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Friday, 8 July 2011

Reasons to Smile- Pride For Our Armed Forces

As British Armed Forces Day, (June 25th for future reference), was so sadly overlooked the other week in many corners of this our fair & supposedly patriotic Isle; I feel that today’s Reason to Smile should reflect & project the gratitude & pride that I deeply feel for our amazing British Military.
Although more often than not, my daily Reasons to Smile posts have a pretty tenuous link to the subject of disability, (which is actually partly the point)- with an alarming number of service personnel returning home from active service with life changing injuries each year, it’s fair to say, that on top of facing often harrowing scenes whilst serving on operations; a growing number of our British Military, (both serving & ex-serving), are now facing similar hurdles to many of us civvies that are learning to live with disability too.
Albeit extremely clear in many instances that these men & women’s journeys to get them to the point of acceptance of their new lives are very different indeed to many of us reading this blog- it's important to highlight that ALL of our paths to this stage in our rehabilitation & realisation, are different from one another in every case.
The above is one of the reasons that I vehemently believe that broad assumptions & categorisations should never be made about us; as if nothing else, we are still individuals with extremely individual circumstances that lead us to this one shared point in our lives.
For those of you who aren’t yet aware, I am a military wife & an extremely proud one at that.
When I met my husband six years ago, I had never really been blessed with knowing many people in our wonderful British Military; however, with my boyfriend, (now husband), a serving member of the RAF of fourteen years, I was swiftly & warmly welcomed into this unique & wonderful world with open arms.

The world of the extended military family is an extremely close & supportive one. This was regularly demonstrated to me in an official capacity by senior officers supporting us when Garry had to rearrange work for unforeseen hospital admissions & by SSAFA- (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association), providing us with volunteers to help with dog walking & getting to regular medical appointments
In an unofficial capacity is crucially when this family unit would come into their own- whenever the chips were down, or Garry was away in Afghanistan, the whole wonderful RAF Lyneham community would rally around like no other group of people I’ve ever met, providing comfort, compassion & copious cups of tea: (& maybe just the odd glass of vino or two too as well)!
Blessed with friends as serving members, (& as serving wives), in the other forces also, I am pleased to confirm that this spirit is not confined to RAF Lyneham & the Air Force alone.

From the very little that I do know of the experiences of those brave individuals who admirably often end up dealing with PTSD on top of the daily stresses of accepting a new life with a disability; I am pleased to learn a little of the psychological support that is rightly in place for them at Headley Court- (the military rehabilitation centre).
As one of the next stops on my quest to try to understand what would be the ideal best practice of psychological support for those facing the transition into disability from all walks of life; I am really keen to hear from those of you who have lived through this transition, (both in civvie street or in the military world), to learn if elements of the military model of care, could perhaps be applied to the NHS infrastructure of psychological support that I passionately believe should be in place as standard for people becoming disabled.
I welcome any of you who would like to share your experiences with me to email me your story to kazreader@hotmail.co.uk.

Whatever you do this rare sunny British ‘Summer’ weekend; enjoy that trip to the park, revel in time catching up with old friends & of course savour that cool glass of Pimms; but please, please, please spare a minute's thought for those wonderful people who make up our amazing British Armed Forces; those serving or retired, medically discharged or sadly no longer with us- I can personally vouch that they are a thoroughly unique & inspiring breed, one that should be supported & respected by us, the British Public.
Smile today & be respectful & proud of what so few have done for so many.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Reasons to Smile- Bridesmaid Buddies!

Although I’m yet to watch the latest U.S. box office smash ‘Bridesmaids', a trailer that I saw for the film the other day made me stop for a second & remember my own wonderful ladies in waiting & reflect upon how the memories of that day make me feel.
Blessed with such dutiful friends from such diverse walks of life, I found choosing a select group of friends to wear pretty dresses in a public declaration of friendship on the biggest day of my life, pretty tricky indeed.
After much procrastination, I finally decided upon four 'singing bridesmaids', two traditional ‘bridesmaid bridesmaids’, two flower girls & two readers; plus my dog Barley & my very own Best Man- I kid you not!
(If you’re not already realising this, I don’t make decisions easily, nor do I do things by halves!).
By smiling back at me every morning from the picture of my wedding day on my dresser, (evoking some hugely uplifting memories), & by being some of the most loyal & loving of all of my wonderful friends; these eight amazing ladies & two gorgeous girlies, make me smile everyday, not just this day alone: however, it is today that I choose to declare publicly how wonderful these ladies are & how happy they make me!
Today, the thought of my wonderful bridesmaids is the thing that is making me smile- what’s doing the job for you?
Please comment & let me know. Happy 7th July everyone- treasure those closest to you, this & everyday.

My beautiful friend Charlotte, always there for me with the most eloquent of encouragements!

 My Maid of Honour & unfailing support Jayne.                    

My gorgeous God daughter Alura Rose

Stacey, Claire, Dawnie & Amy: these ladies are beautiful & talented- they made my day then & continue to do so now!
Gorgeous Mummy & daughter, Stacey & Brookie.
I'm such a lucky lady. Tell me why you feel grateful & happy today?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Reasons to smile 6th July 2011- Thank You!

It’s exactly two weeks since going live & the number of hits on Discover Disability has just topped 2000 at 4.27am on 6th July ’11- (I assure you that I am only awake at this unearthly hour due to pain & not an excitement to see the counter top the two grand landmark: honest!).
In accordance with my daily Reasons To Smile post, I’d like to proclaim my gratitude that your support is the primary reason that I am smiling today.
Each hit, follower & comment over the past fortnight, has filled me with encouragement & although it goes without saying that every comment in response to the blog is dearly treasured; the messages that I’ve received from those of you who are battling the same, or similar demons to my own, are particularly poignant to me.
To know that already we are breaking down those self-imposed barriers, so that we may finally share with others the thoughts & feelings that we are all too often afraid to admit to ourselves let alone speak aloud to others; is heartening indeed.
To every one of you who has taken the time out of your hectic lives to read even a few lines of my rambling thoughts thus far- thank you, sincerely.
Thank you also to those of you who have taken further time to forward links, post comments, become 'followers' & write personal letters of encouragement- every one of these is hugely appreciated as I believe that the more of a following that the blog gets, the more clout we have in trying to gain awareness of the need for better psychological support for those who become disabled & for hose immediately affected by this monumental change in their lives.
It is because of my deep rooted belief in this cause that I am once again going to shamelessly ask that if you haven’t already done so, that you please forward the link of the blog on to as many others that you think may be interested & that you also click the 'FOLLOW' button at the bottom right of the main blog page.
I'm really sorry that I haven't managed to reply to all of your personal messages as yet, but I assure you that I am working my way through.
I hope that as the blog grows, so too does the understanding of disability & it’s affect on the psyche of those who are afflicted by it.
Despite the hugely negative affect that disability can have on our lives, I strongly agree with this sentiment expressed to me by an extremely brave & inspirational young woman who has been disabled from birth yet continues to be blighted by ever increasing health problems:
‘’ I love my life and although I have off days I wouldn’t change a thing as my experiences have shaped who I am today.’’
An inspiring thought from an incredibly inspirational lady. It's a thought that epitomizes embracing your life whatever form it may take; which I feel is the goal that those going through the emotional transition into disability should work towards.
The young lady’s name who wrote the message is Hayley Price- Trott & I hope that you will join me in praying, ( or sparing a thought, if you’d prefer), that her current stay in hospital is as short one & that she may begin to make progress in her present battles.
Thank you again for your time & support. Make the most of this Wednesday 6th July 2011 everyone- you won’t get another!
Until tomorrow....

Monday, 4 July 2011

Chronic Pain- The Invisible Disability

Having been completely overwhelmed by the unprecedented response to my first post, I wanted this my second, to focus on thanking those of you who have decided to embark upon my journey of discovering disability with me. I also wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the fascinating messages that I have received from those of you also living with disability: however, as is so often the case since I became disabled, my best laid plans have been thwarted by my despicable & debilitating nemesis- PAIN.
It’s 4.44am & pain is at my door today.
Pain is the dictator of my life.
Pain is vile; words just cannot express how much this is so.
Pain comes along & sucks the life out of my day.
Pain confines me to bed. Bed is my prison today. I resent my bed.
I want to use the pain for good- how on Earth am I to do this?
My initial response to today’s arrival of pain was to try & slip into my usual denial that it was even there at all. Ready to regale to you tales of more light hearted elements of life in my chair; (such as my recent argument between my wheelchair & a nappy changing unit- the changing unit won I’m afraid to say!): I promptly reminded myself that the whole point of this blog is that it should be an honest & frank portrayal of life with a disability. To be true to this quest- here is my real response to today’s attack by pain…
Having recently acquired the keys to my life again, (as a result of receiving a better morphine regime); a mistake in my medication yesterday has sent my pain levels soaring into uncontrollable heights. These are the heights in which until recently I was living daily, confined to my bed, my prison, my hell.
What I’d like the positive spin on today’s unpleasant experience to be, is that those who are also experiencing this torment may feel less isolated & that those who’ve never experienced this pain may learn a little of what it does to you when it comes to play for the day.
I’m sure many of you are asking why? Why is there a need to share with others the diabolical nature of your pain? Lets face it, life is full of too many personal difficulties as it is; we all have our own crosses to bare. What is the point in sharing something so lacking in positivity?
 I vehemently believe that I should share this with you as chronic pain is simply not recognised enough. Pain is the silent & invisible disability. Unlike amputation, birth defects or wheelchair dependency; chronic pain is not visible to those around you & therefore in my opinion, is just not given the respect it so deserves.
Nobody wants to moan or whinge, or demand attention from others; but when you are suffering this much pain there is a part of you that does just simply want to shout from the roof tops- ‘this pain is destroying me. This pain sucks out any sense of me! This pain makes me want to do the unthinkable at times’.
Not comfortable reading I know & part of me is sorry for that: however, the part of me that worries myself sick that friends must get so irritated when I can’t make that drink; or that I must have been perceived as grumpy & aloof at that work dinner of my husband’s as I was silently battling with my debilitating demon; isn’t sorry & just wants the world to understand & relate to those with chronic pain.
Chronic pain can be caused by illness as well as injury & is seldom talked about in the mainstream media. I believe this is because it is not easy to quantify & describe.
Chronic pain is extremely isolating: few express their emotions pertaining to it, partly as we all too often opt for that British, stiff upper lip & stoic manner, & partly because the general feelings that the situation evoke are not positive, happy, fluffy & easy to express.
I’d really like to challenge our perception of pain so that others in a similar situation to me may feel slightly less lonely when they have a day such as mine today.
 It is a common misconception that chronic pain may be eased by social interaction & distraction. This may be true at some levels of pain, but I feel it imperative to point out that the days when chronic pain reaches unbearable heights, one is usually confined to bed as a result & does not just have pain because they’re feeling lazy & would like some time chilling out with that CSI box set that has just arrived from Amazon!
I all too often receive this well meant sentiment & although much appreciated, it really does frustrate me-
‘You’re feeling better today because you’re out & about love- I know it. Being in that bed of yours can’t help you’.
…Of course it doesn’t help; nobody at 28 years old wants to be confined to bed for months on end, missing dear friends’ weddings, christenings & hours of need. Being confined to bed by pain is not a life choice but a necessity.
Indeed there are links to cognitive behavioural therapy & depression having affects on one’s ability to cope with pain; but the message that I want to convey to you today, is that pain is not caused by feeling down- I am down today as a result of my chronic pain.
If you are experiencing chronic pain today then I pray that you may find something to ease the incessant hell. If you have never experienced chronic pain then I pray that you never will. I also hope that from hearing a snippet of a day lived with chronic pain, that you may now be blessed with more of an understanding of those around you who may be living with it, yet perhaps are desperately trying to conceal it from you.
Stay safe everyone. Until the next time….
Today’s reason to smile 4th July 2011-
Is this wonderfully lighthearted & uplifting video shown to me by my husband. Those of you with dogs; have you ever wondered how they may sound & what they may say if they could speak? Take a look at this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeKSiCQkPw
Happy 4th July 2011 everyone; enjoy it the best that you are able to.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Reason to smile; 3rd July 2011

Today’s reason to smile is this inspirational blog written by the best-selling writer Gretchen Rubin whose book, The Happiness Project, is the account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier.
Visit http://www.happiness-project.com/ to be inspired.
Happy 3rd July 2011 everyone; make today count!