I Can See Your House From Here

Aug 30 2010

Being rushed off our feet is a common occurrence for us since forming the Camille’s Appeal charity and of course since Camille was diagnosed. With hospital trips, infections, fundraising events, work and normal day to day life with two kids, it is very difficult to ever sit down and enjoy a relaxing book or watch TV without something drawing your attention away from the programme you are watching. This weekend was our big Bungee Fun Day weekend and once again we were bound to be exceptionally tired by the end of it.

Camille was again in for chemotherapy this week even though she had been suffering with a cough and cold that was causing her to be sick pretty much every morning. I guess the phlegm was probably sitting on her stomach all night and once she was up and could feel nauseas, it was enough for her to bring up her feed. This continual sickness was enough for Hayley to request that blood tests were done to see if she was OK.


After all of the chemotherapy had been completed and we were getting ready for our busy weekend a call came from the hospital to say that the blood test had grown an infection that could be a line infection. The blood culture test is quite robust but also quite old fashioned; the blood sample is sent to a laboratory where it sits for up to two days before they can tell whether it has grown an infection. Camille’s adverse result meant that she was taken into Ipswich Hospital for antibiotics and an overnight stay, something we have got used to not having. The morning after was the Bungee Day and we were not sure whether Hayley and Camille would be there for my jump and the day in general.


Luckily when morning came, the hospital managed to time her first dose of antibiotics to allow her to get out for five or six hours to enjoy the event. I had been down on site with the rest of the team since 8.30am and watched the event take shape. I was particularly interested in every move the UK Bungee Club were making as they set-up the 160ft crane. It’s hard to know what to expect when you are setting up and planning an event like this, but Stewart had organised every minute detail so that it could only go well, as long as people turned up. The team of helpers that Stewart had accumulated worked non-stop from 8.00am (if not before) all the way through to 5.00pm with only short breaks to cast an eye over the bungee jump proceedings. It’s dangerous to thank everyone individually just in case you miss someone by accident, but we couldn’t have done it without the Bethell clan (including Karen and Pam), the Jackermans, my parents and sister-in-law for manning the Camille’s Appeal tent, Andy the power man, Steff for great face painting services, Nick Hunt for “filling” the goal, Graham for nearly filling the goal, Cherry for ably assisting the Draw table and our very supportive committee members. If I’ve missed anybody I apologise.


For me the day was to really begin with the Bungee Jump and as the 11.00am start time arrived I realised that it wouldn’t be long before I would be faced with an open gate and the long drop to the crowd below. People began to accumulate and the site began to look very busy. I was always due to go first but I wasn’t going to take the plunge before Hayley and Camille arrived from hospital. The Bungee Team was running a little late so they managed to arrive a good fifteen minutes before the test jump. I hadn’t been particularly nervous, but as I sat next to my neighbour Carl while the Bungee Club strapped my calves with the incredibly tight (thankfully) supports, I felt an overriding bubbling feeling in my stomach. I had just been to the toilet to clear any unwanted fluid just in case of nerves, but on my return I had nervously necked another bottle which was through my renal system in double quick time. The crane was lowered and the head Bungee Club member stepped over to welcome me to the experience. He said that he had a small repair to make at the top if I wanted him to go up first or I could always go up with him and wait for thirty seconds or so. I made the decision that I’d had enough of waiting and it was going to be better to go up with him; how wrong I was. The thirty seconds seemed to be over pretty quickly but all of the weight was shifted to my side of the cherry picker and had caused some unwanted leaning at the top of the 160ft arm.


After the bolt was tightened it was time to go; I had made the mistake of continually looking down and watching the crowd get smaller and further away as we rose to the peak of the crane. I was sitting down which was fine with me, but as the date was opened  I was told to stand with my toes over the edge of the cherry picker, hands on the railings either side of the big open gap. “Look straight ahead at the horizon” was the advice I was given, “and after three…..one, two, three, bungee!” The fear of letting myself go was missing, whether it was because so many people watched expectantly below, or just because I had full trust in these guys, but I leapt. There are no words to describe the feeling of free falling towards the ground, but whatever it is, you feel great. As the rope stretched to its capacity and rebounded me back into the sky, I tried my hardest to look back up to the cherry picker but all I could see was blue sky; as I came down again I made sure I struck the pose I had planned to jump with; the salute.


Before long it was over and I was back on the ground, lying on a crash mat, legs feeling like jelly, like I may not be able to walk when the time came. I did walk away of course and I would certainly do one again. The jumpers followed one by one and throughout the day we managed to get fifty people up and down the crane raising approximately £11,000 for the charity and hopefully giving them an experience they will never forget.


As soon as we had cleared up and got home it was time for me to take Camille back to hospital for her second night of antibiotics. She was a good girl and could see that I was shattered, so she went to sleep nice and early, as did I. When I spoke with Hayley in the morning she had come down with something that had threatened to keep her out of action earlier in the week. When I arrived home with Camille at 11.30am, Hayley was struggling to even keep her head off the pillow. After a day of relaxing she was able to get up and take Camille to hospital for her last dose of antibiotics. Ipswich Hospital was trying to keep Camille in another night, but Hayley was having none of it and negotiated her release quickly and with little bloodshed.


The bank holiday weekend was completed today at Foxhall Stadium today where one of Camille’s old nursery nurses from before she was diagnosed was racing a banger car painted in pink with the Camille’s Appeal logo all the way up the side. I have never been banger racing before, but I was not disappointed; I and everyone else thoroughly enjoyed it. Helen, our intrepid racer, did incredibly well having never raced before and made it out in all three races, cheered on by her pink army of colleagues, friends and family.


So the bank holiday is over and now we need to focus on tomorrow when we meet Mr Mallucci, the neurosurgeon from Alder Hey who may be the person to operate on Camille in the coming weeks.