I remember spending the lead up to many Christmases having all my tests and scans done at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), as this time of the year was also the worst time for my health. This year I was determined not to let my health get the better of me and I wanted to be the inspirational figure as many see me as, and to fight through the negatives of my heart condition, so I decided to be Santa! You're probably thinking you can't be Santa? He should be at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas! That's when I heard about the new exciting London Santa Dash in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity at Clapham Common and signed up immediately!
I put my running shoes on Christmas magic mode and began training. With a heart condition it is tough to do excessive exercise as my heart has to work harder with every breath and heartbeat. I run out of breath pretty quickly despite feeling fit.
Although I knew it was going to be difficult as I struggle with the cold weather (the joys of having a bad circulatory system, I'm always wrapped up like an Eskimo!), I was determined to get through this Christmas challenge and raise as much money as possible, as a Christmas gift to GOSH and all the children. This hospital is a gift to me, without this place I would not be alive today. Words cannot express how honoured and proud I am to do everything and anything for GOSH, as it's like home for me. I dedicate my whole life to GOSH. The hospital makes miracles happen and has made my five-year-old self's dream come true, to work at GOSH, where I have now started as a Healthcare Assistant on Puffin Ward. Being out in the public showing my support for GOSH brings me so much pride and joy, as GOSH simply is the heart of my life.
Santa Dash came around so quickly, I did not feel prepared at all and was feeling poorly on the train into London. However, as my friend and I approached Clapham Common, the atmosphere was so amazing and energising. Seeing a sea of Santa's hats bobbing up and down was great. I hadn't ever done a long distance run in the winter before (apart from cross country at school, which I always had to pull out of) so I was really feeling the cold. I was determined to deliver the kids at the hospital a gift, the gift of love and support.
The run was tough. As soon as I began I could feel my heart racing, my breathing getting heavier and my body was struggling to decide whether it was hot or cold. By the halfway point I felt like I was going to have to give up as I was so short of breath, my heart was under so much strain and my legs were giving in due to the lack of oxygen in my body, but I'm no quitter! I had to get to the finish line no matter what! I kept thinking of all the kids that I see around the hospital, they need me to do this for them, this was our fight together.
As I finally approached the finish line I was so relieved. With 100m to go I sprinted with all my heart's content, the shooting chest pains began and the feeling of faintness was there. I was going to get to that line even if I had to crawl.
I did it! I finally crossed and I was immensely proud and overwhelmed, even though it took me 45 minutes (not my personal best, but I'm no Mo Farah). I did it! With the medal around my neck, I was looking forward to having a sit down and going for brunch!
That’s when my health turned for the worst. I sat down in the charity tent trying to catch my breath and hoping the chest pains would fizzle out. I started zoning out and turning a pale colour, my friend and a staff member were worried and took me towards the medical tent. I did not want to go but knew my health was the number one priority. The medical team were astonished to hear my health and surgical history and said "and you ran 5k?! are you crazy"! They wired me up for tests and monitored me for 45 minutes until my observations were at a safe rate! I was allowed to go and I was ordered to make sure I rested and contacted emergency services if I needed to. The team were truly amazing, so thank you to them all for taking care of me, it could have ended up worse if they were not there.
A secret condition
The thing with having a secret condition is that no one can tell from your face. To some, running 5k may seem like a walk in the park but for me it's like running a marathon. However, my condition also pushes me to challenge myself in all aspects of life, as I'm on my second chance. Whether you challenge yourself like me or just donate, it’s all part of the journey to help the hospital raise vital funds to support each and every child fight, especially over the Christmas period.
It meant so much to me to see so many Santas getting up on a cold Sunday morning for one reason, and one reason only...GOSH!
Well done to everyone who took part! You are all heroes in my eyes! Happy New Year.
To take part in a fundraising event to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, visit the charity website.