Ironman and progress

33correspondence between me and Charles, sums it up.33

Charles,

it sounds amazing, an incredible achievement by you, congratulations on finishing and within such an amazing time. There must have been a great ambience with all the people at the finishing line, I’m glad the 78-year-old trooper got to finish the race, also an incredible achievement. I am so grateful of you to have done this in my honour as you put it, it’s a flattering feeling to have people exert themselves with you in mind. Well done for surviving, the idea of it sounds very brutal, let alone the experience of actually doing it I should imagine. I’m glad you had an IV at the end to rejuvenate yourself, I have found them very useful myself for energy giving properties, nothing like replacing lost fluids. I’m also glad your wife was there at the end to help you recover, I know the presence of a loving women is also a very good source of rejuvenation, I for one would be nowhere without my girlfriend (Ellen) caring for me after my previous exertions. I look forward to hearing some of the race summary, and I hope you have time to recover and reflect/be proud of your achievements. I also appreciate the strength you have demonstrated in dealing with adversity in the Ironman challenge.

I have been having a reasonably good time, a good beginning to last week with my mum and dad visiting on Tuesday after Ellen left on Monday evening (following a greatly enjoyed long weekend, I hope Ellen managed to rest after she had a very hectic previous week completing projects and performances). I discussed arrangements for the new buildings with mum and dad, which are still unfortunately in the planning stages. I also had a visit from Tony on Monday, the previous night we had been at his and Nicky’s house-Ellen’s aunt and uncle-for a wonderful roast dinner which we travelled to by taxi. Hugh Palmer, a great friend of the family, came to visit on Tuesday, which I highly enjoyed , but the rest of the week was very quiet in terms of visitors. I was kept in check and well by my many friends at Stoke, but was a bit low during some of the week due to the delay in my career and lack of focus with work for one. By the end of the week my spirits were high again after keeping myself busy with programming, trying to understand bit torrents protocol (a mechanism of transferring data between computers), chatting with friends and watching many new movies. Not to mention the thought of seeing Ellen and other friends on the weekend. During the weekend I relaxed with Ellen and on Saturday evening we went to a theatre production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘ fragments’ at the Warwick arts Centre. We went with mum, Molly and Ollie (Ellen’s university friends) and Lizzie (Ellen’s friend from school). Warwick arts Centre is typically full of privileged students and adults, who, as a group paid more attention to me from a distance and less attention to me in person, than at any events I have been to previously in my wheelchair. I found this interesting, but not too disturbing until extra attention was drawn to me by paparazzi (aka mum), who was snapping away like a Japanese tourist in Times Square (excuse the simile). When I got over my annoyance, we watched the play, which was brilliant despite some slightly enduring monologues, and being stared at constantly by members of the audience (which I’m getting used to, but feel sorry that they must have missed the majority of the play in favour of my slightly gaunt visage, lime green collar and rickety wheelchair).

The play, incidentally, was about disabilities and dementia (or coping with loss of faculty) as far as I could work out. I had not known that this play would be themed on such a subject area, and noted that some people paid even more attention (from afar of course) to me after the play. I deduced that they associated my emotions to be very similar to those they experienced being communicated to them from the actors through empathy, and the actors performed very well, conveying a lot of emotions as is one of the purposes of the play. Therefore, when they see someone with a disability directly after the play, who isn’t acting, they emphasise in their own little way. Assuming most probably that I was experiencing the same emotions they experienced being conveyed in the play. It probably seems that I was quite bitter about the experience, but on the contrary, I found it very interesting and these are just observations from my waist high perspective. I don’t think anyone ever get used to being stared at, but I’m beginning to avoid letting it bother me.

Getting back to the actual play, my view of the ideas behind the play were not shared by everyone on the way back, but seeing as the important thing is what thoughts are invoked by the play in the audience, whether or not they form the same ideas that the author was intending to communicate or had when writing it, this did not matter. I have not talked about the play much at all, so I’ll finish by mentioning my favourite part from the play.

The play was split into six acts (or maybe five), and contained three actors, my favourite was the fourth (or third) act, was the shortest, and contained only the monologue of a seemingly demented woman. The woman is heard to describe that she spends her time walking between shadows in dim light, between the impenetrable self and the penetrable un-self. I take this as trying to illustrate the isolation that someone who knows they are not themselves, but can’t see how to stop themselves, feels. A task, near impossible, which Beckett and the director, Mr Brooks, pull off very well.

Best regards

Tom

2

Tom

I wanted to let you know that I completed the Florida Ironman yesterday. It was pretty brutal, but I survived it! I was wiped out at the end, feeling woozy and weak, but felt great after I got an IV from the medical tent. My wife and I hung out at the race finish until midnight, cheering on the last group of finishers. It’s inspiring to watch the folks who spent nearly 17 hours doing this race. It took me 10 hours and 43 minutes, and that was about as long as I wanted to be out there! There was a 78 year-old man who made it in with less than 10 minutes to spare before they shut down the race at midnight. He was exhausted and a bit unsteady on his feet, but came in with a big smile on his face as the crowd went wild cheering for him.

l’ll send out a summary of the race with more details in the next day or so, copying a large group of people. I’m planning to keep the fund raising site open through the end of November, so maybe my race summary will bring in some more donations.

Thanks again for letting me do the race in your honor. I thought about you throughout the event, especially when it was getting rough, and appreciated the strength you’ve demonstrated in dealing with adversity.

— Charles

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