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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Reason to Smile- Magnificent Marathon Man

Good evening everyone, I hope that your day & evening have been as pleasant as mine.

Today I have attended a very dear friend's Engagement Party, & with the time now fast approaching 1am & having being there since early afternoon, I can assure you that I am currently flagging fast! Consequently, tonight I am afraid that I am going to simply provide you with a link to a very inspiring video for today's Reason to Smile post.

This video of Eddie Kidd's recent mammoth Marathon achievement, says it all in my opinion. What an amazingly brave man & also very importantly, what a wonderful wife to support him. As somebody with a disability who is also blessed with an amazingly supportive spouse, I'd like to stress just how much most of my life would not be possible without my husband, as it appears is also the case for Eddie with his wonderful wife Sammi.

For those of you who have not as yet watched the video of this man's accomplishment, here is a link to make you smile today...

Here's to all of the wonderful husbands, wives, boyfriends & girlfriends who make possible our acheivements large & small. Garry, I love you & am eternally grateful for giving me back my life!

Friday, 22 July 2011

One Small Step For Me; One Giant Leap For My Independence!

I hope that you have all enjoyed a lovely Friday 22nd July 2011.
I apologise that this post is a little late this evening, but I have not long been awake after spending the afternoon fast asleep with my beautiful Barley dog!
The reason why Barls & I are so tired, is because we have experienced a momentous event today- for the first time in the five years since my car accident, Barley & I have travelled a short distance by public transport alone.
In the big scheme of things, I appreciate that this is by no way monumental to anyone other than my parents, husband, dog & I- but feel that this really demonstrates how much becoming disabled can alter your perception of what an achievement is.
Although truly wonderful & inspirational in their own right; it has become evident to me over the last few years that the most sensational of achievements, can with a little dose of perspective, to an individual battling a transition into disability; be equalled by the most simple & insignificant of actions.
Everything is relative & to somebody who used to fly around the world for a career; achieving such a longed for simple task such as catching the catamaran over to the Isle of Wight to visit my parents, could seem very trivial- but when your independence has been ripped from you & you dream of just being able to make short trips such as this ALONE, finally realising this dream & making this short journey suddenly become very significant.
The euphoria I felt on wheeling off the boat onto Isle of Wight soil, was equalled to that which I used to feel on winning a race back in my able-bodied running days. With my trusty steed alongside me grinning from ear to ear knowing that he was not long away from dipping his little paws into the sea; we no doubt appeared to other travellers as a completely barking- (excuse the pun!).

Despite the pain & fatigue that has gripped me as a result of this morning’s efforts- on waking from my morphine induced slumber this evening to see the faces of my dear Mum & Dad; the joyful realisation has hit me that I did it & I did it alone, ( apart from Barls!); & that although insignificant to those outside of my immediate family, to me this is a huge achievement in my new life-an achievement that rivals my first flight that I took as an air hostess in my previous life.
Everything is relative. Be proud & pleased about your personal achievements. Do not worry what they may mean to others, it’s what they mean to you that counts!
Making this monumental journey alone is what is making me smile today!

Travelling in my 'old life', was significantly different to that of today! Both have been equally rewarding.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Attempted Intrusion

I write today’s post a little in shock as I have just returned home from walking Barley, to find the lock on our flat door showing extensive signs of an attempted break in!
As I sit here waiting for the Police to arrive, I reflect upon just how weird it is that this should happen between the hours of 7pm & 9pm, (which is when many people are almost certainly at home after getting in from work isn’t it?), & that it should take place when I live on a very high floor in what I thought was a very secure block.
Before you all yell in chorus; ‘Love, you live in London- almost everyone in London has had a break-in or attempted break in at some point. You should feel grateful that they didn’t succeed!’…
I assure you that I do indeed feel an immense amount of gratitude & I am extremely sorry for those of you who have fallen victim to this horrible violation yourselves.
The thing that has shaken me so much about this situation, (which is actually a non- existent situation at the end of the day), is that over the last year since I have lived in London, I have finally managed to re-build my confidence in being alone in my own home, to the point that I have become comfortable & even blasé about my personal security- so for this to happen, I feel quite thrown & brought back down to Earth with a bump.
The reason why this confidence had needed to be re-built, was that ever since being put on high doses of a horrid drug called ‘Tramadol’, (which I’m sure more than a few of you out there will be familiar with), back at the beginning of my transition into disability- I developed an intense irrational fear & paranoia that every night, (& many days too), there was an intruder in my home.
The relevance of this subject to the feelings pertaining to becoming disabled, (or living a disabled life in general); is how much you can overlook & underestimate the extent that so many of these  pain killing drugs can have on so many aspects of your life & personality.
Back in the early days of my transition into disability; I was well & truly a slave to my arch nemesis Tramadol, as alongside my enemy of ‘Pain’, it dictated my days & most crucially my every night, making me utterly convinced that there was indeed an intruder in our home.
This anxiety would manifest itself in my having to go to bed holding the landline phone in one hand, (having practised in the daylight hours to ensure that I was able to dial 999 by feel & touch); & my mobile in the other, (again, having to know the buttons to press in the dark).
I knew that things had reached a significant point when I had to do this, not only when my Mum or nurses were sleeping in the next room when Garry was away with work, but also when my husband was lying right there next to me in bed.
There were numerous times that I could not even contemplate getting back to sleep before my Mum, my nurse or Garry would check all of the windows & doors thoroughly before I would hear yet another noise & the whole rigmarole would have to start all over again.
It’s only now that I can finally appreciate just how truly loopy I & my life were back then!
Moving to London for Garry’s work one year ago this month, was a frightening prospect because of this deep rooted problem.
Thankfully, we were blessed with finding a flat where we have felt safe & secure for the last year, & as the Police & Scene of Crime Officers trooped in & out of my flat this evening, I willed myself not to undo all of the good work that this significant year has done.
As I frantically garbled on to these poor officers about my concerns whether, & how the ‘almost intruders’ would return; it dawned on me that besides these side effects that some may experience with the taking of drugs such as Tramadol- there is also a sense of vulnerability that my disability gives me & no doubt many others.
Should I ever be unfortunate enough to fall victim to a successful break in attempt- how would I escape? Fight back? Defend myself, my dearest Barley or my home should I be here alone?
However much I fight for respect to be given for the strength & equality of those with disabilities by those around them; it is an inescapable fact that in many cases, (as most certainly is mine), in the physical respect of things, I most certainly am weaker than many, & therefore possess an enhanced feeling of vulnerability a s aresult.
Combine this with the anxiety & paranoia effects of the aforementioned medication & you have yet another example of how a disability can affect areas of one’s life that are never considered or comprehended by others.

Naturally feeling a little down after this hiccup & the regurgitation of emotion that came along with it; I wasn’t going to bother with the efforts of writing tonight’s Reason to Smile post, until it occurred to me that it is times such as this that we feel a little shaken or down, that we should focus all the more on these light hearted pick me ups to maintain the equilibrium of our spirit & happiness.

Smile today & stay safe & secure.

A little light relief- it's trivial yet touching...

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Reason to Smile- The Beautiful & Brave Amy Ferguson!

* With many thanks to the wonderful Duncan Raban, for photographs & the slideshow with commentary.

With life whizzing past at a hundred miles an hour these days, it is only inevitable that we should all take for granted so many things that if we were to stop the world & think for a second, we would remember to treasure & be thankful for.
As I explained two days ago, I have recently been fortunate enough to meet & get to know the incredible portrait photographer Duncan Raban.
With many years & subsequent successes in the profession under his belt- Duncan has been giving something rather wonderful back to the world in recent years, ever since he was asked to do some work with the legendary Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Having immediately jumped at the chance to get involved in such an worthwhile project; Duncan soon became part of the furniture at this incredible institution & really got to know & love many of the children & their families who were residing at the hospital.
Although all of these courageous children each had their own incredible & inspiring story to tell-  there was one little girl who on first meeting instantly touched Duncan’s wonderfully large & generous heart & soon became the focus of a series of photographs which were to document what was to be a challenging & harrowing journey for this brave little lady.
The little girl’s name was Amy Ferguson & when Duncan first met her, she was a mere three years old & already on her second heart!
I challenge you not to be touched & humbled by this wonderful story of this wonderful girl & the wonderful medical team at G.O.S. who gave her another chance at life.
Please watch this short slideshow with commentary by Duncan Raban.

Yes, life moves too quickly, & when you wake tomorrow morning, you are naturally instantly going to become consumed by the frantic daily stresses that come with trying to get the kids to school on time; with trying to fight your way onto the tube, bus or train on your journey to work; or with worrying that with ten days left until pay day, your bank account is edging that little too close to the red- all this is normal, natural & not to be sneered at as completely unimportant when you’re living in that moment in the real world. What we must remember however, is to take even a few minutes out of our increasingly hectic days, to think about stories such as Amy’s, & to use them to shift our perspective on life back to where it should be.
Life is too short; life is too fast & at times life is just far too harsh- what we mustn’t forget though is that life is also so precious, so priceless & so patently there to be savoured & respected.
Live life, love your heart & try your best to be grateful for every wonderful moment!
Be inspired today by the beautiful & brave Amy Ferguson!

For more incredible stories such as Amy's, please go to http://www.duncanraban.co.uk/

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Truth Hurts?

Admit it, if you’ve ever had to be confined to your bed due to pain that is invisible & incomprehensible to those around you; or if you have become disabled & your life is now unrecognisable to that of what it used to be; there is a small, very human & no doubt extremely private part of you, that you’d rather nobody ever knew about, that sometimes thinks to yourself & dearly wants to shout out to your husband, wife, mother, sister, brother, nurse or carer...
‘How would you be coping with this situation? Would you be perfect? Would you get annoyed, frustrated, infuriated, angry? You betcha!’.

I’m aware that this may be a little shocking or uncomfortable to read, but I really want to stress that this is most definitely NOT personal & is purely a knee jerk reaction to an intense situation. We are all human & frustration or various derivatives of this feeling are valid & justified & definitely not to feel ashamed of.

Each night I struggle with these feelings when I reflect upon my day, (or lack of it if I have woken up at 6pm because of my morphine), & how I’ve interacted with my husband, carer or my parents who I recently had to stay with for a couple of months whilst my husband was stolen by the RAF! Always interesting when you are 28 years old, have lived away from home for 12 years & are married!
I desperately want to be nice, kind & accommodating to the person/ persons who feed, wash, comfort me etc.; but when my pain score rapidly rises through the high teens, (those of you who’ve ever been treated in a hospital will be familiar with the pain scoring system of 1-10), & my morphine has numbed my brain, yet sadly not my pain enough to enable me to just close my eyes & shut out the world)- being civil let alone kind & personable suddenly becomes an extremely trying task.
No one wants to bite the hand that feeds them, let alone the one that is there to care for you & most importantly administer the morphine; but I profess that your mind & certainly your temperament is not your own when you are experiencing pain levels through the roof, or frustration levels that have never been rivalled before in your life.
My mum says that there is no worse feeling than that of having to watch her only daughter suffer emotionally & physically & that if she could, she would take it all upon herself to have it taken away from me. My mum is so wonderfully kind, supportive & selfless, so when I find myself communicating with her in an unacceptable fashion, it is really rather embarrassing & devastating upon reflection.
You always hurt those closest to you- isn’t that what they say? Well I’ll go with that. Those closest to you are the ones who are with you at your lowest because they want to be & you want them above anyone else in the world to be there in return.
The friendship group you used to go out for dinner with or spend August bank holiday weekends with in the sunshine over a Mangers or ten- although great, are unlikely to understand your frustrated pain fuelled rants & moans & would no doubt disappear into the black hole that was your old life prior to your illness or injury if they were to witness such frank displays of emotion.

Despite all of the above, I genuinely believe that I am not a bad person & simply one subjected to extraordinary pressure & pain. This is most certainly not to say that I believe that I have an excuse for behaving the way that I have done & sometimes continue to do to my loved ones; I’d much rather not at all, it’s merely saying- walk a mile in my shoes & then pass comment on my actions.
Relationships with parents & friends are obviously hugely important, but I feel probably the most equally treasured & affected relationship of all- my husband, who was at the time of my car accident, merely my boyfriend of only 6months.
It was a very intense six months nonetheless, when an RAF pilot & a Virgin Atlantic ‘trolley dolly’ meet, time when both of you are in the same country at the same time becomes extremely precious: & it was precious, more precious than any other relationship I’d ever had. This was it, he was ‘the one’, & thank God for that! Who else would have ever been able to cope with what lay ahead?
The careless, carefree, light-hearted, fun loving, young  pilot, who was always one of the lads, blessed with never having anyone ever have  to rely on him in anyway; was suddenly subjected to me having to rely on him for my every need emotional & physical. A shoulder to cry on & a shoulder to literally lean on to bathe & toilet & change my position in bed.
I would not wish this upon anyone. True, it has made us stronger but at others almost ripped us apart. Although there are carers groups; I feel that there should be better emotional support for partners & for couples together. There should also be counselling as standard for parents & siblings & also for the patient to have counselling on what it is to inevitably be the loss of many friends. I’m sure many of you are chomping at the bit to say, ‘well love, that’s just life. We all lose those more superficial friends over time & end up with a treasured few decades later’. But imagine experiencing losing them all at once, alongside your career, your mobility & your dreams in their able bodied form.
Yes, it isn’t the end of the world & I’m not ungrateful enough to think in my rational & lucid moments that all this is. Positives will grow, where once only existed negatives & despair; but my point is to stress that before those beautiful flowering positives blossom, there are lots of dark holes & pits of depression to climb out of & when you’ve just become disabled, climbing out of holes becomes increasingly difficult!
Please join me in my quest to raise awareness for the need for better psychological care for those who become disabled through illness or injury, motorbike accident or Multiple Sclerosis. Please email me at kazreader@hotmail.co.uk to share with me your story of your transition from able-bodied to disabled & the emotional support if any that you received.

 Mum & I's relationship pre- 29th July 2006!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Reason’s to Smile- World War Wonders

The last few daily ‘Reasons to Smile’ posts have focused very much upon how circumstances & experiences in life can hugely shape our character.
With that in mind, this evening I choose to focus on those amazing people who experienced two of the most enormous & incomprehensible events in our modern day history. Today I want to remember those amazing veterans of World War I & II- those inspirational people who lived through events we could only begin to try to imagine.
These events, (although many I’m sure try to forget or repress), have no doubt shaped the lives & the characters of these brave & incredible individuals.
 Please take a couple of minutes out of your day to watch this short slideshow with commentary by my dear friend, photographer Duncan Raban.
Duncan once told me that he was once employed for a project for having an art of getting shots which express the character & joy of his subject- this is certainly true of this wonderful piece.
Lest us not forget our World War veteran’s & remember, whether either now dearly departed or resting somewhere out of sight in a nursing home- they were/are all individual people, with individual characters- not just unimaginable numbers in a history book.
Smile today when you watch this short film & remember these incredible people.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Reason to Smile- Never give up; be the best that you can be

I hope that you have enjoyed a relaxing Sunday.
My Reason to Smile post today is short & sweet today, as this video really does speak for itself & I genuinely feel that my words would just not do it justice.
If you need some inspiration that you too can turn your negative situation into a positive one, then please take a look at this video.
If you do not feel that the above is relevant to you, then please do take a look anyway, as we can ALL learn something from this incredible guy. I introduce you too the amazing, Nick Vujicic.
Never give up- be the best that you can be!