Derby Ramathon entrant Alison Furlong, who will be running the half marathon on Sunday 7th June 2015 to raise funds for Rainbows Hospice for Children & Young People in memory of her beloved son William, visited Ramathon headline sponsors Central Health recently for a series of baseline assessments designed to get her training off to the best possible start.
Running the Derby Ramathon 2015 is the latest fund raising effort by Alison and her family, who have raised over £20,000 for Rainbows since the sad loss of William due to a rare brain condition in June 2014. William passed away just three weeks before his 4th birthday. Throughout William’s illness, Rainbows were there to support all of the Furlong family and helped them to make the most of the short time they all had together.
During her visit to Central Health, Alison received a Biomechanical Assessment and Gait Analysis, a full evaluation of her back and pelvis, and a Sports Massage. These procedures were all planned to identify and rectify any joint and muscle problems, and to ensure Alison’s foot, leg and back functions were in great shape for the start of her training.
Alison is photographed below with some of the expert clinicians she met during her time spent at Central Health
Alison Furlong, on why she’s running the Ramathon for William
I signed up for the Derby Ramathon in September 2014, something which was pretty daunting for me as a complete non runner. June 2015 seemed quite a long way away, and I felt optimistic that in the next few months I could hopefully replace my unfit, tired self, with a motivated, healthy, fit, better version of me!
I was talking to a friend about signing up and said to her “running really is not my thing at all!”, at which point she asked me, “So, what is your thing Ali?”. I thought for a minute and had absolutely no answer whatsoever. All I could say to her was “I have no idea”.
To me, that seems a strange answer for someone just about to turn 40. I would have guessed by now most people would be able to easily explain how they preferred to spend their time, but I could not.
To explain why I had no answer, I need to go back to January 2011. At the time my two daughters were aged 2 and 4, and my little boy was 6 months old. Life was hectic with all the regular activities associated with family life and three little kids; a seemingly endless stream of dirty nappies, cuddles, toddler tantrums, sleepless nights and Biff & Chip books to be read.
Then life changed forever as my little boy woke up and had an obvious epileptic seizure. I’d never seen one in person, but knew a little of what they looked like from watching TV. We dashed him to A&E where he was immediately taken to the resuscitation room, which was terrifying in itself. During the next few days as they carried out tests, the severity of his diagnosis and condition became clearer.
In the coming few weeks we discovered William had a severe life limiting brain condition, called Miller Dieker Syndrome. He would soon stop being able to eat through his mouth and would need a feeding tube. He was severely visually impaired, and would forever be developmentally like a baby. He was going to need a lot of medication to help keep him comfortable, and considering the severity of his condition, he could potentially have only a short amount of time with us.
I can’t tell you how we coped with this change in our family circumstances because I don’t know how we did, but somehow we managed. Livy, Niamh and William needed me to be strong as a Mummy, and my husband to be strong as a Daddy. We did our best to manage everyday family life; those nappies, cuddles and Biff & Chip books kept us going, and William increasingly needed us to learn new skills to meet the complex needs we had never faced before, and slowly those scary, difficult skills – like learning to put a feeding tube up his nose, went from scary and daunting to routine.
We were incredibly lucky to have William with us for almost four years, and we did our absolute best to enjoy every moment we were able spend as a family of five, but William was a complex little dude and constantly kept us on our toes with ever changing and more complex needs. At times it was overwhelming – his medication schedule, for example, could take up to four hours a day to manage, and he never grasped the concept of sleeping at night. But, when things got really tough, Rainbows Hospice stepped in. They helped us manage William’s care, offered us respite stays, Livy and Niamh were able to access sibling support, and our family support worker was always at the end of the phone if I needed someone to shout at, talk to, or have good old cry.
William was able to spend his last days in June 2014 at the hospice with his whole family around him. The end of his life was peaceful, pain free and he was surrounded by love. At the end of his life it was the best place possible for us all to be together.
So this leads on to our life now. This little person who had been so much of our family life is no longer here. He has left a void in our family that will never be filled, nor should it be.
So why am I doing the Ramathon? Simply, I am doing it for William. Throughout his life he needed be to brave, strong and determined and he took me on that journey with him. I needed to learn, adapt and be the best person I could be to give him the life he deserved. Now, in his memory, I need to keep on with that journey, and undertaking a half marathon, as a non-runner, in this first year without him in our lives is my way of doing this.
To help Alison and Team William Furlong raise funds for Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/Alison-Furlong-Ramathon2015/