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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. :)

Friday, 11 April 2014

SPRING TIME AND NEW BEGINNINGS

Can't believe its been 2 month since I last updated this.

Although things haven't been fast moving  things have still progressed in all areas of my life.

Started taking the physiotherapy more seriously again and have Incorporated it with other exercises in the hope that it will help me lose some weight. If not then at least it should keep my fitness levels up and help tone up some of the flabby bits. As a family we are all trying to eat a lo healthier and have stopped buying meat and fruit from the supermarket and using a local butchers in Grange town called Stirks instead. Their meat is the best and so are the prices so it is not just healthier but cheaper, always a bonus. we have also stopped buying so much processed food from the supermarket as well as changing from their bread to fresh baked bread . All of this seems to have helped my IBS a lot so another win win situation. Weight loss isn't great bu it is starting to decrease. The worst part is working out what is due to being unhealthy and weight gain and what is down to swelling from IBS, Arthritis and Fibromyalgia as these can all cause drastic weight gains. Add into the mix being in a wheelchair and pain killers and its not a good combination.

Only five weeks after the Easter break left in my first year at University and I cant believe how quickly it has gone ! I have enjoyed my time at Sunderland College (with it being an extended degree of 4 instead of 3 year the first year was at college), it has been a little disappointing in some aspects,. Definitely the best thing I have done but a bit disillusioned with it as not all that was promised or expected was delivered. But so excited about moving onto campus properly come September ! After speaking to my tutor it looks like if I keep up the hard work over the next 3 years then I will be heading for a first. So if you are sitting out there reading this, disabled or not, wondering if you could/should...just stop and do it !! you will be surprised how much help there is out there and how much you will enjoy it. Personally I have learnt a lot about myself in the last 9 months and found things out about myself that I never thought I would be capable of after my amputation.

Still counting down for September and Disney and have managed to get out socially with friends the other week. This was the first time in nearly a year. I plan on doing it more often, like I said before the amount of confidence going to University has given me is unreal. I released that I CAN do these things and I SHOULD enjoy myself just like everyone else and I am NOT an inconvenience ! So seeing as it was far and few between occasions off I went to the beauty salon. Can I just say how the hell women put themselves through that torture every week for those single eyelashes is beyond me! I don't know what was worse getting them on as it felt I had been blinded or taking them off. It was all worth it  though I felt like a million dollars and for once was happy with my body image, something I haven't been in a long time.
I have also been inspired to apply to more casting agencies, so that is what I have done.  Having had a screen test for a movie I released it wasn't an experience that most people will get and I loved every minute of it. I may not get the part but what a story to tell the grand kids.

So I guess overall just like spring I feel like I have been given a second lease of life. Another chance not just to plod along but to actually apply myself and do things I enjoy, experience things that prior to the amputations I wouldn't have dreamed of never mind now, just live life to the full and damn the wheelchair and no legs. My kids see me living life to the full and not letting things such as no legs hold me back then hopefully they will relaise   that in this life anything is possible, never give up and dreams can come true if you work hard.This is the legacy I want to leave. I am not saying its going to be easy. I am not saying am not going to have set backs or issues. Hell I could be on a total downer tomorrow and sit and wonder how much more I have to take and why me. The point is..eventually... the good days will out weigh the bad ones. It just takes time and a whole lot of hard work.