When I first started this blog, I was new to using a wheelchair. I had cauda equina syndrome in April 2012, which damaged the nerves to my left leg and saddle. It took me a year or two before I considered using a wheelchair but I'm so glad I did. It gives me the freedom to live a normal life and do most of the things I want to do.
In this blog, I share my own experiences of being a part-time wheelchair user, in the hope that it will inspire and encourage other newly disabled people.
Now that I've been more active, getting out as part of the Make Your Move challenge, I feel drawn to try some other sports. I've never been big on team sports, so let's start by ruling those out. If I hated them playing the regular way, chances are I'll still not like them playing in a chair. So, this week, I've been trying to find some different sports to have a go at...
This is what I want to look like...
Maybe that's one of the reasons I love my freewheel so much - it makes my wheelchair look like a racing chair. But it's still broken. Good news though! They are going to repair it, so I've sent it back and I'm hoping and praying that it returns very soon. When it does, I'm tempted to pop over to the Costello Stadium in Hull and get out on a proper track. I could do some timed exercises and see what sort of distance suits me best.
Of course, if I ever decided to take it up as a serious sport, I'd need somewhere nearer to train and a proper racing chair, but given that it's a summer sport, that's unlikely.
We get gym membership as part of our corporate leisure centre deal. I've given it a try a couple of times but I could do with some proper coaching to help me know which exercises to focus on. The good thing is that it's indoors and most of the machines have built in fans, and the building has air cooling. The downside is that it isn't very wheelchair friendly and I feel quite self-conscious because I can't do very much.
Yesterday afternoon, Neil and I went to the leisure centre and played table tennis together for an hour. I really love this. It's an ideal sport for playing as a hybrid pair - one able bodied and one in a wheelchair - and I can play well enough to keep the ball going back and forth. We decided yesterday that when I get my assistance dog, one of the first things I need to teach it as an extra, is how to retrieve a delicate ping pong ball. It's hard work, trying to pick it up off the floor in a chair, though I did improve my technique.
The downside of table tennis, is that our membership only gives us free play during the day, so we can only really play at weekends. Even then, it depends who is on the front desk - some will give us table tennis for free because it's on a badminton court (which is a perk of the membership deal) but others say it isn't mentioned specifically and therefore is charged.
I love swimming and would happily do this most days but the pool only has lanes from 7:00 - 8:00 in the morning. The rest of the time, it is a free-for-all and often quite busy. Plus, there's only one accessible changing room, so we try to go when we know nobody else will be needing it. I did once have to stand/sit outside for 20 minutes, waiting for another person to get changed. When my legs gave out, and I could stand no more, I sat in my chair but my bum was wet and that made my seat wet and it just wasn't nice.
Having said that, we are going swimming this evening, so we'll see if it's a bit quieter for the last hour on a Sunday.
Having had my first lesson at ChilFactore, and loved it, I have now found out that Xscape have reintroduced adaptive skiing. This is the best news ever! ChilFactore is just too far but Xscape is just down the road. So, I have a lesson booked this week. I will be learning in one of these...
I like the idea of a biski, where you sit on two skis but the teacher there eventually has ideas of getting me on a monoski, where the seat is on one ski. At first, I really didn't want to consider this but when I think about it, it can't be so very different, so I could give it a go. For now though, I will be biskiing.
At my last lesson, the teacher held on to me at the back with a bar but this week, I'm going to be tethered. The main difference is that now, I'll have to get the turns right by myself. The teacher assures me that we will start part-way up the slope (not right at the top) so that I can get the technique right. Who knows though, I might make it to the top by the end of the lesson.
For the last 30 days, I've been doing a BBC Get Inspired challenge. Even though I'm not as active as I'd like to be, I do like to push myself and engage in sporting activities. Plus, I want to inspire other people with disabilities to be active and to achieve things they thought they couldn't. So the challenge I've been doing is the Take a Hike challenge. Here are the goals...
Aim - walk/roll every day
I haven't walked every single day but I have walked (or rolled) most days. I've just added up how far I have 'hiked' during the challenge and it's between 28 and 30 km. That is just amazing! What I have loved about this challenge, is that there were many evenings when I would have just sat and watched the telly but being an ambassador put a bit of pressure on me to get out for a walk first. So the challenge has really made me change my lifestyle, albeit in a small way.
I don't know about stronger legs but my arms and shoulders have definitely got stronger. At the beginning, I was tired and achy after a kilometre but now I can propel over 3 km before feeling really achy. Even though I've done the 30 days, I really want to keep this up because I'm feeling more confident because of being stronger in my upper body. I feel less vulnerable about getting stuck somewhere and being unable to get myself home or back to the car.
My original goal was to get to 5 km. I haven't achieved this but I made it to 4 km and that is just fantastic! I haven't given up on the 5 km but time is the biggest issue... and the summer. Once the heat and the wasps have all finished (hopefully October-ish) I'm going to resurrect this challenge and try to get to 5 km at least once a week, with slightly shorter runs in between. However, I have increased my time and distance, something that I will continue to work on.
My major heartbreak of this challenge was the death of my freewheel. I've contacted the company that I bought it from and they are trying to sort it out with the suppliers but so far, I've been unimpressed with freewheel's response. They are saying it's wear and tear but I only bought it in November and 8 months for such an expensive piece of equipment, doesn't sound very good to me. Because I have no freewheel at the moment, hiking anywhere off-road is... well... off. Plus it really is now above my threshold temperature for being outdoors and the wasps are beginning to bother me. So, I have a plan...
I had an adaptive skiing lesson a while ago over in Manchester. I loved it but it's too far to travel regularly. However, I've just found out that Castleford have resumed adaptive skiing and that's just down the road. So for the summer, I'm going to aim to become an independent skier. I had ruled out monoskiing because of my awful balance but I'm now thinking I might give it a go. If not, then biskiing looks manageable, if a little less independent.
I have been so excited this week, after ordering my new wheels on Saturday! I knew they were due to arrive today and all day, I've been checking my phone in the hope that Neil would have Whatsapped me to say they were here. Eventually, just as I was leaving work, they arrived.
I should have done an unboxing video really but I only thought about that afterwards. I wanted to get them straight on my chair and test them out. I went for a quick spin round the block and they work! Neil is less excited about this than I am. He apparently knew they would work because they are round and that's what makes wheels work. Deep sigh!!!
So aren't they beautiful?!?!?!
Oh, I should probably explain what is so good about them. They are designed with suspension built into the wheel, so when I go over bumps or uneven surfaces, they should take the vibrations and shocks out before it gets to my back. Given that I feel everything through my lower back, any improvement has got to be good!
You can get them in loads of different colours. I chose white to match my wheelchair and because white is my favourite colour. It's the colour of snow and I love snow!
I'm just working out when I can get out for a really long ride. I was hoping to go this evening but we've got someone coming to give us a quote for doing the garden and then we're going to collect Andy from his uni house. Tomorrow I'm at work most of the day but might be able to go out later. We'll have to see.