And my dream: London Marathon 2022, in my 50th year. I am utterly committed and very serious.

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