29 June 2018
I am having to write this blog myself now as Stanley left on Wednesday evening.
It was just too hot for him and I am so pleased he was not with me yesterday as temperatures hit 28 degrees and there was little shade. He would not have been able to go into any water either as there were no streams or lakes.
It was a long walk yesterday. The plan was for a 23-mile walk but due to my now customary wandering it turned out to be 25 miles!
Now some may say that this is me getting lost. I would beg to differ!
It’s simple exploring some of the areas that Wainwright might not have seen as he plotted the Coast to Coast. The main problem yesterday was staying hydrated. I only passed one shop and a closed pub but people were very kind when I knocked on their door and asked them to fill my water bottle. One couple in Danby even invited me to join them for lunch!
I set off early at 5.45am to avoid the worst of the heat so arrived in Ingleby Cross by 3pm. The hotel I was booked into was awful and my good friend who I was moaning to on the phone convinced me to contact the company who had arranged my accommodation to complain.
I am so pleased I did as they moved me to a wonderful bed and breakfast up in the hills. Sometimes it is worth complaining but I did need encouragement.
Yesterday was my first day totally on my own and I had some time to reflect.
Stanley promised in an earlier blog that we would say more about home deaths.
As you’ll be aware, half of the money raised on this jaunt will go to St Elizabeth Hospice to allow them to support people to die at home.
Most people express a preference to die at home but I have thought a lot about this since Annette died.
She always wanted to die at home and I was so pleased that with the support of our great GP, community nurses, community equipment and the nurses and care staff form the hospice, we were able to make it happen.
When babies are born, parents often have a very detailed birth plan, including who they want to have around, the pain relief that the mother may want, even down to the specific food to have in the house at the time.
It strikes me that we should encourage the same approach at the end of our lives.
Just saying I want to die at home with my family may not be enough. I know that when my time comes, there may be some members of my family that I would not want to be there, partly because I would feel responsible for them.
Talking to someone you love about their death is the worst conversation you will ever have. But it is a conversation you may only have to have once if you then write a detailed plan.
It’s important to share the plan with the rest of the family so everyone is aware of its content.
It’s a conversation best had when you are still relatively well, if at all possible. I am keen that we start to have conversations about detailed end of life planning and I will be working with people over the next few months to see if we can make this a reality.
There is a trade-off to be made if you decide on a home death. The last hour of Annette’s life was very distressing as she was having real difficulty in breathing.
Had she been in hospital, she would have been made comfortable quickly. As it happened the nurse couldn’t get to her for 40 minutes as they were looking after another patient.
This isn’t a criticism, it’s the choice we made but I am not sure we understood the full consequences of choosing a home death.
There is also a consequence of a home death for those who are left behind. For me, I slept on a couch for five months as I did not want to sleep in our bed or in the room in which Annette died. It was not a problem at all and I would have done anything to grant Annette’s wishes, but I simply did not think about it.
Home deaths will always be the choice of most people and we need to do everything we can to support that choice.
My thoughts are we should have detailed end of life plans, we should recognise the trade-offs we may be making, and we should consider the potential long-term effect of those we leave behind.
Three days to go!
I am physically and emotionally exhausted but being kept going by a promise I made to a very special person and the wonderful generosity of so many who have sponsored me.
Today I will be meeting up with my wonderful sisters who will walk half the day with me and then will be joined by my son, Billy, who will walk the last two days.
Nearly there - only 49 miles to go!
My feet hurt!
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