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Thursday, 7 August 2014

SUMMER

I have now been on summer break from University since the end of May and the weeks have been stretching away into the distance. It seemed at one point that they would go on forever, but as I sit and type this I realise that it won't be long before am back at University again.

Am due to start back on the 22nd of September and my freshers week timetable has just arrived starting on the 15th of September. I have to be honest and say that the summer weeks have been slow for me and am looking forward to going back and getting my teeth stuck into the work. I was really happy with my results from my first year which was a level 0 with most of my exams and assignments coming back as a first. So it was with a happy squeal of  delight that I read my transcript to see a pass and proceed.

My meeting with the DSA team at the university went great and am going to be getting a lot more support from them this year that wasn't in place last year. Things such as extra time for exams, copy of lecture notes in advance, a scribe to take notes when my hands are too bad or to help during the exams, deadline extensions if needed, rest breaks and the ability to record lectures as well. Taxis all week to get too and from University and a support worker for 37.5 hours a week, which is great and means I can work in the library when I need too when I don't have a lecture or seminar. They are also sorting out desks for the right height for the wheelchair and extra loan times or help in the library as well. I think the problem last year was down to the fact that it was not through the University itself but in partnership with the college. This meant that things I should have had the college could not supply or had not been informed about by the powers that be and the University could only pass on what my needs where  as technically although I am a University student, I fell under the college jurisdiction.  Hopefully the college will sort out the issues they had ready for the new term this year.

David Goldman building where the first lecture will be  the welcome from the Dean

So what else has been happening since we last spoke? I hear you cry ( ok well maybe I didn't hear it but you might be thinking it? ) My eldest came back from University at Stafford at the end of May and is now getting ready to go off to Leeds festival in a couple of weeks. He will then be home for a few days when he will be packing back up again to head back to University. Sadly I lost one of my cats last week Harley Kitty  so that upset every one in the house.  

Harley Kitty RIP




The other health issues are the same old same old. Back at the chest clinic for my sleep apnea and chronic fatigue . Looks like I will have to take my CPAP machine on holiday with me. Also had to go back to the doctors for Tramadol and to see about my hands as the pins and needles are getting worse and am now losing the feeling in some of my fingers. They think it might be a nerve problem so we will wait and see.  As for the weight loss?..well...mmm.. not so good. I admit I have no willpower  which sucks when you are trying to lose weight and need to be good. I have upped my exercise program so as well as doing my physio on a morning and my version of Ti Chi, I am also doing push ups, weights, leg raises and wheelchair exercises I found on You tube. As well as this I have changed my eating habits. Cut out processed bread and food, eating more salads, fruit and veg along with fresh meat. As well as this I am also trying out that 5.2 diet. This is where you eat as normal 5 days a week and fast with shakes for two days. You also get one meal each of the two days but no more then 126 cals per meal. Yes I do feel that am starving but having looked into weight loss surgery as recommended by my doctor, I would rather do this then put myself through that. Any one who reckons that it is an easy option have no idea what they are talking about! Although I do have to say some of the people I know who have put themselves through this have wasted their chance as they are not making the drastic changes or not sticking to the changes they need to, so in my opinion have put themselves through all of that stress and pain for nothing. But as usual I will keep at it and try my best. Its not all doom and gloom I have managed to shift a couple of pound at least.

So to end this on a good note we finally told the kids about going back to Florida this September. We waited for Tylers 10th birthday party and got Captain Jack Sparrow to tell them. To say I have the most reserved and typically English children ever is an understatement. They didn't get excited until after they left lol.
 So every thing is ready for us leaving on the 29th for two weeks in the sun. Now that we have been before we are aware of what to do and what to expect for myself being in a wheelchair and Tyler who has ASD. There has been new things I have found out in my extensive research this time that I did not know the last time. Such as getting a wheelchair adapted room with a roll in shower, DAS and AAS passes for universal and Disney World for Tyler, making restaurants aware I am wheelchair bound prior to the meal,being able to order groceries delivered to your room and booking a Town Car for going off property so you don't have to drive or worry about accessibility. I have also decided to blog more about my experience traveling with my disability and various health issues as well as blogging more about my experience at University. They will be more pictures as well. This is in the hope that it will help people who are going through/been trough, friends and family's of any one who has any kind of disability or health issue  to know that life doesn't have to stop because of it no matter what the disability/health issue is.

YOU CAN ACHIEVE WHAT EVER YOU PUT YOUR MIND TOO. YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON THAT CAN HOLD YOU BACK 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

FUTURE PROOFING

Its not long now till the end of my first year on a Degree course. It has been enjoyable and at times frustrating, sometimes down right annoying, but the main thing is how far I have come as a person.

So whilst revising for or last two exams and awaiting the final results for our assignments we organised a visit to St Peters Campus and the DSA team based at The Gateway. This is something I would highly recommend for any one thinking of starting a University course anywhere, Disabled or not. It proved to be the best thing we did. For me it was the peace of mind knowing where I was going to be, knowing what to expect as this helped with my stress and anxiety issues. As well as that it was a dry run for getting around the campus with the wheelchair, fitting into lecture halls and class rooms and through doors. Again this helps with knowing what to expect so it is not a nasty surprise or embarrassment come September. For Jo it was the peace of mind knowing what was going to be expected of us , time tabling for child care and mental preparation.
 We met the head of the module who was really happy to answer any questions we had, talk us through the program and made sure we where comfortable. putting us at our ease.


 The space was incredible and so where the facilities and Jo and I have already sussed out the best root from the library to the Costa coffee shop and the canteen :). The meeting with the DSA team was brilliant as well. Again if you are thinking of attending college or University get in touch with these people. I didn't even realise how much help was available to me during my time at University. Everything from transport to get there, a helper around campus, to access to class notes in advance, rest breaks and support put in place for field trips and exams.
The library 
Looking around the campus the excitement grew and now am bouncing with the idea of starting and feel that September cant hurry up fast enough now for two reasons! I would never have thought 12 month ago that I would be able to do this or even get this far. My health was getting worse (still is but we are working on that), I had to leave work, the amputation hadn't gone according to plan and had not given me the freedom I had hoped and wished for, I was not in a good place mentally with regards to depression, body image and self confidence.

Now here I am, all assignments completed and handed in 3 weeks early, getting ready to sit my year end exams, preparing for moving to campus, looking at joining societies and trying to organize a fund raising event where I will have to be in the public arena and on display deliberately looking silly!(more news of this to follow).
my view of the lecture

Main lecture hall, my view from where I will be sat
This is the beautiful view from the canteen.
 



So this moves us on to my health and weight issues. Recently I decided that I needed to up the game with these two things. So this has taken the form of making sure I do my physio every day and I have added to this a bastardized version of step aerobics using the first step of my stairs and stepping on and off it . I currently can manage 10 of these before it hurts. Coupled with this I have started to try walking to the sitting room, bedroom and toilet with out the aid of my crutches. Its hair raising at times but I can do it...just. I have 141 days left before I head of to Florida and I want to be more mobile to do the things I couldn't do 2 year ago. I also want to try and improve my health so that I can get rid of the CPAP machine and ease the pain from the fibro and arthritis. This is not going to be easy and I know this, but its something I have to at least try other wise I will feel like a failure. I have posted a picture along with a video of me walking, this is a big step for me doing this mentally considering how embarrassed I feel and how much of a low opinion and low self esteem  I have of myself. This is a testimonial of how far I have come so far and the journey still ahead. Wish me luck !!!
This is me now at just over 21st

this is me showing how I walk at the moment and the size I am right now

Sunday, 4 May 2014

THE END OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR

This time at college has really flown by. In less than 5 weeks I will come to the end of my first year on my Extended Degree in Psychology. September will see me moving onto campus at St Peters and playing with the big boys.

I remember thinking that I would never understand any thing they where on about in Research Methods, IT or Algebra and Stats. Now look at me I am heading towards a first, Still don't understand but can do Algebra..if forced too!( still want to know why the letters, its wrong, so wrong, what do they stand for Apple, X for Xray? is it some secret mathematical Morse code or something?) Getting ready to sit a Stats exam and created, implemented and wrote a 20 page report on an experiment to do with memory for Research Methods with Joanne ( although must remember to call them "participants" and not "victims").

All joking aside, the last 9 month has been a hell of a ride for me and helped me develop, grow and become comfortable with who I am and where am at in my life. The best thing I ever did was leave the rat race and I now know that being in a wheelchair does not stop you from living your life to the full. Its not been an easy lesson and not every thing at college has been smooth. I still feel that they have a lot of kinks to iron out not just for disabled students but for everyone who takes a HE course as part of the University.

Friday sees me going across to the University for a visit to campus so I can get an idea of what faces me across their and to iron out any bumps. Also meeting with the staff and the DSA team who will help me with any needs I have. Promise to bring back photos ! Am thinking of taking on a more active role at University as well, getting more involved in things on campus. So I am applying to be a BPS student rep as well as looking at raising money/awareness for mental health with Jo by doing a lot of crazy and fun things during fresher week in September and last week of College( need to get permission first and work things out). But watch this space.

Not going to even mention my weight as am sulking about it and not speaking to my body ! but when I get out of my strop I will give you an update.

To be fair these last couple of weeks have been hard. I am currently fighting off an infection under my arm where an abscess burst and its making me feel rather ill, the sleep apnea seems to be getting worse, so too the arthritis and am swelling up like a balloon due to the fibro. So i think I can forgive myself a little here for not being hyper good with  the food and exercise.

But a bit of good news to end. I can now walk into the sitting room or to the bathroom without using my crutches or the chair. Its progress, slow, but at least its something. :)