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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

PREPARATIONS , BIRTHDAYS AND COMIC CONS

I am trying to improve the blog so that as well as detailing my life, trials and tribulations being an amputee and in a wheelchair, but also as a source of information, help and advice.

I would like to think that if just one person found an answer to a question or reassurance that life goes on and they don't need to think of themselves as a burden on family then  I have done something right.

We are coming to the end of our first year on University campus but my 2nd year of a 4 year extended degree in Psychology. It has had its ups and downs but has definitely been an experience that am glad I had and looking forward to next year.

The support has been brilliant from Student Finance, the disability team at University and from the staff themselves. But we are now coming up to exam time. eeek ! But do not fear, every thing has been put in place for me to succeed , well as far as not worrying about access etc I still have to sit and pass the damn things.

I have received my own timetable, been given extra time to complete exams a long with a separate room and invigilator, PC and some one to scribe for me if needed. This is brilliant as it takes off any added worry or pressure that this could have caused for me. Now just need to try and stay calm and sit the exams in May. Wish me luck.

Last month I took part in a number of things after making a promise to myself to have as many new experiences as possible. Never let anyone tell you you cannot do something because you are disabled or in a wheelchair.

First off I took place in raising money for Student Minds through a group at university called Thinking Ahead.  This involved doing a couple of radio interviews with Sun FM. I set a target of  raising  £100 , once reached then I would shave my head.Well as you can see from the photo the target was not just reached but smashed with a grand total of approx £182 raised ! The head shave took place in The Prospect building at University where we offered people the chance to take a chunk of hair for a donation. After an hour the head was shaved.

If you wish to donate the link is https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jenniferclark1

Thinking Ahead are on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thinkingaheadsunderland?fref=ts

We also celebrated two birthdays in the house. Toyah turned five and Eden turned nine. Unfortunately did not make Toyah's birthday party due to ill health , but from all reports it was a success and Elsa stole the show.

Eden's was held at the Sandcastle Pub in there fun house. Access for myself was fine with no issues being able to get in or out of the building or the fun house. The children all had a great time and what was even better was there was no mess for me to clean up. So a win win situation.

My other big outing during March was to Newcastle Comic Con which was organised by Showmasters. We bought Early bird tickets for both the Saturday and Sunday. We all got dressed up and on the Saturday I went as Maleficent.
 The attendants on the car park where helpful and checked the blue badge before directing us to disabled parking then informed us that it was free. Bouns ! Access to the building was on the level and no issues getting in . Although after the event I found out that on production of my DLA letter and Davids Carers letter he could have got in for free. The website does not state this any where and having emailed them several times about other things they are really bad at replying. As yet am still waiting for reply's on my questions !

The foyer was not crowded and no one give me a second look, well to be fair with all the Green Arrows, Storm Troopers , Darth Vader's etc I guess I wouldn't.

Being honest I was concerned about how things would work for me accessing stalls , autographs and photo shoots. But apart from the odd hiccup it was nothing to worry about and there was other people with wheelchairs etc present as well.

Showmasters had handled things really well considering how badly things could have gone and I was impressed. It made my first Comic Con very enjoyable and wanting me to do more. The staff where helpful regarding access to signing and  the photo ops and the stars themselves went out of their way to make sure I got the same opportunity as the other fans. Finding the disabled toilets at the venue proved a challenge

so ended up using the normal toilets and getting out of the wheelchair to use the cubicle. Not great if that is not an option. Getting around was slow as the venue was not large enough for what they had in there and the main worry was Anna crashing me into stalls, autograph tables (which she did twice) and taking peoples ankles out. It also made shopping and looking at the stalls very difficult. But we waited until it had cleared out a bit by 4 pm and accessing the stalls at that point and being able to get around was fine, much easier. If you don't like crowds or being hemmed in with the threat of going into some one or them falling on you I would  wait until it has quieted down for the shopping.

The only problem with that is that the traders bring limited stock with them so you may miss the chance of getting that certain something.

Unfortunately due to the long day and excitement my fibro flared up and stopped me from going on the Sunday. But I must have made such an impression as Garret Wang ( ensign Kim from voyager) saw Anna and asked where I was .....not sure if that was good or not as not certain whether it meant I made a good impression or the wrong type of impression !


So something I want to try again. Thinking about heading down to London Comic Con at the Olympia, Again not certain of their access at the venue for wheelchair users as waiting on Showmasters replying to my email. But lets see what happens. Hotels are proving  difficult as a couple of them that are near the exhibition center are  not disabled accessible, nor  do they have accessible bathrooms.

Transport is also proving an issue as we are trying not to take the car due to the long drive and the price of parking. We are trying to stay as near as possible so we don't have the nightmare of trying to access public transport  such as the tube !
Also off down to Manchester in May with Anna as  she is going to see Tyler Oakley???? Which means we are taking her down and having an over night stop down there to do some shopping. So this should also prove to be an interesting experience. I have to admit these two next trips will be very much taking me out of my comfort zone and I have many concerns especially about how things will work for access, transport and accommodation.


Another thing I am trying to put into place is a fundraising site called The Psych Twins. This is to raise money and awareness for local North East Charities. In October we are going to be holding a Monster Masquerade ball to raise funds for Sunderland Carers Center. We have a comedian and burlesque act . meal. raffell and disco all being held at the Stadium of Light. We have Johnny Depp's official stand in Simon Newton attending as well as a special guest to be announced nearer the time.

https://www.facebook.com/psychtwinsfundraising?ref=hl

But on top of this I am currently carrying out research on services pre and post op for amputees .  I believe that not enough is being done with regards to advice, support and therapy.
Once the research has been carried out my colleague and I are hoping to set up a center where we will be able to provide this along with a web page containing advice and on line or telephone counselling.

If you can spare five minutes and are an amputee please follow the link and complete the survey.

https://surveyplanet.com/5509dfbe1945880c2c5b4701

If you do need to talk , advice or concerns you can contact me through twitter or Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/theamputeediaries

https://twitter.com/greebo89



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