To raise money for The Grand Appeal (registered charity 1043603) while raising awareness for PTSD and the importance of mental health.
Why Project 120 I hear you ask? Simple. It is 120 miles from the A&E department in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth to Bristol Children's Hospital.
Our daughter Bonnie was born on 3rd January 2020. On 26th January 2020 we were rushed to the Resus department of A&E at Derriford Hospital where doctors fought to save her life, she was 23 days old. Hours later my husband and I met a specialist, brought down from Bristol Children’s Hospital, who sat us down and very calmly broke the news that she may not survive the trip up to Bristol and that we should "prepare for the worst". At this point I broke. The only way I can explain it was that it felt like my mind had snapped.
It is 120 miles from A&E in Derriford Hospital Plymouth, to Bristol Children's Hospital and those 120 miles I sat in the ambulance with her. We made one emergency stop on the way. We stopped in order for Adrian, the specialist and his team to save her.
Bonnie spent 1 week in PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) and a further 10 days in Caterpillar Ward; the high dependency respiratory ward. Every night I was forced to walk away from her and spend the night across town in the Ronald MacDonald accommodation and every night it felt like my soul was being ripped from my body.
I owe my sanity to Vicky and Beth in PICU. Two intensive care nurses who kept me calm and with their banter and calm cheerful explanations during the worst week of my life whilst also keeping 24 hr care of Bonnie with a medical team.
Since her birth Bonnie had been suffering numerous seizures. What started out as grey episodes and small twitches quickly escalated into full arm jerks and whole body shakes. I was told multiple times that they were “normal” or just “reflux”. I spent sleepless nights with Bonnie watching over her - terrified that something would happen. On 26th the absolute worse happened. Seconds after I laid her down, I heard her gurgle. She suffered a pulmonary haemorrhage. Blood was bubbling out of her mouth and she was struggling to breathe. That morning I held my dying child in my arms and it is this image and thought that has haunted me for months.
In March 2020 I was diagnosed with severe PTSD. Since coming back from Bristol something wasn't right. I was a shell of myself. I couldn't look at the Moses basket she once laid in, I would flinch whenever I heard a siren and I had crippling flashbacks multiple times a day. I felt completely trapped in emotional turmoil. Looking back at photos no one "could tell I had PTSD"...I didn't know myself.
On a happier note Bonnie is now healthy on a cows milk free diet and has been medication free since October. I was discharged from the Perinatal Mental Health team in early January 2021 after a gruelling 10 and a half months of EMDR therapy.
So why start Project 120 now? It is exactly a year since her life was saved and I want to give back to the hospitals that saved her life. I will be running and walking 120 miles; whether it's by backpacking with her on Dartmoor or running around town attempting not to collapse in a heaving, puffed out pile of chubby limbs, Bonnie and I will be making the journey together, just like we did last year. but this time in a more positive light.
During this journey I wish to raise awareness of PTSD. It is not talked about enough and far too many still believe that mental health is something to brush aside or not acknowledge altogether. I'm ashamed to say that I was one of those people.
I plan to achieve this goal by July. Why July I hear you say? July was when I knew I had to return to work. I knew I had to be strong enough for both of us to get through a few hours of being separated from her again.
Because of the nurses, consultants and doctors, I have a lifetime ahead with my daughter. Fundraising for The Grand Appeal (registered charity 1043603) is a small token of my heartfelt thanks to a handful of doctors in Bristol Children's Hospital and Derriford Hospital.
In raising these funds I would dearly love to see the money spent on ventilators and oscillators for their emergency departments for all the babies and children who require urgent medical care like Bonnie.
Do you want to be a part of Project 120?
Any and all donations would be massively appreciated but if you want to get more involved why don't you bake 120 cupcakes! do 120 star jumps without stopping! Teach your children 120 new things! Read 120 pages of a book in a week! Get sponsored to walk or run 120 miles yourself! Whatever you choose to do, challenge yourself to complete it with your child and make a difference.
Visit Project 120's Facebook page to see our journey or check out our Instagram account; Project120challenge.
I can't wait to share it with you.
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