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Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Call To All Shopkeepers & Stores

So today I attempted to go shopping for an outfit for my daughter's forthcoming christening.

A simple enough task one would think, despite the three month old child strapped to my person and having to contend with the inaccessible London transport system with a wheelchair. Today however, thanks to a monster nap and helpful drivers x2, those issues could be easily overcome.
Sadly, the same could not be said for the simple matter of shopping, due to an issue that is the bane of my life at even the best of times, but becomes infinitely worse at this time of year.

The issue would be that of stores ridiculously over-filling their shelves; whilst also adding shelves where there isn't any room for shelves; and deciding that floors are also indeed shelves and subsequently stacking books, chocolate tins and festive displays on corner of aisles and even in the centre of narrow aisles- all in their desperate attempts to seduce us with sparkly, expensive crap that none of us actually need, whilst generally making it impossible to negotiate one's way around their premises for those of us in wheelchairs, with sight problems, who have mobility problems, or simply want to push their offspring around in a pram or buggy.

Now, taking a lighter path down this road, I could amuse you all greatly with the tale of how I once took out a whole 8ft display of Christmas crackers in my local Robert Dyas to great amusement/ embarrassment of the friend that I was shopping with! 
I could even tell you about the time I rammed myself and my 100kg wheelchair into a cylindrical display of 100 plus bottles of champagne in my local M & S. Don't worry, in this instance they didn't smash- which considering my track record for clumsiness is frankly a bloody miracle! 

(Those of you who know me of old will be familiar with the tale of how pre-accident I once stabbed myself in the leg demonstrating how I almost stabbed myself in the leg by accident!)

Yep, I am clumsy; their is simply no escaping that one! In fact, if my closest family and friends were truly honest with themselves, I think many would even say (even though my car crash wasn't my fault I'd like to add. Quick nod to my post accident legal case!), that they were even surprised that I made it to the grand old age of twenty three before I was in a wheelchair. 
Others may add that at least in a wheelchair I'm less likely to damage myself further.

I am an accident prone nightmare; but even my husband, (the greatest advocate of this sentiment), would say that I can manoeuvre my wheelchair better than anyone he has ever seen. 
Champagne and crackers incidents aside!

It's true that he has had to maintain this praise ever since he once drove my wheelchair into a sofa in a hotel lobby; and when a fellow pilot friend of ours drove it into a palm tree on holiday- (I won't mention the airline that he flies for but perhaps "Don't... Fly Emirates!')- this respect for my chair driving went up even further!
  I really am pretty capable of manoeuvring my beast around tight spots. When you have to use it everyday with golden retriever and/ or baby in tow, or even just to use public transport- you kind of have to be. But I challenge even the greatest of chair drivers or self propellers to negotiate some of the shocking displays of thoughtlessness that I witnessed today.

Usually negotiating my local high street where said dog and baby are well known (see fig. 1- how could you miss us?!), I am still all too often faced with the problem of not being able to get to at least half of a store due to poor thought in terms of displaying goods or even the lack of an in store lift.

 (I once asked in the Bath branch of a certain popular fashion store for both men and women how I get to the women's section upstairs- I was told- "you don't" before the member of staff turned her back to return to helping customers who in her little mind better fitted the image of those of should be shopping in said store than the 24 year old wheelchair user that was me at the time).

That in mind, I thought I would catch the bus (a mission in itself when you're in a chair), to one of Europe's biggest shopping centres, where there would be a nice wide concourse to drive down between shops and much greater amounts of space than the high street shops that have to contend with planning restriction and/or very old buildings that were built before any thought to accessibility.

Said HUGE shopping centre was built just a handful of years ago when we all should have been aware of the need to make our businesses accessible, and to be fair to them, in past visits most stores within it have lived up to requirements: but as with almost all stores at this time of year, these shops that were previously accessible enough, were now completely off limits due to their need to cram every last inch of floor space with festive decorations or additional stock.

The result of this was far from what these businesses no doubt intended- to make me, the consumer walk off with more bags of goodies. Instead, I re boarded my bus after a two hour trip with a grand total of zero bags!

None of the shops where I could buy what I was looking for were accessible enough for me to get around in, and that's before I even begin to start on whether any of them had 'truly' accessible changing rooms! 
Those of you who use a chair or push a buggy will be familiar with the concept of 'accessible' changing rooms that are all to often yes, larger than the average to accommodate a small wheelchair, but usually positioned in some inaccessible location in the store thanks to either poor planning or a later thought to add 'just one more' shelf or rail.

After much recent sadness and events in my life to make me appreciate that which I do have, I don't want to let this get me down.

I may not have been able to fulfil my task for the day, but I will return to the truly accessible, (yet not exactly ideal option) of online shopping.

What I do want is to make these companies big and small aware that they are unfairly excluding so many to their stores or facilities by simply not thinking.

Please be kind this Christmas and think... "is there space?"

Trust me, trying to keep up with life is hard enough with an illness or disability and is made all the more difficult in the festive period as we try to keep up  with the rat race that we can't keep up with at the easiest of times- the last thing we need is additional obstacles- LITERALLY!



Friday, 8 November 2013

365 Days

One year ago today, at about this very time in the evening I discovered that I was pregnant.

Six years of procedures, tests, consultations and many a dr, physio and consultant advising me against trying to have a baby, (if indeed it would even be possible)- had ended with one little blue line on a white plastic stick and the subsequent realisation of the enormous life change that was before us.

I will never forget the intoxicating mix of euphoria, relief, fear, anticipation and pure joy that entered my husband and I's lives that evening.

365 days on from that day and we are the incredibly proud parents of our miracle girl Florrie, the baby that we feared we would never have. The baby we were advised not to have and the baby that the doctors feared would make living pretty impossible for me.

In my opinion there is no such thing as impossible, merely compromise of varying degrees.

My compromise is that for me, it may be a life lived with pain, but it is also a life lived with the most incredible joy- a joy that I had never known, or could have begun to comprehend until now- and one of those elements certainly tips the scales over the other.

There is no greater motivation to getting through my day and the pain that often consumes my being, (usually at three or four in the morning when my incredible sleeper of a baby is safely in the land of nod and I have pain that just will just not let me rest)- than seeing my little angel sleeping soundly and smiling innocently in her dreams.

Despite life being challenging, I have no doubt that I made the right decision to ignore the doctors' advise.
That being said, it is important to state that it was not a decision taken lightly by my husband or I- it was one taken over years, and one fraught with anticipation, anxiety and guilt that I was putting my desire to be a mum over the quality of life of the baby that I might one day be blessed with.

I still worry that I never want Florrie to have to look after me; I never want her to be mocked by her friends at school that her mummy uses a wheelchair to get around and I never want her to think that it's unfair that her mummy can't do all of the other things with her that the other mummies can- but what I do want (and what I will do my utmost to ensure), is that she grows up knowing that she was loved and so very very wanted even before she was even conceived and that love and maintaining a loving and kind heart is more important than any of the above.

I want to teach her that a combination of love, hard work and determination can overcome more than most people even realise.

I am not saying that others in my position should do what I did, only that I know unequivocally that I made the right decision for me.

I am blessed in so very many ways. I have challenges that make me appreciate even more that which I already treasure and I have my little miracle which I treasure above all else.


What a year it has been- a challenging, tough painful year; but a year that I would never change for all of the money and riches in the  world.

Night all. Have a great weekend and try using love to help you through the tough times in your own life.




Monday, 4 November 2013

A Beautiful Life


I am very touched by all of your kind messages and support following my return to my blog.

Those of you who have been following Discover Disability for some time will be familiar with my 'Reason to Smile' posts, which could be a story, an individual, an experience or even simply a photograph which has made me smile that day and made me that little more thankful for the life that I have been blessed with. 

Today's Reason to smile, is a strange one, in that it comes from news that actually made me very sad indeed.

Last Thursday I learnt of the sad news of the passing of a an old colleague and friend of my Mum's who I had been fortunate to know and who was a great supporter of my work with the charity and blog.

In return, I hugely admired this wonderful lady's own work as an aspiring photographer and journalist; in fact It is no exaggeration to say that this individual was indeed an inspiration of mine, but it is with great regret that I never took the time to explain to her quite how much this was so.

As quite a worrier myself, who has a tendency to all too often over analyse and procrastinate about decisions or pathways in life; I took incredible inspiration from the fact that this lovely lady would just make things so and just go out there and get them- minus that selfish, 'at whatever cost' attitude that so many successful people sometimes exude. 
Instead her spirit was kind and selfless, yet full of zest and enthusiasm.

I would follow her life, (documented so beautifully through her photography and quotes that she would pick up along her travels) and feel so excited to see what she was doing with that incredible combination of tenacity and talent.

Only two days before her untimely death at the mere age of 29, my Facebook news feed took me to a photograph that Harriet Ward had taken of the sea just off of my home town just before Sunday night's big storm.

The picture was so beautiful and had captured the atmosphere so incredibly that I thought to myself that I should write to her and tell her how much I had been admiring this and her other work lately.

With newborn baby as my puppet master, I duly returned to attending to her needs before collapsing in front of the tele with my husband later that evening, never finding or making the time to write to her before I fell into bed that night, or even the next.

I naively thought that I had plenty of time to give Harriet praise and encouragement about her work, but tragically this was not to be, as Harriet died suddenly and oh so unexpectedly only 48hours later.

This sadness naturally took me to the old adage told to us all by our parents and grandparents, of never to put off until tomorrow, that which you can do today.

'If only' went around and round my mind and heart repeatedly, as it does to so many in these tragic circumstances.

In rational and realistic moments I can appreciate that life is all too often all consuming with it's constant hits of deadlines, appointments, family demands and emotional hiccups to stop and do every such nicety as send Harriet that message, but wouldn't it be nice if we took 10, 5, or even a minute out of our day each morning, or each evening to tell someone something lovely that could make their day; or to simply switch off all of our all encompassing electrical devices and just think about the small or simple beauties of our day.

The Reason to Smile from this sad tale is that that is exactly what Harriet Ward seemed to do. 
Through her mediums of photography, Twitter and her blog, she appeared to take the time to see the beauty we all too often whizz past on our way to that appointment or errand that apparently 'just can't wait'.
It is with great poignancy that I have been endeavouring to channel Harriet's inspiring spirit and savour these little things myself since hearing the news of her death and I urge you to check out her website to perhaps be inspired to do so yourself, if you too have fallen into the habit of keeping up with the rat race of late and forgetting the truly important things in life.

Harriet seemed to really see the beauty in the changes of the seasons, in particular Autumn, and I sit here in my local park typing away on my iPad, with well behaved dog and sleeping baby in tow, trying too to take the time to give thanks for the beauty around me on this gorgeous afternoon.

We none of us ever know how long it is that we should be blessed with time on this earth, but let us try and do something beautiful with that which we do have by being kind to others and aspiring to live in the way that lovely Harriet did- diving in head first into projects or journeys that may seem intimidating, taking time to see the diamonds in the dust as we walk along the path of life and truly living our lives to the full.

Take a moment out of your day to see the beauty of this world through the eyes of Harriet Ward and maybe you too will feel as inspired as I have by this lovely lady's incredible spirit to live on through her work.


Lovely Harriet I pray that your wonderful spirit is at peace. You have no idea how much and how many you have inspired and hopefully will inspire. God bless your beautiful soul.


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Baby I'm Back!



Well, I am starting this morning with an apology and for once it's not for my lack of contact, (that goes without saying- but will hopefully all be explained). 

My apology is instead an advance warning for the poor grammar and many typos that are likely to litter this post, the reason being I am  currently sleep deprived, on virtually non existent pain medication,  juggling life with the added disability of being one handed, (as well as my sticks and/or wheelchair) and whilst having a small person attached to me in some way shape or form 24/7- yep, you've guessed it- I've had a baby!

For those of you regular readers of my blog, you will be aware of my battle for this dream to be made a reality and my subsequent delight when I became pregnant this time last year.

Despite not having the easiest or most straight forward of pregnancies, (not least because I spent the 40weeks determined to come off morphine after seven years if at all possible),  but despite this and the other complications, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl 2 months ago.

My little girl Florence is quite literally my dream come true.

She has made my husband and I happy beyond our wildest dreams.

Despite this elation and joy that my munchkin brings me each day, the reality of life with a baby and a disability is difficult, not least because the is little to no adapted baby equipment to help people with disabilities parent.

Instead we have had to be inventive to find ways around the day to day things that people take for granted, like taking your baby for a walk in the park and getting on a bus or manoeuvring around shops.

Despite a few custom made models, (that although are great to see- need much development for people such as me who can only use electric wheelchairs), there are no prams, buggies or travel systems to be attached or especially used in conjunction with a wheelchair available to buy.

Although Garry and I have spent many an evening passionately discussing what we would develop ourselves to make  life with a wheelchair and a baby easier; the reality of our jobs as an RAF pilot and a charity director and coping with chronic pain, a difficult pregnancy and now a newborn- means that unless one of you reading this has the funds and/or know how to make our vision a reality, it has not been possible to take our ideas any further.

Regardless of the inevitable difficulties, life as a mum of our little lady is just wonderful.

There is obviously plenty I could moan to you about coping without certain opiates in order that I can breast feed, (& no doubt in time I'm sure I will), but today I just want to share with you my joy & positive story that despite being told for the past 7 years that having a baby would not be possible/advisable with my spinal condition- I have obviously defied the doctors' concerns & been blessed with my ultimate dream of becoming a Mummy.

I look forward to sharing with you more tales of life with dog, wheelchair & baby (not to mention childlike husband!), as there are sure to be many stories around the corner, both frustrating and entertaining in equal measure.

In the meantime I wish you a wonderful day & hope that whatever your challenges in life, that you are able to enjoy the precious diamonds amongst the dust that keep yopu going and make life so special for you.

I look forward to posting again very soon, but right now- I'm off to change a nappy!

Love & best wishes

Kaz. x

Friday, 28 June 2013

Nine Month Rollercoaster


My dearest friends, family and followers,

I hope that today's post finds you as well as you can be and as content and at peace in yourself as your hectic lifestyles permit.

For those of you who missed my most recent post that I uploaded last month, (which I did not provide the usual Facebook and Twitter links for- apologies), you may be wondering where I have been for the last 9 months or so...

Well, if the length of my absence doesn't give the news away, then hopefully the photograph should provide you with a little more clarity...

I am indeed 37 weeks pregnant and about to welcome our much longed for baby into our lives anytime now!

Apologies in advance if you did indeed catch last month's post, but I feel that I must explain a little why this pregnancy has prevented me from being as productive in both my charity and my blog as I would have liked to have been over the last few months.

After seven years of being told by copious doctors and consultants that the chances of fulfilling our desires of having our own baby may be slim and complicated if indeed possible at all due to my disability and it's associated medical condition and medication- you can only imagine how excited and nervous we were when we  were finally given the go ahead to try for a family this time last year.

Despite defying the medical professionals fears of conceiving due to my investigations and treatments since my accident in 2006, even becoming pregnant wasn't without it's subsequent fears and complications.

My medical condition required me to take high levels of morphine and neurological drugs at the start of my pregnancy and the doctors could not tell us of the results of taking these medications on our baby. It has naturally been a scary and stressful time.

I was told that they were not too concerned about the morphine as the baby could be 'simply weaned off', of the morphine after birth, but the neurological drug was the one that they could not predict the 
consequences of.

Being the bloody minded fool that I am, having finally been given the opportunity to have the child that I had dreamt for so long, I wasn't about to just sit back and not try everything I could and use all of my strength to give my baby the best possible start that I could.

At 8 weeks into my pregnancy I went to hell and back again and managed to come off of the neurological drug completely.

I'm not going to lie- this was one of the worst times of my life and was made all the more difficult by battling with the rare pregnancy condition hypremesis gravidarum at the same time as my withdrawal.

Hypremesis Gravidarum is indeed what The Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalised with only one day before I too was admitted to hospital- so you can imagine my joy at the doctors' observations that both Kate and I were not only at the same point in our pregnancy, but also had husbands who were both pilots in the RAF. It was at this point when they were pointing out our matching length and colour of hair that I asked for the comparisons to stop there, as clearly our waist size and bank balance were very different indeed!

The hypremesis hell- ( I was sick 50 plus times a day for 23 hrs a day with just one hour's sleep if I was lucky. I was on drips for fluid and could not even take in water), went on for almost 5 months. Between this and my drug withdrawal, normal life as I knew it before pregnancy was nigh on impossible; however my motivation for keeping going was clear, the baby I was told I'd probably never have was growing inside me.

After the hypremesis had thankfully died down, I then began my next challenge, to reduce the morphine I had relied upon for survival for 7 years in my desperate attempt that I could come off of the morphine in time for the birth so that my little one would not be born addicted to the stuff that had ruled my life for so many years.

It was my request to try this, despite my consultant's options that this would be highly unlikely.

Again, this process has been horrible and one of the most difficult things that I have ever done, but as of two weeks ago I am thrilled to announce that my system is now clear of morphine for the first time in seven years.

My pain is obviously greater and I am indeed on some painkillers to control my neurological symptoms, but the consultants actually believe that in contrast to their previous fears that pregnancy would worsen my spinal condition and neurological disease, the symptoms actually appear to have been helped somewhat by the ligament loosening and pain numbing hormones that occur in pregnancy.
I have succeeded in my goal to come off morphine for the baby ( for the time being at least),  and this has been made possible by focusing upon mindfulness and adopting techniques that have been taught to me by my Daisy Birthing instructor and hypnobirthing teacher. Do look up Daisy Birthing and Natal Hypnotherapy if you are interested in doing what you can for yourself to prepare yourself for the unknowns of childbirth by following these links-

Lazy Daisy (Daisy Birthing)
Natal Hypnotherapy (Hypnobirthing)

I have found both of these methods great for getting on top of my pain pre childbirth and have every confidence that these methods will arm me with the tools to keep as calm as possible for my birth.

Despite these successes, I have naturally been less able to do as much practically to move the charity forward in it's planned goals for this first year of it's existence.

This being said, I am pleased to say that we have received some great support and encouragement from Esther  McVey, The Minister For Disabled People, who I met with last month, who loves our charity's plans and particularly the fact that we are focusing on the emotional support for not only the person who has become disabled, but also their partners and/or families.

We are thrilled to have this support and are looking forward to helping the minister with some further projects over the coming months.

I have also had the pleasure of recently taking a 'Lunch and Learn' talk for a major European construction company who enjoyed learning about what it means to become disabled and deal with the emotional fallout of becoming so.

As exciting as these things have been, sadly there is very little we can do to fulfil our goals of creating tailored emotional support for people who become disabled and their partners and families without donations.

Should you wish to help us create this much needed infrastructure of emotional support for people who become disabled through illness or injury, then do please send your cheques to-


Get a Life! Foundation is a registered Charity No. 1149041. 
Registered Incorporated Private Limited Company. Company No. 8219689. 

2-6 Cannon Street 
London 
EC4M 6YH

Or make your online payments to- 

Get a Life! Foundation

Sort code- 77-91-15
Account number- 68781868


We hope to be launching our online donate button on our website very soon, but in the meantime, please know how appreciated your donations are and how much we hope them to make a difference in the lives of families affected by becoming disabled.

Well, as I am currently experiencing braxton hicks at ever increasing intensity, I sign off today's post to you on a positive note...

There has been more than one occasion since my accident and diagnosis of my neurological condition that I have been told that having a baby would simply not be possible and that even if we did defy predictions and conceive, that my condition would be made dramatically worse by being pregnant.

Having always wanted to become a mum and share the joys of parenthood with my wonderful husband, I was simply never prepared to let these dreams die with so many others that have had to wither away and be put to bed since my life changed so much when I became disabled.

I am not so naive as to believe that everything is possible by simply believing, or rather refusing to believe that something will or will not happen, as sadly some things in life will not be possible for all for whatever reason; however I do believe that in my case, keeping faith and positivity that one day I would fulfil my dream in some shape or form has helped me to not only stay emotionally strong through the majority of the last 7 years that I have had to fight through to get this exciting point now.

I am by no means saying that I have not wobbled, cried and despaired that I would never reach a degree of happiness that I once knew pre-accident and disability, as this would be false.
I have cried so many times that my life has changed beyond recognition and on top of that I would not be able to be a parent either- however now I am actually here.
I am washing baby grows and attending baby showers ready to welcome the biggest change in my life since my accident in July 2006.
Not only am I thrilled to be proving so many doctors wrong, but I believe that with most things in my life I am appreciating this blessing even more intensely than I would have been had my accident not taken place and I not experienced the physical and emotional pain that I have over the last 7 years.

My life is lived in Technicolour compared to the life I used to sleep walk through before my accident. Every thing is felt more intensely now: yes, that may go for pain as well, but I also appreciate my highs in such a more intense way than I could have ever imagined.

Your goal may not be to have a child post life changing illness or injury, it may be to return to your career you once loved, or change career path completely. It may even be to regain some degree of the confidence in yourself you once knew but can no longer recognise.

Whatever your goal, don't write it off completely. It may take longer than you once thought it may do when you began your rehab.
You may have to take a different path to reach that goal, or perhaps you may even have had to adapt that goal slightly, but I do believe that with the right frame of mind and the right help (that Get a Life! Foundation are working to provide for you), that it is still possible to fulfil your goals and dreams.

This goes for those who haven't directly experienced a life changing illness or injury too- to improvise, adapt and overcome ( to steel the motto of the US Marine Corps once again!), applies to us all.

Life throws curve balls at us all and we all have to deal with unexpected change and learn to improvise our plans so that we can still reach our goal or at least adapt those goals to achieve something along similar lines.

As I leave you this afternoon to go and listen to my Natal Hypnotherapy CD and practise my Daisy Birthing techniques to give myself every chance of fulfilling my goal to have the natural birth I dream of, rather than the general anaesthetic that I was originally told would be my only option due to my spinal injury and medical condition, I urge you all to do all you can to succeed in your own goals whatever they may be.

I dearly hope that I will be dropping you a quick line to say that my new addition has arrived safe and well very soon.

In the meantime I thank you again for your support for the charity and for your patience with me during these difficult but wonderful last 9 months.

I wish you all good health and happiness.
Many, many thanks for your ongoing support,

Best wishes,

Karen. x




Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Hello again strangers!



Wow- what a hiatus that has been!

For starters, an apology for the longest break in the historyy of this blog!
You may be familiar with the fact that whenever usually apologising for an absence from my writing, my posts tend to start in somewhat of a negative vein, whilst I explain the latest illness/complication that has caused my absence; today however, I am pleased to report that it's not all negative- in fact, I am over-the-moon to announce that I am going to be a mummy! The pregnancy thus far has been far from plain sailing, and complications relating to my degenerative condition and subsequent neuro medication and a diagnosis of hypremesis gravidarum, have rendered me so far worse than useless, as I became so weak that I had to be admitted to hospital a number of times.

Thankfully now able to look at a computer screen for longer than 2 seconds, (the 'Royal' condition of hypremesis has made me sick up to fifty times a day 
and prevented me from using a computer or phone for the past few months), I am thrilled to finally be back in the realms of normality again and saying a well overdue 'hi' to you.

My husband and I have wanted to start a family for some time now, yet have been prevented from doing so by the concerns from my drs and consultants over the affects on my spine and neurologcal condition, as well as how the baby and I would cope with pregnancy and my medication.
You may recall from my previous posts on this matter, that there had been some concern in the past that carrying child, or even conceiving a child, may not be possible- so you can imagine my delight and relief to find out that our dreams had indeed come true and we shall be welcoming our new addition in July.

Exploring the world of baby 'gumpf' has been interesting to say the least.
Not only have we learnt that these tiny wee things are ridiculously expensive little consumers, but that the lack of adaptive baby equipment is extraordinary!

With a couple of exceptions for manual wheelchairs, we have found no tailored buggies or prams and no adapted baby furniture either.
I long to be proved wrong, so should you be able to do so, do please drop me a line.

Before I log out for today, I want to thank those of you who have helped so much in terms of practical assistance and support in the establishing of 'Get a Life!' As a charity in law.

I apologise from the bottom of my heart that I regrettably had to cancel 'Get a Life!'s' first fundraiser. Unfortunately I was hospitalised with the hypremesis gravidarum, ( severe sickness, that requires the sufferer to be put on a drip and IV drugs).
I was also unfortunately suffering from a nasty infection on top of the hypremesis at the time of 'Get aLiVE!', as well as having to cope without my neurological drugs.
All in all, this left me unable to perform even the simplest of tasks, so regrettably the event had to be cancelled due to these and other circumstances outside of my control.
This break in progress is by no means any indication that Get a Life! will be slowing down.

If anything, this pregnancy has made me even more determined for this charity to provide support to people and their families affected by a life changing injury or illness.
 
The lack of equipment available for people such as myself who use sticks or wheelchairs has just astounded me and as I look at how Garry and I are going to muddle through and adapt our buggies, cots and changing units etc. I welcome any of the baby equipment providers to get in touch to work with me to develop products so that others to not have to struggle through.

We are told growing up as inquisative teenagers that pregnancy is indiscriminate and could happen to you your first time.
I disagree- <barring the obvious excetions), sadly pregnancy is a gift that is given only to those lucky people who are fortunate enough to conceive. Disability however is indiscriminate and could happen to you the first time you drive a car, ride a bike, take on a black run or even walk down the street.
For something that could happen to literally anybody no matter of their wealth, success, race, gender, or mental attitude to life- there should be better provisions in place to support people through this adaptation and adjustment.

On a lighter note- another unavoidable factor in life is getting older, which I am sad to to say will be the case for me tomorrow when I wave a fond goodbye to my twenties tomorrow!

It has of course been a pretty eventful decade that saw me find a job I adored teaching and choreographing dance; fly around the world with Virgin Atlantic as an air hostess and then have to say goodbye to both of these loves when an accident on an innocent road trip left me with life changing injuries.

Since then I have rebuilt my life by marrying my rock and best friend Garry, starting this blog and charity and now be only a couple of months away from becoming a Mummy- something that at one stage none of my doctors thought possible!

Life can surely deal us a varied hand, but I truly believe it is how we cope with what is thrown at us that matters- to quote one of my favourites...

"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters".- Epictetus.

This is not to say that you should feel dreadful and a failure if you feel unable to see the positives in your own life as you read these words. Feeling lost and frightened and even bitter is all part of the grieving process of the loss of the life that you thought you would live- trust me, I've been there!

I have sat in the darkened room, cried all of the tears I felt were in me, snapped at well meaning loved ones and felt envious of those still dancing and flying around the world.
I felt on more than one occasion that I would never be as happy as I once was in my old pre-disabled life, but through using the emotional tools that 'Get a Life!' aim to provide all people with life changing accidents or illnesses with,( along with MUCH support from my amazing family and friends!!!), I can now see that my life is now better for that fateful day back in July 2006 on the A337.

I now appreciate the smaller things in life that I used to zoom past without even noticing.

I truly feel that with only a few short hours left in my twenties, that although tough, painful and at times incredibly dark and depressing- that my twenties have actually been pretty fabulous, even though seven of the ten of the years have been spent in bed and in my wheelchair, as I have seen them through new eyes, with a new frame of mind I wonder if I ever would have reached without my accident.

On that note, it is time to sign off as I am off to celebrate this fact with my loved ones.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are dealing with, that you will find something to make you smile today- as trying to find at least one thing to be thankful for, even on my bad days was the start of the shift that changed my life to where it is now- a happy, (still not all that well or healthy), but incredibly blessed twenty-something- (well, for 8 more hours at least!).

I promise to do my best to say hello again as soon as I am able.

Many thanks again for your patience with me.

Best wishes always,

Karen.