CSF Leak inspires Rachael to take on Brighton Marathon!

I am a wife, mother of two and a full time primary school teacher. I was living a normal healthy life until my world came crashing down. After a nasty chesty cough I began to feel worse than I had ever felt in my life. Following months of GP appointments, consultant visits, MRI scans I was finally under Neurology in Queens Square London with a suspected spontaneous CSF leak. After a long awaited ICP bolt procedure it was confirmed I had low pressure. Over the last three years I've tried everything suggested to try and fix the leak and I'm currently waiting for my third epidural blood patch. I've had some bad relapses but since the second blood patch in March 2016 I found my quality of life became a little easier. This inspired me to work towards something amazing while I was physically able and raise money for the CSF leak association at the same time.

I picked out the biggest of challenges for a CSF leaker to complete: The Brighton Marathon. I knew my determination would get me through the 26.2 miles but I was less confident that my upright body wouldn't let me down. I decided to walk and run where possible with no finishing time in mind. I just aimed to complete the Marathon safely with my sister by my side.

My training plan didn't get off to a good start. I found that working full time I needed to rest and lie down in the evenings and weekends. I also had to consider making sure my two young children's needs were met first and foremost. As time moved along and my head was feeling manageable again, I began training with my sister. We built up the length of the walks and runs until we managed 12 miles, 16 miles and 18 miles ahead of the Marathon. On each run my head felt comfortable but following each big run my head would feel unbearable for a day or two. Overall though I did notice my head improving a little. Exercise raises blood pressure and I have very low blood pressure so it seemed to work in my favour. I felt hopeful as the previous year I was in such a bad way I could barely get through a morning let alone a Marathon!

The day of the Marathon arrived and so did the sun. It was the hottest day of the year so far! It made me nervous as the heat really affects my head. We set off at the start line and the atmosphere was electric! I felt incredibly proud that I was actually giving it my all and running through my home-town with all the cheering crowds. For years I've watched friends, family and inspiring people run the Brighton Marathon but there I was in the thick of it.

The first mile was tough starting up a hill in the heat and regulating my breathing. The next few miles were amazing and I was buzzing. I managed to run half of the Marathon but then things got tough! My head began to throb from the heat and despite drinking lots my body needed more hydrating. A foot injury appeared again so we made the decision to walk the last 12 miles. Mile 18 onwards is where my body and mind battled against each other. I nearly gave up but my sister who I was running with, family, friends and the children I teach cheering me on gave me all the encouragement I needed to keep going.

We walked towards the final stretch and the remaining crowed spurred us on to run the last bit. We pushed through the pain together and made it through the finish line. It might have taken us almost 8 hours but we did it! Although it was one of the toughest experiences of my life it was worth every mile to know that on this day my CSF leak couldn't hold me back.

I would like to thank everyone who donated towards the CSF Leak Association and supported the charity that supports people like me.

A huge thank you Rachael for completing such a difficult challenge on behalf of the association!

If you'd like to plan a fundraiser and would like our help, please do get in touch.

3 women running in a race.

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