I’d be hard-pressed to make it through Dry July.
And I certainly can’t grow a moustache for Movember.
But on October 26th, I am going to attempt my first triathlon…and in doing so, raise funds and awareness for babies and children with congenital heart disease.
For those who know me well - training for and completing a triathlon is a bit of an achievement… Just the thought of simply running to catch public transport used to fill me with dread! But recently I’ve put my body, soul and definitely my HEART into training for this triathlon.
Some incredible things happened in 2012 which made me reflect, take stock and realise – all too closely – that life is precious and far too short.
Many know our story with our scrumptious boy Monty (more on that later), but in October 2012, I was shocked to receive news that my good friend had suddenly passed away. A beautiful woman, she lit every room she entered with her infectious laugh, enormous smile and fabulous sense of humour. I miss her dearly. With the tragic loss of Allison, there is the realisation that life is too short. And so, inspired by her, I am stepping out of my comfort zone and undertaking my first triathlon in her memory and honour and raising money for Westmead Childrens Hospital.
In July 2012, we welcomed our second child, a lovely son called Monty. Things were great, we completed our happy family with a pigeon-pair, together with his big sister Edie. We returned home with our bonnie newborn baby and life was sweet.
At seven days old, Monty was unsettled and things just didn’t seem quite right. After a few hours of this behaviour and trusting our parental intuition, at 4am we rushed him to Wyong Hospital where it was confirmed by the ER team that Monty was in cardiac failure. A helicopter from NETS – the Newborn Emergency Transport Service – was immediately despatched to retrieve and transport us from Wyong to the Childrens’ Hospital at Westmead. The journey took just 15 minutes!
Once doctors were able to stabilise him, the next day at Westmead, Monty underwent emergency heart surgery to repair a coarctation of the aorta – or a severe narrowing which had caused his cardiac failure. Monty was also diagnosed with SVT – or a super-fast heart rate. Not until some time after, did the doctors let on just how close we had come to losing Monty!
After spending time in the paediatric intensive care, followed by a stay on the Edgar Stephen Ward for Cardiac Care, Monty commenced a program of life-saving medication for 12 months. Under the watchful eye of his team of paediatric cardiologists, Monty made a wonderful recovery and you would never know looking at him just the turbulent start he had in life.
Our family is now happily living in Canberra, and I’m not going to lie…getting out of bed at 5.30am in the middle of winter has taken training to a new level. But I have embraced the experience, and thank goodness the Canberra Olympic Pool is heated!
Now we are here in the nation’s capital, we’ve learnt that even Canberra hospitals rely on the paediatric specialists at Westmead. We have met another friend at our local school who has called upon the services of the Heart Centre. "Westmead was consulted on our newborn Joshua from day one, providing their expertise and monitoring his ongoing treatment. One of their cardiologists also runs a clinic at The Canberra Hospital every few months to save over 25 Canberra families travelling to Sydney for their heart checks," said Pearl. In an amazing coincidence, Pearl’s son Joshua and Monty even share the same remarkable cardiologist!
One in six children in Australia are born with congenital heart disease. It is the leading cause of deaths in infants under one year old. Through my participation in the Nepean Tri on October 26, I would like to raise funds to donate life-saving equipment to the Heart Centre for Children at Westmead.
If I can find just 250 people to each donate just $40 (or more if you wish!), I can reach my goal of raising $10,000 which will be used towards the purchase of a shiny new cardiac ultrasound machine for the Heart Centre for Children at Westmead.
We have been blessed by our experience with the Heart Centre and can only take good things from it. The people we have met along the way have enriched our lives beyond words - cardiologists, paediatricians, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, as well as other families with terribly sick children (you know who you are!!) - without their experiences we would not be the people we are today.
Since our life-changing experiences in 2012, I strive each day to be thankful and try to live life to the fullest. And now that can include completing my first triathlon! Please help me to honour my friend Allison and support lovely babies and children at the same time.
PS, Some thanks:
Jason - for loaning me his precious and beloved LeMond bike; and for minding the kids...
Allison's lovely family and friends including all the fellow tri participants;
Jessica T - for signing up to join me on raceday;
Michelle E - for being my unofficial tri coach;
Pandora app - awesome tunes (especially the Ellie Goulding station)!
The Canberra Centre - for being only 8 minutes drive from home and having a Lululemon store at my convenience!
And last but by no means least - EVERYONE at the Heart Centre Westmead