An Open Letter

Dear Everyone and Anyone (or just my Mam!)

I’d be surprised if anyone actually missed my ramblings on here over the past 12 months, but I hope that at least one or two of you wondered where I had gone to. Otherwise, pouring my heart onto these pages over the years was merely a cathartic process for myself and didn’t provide as much support and help to others as I hoped.

I’ve noticed with other health blogs that I read, or I’m involved with, they tend to go quiet for three reasons. The admin gets bored and has nothing to say. The blogger gets steadily worse and doesn’t have the energy or capability, after managing their condition, to run a blog.

The third and best outcome is that the blogger’s situation improves, and their new busy lifestyle restricts the opportunities to post blogs and articles on health and disability.

I’ve written about the many awful things that have happened to me both pre- and post- diagnosis on my journey with fibro, arthritis, et al. I also made sure over the last couple of years to talk about the good things in life and how much I enjoyed going back into the classroom and taking up part-time work again.

This post has been going around in my head for a long, long time but I’m glad to be finally sitting down and committing it to ‘ink’.

As I was finishing my education with DFEi in Easter 2017, I interviewed for an events role with Cricket Ireland for the summer. From that interview I moved sideways into marketing and digital media.

Since then I’ve been on a treadmill of ever-increasing speed, all the while trying to manage my conditions.

I have been indulging my writing muscles throughout. I wrote pieces promoting the Ireland versus West Indies match last September Article on Sion Mills CC, I interviewed boxer Ken Egan for the 2018 Cricket Ireland Annual (and a Website piece on Clondalkin CC) and I wrote match reports, interviews and lots, lots more.

Writing the tweet that confirmed Ireland’s elevation to Full Membership of the ICC as a massive cricket fan was a particular thrill.

In February 2018 I moved on from Cricket Ireland and a little unsure of where to go next, I used the network of contacts I’d built up to find some work.

That was when Cricket Leinster and HBV Studios stepped in to keep me busy. A new proposal to produce ‘Game of the Day’ packages for Premier League cricket in Leinster was being developed and a presenter/reporter who could commit the time and energy required was needed.

It was almost serendipitous that I was available at this time and could step in to the role. From that initial meeting and discussion, things have just grown and grown, and gone from strength to strength.

We have produced ‘Game of the Day’ packages for Premier League, Leinster Senior Cup and Schools cricket, as well as recording live features at events and conducting live cup draws.

Added to this, we have done two different live streams. The first was of a one-day match in Skerries, the second was a different animal altogether.

A three-day festival in Sydney Parade, consisting of six matches and nearly 20 hours of live cricket. For both live broadcasts I have been a host, commentator and conducted the interviews.

In a further role, I have become the travelling reporter with the Leinster Lightning InterProvincial team. This is a great role, travelling the country, interviewing and reporting on some of the finest cricketers in the country.

I also secured a production role for both Ireland’s debut men’s Test in May and T20Is against India in June. These were amazing for my broadcast experience and will stand me in good stead for years.

Not to mention that floor managing for the Test match meant I was close enough to hear the players singing Ireland’s Call ahead of the match. Close enough for them to bring tears to my eyes as I looked over a full stadium watching a cricket match in Ireland.

Alongside all this cricketing activity, I have maintained my work with Arthritis Ireland and EULAR Young PARE. I’m determined that my advocacy work won’t get side-lined even while I get busier over the next few months and years.

Stacked up together, this schedule has meant there is not much free time, other than relaxing and recovering.

My last month has consisted of a week in Amsterdam for the EULAR Congress, a week in Derry with the Lightning, a week in Malahide for the India matches and a week preparing for and presenting the T20 festival.

Needless to say, I took a few days at the start of the week to recover completely.

My fatigue has been pushed to the limit but the adrenaline and satisfaction of doing something I enjoy helped. I did make sure to sleep properly, avoiding social activities (mostly!), throughout the last month.

My pain has been quite bad. On my feet for long periods, my knees and hips have been particularly sore but maintaining my normal medications supplemented by extra painkillers, anti-inflammatories and a burst of steroids have really helped.

In truth, the main difference has been psychological. Yes, I’ve been in pain, yes, I’ve been tired and yes, they were long days. If my joints are going to be damaged anyway, why not do something enjoyable while I can?

I’m doing something I really enjoy and for the first time in years I’m feeling productive and content. My joints will get worn and damaged anyway, if it’s happening a little quicker through this work, I’ll live.

There have been times over the last seven years when I couldn’t face going outside my front door, through my anxiety and depression, and the sheer pain and fatigue that was beating me down every single day.

Believe me, I still have plenty of mornings when unexpectedly my knee will be swollen, my ankle locked or my mind will tell me I’m worthless.

Yes fibro and RA are shitty but I’m not going to feel bad for feeling good. I’ve felt bad for feeling bad, long enough, and that was no picnic.

If I am setting myself up for a fall it’s on my shoulders.

I might flare tomorrow, I’m well aware of that. But sitting at home doing nothing over the last few years, I’ve flared, at least now I’ll have some great experiences to lean on and drag me through.

Our cousin’s barbecue is tomorrow night. I’ve missed a few years through anxiety (imagine being too anxious to hang out with your family? it happens), pain, or being in hospital.

I’m raging to be missing this year’s event but this year it’s because I’m working. I’m going to puff my chest out and graft a little more this weekend.

It’s good to be back.




PS: God rest you Lord Mayor, will be thinking of you this Sunday. Always encouraged my writing from day 1.