Well hello

Welcome to the blog of me, Paige Tabone; student, writer, nerd, self-critic, telly-addict and self-confessed Cerebral Palsy-er (or wobbly if you will). It is the latter that has brought me to blogging. Ramming my way through the bullshit stereotypes that surround disability, showing the undiluted truth of someone twenty-two years into living on the often bumpy and unpredictable road against what's seen as 'normal'.

I'm aware you might have just got lost trying to navigate yourself to a hilarious cat video; now you are looking bewildered as you see nether a ominous looking jump or an unwittingly naive cat. Yet whether you find yourself here by purpose, mistake or luck I welcome you and offer you to get yourself comfortable, grab a nice cup of tea or a strong, stiff drink and stay for a bit. You see this isn't a story about some poor, unfortunate girl with a disability; it's simply a story about a girl with a set of tits, a set of tires and a mission to set the disability misconceptions record straight...

Saturday, 5 December 2015

David Cameron are you watching?

Hi everyone.

Today I bring you my first ever vlog! In it I want to open up about my attack that happened last November. I'm doing this for a good reason and I want to get a message out about a inequality I found out because of my attack and hopefully get it widespread as possible. I want to bring this issue to the attention of the govenment and to do this i need you. So please watch and share and get this message out as much as you can. Please use the hashtag ‪#‎disabilitylawchanger‬ and get it treading!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Only Fools Enter The World of Fashion but 'Only the Brave' Dare to Make a Difference.

It sees like I'm forever starting my blog with some version of an apology; I really am going to have to get my blogging act together! Yet I have no one else to blame other than myself for the lack of blogging that has happened recently and I realized that is lame of me. Okay really lame but life has just got in the way, as it so inconveniently does, and stopped me from treating you to an ever so carefully constructed rant about daily life. That said you're probably relieved for the break, so whatever your view on my blogging absence I either apologizes or accept your grateful hug of thanks and bring you an update. Well rather a counter-entry to my last post 'The Unrealized Struggles of a Disabled Fashionista'. Last time we spoke, let's be fair, I ball-bashed that fashion industry and took on a well-meaning rant about acceptance and its archaic view about fashion only being for one type of person; for the most part I stand by what I said. Last week though I realized that might have been a bit narrow minded of me to group all fashion houses under that same self-obsessed, Swarovski crystal encrusted umbrella. Where did this epiphany come from? Well, it was all due to a little Italian company known as 'Diesel'.

I won't lie, when I got the phone call to say I'd been doing work experience at a fashion house my heart plummeted and I genuinely felt sick. The thought of stepping into the world of fashion terrified me. I immediatly began conjuring images up in my head of rolling into and overly elaborate building, the kind that has endless glass windows, apparently to let light in but really you know it's to make the place look granter than it actually is. Being confronted by a patronizingly chipper receptionist, whose snobbery radiated from the top if her perfectly groomed hair to the tips of her £15,000 Christian Louboutin's; before being  greeted with a sea of size zero fashionistas draped in Channel and doused with the smell of condescendence and Marc Jacobs.  All the while my blatant unsuitability for my surrounding,  as a plus-sized wheelchair user, sitting painfully on my face like a unwelcomed spot that no-one wants to point out. Nevertheless I grew some woman balls and walked into this unassuming building in King’s Cross. I could feel the effortless rawness of the place hit me as a walked in, like a big slap in the face that I wouldn't fit in here. I readjusted my Primark shirt and braced myself for a soul destroying ‘Devil Wear’s Prada’ sequence to begin. I couldn’t have been more wrong and this is where my view on the fashion industry started to change. Instead I was welcomed by a room of smiles and kindness and I soon began to realize, as judgemental as I thought the fashion industry would be about me I was equally about them. Forgive me, but for this reason I’m going to big Diesel up a bit.

I meet some of the most genuine, down-to-earth people I've ever meet and had one of the best weeks ever. Diesel is a glitch in the conformity of fashion and by god it’s amazing! I was confronted with a brand and company whose acceptance of individuality, rebellion, honesty, talent and endeavour to push boundaries stomped over the bullshit bravado of most fashion brands. Plus they do make some kick-ass denim. I was told by someone who knows that brand better than most that ‘Diesel is a company where employees take their jobs and passion for the brand very seriously but not themselves’ and I couldn’t agree more. I have never been in such a fantastic working environment.  I mean, you know your in a perfect working environment when you can have a business meeting in a fashion showroom in front of a table full of Nando's...

Seriously though, I felt completely equal and accepted. That sounds pathetic and annoyingly corny I know but it's true. My disability wasn’t relevant, a small insignificant side-note to a largely individualistic brand. I can’t really ever thank Diesel enough for the confidence and love in fashion they have instilled in me. The people I meet had an enthusiasm that was infectious at it has fuelled a passion in me I didn’t even know existed. It’s true, the title of this post, only fools enter the world of fashion. I learnt that it can be a hard task master and unforgiving critic but equally if you have the bravery it’s  an industry that can make a huge difference.

Last week I saw that fashion is changing. It’s slowly becoming more accepting to those who are different. I’m not allowed to say too much, through pain of death, but Diesel, in collaboration with some awesome young people and myself are going to make sure of that. Soon disabled fashion will no longer be for old people and consist of granny skirts and patchwork knitwear but it will be current, stylish, accessible and sexy. Gone will be the days of skin crawling fashion disasters because of the restraint of workable fashion. Fashion will be unbounded. Here is just a few snapshots of the amazing who are helping make that happen...

and to all these beautiful people - myself not included ...

I want to say thank you.

So in homage to my new founded career as an unlikely fashionista I want to bring your attention to my first ever, uh hum,  blog competition; seamless linkage I know!

I want to know of your worst ever fashion disasters. Those fashion faux pas to make even the most fashion forward cringe. I’m talking, knicker-flashing, colour clashing and all manner of pattern mashing (okay the whole rhyming thing didn’t go as effortlessly as I hoped). My favourite story will win this pair of genuine Diesel trainers (size 8) brought to you directly from Diesel HQ!

Leave your  fashion mishaps in the comment boxes bellow or you can find the link to my twitter and tweet me your stories. How ever you get involved please do and get your stories in by the 31st of this month and I will contact the winner shortly after.

So embarrassing stories at the ready… get set… type!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Unrealized Struggles of a Disabled Fashionista

Tomorrow marks my first tentative steps into the world of fashion. I'd be the first to admit that fashion and me have never strictly been best friends. I was that kid at school who rocked a bright pink t-shirt with a bejewelled cat sparkling proudly from my chest and velour tracksuit bottoms; which were obviously purple and clashed hideously. With my pimpled forehead and home bowl cut hair I looked like a bad 'Kevin and Perry' extra. Nevertheless, 12 years down a questionable fashion road I find myself about to begin a placement at Diesel's headquarters. I know, I'm not sure exactly how it happened either. It's not just my complete lack of fashion sense that hinders me; I should add I have got noticeably better than my velour stint of the 90's, just in case any potential employers stumble their way upon this post. We've all had that uncontrollable panic of 'what on Earth am I going to wear?' Be it because you have an important function to look presentable for, a job interview to smash or you just want to look damn hot; finding the right clothes to wear can be a bonafide nightmare. Then imagine your encased a gargantuan metal wheelchair you need to consider or have one arm shorter than the other to take into account and the challenge of finding that perfect outfit shoots into the stratosphere. People come in all shapes and sizes, regardless of disability, but with a fashion industry who, on the whole, don't seem to acknowledge that, still the mission of conquering the murky world of fashion persists. Many times have I seen a dress and imagined myself in it, only to be hit by the sobering reality that I don't look like Cara Delevingne, as the advert may suggest, but my resemblance is more that of a compressed bag of potatoes. I know this problem is greater acknowledged than just in the disabled community but, being one such member, I've noticed that it presents its very own unique clothing challenges.

We are always told to ‘dress for our shape’, but what if 'your shape' doesn't fall into the conventional categories of ‘Pear’, ‘Apple’, ‘Top Heavy’ or ‘Hourglass’? Some of us have more, um, unconventional body shapes. Frankly if you don't have a wonky body part, a disproportionate extremity, no extremities at all, or even the smallest misdirected finger I'd question to your commitment to this whole 'disabled thing'. It's just a fact of disabled life, on a whole, we are a bit wonky and I speak from experience. Then some of us have the issue of sitting down which completely changes your body shape. You could be a sultry hourglass but sit down and you turn into more of a broken pocket watch; bits a pieces popping out from all directions (I'm not sure that metaphor actually works but I'm going with it so forgive me).  Not all of us have legs that lay seductively at the end of our pelvis and sit perfectly straight ready to hold clothes in the correct, streamline position. Let me assure you, 'straight' is not a physical possibility when you have CP, you lucky if at least one part of your body is in the correct position. Some of us have wonky legs, or no legs at all. The effect? Those perfectly sculpting  jeans you saw on the mannequin end up looking like you stuffed them with Kerplunk sticks or you end up having an abundance of material flapping around like you've suddenly grown a pair of denim flippers. It's not cool and it's certainly not sexy. I've said before that regardless of disability we all want to be sexy. That can be really hard to achieve however when you only have a clothing options of 'Gap Kids' or you have to buy clothes seven times bigger than you actually are to negotiate your unforgivably wonky body.

Then sometimes you come with little, extras. A catheter, a gastrostomy, a stoma, a tracheostomy or the ultimate sex appeal of a brace. On the note of body braces I know a lot of people are not a fan of them; they can be bulky and uncomfortable, I had leg braces as a child so I feel your pain. That said nowadays they are like a fashion statement in their own right. If German model Nadja Auermann can rock a leg brace on the catwalk like this...

and Jessie J can bring some style to a leg cast on stage like this...

then other braces can be just as damn well sexy. However, these little additions often require some inventive clothing techniques. I am not able to speak from personal experience, but with many friends who can I know there is nothing more undignified than having to hike your dress above your head in order to access a gastrostomy peg, or be conscious of having an unsightly bulge under your body-con dress because of a stoma. You know what? I say fuck it. Some people have unsightly bulges under their dresses and that's part of their actual flesh. Not to mention I've ended up with my dress around my neck on several nights out and I have no excuse apart from too many unforgiving J├Ągerbombs! Short of cutting a hole in your favourite dress or wearing a shapeless tent these are struggles that seem unavoidable. Fashion just doesn't cater for the masses.

It’s not just about looking good when it comes to the clothes you wear, when you have a disability it comes down to accessibility... not like that, I'll have none of that filth here please; what I mean is practicality. As lovely as an item of clothing may be, it’s got to work around your unconventional way of doing things. There is no use having a killer dress or the newest pair of jeans if you can't do everyday tasks in them. Peeing for example, the biggest negotiator when it comes to clothing selections. A year or so ago playsuits were really in fashion. Now, I want to be at the high of fashion like any other twenty-two year old, but have you ever tried going to the toilet in a playsuit when you have limited movement and hand function? You have to almost pre-empt needing to wee. You end up needing a good half an hour window to tackle the endless stream of buttons or poppers that a playsuit presents. If not you risk getting into one bundled, tangled, material mess while doing that awkward 'I need a wee dance'. They seriously need a wee flap, am I the only one who thinks this? Sometimes though clothing can literally be a physical hindrance. A long sleeved top which one person might take for granted as being a simple piece of clothing on someone with a limb deformity can actually stop them using their arm effectively. The wrong clothes can effectively make you more disabled!

What’s the alternative though, share your five-year-old sister’s wardrobe? Or wear lose fitting, out of dates clothes that your Nan wouldn't be seen dead in? According to some people yes. Disabled people don't have the right to feel good and be sexy, didn't you know? I'm so sick of society’s warped view of what is acceptable; so according to me that's bollocks. Why should we dress like we’ve just been let out of a fashion torture house because there seems to be a distinct lack of ability to cater for all shapes and sizes? I don't just mean whether you’re a size 2 or 22, I mean whether you have one limb missing or two, whether you have curve in your spine or a novel bend to your pelvis, whether your legs point in one direction or five, we all have a right to wear nice clothes and feeling fucking fantastic in them. Yet it comes down to more than the clothes, it comes down to the unrealistic view of beauty. Being a bit physically asymmetrical is not accepted as beautiful, and apparently, according to social conventions, clothes don’t look good on anything other than perceived beauty. I'll tell you what though, my legs may be wobbly but I can rock the LBD as good as the rest of you and with some sizable assets you can be damn sure I'll make a low cut wrap dress look hot. So reconsider your idea of beauty world because you've got a whole lot of unconventional coming your way and we are making sure we are dressed to impress.

With that in mind I better decide on what to wear for my first day at a placement; garish bejewelled animals and shiny synthetic materials firmly off the list of course.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The 'Awwwwwwwww' Effect

It's been a funny old week this week, I don't quite know what to make of it. The week was set out to be a miserable one, I think my last post personifies that, but it has sort of done a 360. So in keeping with this new found buoyant mood, and as a reward for sticking with me through the last downtrodden posts, tonight I bring you something lighter of heart.

I've written a very similar post to you before, see back to 'Bum's Biceps and Backward Compliments’, in which I've delved into the supercilious vocabulary of ill meant phrases that are said to people with disabilities. Nonetheless the one I present to you tonight, not only surpasses any lexical depths we have reached before but is highly deserving of its very own blog post.

May I present to you the ‘Awwwwww’ effect.

The ‘Awwwwwww’ effect is something that used to be reserved primarily for the likes of adorable baby animals or big doe-eyed toddlers, stumbling around like little drunk people. It’s unavoidable, your subconscious will see one of these heart melting images and almost as a reflex you are so paralyzed by it’s cuteness that the only legible sound to come out of your mouth is a high-pitched  “Awwwwww!”.

However, I am not an immensely fluffy kitten nor am I a fuzzy haired, stumbling, miniature human being. Therefore, why, oh why, do some people still feel the utter compulsion to ‘aw’ at me? If someone could answer me this question I would forever be in your debt. If I had four legs a resembled a giant cotton wool ball I would understand; I have on numerous occasions found myself cooing over such a sight. On the contrary I am a self-sufficient, self-motivated, twenty-two year old and almost functioning adult; I do not need someone else’s unconsidered pity.  

That is what an ‘aw’ implies; pity. Pity for what though? I don’t understand; because my legs don’t work properly? Well if you are the type of person who sees it fit to ‘aw’ a fully grown woman then clearly your basic reasoning doesn’t work properly either;  so should I pity you as well? My legs may be a bit wobbly and my hand may be a bit questionable in the direction it points sometimes, but I can assure you my brain is not the same.

This is the conversational faux pas that I have come across most in my day-to-day life as a bonafide wobbly. It can happen at almost any invitation. Sometimes it’s in variation, the fawning ‘bless’ can be added for the ultimate degrade, or if someone is feeling really patronising a gentle pat is added for good measure. Nevertheless the sentiment is the same. I’ve become adept at spotting the potential culprits from a mile away. It’s the people who give you that smile that is meant to be warming but can often come across unnerving and a little ‘serial killer’. They seem to adopt the facial expression you only normally see when someone is confronted with a wounded animal; full or worry and angst but with the vain optimism they might just pull through.  They might as well say “there, there, it can’t get any worse”… in fact I think they once have.

Whatever warning signs I may now notice it’s become apparent to me over the years that whether I am scaling the heights of Mount Everest (not likely) or doing my weekly shop (more likely), my life is undernoted by the sound track of ‘Awwwwww’.

Frankly it really pisses me off.

I have been told before, as an excuse I presume, that some people honestly believe people with disabilities like to hear ‘aw’ as it gives them encouragement. I can’t speak for every disabled person out there but let me tell you now, when someone uses the noise ‘aw’ to address me it makes me want to do nothing less than to place my indisputably spazticated hand directly into their face.  It’s not an encouragement if anything it’s a condescendence. If I am suffering from a bad cause of women-esque ‘man flu’, then by all means I welcome your ‘aw’s’. Swiftly followed by a reassuring hug that I will not crawl up and die from a snuffley nose and a cough I swear is becoming border-line pneumonia; not to mention you to kindly bring me my body weight in chocolate to wallow in. If I am however doing something simple as being out in public or, say, just getting on with my life, I urge you to reconsider. After all I can assure you there is nothing endearing nor sweet about an over-weight, over-perspiring exercise novice huffing her reddened self around the gym, as some lady seemed to think today; in fact it’s quite unsightly.

So if you are a victim to the use of the ‘Awwwwww’ effect, next time please reserve your ‘aw’. Not for the girl in the wheelchair doing her weekly shop, or the guy with a prosthetic leg just out having a drink with his friends but for something really worth it.

Because surely when faced with a micro pig eating ice-cream or a puppy  that is so fluffy you think your brain might combust from the sheer cuteness it radiates, your ‘aw’s’ are truly wasted...

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Man in the Black Cloak

This wasn't a pre-planned entry, or one that will follow my usual pattern of humor or sarcasm. Sometimes jokes can only get you so far. Sometimes life throws stuff at you that laughter won't help. Sometimes you have to highlight the bad it life to see how truly amazing all the other stuff is. I've tried in my previous posts to show you how positive disability is, how regardless of our limitations we are just like the rest of you. The truth is though, sometimes being disabled is shit. Disability has brought into my life some of the most amazing things. It has given me unbreakable friendships, once in the life time opportunities to represent my country in sport and given me a more varied and happy life than I know I would have every had without it. In the same breathe it has brought me unbearable heart-ache.

Tonight I found out that an old friend of mine passed away. He was 28. Far to young to be so cruelly taken away. Sure he could be an absolute arse at times. He was always  getting himself into some form of trouble and I'm sure a borderline sex pest ;) but he was just one of those guys that made your day more exciting. It's an all too common thread of life when you live with a disability, death follows you around like a bad smell. You know it's there, it often makes it's presence known with a tap on the shoulder and a waver of breathe. It can pass through your happiest memories and loom over them. Often it's friendly, it takes away the pain that disability can bring but sometimes it's sadistic and taunts you for fun; like a big kid poking a worm with a stick. I'm sure it stands there looking at you from afar, waiting until your guard comes down, thinking he might have left you alone for a while, then takes a running stab at your from behind.

Disability can be  a life affirming quality, it can bring you a brilliant outlook on life but it can also be a death sentence. It angers me no end that good people die young because of a little bit of genetics.

Death played it's first hand in my life when I was just 13. He played the long game then. He took his time, playing his hand piece by piece. Filling me with hope, only to dash it days later. His first victim my best friend. Nowadays he has got quick and far to greedy. There s no gentle tap on the shoulder anymore, just  a sudden gut-wrenching blow to the stomach. Within the last twelve months he has got a little to big for his boots claiming a best friend and Cornish star, a  jack-the-lad joker and a right little trouble-maker.

We used to play this game, my first friend and I, where we would make up lives in our heads, we would play it for hours. We'd have the best cars, the most handsome boyfriends (in the early 00's we are talking Brian McFaddon and Duncan James) but most of all we'd grow old. Well that's what you are meant to do isn't it? Grow old. Have kids. Live.

I've had enough. Death is really getting on my tits and I'll be damned if I let his lust for disability triumph.

He's had his fun and caused his pain but let's not let his victims be his victims for no reason. One day, and I don't know how long from now, death will just be that stairway at the end of your very long life. For, in a world where we hope to achieve regrowth of limbs in 50 years, then why are lives still being unnecessarily shortened? The government see a child on the street wasting away and put millions into funding for shelters and food banks to stop it. Yet there are thousands of people who's bodies are effectively doing the same thing, who's life can be prolonged by just one drug that the government are unwilling to fund. What makes one persons life superior to another?

So this is my post for them, my friends who were taken to young. To tell the government to pull there fingers out of there arses and sit up. People are dying so shove your prestige and do something about it. For all those mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, cousins, friends and foes who got off on the wrong stop, here's a  celebration of lives that, yes, where far to short but by god, left an impression.

To the boys. I miss you all, more than my unquestionably cool exterior let's on ;) Rest in peace you nutters; I hope you are playing havoc with those angels.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Let's Get Physical

Today I’m going to try something a little different. A lot have you have got in contact with me regarding my weekly ventures to the gym and asked advice on how to best work out when you use a wheelchair. As I see myself as a pretty helpful individual, nay dream-maker, your query is my pleasure to answer and today I shall bring you an advice blog. Brace yourselves…

Working out and staying fit must be one of the single most impossible things to achieve when your mobility is limited. I started training back in March, mainly to lose the fat baby I had been steadily growing over my first year at university. In the space of just a few months I had ballooned from a UK dress-size 16 to a rather unhappy size 20. Some drastic action was required; it was time to dwindle off the pizza and lay the alcohol to rest. With a bit of hard graft and substantially less pizza, I’ve managed to lose 2.8 stone and wriggle back into my size 16 jeans; just two stone away from my goal weight. It was tough though. Exercising always is, but even more so when you are in an electric-wheelchair, like me. Now, I’m not saying you manual wheelchair users have it easy; oh I can feel the ripple of controversy brewing as I speak, but work in a little enthusiastic push down the sea front and you can get your heart rate up and burn all important calories. When your peak of daily exercise is pushing a small joystick forward however, things aren’t as simple.

First you’ve got the drama of accessibility. For this I have no simple remedy but a gentle squeeze of reassurance that accessible gyms do exist. They are as allusive as gold dust granted, but hidden in the tiny crevasses of society there are a few. My best advice is just to ring around and see what’s about. I know it sounds mundane but it works! That’s how I found my gym and it's brilliant. Most places will also give you a free tour or induction so you can see what the place is like before you join. Plus everyone loves a freebie! If you do find a gym that is wheelchair friendly, congratulations to you; it would have been easier climbing Kilimanjaro. Alternatively you might just settle for a little home work out, but wherever you choose, then comes that panic of what to do when you get there.  Well fear not! Here is a few ideas for you, whatever your abilities.

If you have good upper body movement then I really suggest ‘Box Fit’. Primarily it can be fun. It’s great for letting of some steam. Had a bad day? Then I can whole-heartedly say there is nothing better than beating the shit out of some boxing pads. Secondly, for  the less aggressive and more health conscious of you, it is great for cardio. Cardio exercising it’s really hard to achieve when you are in a wheelchair. The big trio in the cardio game are the treadmill, exercise bike and cross-trainer, and let’s be frank, without the use of two fully functioning lower limbs you’ve got more chance of using them than Katie Hopkins has of becoming a decent human being. I hold no judgment I am in the same metaphorical boat. Boxing is your gold ticket solution. It brings your heart rate up, works your whole upper body – including your abs and laterals, notoriously the hardest part of your body to work in a wheelchair, and it’s great for strength and coordination.  I’ve been working on boxing and pad work 2-3 times a week for the last month or so and I can see a noticeable difference. Beside a vast improvement in coordination, which is equivalent of a step on the moon for someone with CP, my bingo wings have reduced to winglets and my stomach is far less pregnant-esque; we are talking more 6 weeks than 6 months. If that isn’t enough boxing motivation for you, you’re going to need a pad partner, who more often than not will be a fit personal trainer…

Now let me bring you on to the hand-bike. A bike you use with your hands I hear you exclaim; genius! A marvel of modern fitness apparatus and a cardio phenomenon. This can work for pretty much anyone. If you’ve got good upper body strength and movement then I’m afraid it’s a case of brute strength and determination, you’re going to have to put some graft in. Don’t dismay, get past that initial burn and it’s great for working those triceps, biceps and helping with core strength. God I sound like an 80’s fitness video! If that’s not the case, there are some hand bikes which self-propel; I told you these were ingenious little beauts. This is really handy if you have limited or no upper body movement; strap’ em in and go.  It will give you a good muscle stretch and help improve flexibility. Plus, set that thing high enough, and it’s sure to get your heart rate going.

Weights can be a trickier subject to tackle.  For me I’m able to use ordinary dumbbells or the weight machines. There are so many different weight lifts you can do and, as you probably already know, each can target a specific area. I don’t want to patronize you, you are big and ugly enough to work out for yourself what areas you want to tone and what works for you, so I’ll just give you a few example of what I do and how they help me. Arm curl (biceps), arm extension (triceps), shoulder press (shoulders, duh) rowing pull down (abdominals, wrist strength and pectorals; this is easiest done using the wire machines, but a rubber pulley will also do the trick), truck rotations (abdominals, laterals) and the ab cruncher (pretty self-explanatory really). I’ll warn you the ab cruncher is a bitch. That said I’ve slowing managed to nurture a baby ab, singular; if I breathe in and clench really, really hard!

Of course vein busting weight-lifting is not everyone speciality. A more universal fitness practice is deep breathing. Not only is this a brilliant way to relax, but for those of you with limited movement, apparently it’s the best way to work on your cardio and even improve your muscle durability. The theory is, so my trainer says, by deep breathing you get more relaxation thus more flexibility in your muscles with can aid your overall suppleness. I know it can also help strengthen you lung muscles too if you suffer with a more muscle-wasting condition, but I’m sure you already knew that so I’ll just shut up…

Finally a treat for the less Hench of you. You lucky people get to venture into the world of robotics. Now, I have heard rumour of a contraption which takes the strain of moment for you; it’s like a giant metal exoskeleton. I’m not promising that you’ll find these world-wide but if you do stumble across one you have to have a go. There is a girl who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), who messaged me about a machine called an ‘exercise buddy’. With a little help and some intimate man-handling from a few muscly personal trainer (she thought that one through well didn’t she?) the machine is able to help her move her limbs in a way which she can effectively have the range of movement DMD restricts. She told me she is able to box, light-weight train and seriously increase her flexibility. I know realistically this isn’t feasible for the majority of you but it sounds pretty amazing, right? Plus it just goes to show not matter your ability exercise and fitness isn’t as unmanageable as it seems.

Well, I hope that disorganized rambling helped, even just a smidge. Fitness is a mistress no-one can easily master. For those of you who want to try, I hope this gives you some ideas to arm yourselves with so you can give it a right good run for its money; wheels, muscle-wastage and all!

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Reformation of a Dating Dummy

I have popped my dating cherry and have made my transition into fully-fledged courting extraordinaire. Okay so practically naming my-self as the disabled answer to Cilla Black - the dating knowledge, not being ginger and a scouser - is maybe slightly premature, but as you might be able to tell my date today went rather well. The joyous news is I don't think I fucked it up. Well, we didn't, at least, end the date with a despondent nod of goodbye, so I know my dignity was not completely lost. If I could jump I'd be bounding right now; alas a small uncoordinated clap to myself must suffice. I can't quite believe I am able to write to you so optimistically. I was fully prepared to be sitting here writing you a piece about how, with the hope never to see another member of the male species again, I was developing my elicit plan to run away to a nunnery or lesbian commune to live out the rest of my days in utter shame of my dating incompetence. Instead I feel as though I might have finally mastered some dating prowess and am sitting here with a stupidly unwavering grin on my face.

I am dumbfounded.

My dating history has been more dismally unpleasant than a fart in the wind. Out of the select number of relationships I have had only one of them attempted to take me on a date. I say attempted because he didn't actually show up. It was a harsh lesson to learn sitting outside a pub in the bitter December wind and one that cemented my scepticism on dating for five years; until that is, today

Today for some reason seemed different. I'll be honest with you and say it didn’t start off with bundles of promise. The plan was to go on a late afternoon date, location to be revealed upon arrival, and he would get the afternoon off of work. That way I could make myself look like a resemblance of a human after my gym session; all would be dandy. That inevitably did not happen. He was not able to get the time of work, therefore the only time he had was the hour or so of his lunch break. This meant that our date, which later transpired to be pottery, was looking like it was heading for an early demise. Part of me was relived; the idea of pottery is not one I relish. Credit to him, his intentions were honourable; he was planning to visit his Nan this weekend (yes I has a little 'awww' to myself as well) and hoped to take some lovingly hand-decorated crockery with him. Nevertheless the thought of my ungainly self in a place surrounded by breakable things was a recipe for disaster. Not only is my artistic ability one of a cat on acid but there was a distinct possibility that at least one thing would get broken. Not wanting to let our plans go totally to waste he suggested we go for a quiet coffee. Looking at this impeccable human standing in front of me, who had just so heart-flutteringly said 'I don't care where we go on our date,  just want to go on a date with you' all I could think was, 'but look at my hair'. Due to the newly found time restrictions, I hadn't had time to change after the gym. I was still in my gym sweats with a jumper thrown on, three gallons of deodorant sprayed over me, flushing red-hot crimson with wayward sweat dried hair. Not exactly the look I was going for. Though, at the risk of sounding like a clich├ęd teenage fool, once he given me a gleaming reassuring smile that he didn't care - I mean jeez if he can want to date me looking like that then the man needs some serious kudos - I was going for that coffee whether I was dressed in a ball gown or a bin-bag.

Granted this wasn't the grand gesture of a date I had imagined. There were no scattered rose-petals, fine dining or a wooing violinist but it was down-to-earth, uncomplicated and unforced. Plus a lot more civilized and a damn sight less stressful than pottery! I felt relaxed and calm and not once did I feel self-conscious. At one point I even had a tiny momentary blip and an uninvited spasm cause me to jump and hit my knee under the table. To my surprise he didn't even register it but instead gave me a heartening smile and carry on as if nothing happened. I can't explain to you how overwhelmingly amazing that felt, for that moment on I was beaming. We have banter in the gym about my disability all the time but to see him so completely unfazed by it and see pasted my four wheels to me, which I know most of you quirky individuals will appreciate, was by far the biggest novelty I've had in a long time.

All in all I'd be as bold as to say it was a success. My uncensored weirdness and uncool nature did not seem to frighten him off; though my unparalleled love of cats did stay well and truly buried; I feel to reveal that at such an early stage could have been a step to far. I manage to survive the date without the inelegance of spitting out coffee or dribbling it down myself; I accomplished, even, not to snort when I laughed, which has been known to happen when I nervous giggle. No mayhem, mishaps or major fuck up's occurred at all and he was a picture of gorgeousness and an absolute gent.

Where it goes from here? Your guess is as good as mine. Though I have been promised the chance to achieve a less dishevelled look for our next date. Which, yes, dear fellow surfers of the internet and blogging chums, means there will be a second date! I almost want to say it all sounds a bit ridiculous, to be going on a second date. I've said it before to friends  that it feels like I’ve won a competition or people will see us on the street and think I've cashed in my wish from the 'Make a Wish' foundation. After today however I’ve realized, I really don't care. Right now the shit-eating grin plastered on my face dispels all my fears.

 Watch this space...