Jane Hatwell shares her story on completing the Aspire Channel Swim in 22 days (that’s one mile a day!) whilst battling Ulcerative Colitis.
Zoggs Swim Diaries: I'm 44 years of age and am battling Ulcerative Colitis/Crohns (a form of inflammatory bowel disease). I was originally diagnosed in 2008 after a severe relapse. However by 2010 life resumed to a fairly normal way of living until September 2014. I began to feel unwell and was having to live on medication to get to work! By Christmas I was hospitalised and have been struggling ever since. I have been in relapse for a year now.
I'm normally a fit active person with an outgoing active lifestyle. However, this time round this terrible debilitating illness gradually robbed me of my social life, my independence and confidence and eventually my job. Through all the pain and sickness I have always tried to remain focused and still managed to keep up my fitness levels (within reason) even though it's been a real struggle at times. Long term illness effects every part of you from the physical to the emotional; and having an invisible illness that is not necessarily understood or recognised is unbearable beyond rational thinking.
However, on a positive note I believe I'm winning this battle very slowly but surely. And to prove this illness will not beat me I recently entered a swimming event, Aspire Channel Swim, my first sports event entered in over a year since being so ill. I do also raise money and awareness for my condition and other charities.
I am pleased and extremely proud to say that despite everything I swam 22 Miles in 22 days and have completed my challenge whilst I'm still not stable in remission!
This success for me has proven to me that no matter how tough things get I will always do my best to take control any which way I can. I'm trying desperately to turn a negative into a positive and being long term sick and losing so much has taught me how resilient and strong I really am inside. I hope this helps raise awareness for Crohns and Colitis which leaves a lot of people terribly isolated. I believe fitness of body and mind (a healthy balance) creates wellness. I couldn't run as much as I would like due to my joint pain so swimming has overtaken my life. I totally believe I have swum myself back into fitness and hopefully remission is pending now!
It was terribly hard for me to enter the pool at first, being so ill I had taken a break from most sports. But once in the water I found a new found strength. I was swimming a mile in 35 minutes roughly and aim to get faster! I do hope I give some encouragement to others who are suffering silently like this. I can't thank my family enough for being my rock at this time. I truly believe active sports helps recovery of most illnesses and swimming for me is the best way forward as it's not aggressive physically.
I totally believe I have swum myself back into fitness
I have always been very active in sports from running, swimming, cycling and horse riding. My love for swimming has just grown more and more now especially as my late father was a swimming teacher and was a member of the Life Saving Club. He always wanted me to pursue my swimming further but a part of me used to always hold back even though I was a good strong swimmer! Reason being when I was 4 years old I nearly drowned in my neighbours pond so even though throughout my swimming years I've had great potential I was always held back with a fear especially in childhood. I hope to enter triathlons next year and my ambition is to one day swim the Channel for real.
Jane is a true inspiration, which is probably why she has already smashed her fundraising target! However, you can still help to support Jane and the Aspire charity by making a donation on her Just Giving page