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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Adaptive skiing lesson 6

It was really busy last evening, when I had my 6th lesson! The slope was partially cordoned off for freestyle stuff - jumps and pipes - so parts of the slope were quite narrow. The combination of obstacles, a lot of people and lots of lumps and bumps in the snow made for a challenging lesson.

Adam had got the new lift pull working and it is much better than the old system! In the video, when I'm at the top, you can just see a yellow strap, lying loose around my legs. That is what now pulls me up the lift. When we get to the top, there's a catch on the handles at the back and Adam just pulls it (like a bike brake) and off it pops. Unlike the previous system that bursts off and hits you on the head and then has to be totally taken off and carried down, this just reattaches and you can ski down with it in place, ready to get back on the lift.

Thanks to Dan (the only helper to come back a 2nd time) for videoing when it was so busy.

Neil also had a snowboard lesson at the same time as my lesson. He looked to be doing well. He's on the main slope now but mainly from half way. I passed him a few times but I was concentrating on not taking out any kids or crashing into anything, so we didn't chat much.

I've got the hang of moving myself around now. Although I'd feel a little nervous about going up the lift on my own, I'm pretty sure I could get to it and get on by myself. The pull that I would use for getting off is tricky though, so Adam's going to work on some adaptation to make that better. Then, next lesson, the plan is to go at a quieter time and learn to do the bottom half by myself - lift and no tethers. That is a really scary thought but exciting at the same time! It's easy to take risks and just go for it when you know someone has got hold of you but ultimately, I want to ski free.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Adaptive skiing lesson 5

Oh my goodness! I am still on a high from last night's skiing lesson! For the first time, last night, I really believed that one day I will be on the slopes with Neil and the lads, doing my favourite holiday thing.

Let's just go back four years. It was October 2012 and the first slopes had just opened in Levi. The boys were desperate to get out there and I wanted to know whether I would be able to ski at all. So off we went. They bought their ski passes and hit the lifts. I went over to Lastenmaa (children's world) where the slopes are easy. I tried but half way up on the lift, I was in agony and I couldn't ski down. I had no control over my left leg at all and my back and calves were killing! I went back to the car and sat and cried and cried for ages. I felt stupid! People in the third world are starving. We were supporting a friend who had lost both her children as a result of human trafficking. Not being able to ski was really not a big deal. It made no sense. But of all the things I lost through cauda equina syndrome, that was the one that hit me hardest.

So, back to last night. After my last lesson, I felt like I was making some progress and would be able to eventually ski with a ski buddy, on tethers... which is better than nothing. So I started thinking, what would I need to do to ski independently and there are some things I figured I would have to learn to do:

  • get into the sitski and fasten myself in
  • move myself around on the flat (to get to lifts, etc)
  • do the lifts myself
I was really excited when I arrived because Adam showed me a new lift gadget they had bought, which would make the lifts much easier and almost independent. That was great! Except that it wouldn't work, so we had to use the old kit. Shame, but they'll probably fix it for next time.

I had a go at moving myself around before we set off up the lift but I couldn't get the hang of it. When we were at the top, each time though, I practised... and now I can do it! By the end of the lesson, I could move myself forwards and backwards and turn around. 

As usual, I got our extra helper - Dan (I think but I'm awful with names) - who was by far the best helper we've had so far, to video one of my runs. Here it is...

I can't wait for my next lesson! I can really see the possibility of complete independence now. So what else do I want to learn, apart from continuing to practise my turns? Well for independence - as in, no tethers - I've got to think safety. So the next thing I have to learn, is to stop mid-run. If I was on a proper piste and something happened, I would need to be able to stop immediately and help out. I guess the other obvious thing is to be able to get upright again without help if I fall over. 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Got my Freewheel back

You may remember that several months ago (July), my Freewheel broke. Now don't get me wrong, I know that I have a lovely wheelchair that is easy to get around in and I am very grateful for that but having a Freewheel enables me to go further and do things that I can't do easily without it. I know that sometimes things break and have to be fixed or replaced but this just didn't happen as it should and we ended up having to get quite shirty with Recare, who had originally supplied it.

Now that the matter is sorted, we know what went wrong. My Freewheel was originally set up by Recare... by a bloke who no longer works there... but it was set up incorrectly, with a significant missing part, that we knew nothing about. We should perhaps have suspected something when we sent it back and Freewheel (via Recare) apparently accused us of misusing it. Well we got new parts to replace the broken part. We did research online and discovered information about the missing part. Eventually, we contacted Recare and explained what the issue was and eventually agreed with them that they would send a completely new, boxed Freewheel and we would set it up ourselves. Even then, that came with warnings (bordering on threats) about how we would have no comeback if we set it up and it broke again. I think they still thought it was our fault!

Well it came just over a week ago and last weekend, I used it again for the first time. It felt so lovely and smooth. Rough ground was like nothing! We went for a family walk in some of my favourite places that would have been really difficult without it. So I just want to share today that I'm very grateful that I have this dandy little attachment...

Photo of me propelling myself up a hill in the cemetary
 Photo of me smiling because I'm loving the ride!

Photo of me pausing at the top of a steep hill down to the beach.