Is it really October already? Well, what a month September was! September was filled with lots of exciting events for me.
I have always had a vehicle that I sat in the car seat, with my wheelchairs in the back. If I had the choice, I was always against travelling in my wheelchair because it felt as though I would be confined. Even though it is not possible for some people to transfer out of their wheelchair and into a car seat, and I hate to use this word, but personally, I felt that it kind of made me feel less "normal". Even though I didn't think about my wheelchair being my legs as such, it almost felt as if I was stuck standing in the car at first. I think it was the first time my wheelchair felt confining really.
I have had wheelchairs virtually all my life, but I've never had a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) before. I actually got my new car on 24 July, but I decided to include it in this update. It took a lot of getting used to, but I quite like it now. I'm pleased that I was able to adapt to it so quickly because I was worried that I wouldn't like it due to it being a major change in my life. Here is a photo of my new car below. Yes, I chose the colour! (If you don't know already, my favourite colour is red!)
The second thing that I would like to talk about in this post is that I had a go at doing boxing! A few weeks ago, I watched someone boxing with a trainer in a video on Facebook. I had seen this woman in other videos before, and then I watched the video of her boxing. I always presumed that I wouldn't be able to box because I don't have a lot of control over my hands, but that video made me want to try it. It was fun, but I was restricted quite a lot by my chair, so I think it might have been better if I got out into the ring. The only time that is available for me to do a session is 8pm on a Tuesday, and what I was really looking for was a session in the day so I can use my respite hours for it.
If I'm honest, it felt like the club, as a whole, were just using me to make it look good and to tick a box... I know that he meant well, but the guy who did it with me was trying too hard and he came across as being a bit patronising as well, so that put me off.
Here is a photo of me boxing.
Another thing that happened in September was my birthday. For my birthday, my mum got me tickets for the BBC Radio 2 Festival in a Day. This event was a few days before my birthday, on 15 September, in Hyde Park, in London. I had always wanted to go to a festival to get the experience and because I love music. I got the chance to know what my surprise was way before hand, but I held back the temptation to find out right up until my mum said that she had to tell me.
We got up early on Sunday morning to travel up there. When we arrived at the hotel, there were about three or four taxi cabs at the side of the hotel car park waiting to transport guests from the hotel to where they wanted to go. By the look of them, they were all wheelchair accessible, which is good. The only down side was that the ones that we went in were quite cramped so I'm not sure how someone with a larger wheelchair would get on. On the way to Hyde Park, the taxi man didn't strap my wheelchair down, but on the way back to the hotel, we had a different man driving us, and he had all the straps to put onto my wheelchair, including a seat belt. I'm not sure what the law states about wheelchairs in taxis, but I was a bit confused as to why the first one didn't strap my chair down.
Anyway, we headed off to Hyde Park. When we got into the taxi, the driver locked the doors; I was a bit surprised by this, but my mum explained that they lock the doors so that people can't run away without paying the driver. It was about a 20 minute drive to Hyde Park. When the taxi dropped us off, we were in front of a large building that looked like a posh hotel. There were a few people that looked a bit like butlers outside the building.
It took us about ten minutes to walk to Hyde Park from where the taxi dropped us off. I could hear the music even before we got into the actual venue. As it was an outdoor festival, I didn't think that it was too loud, which was lucky. The noise was absorbed into the air! We weren't allowed to take water bottles that were filled up into the festival itself, so we just had empty bottles, and we filled them up using the water fountains provided.
When we arrived in our pre-booked seating area, there was a lady who was refusing to move to let us in. My mum asked them politely if they would make some space for us, but she got really shirty with my mum. Then my mum had a word with the people who were working at the event, and they came over to talk to the people who were being a bit obtuse. In the end, we moved and ended up getting a better seat!
Shall I tell you the line-up? Bananarama were there, including Status Quo, Petshop Boys (who were the "Headline Act") Clean Bandit, Simply Red, Kelsea Ballerini (I haven't got a clue who she is), and the one, the only, Westlife! Emili Sande was going to be there as well, but unfortunately, she couldn't make it because she was ill - but, wow! Let me tell you, the whole experience was absolutely phenomenal!
The weather was excellent too, which made it even better! It only became chilly in the evening, it was hot the rest of the time. All the acts were fantastic, even Clean Bandit (which I've never really liked), but I have to say that Westlife definitely topped it for me! I'll even admit to getting emotional when Westlife sang "Flying Without Wings" and "What About Now"! I sang along with songs like "Uptown Girl", and partied to "When You're Looking Like That"!
In other news, I also became a writer for an online magazine, Disability Horizons. Since leaving college in July, I have written two articles for the disability magazine. Only one of them has been published so far. You can read the first one here.
As I'm sure that most of you are aware, I had been waiting for a new electric wheelchair for well over a year... Guess what guys? I've finally got it! I went to collect it last Monday. I must admit, I was half expecting to be let down again and to be told that it wasn't ready to be collected because of all the issues I have had with my local wheelchair services in the past, but this time I was pleasantly surprised.
We went around Fareham after we picked it up! I feel that it was the first time that I have been this independent out and about in my life because I found my previous electric wheelchair difficult to use, and I never really used it apart from at school and college. It was almost as if I was thrown in at the deep end so it was a bit nerve-wracking, but I have more freedom now and I'm so glad I did it! It's going to take practice, but it's great! The following photos were taken on Monday, 30 September in the Newgate Lane ASDA carpark.
The chair has several speeds. It has five profiles, with five different speeds on each profile, but there's only three activated for me: slow, medium and fast. I only have it on the second medium at the moment because the slow profile is way too slow (it's like a snail's pace), as is the next speed and the fast setting is too fast at the moment because I'm not used to it yet. To move my chair, I move my foot in the direction I want to go in (if I point my foot down, it moves forward, point up, the chair moves backwards. (It's the same with left and right.)
Here are two photos of one of my splints that I had specially made to enable me to use this chair. The gap in the back allows me to flex my foot.
The photo below is the control panel, where I can see what the chair is doing, along with the speed and battery life. My chair can tilt as well, but they recommended that I don't have it tilted that far back because they said that it's not good for my neck. Even though I do feel like I'm leaning forward, I am getting used to it. I'm not sure why it feels like this, but I think with my old electric (which had the same seating system) I controlled it using head switches, so it was easier to have the chair tilted. I think gravity played a part in helping to keep me sat up and helped to make it easier for me to keep my head on the button in order to move the chair, so I just got used to being in that position.
The only things I'm waiting for to complete my chair now are the correct armrests. When I went to collect my chair, it just had the standard armrests, but it was meant to have softer 'waterfall' armrests because I'm less likely to hurt myself on them and 'waterfall' armrests fill in most gaps, therefore I am also less likely to get my arms stuck under them. Plus, I've found that waterfall armrests make it easier to fix my arms because these type of armrest don't move.
The only things that I need to focus on to improve are getting into my car because when I go up my ramp, I get nervous as it fees like my wheelchair is tipping backwards, even though I know I'm ok. The other thing that I need to do is stop when I feel un-easy; there have been a few times when someone has walked right in front of me, and I've panicked and tried to get out of their way. Do you think I need L Plates?
This wheelchair really is a cool bit of kit! It's fantastic.
I'm pleased to announce that on the 27 September, I opened up a savings bank account and paid a birthday cheque into it. I did this without my mum being there! The only worry I had was the fact that the person who wrote the cheque put 'E' where the name of the recipient is meant to go. My guess is either she forgot how to spell my name, or she didn't realise that I have control over my own money. Luckily, I managed to pay it in without issues to do with the name being different. Doing this helped me become more confident in myself.
Last but not least, I can't go without saying something about World CP Day... Yes, tomorrow's the day that millions of people worldwide celebrate the triumph and achievements that people with Cerebral Palsy make every day! In a pledge to raise awareness for this special day, I am asking you to wear something green and let everyone know why... Let's show the world that WE ARE HERE!
That's about it for this blog post. I don't usually write this much in one post, but I had quite a lot to tell you this time! I hope you have enjoyed reading about what I have been getting up to lately. Have you been up to much? I'd love to hear, so please let me know in the comments below... If you enjoyed this post, give it a 'like'.
Thanks for reading, bye for now.