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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Today's Reason to Smile- Improvise, Adapt & Overcome.

I hope that you have had a wonderful, if a little wet a Saturday 16th July 2011.
With my aim to provide a variety of joyful, inspiring & uplifting posts for my Daily Reasons to Smile, I today turned to You Tube, & simply typed, ‘inspirational stories’. After sieving through the mass of American seminar uploads, I soon found this light hearted little gem.
I’m sure by now, you have learnt that I love dogs & am extremely blessed with my own dear Barley Dog, a five year old Golden Retriever; so I suppose it’s not overly surprising that I was drawn to today’s video of this gorgeous dog.
Her name is Ricochet & she was initially trained to be a service/helper dog for the disabled.
When it turned out that although extremely bright & talented, she was not quite right for this path in life: rather than push him to do something that she couldn’t do, her owner & trainer encouraged her to use what she could do, to achieve something brilliant.
Ricochet has now raised thousands of dollars for people with disabilities & continues to do so.
To me, this story reiterates that some of us may not be travelling along the path in life that we always believed that we should & would be, but that does not mean that we won’t achieve something amazing still.
Life throws us curve balls; like the US Marines say- ‘improvise, adapt & overcome’.
If events or circumstances in your life have blocked off paths that you had hoped to travel down; don't mourn for the experiences you may have enjoyed, but embrace the ones that you are about to.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Reason to smile- Friday 15th July 2011

The thing that has made me smile today has been seeing our wonderful capital city at it's best- bathed in sunshine!.
I hope that you have enjoyed your 15th July 2011. Best wishes to you all.
What has made you smile today? Please share with us all on our Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Discover-Disability/199650300082847?ref=ts

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Daily Reason to Smile- 'The Katie Piper Factor'

Today's Daily Reason to Smile  post is a story that to me utterly epitomises courage & emotional strength.
I hope that by now, most of you have heard of the tale of the incredibly inspirational young woman that is Katie Piper- the girl that shockingly had acid thrown in her face by an associate of a man that she had been dating. Incredibly, in the face of adversity, Katie built her life back up again & set up The Katie Piper Foundation which is there to help & support other individuals with burns & scars on their face or body, who have to face our cruel & unkind world & the small minded attitudes that unfortunately exist amongst us.
I have recently been reading Katie’s book & I am so appalled to hear that this amazing young woman not only survived the ordeal that we have all become so aware of; but prior to this taking place, was also subjected to a truly horrific beating & sexual assault by the man responsible for orchestrating her acid attack.
I can not possibly comprehend how dreadful this period in Katie’s life must have been for her & her family, & how hard the transition into her new life must have been.
I can only imagine that the emotional scars of this experience will never fully heal for Katie; but through her amazing work with her foundation, I'm sure that she'll be hugely inspiring to others who have to overcome similar experiences; giving them hope & encouragement that there is still a life out there for them to live.
For that reason, I smile when I think of the overall story of Katie Piper. Of course, at first it is only natural that we should feel shock, horror & even pity when we initially think of Katie’s story; but she has bravely told us not to think this & instead focus on the positive outcome that has materialized in the long run.
Katie’s story really does show us how through even the most challenging of situations- with, time, patience & understanding from others, we can achieve positive outcomes against all odds.
Katie Piper inspires me & I try to think of her story often, to remind myself of how fortunate I am in so many ways & how we can all endeavour to turn that negative situation in our lives into a positive one. With that thought in mind, I smile today when I think of the brave & inspiring tale of Katie Piper & I try my best to bring an essence of that incredible 'Katie Piper Factor', into my day!
Be inspired today; read about Katie’s story in ‘Beautiful’, by Katie Piper  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beautiful-beautiful-girl-inspiring-courage/dp/0091940761/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310674103&sr=8-1
… or watch her documentaries, ‘Katie: My Beautiful Face’, & ‘Katie: My Beautiful Friends’, on 4OD, (link below).  Be inspired today.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

My Diary Extract…14th June 2011- The Day I Became Defined by a Diagnosis

Today I attend St George’s Hospital Tooting, for an important & extremely significant consultation.
At 13.45pm I am due to sit in front of my Neurologist to receive an answer as to why my neuropathic pain has increased & my mobility decreased since my spinal surgery three & a half years ago.
With a suspected diagnosis already five months in hand, I am naturally full of anticipation; however what may surprise you, is that my apprehension is less about receiving confirmation of the presence of the neurological condition that I am suspected of having & more that the tests will prove that I do not have it.
Weird- I hear you say; why on Earth would you want to hear bad news? Attention seeker? Munchausen sufferer? Why?
Of course, I do not want this bad news- (who would?), but when faced with two possible outcomes I’d rather not rejoin the limbo train that I have been a passenger upon for the last five years, (that involves facing further tests & investigations) & instead live up to my fate & get on with my life whatever shape & form it may be about to take.
In these circumstances, what is the definition of ‘bad news’ anyway? Is it knowing the details & the magnitude of the battle that you are facing? Or is it remaining in ignorant limbo, being told that you do not have that daunting disease; but have to endure being passed from pillar to post, consultant to radiographer for another month, year or decade instead?
I really believe that in this scenario, knowledge is power. I would rather see the face of my enemy & stare them straight in the eye, than live in the darkness wondering what & where things will attack me next.
There were high hopes pinned upon my spinal surgery fixing my injury & its associated issues; but unfortunately my op was not without its complications & the most notable of these came in the form of me contracting pneumonia. The pneumonia significantly prolonged my recovery, yet when it had been & gone & improvement was still allusive, there then followed a succession of dashed hopes.
A chain of convoluted suspected explanations were each promptly followed by vague dismissals & frustrating repeated promises to refer me to yet another consultant.
I believe that there lies within all of us who dwell in this our supposedly civilised country; a cockiness & certainty, that should we ever be unfortunate enough to experience injury or illness, that our competent NHS, (or even BUPA, BMI or AXA PPP), will diagnose & treat whatever should so be the problem.
Diagnose & treat- as simple as that, (& thankfully in most cases that happens as assumed); but what happens if the definitive diagnosis is not forthcoming?
From my experience, I can tell you that in this situation you begin to just want answers- good or bad, relieving or disappointing- you just want cold hard facts!
Living in this frustrating limbo leaves you unable to define your existence within so many areas of your life & I believe that however strong & self assured your sense of character; when you are faced with difficult times, it is only natural to want to feel that you belong to a group of some kind, to somewhere that you can be understood & can identify with others.
Over the years as my mobility has decreased & I have had to use sticks one day, a wheelchair another, & be confined to bed another still, (yet crucially, not always neatly in that order), I have felt unable to identify with the carefree nature in which my friends were energetically still living their own lives, but also nowhere near as unfortunate as those whom I shared my hospital ward with.
During this time I experienced immense feelings of guilt that I was taking the time of nurses, consultants & physios, when the lady next to me was completely confined to her bed & couldn't do the walking on sticks to the bathroom that I could at the time. How could I class myself as disabled in these circumstances?
Although looking back, I can now see that I have been disabled & unable to enjoy the experiences that I used to live for, for a few years now; it is only recently that the realisation has set in that I am still me & the only way to start living again is to embrace my new life & it's associated challenges & rewards.
It's certainly fair to say that my situation has not been the most straightforward of transitions from able bodied to disabled, (there have been more than a couple of times that there has been hope that I may recover & return to a similar life to that of my own pre- 31st July 2006); but I believe that many people who become disabled after living an able bodied life, also take some time for the realisation & acceptance to kick in that their future will be lived with the companionship of disability. I've found that the key stage in moving forward along this rocky emotional path, is when you can stop mourning your past life & consequently learn to embrace a new way of living. People have to remember that they can still give the world something amazing of themselves- it may be fair to say that this is probably something different to that which they would have done before this change in their lives, but it will be something unique & amazing all the same!
Seeing the achievements of some of the people that of done just this & have overcome adversity & inspired so many; it often leads me to question- do things perhaps happen for a reason at times?
I have often wondered if my husband Garry & I had known the magnitude & length of the road that we would be travelling along; would we have made it through to this point intact? After all, Garry & I had only been together a mere six months when my accident took place & having never had to endure many responsibilities (outside of work that is), in life prior to my accident- would the magnitude of my diagnosis of a degenerative disease, (that I may be about to receive in less than three & a half minutes time by the hospital reception clock), have destroyed us if we had received it sooner in our transition?
I personally believe that things probably do sometimes happen for a reason, (that is often not clear to us at the time), & that it probably would have, but we will never know- hindsight is a wonderful, if a little frustrating a thing at times!
Well here goes nothing. I’m off into the consultation room once again to look for those impossible words to describe my incredible pain. I’ll see you on the other side….
Well, it’s 14.25pm on 14th  June ‘11, & I have it here in black & white- I have the neurological condition Arachnoiditis.
This time I have answers. I can now move on with my life & embrace the fortune that has been decided upon for me.
I can finally answer friends & well wishers when they ask my husband or I that fateful question of– ''so what exactly is wrong with you? Why aren't you getting better?''.
I have Arachnoiditis. It’s amazing what those three words of bad news can mean.
To me, they mean that it’s time to move on from my limbo & get making the most of a life with a disability.
It’s not a pleasant & promising diagnosis; it’s degenerative & incurable, but it’s my diagnosis- which when you have waited five years, (1795 days) for answers, feels strangely wonderful! Controversial maybe, but if you can relate to similar circumstances & are being completely honest with yourself, I’m sure that I’m not the only one of us out there feeling this! After all, the injuries to my mind & the soul are just as, (if not more), difficult to deal with than the physical. If the emotional scars are eased & appeased, then I can vouch that it makes dealing with the physical pain that little easier.
This is life. Life’s messy, it’s vague, it’s grey, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when it is black & white & in your hand in 13 letters.
Arachnoiditis- I have that. Disabled- I’ll allow myself to be classed as that & join with others who can relate to my feelings. I belong. I have answers- now I can get living the best I can!
Away we go…..

I also tried taking today's piccie with Barley....

 .... but this was the consequence!
....What can I say; he has a taste for paper!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Reasons to Smile- Puppy Piccies

Today I found these puppy pictures of my dog Barley & they really made me smile!
What made you smile today? Message me or see Discover Disability on Facebook & join in sharing our happy & positive thoughts with each other.
Join us tomorrow for my post ‘Defined by a Diagnosis’, which discusses how it feels to finally know what you are facing in your future, after weeks, months or years of living in an ignorant limbo in regard to your medical condition.
Please also feel free to share with me any thoughts you have on this subject at kazreader@hotmail.co.uk or using the 'Comments' button on this page.
Have a wonderful 12th July 2011 everyone. See you tomorrow.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Reason to Smile- Inspiration Personified!

I hope that you are having the best Monday July 11th 2011 that you possibly can have with your current personal circumstances.
Continuing on my quest to find something to make us smile everyday, I ask you to take a quick peek at the tale of this inspiring young boy.
Included is a link to the story of little Cory McCasland, as well as a You Tube link of some of his amazing videos.
Take a little look, I challenge you not to be moved.
Have you ever seen a more beautiful smile than this one?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Reasons to Smile- Where to next?

Today the thing that has made me smile, is the plethora of wonderful letters of encouragement that I have received from my readers.
All of you who have taken the time to comment on my blog & rack up my inbox to never before seen sights, after only two & a half weeks of publishing; are hugely appreciated indeed.

Although I am massively grateful for all of your correspondence; the letters that have touched me the most are those from people in similar circumstances to my own- those of you who like me, understandably arrogantly assumed & presumed that you would continue to live in the same physical state as the day that you came into this world, (barring old age). To those of you who believed that you would run that London Marathon by the time you were thirty, or have taken that road trip across The States in that RV with your partner without a care in the world by the time you had your children- for all of you who have experienced dashed hopes such as these & taken the time to write to me about the feelings that these situations evoked: thank you so much.

I urge you all- from all walks of life, of all levels of disability, or even of no disability whatsoever, to continue to express your opinions & convictions to me; so that I may continue to learn from you.
I plan to continue to evolve this current system of correspondence to the point that my site has an active forum facility, as soon as I work out how to do so- (my computer skills are not the most proficient, let’s face it there isn’t much call for these things when choreographing dance routines & serving beef, chicken & fish at 36000ft in my former life as a dancer & air hostess!).
No opinion, unless offensive to others is unwelcome here. There are still so many emotions pertaining to the transition into disabled life that are taboo, simply because we do not proclaim them aloud & too others.
I take my lead from you; this is your site too- what emotional path shall we explore together next?