Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Nerf Wars

We always go for a family walk at Christmas. It is Tradition.

Only this time we all had nerf guns.

And it rapidly became 'Zombies vs Aliens'

Aliens had guns.


Zombies didn't. If shot, a zombie froze for 5 seconds.


If caught, the Alien dropped his gun and became a zombie too.


We took over a corner of the park. 
All 18 of us, aged 2 to 35.
We ran, we shrieked, we fell over, we got muddy, we laughed. 
And we never did work out who won.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Toothbrush Trouble

I only went to brush my teeth. It all went slightly wrong.
I held the brush, applied the paste then missed my teeth entirely.
I got my mouth alright: 
Right side, inner cheek - so hard it even sprang a leak.
Not even with the bristles
- that I could understand,
but with the blunt and risk-free plastic end!

I admit that sometimes coordination
isn't quite my strongest point, 
but you must agree it's a kinda special
toothbrush jeopardy!



Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Objective: Wheelchair

Inspired by Richard Herring's Objective, with Francesca Martinez. 


A program which made me cry with laughter at its oh-so-true-but-unbelievable observations on reactions to the wheelchair. I had to listen to it again, just to ensure it was that funny. It was. And so grew the following stickmen:
(Click on the picture to view it full size)



Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Stickman Gift Ideas

Some Christmas gift ideas - my favourite stickman products! Available from my website www.stickmancommunications.co.uk. Also available through most bookstores (although they may have to order them in).


Welly Walks and Biscuit Baking


£5.99 each, £1 donated to Whizz-Kidz per book sold. Perfect for 2-5yr olds.
"I urge you all to buy  two amazing kids books and  £1 from each will go to" Fran Williamson, Ex paralymic swimmer.


"I've just had my first read of the new books by  .. they're amazing! I'm buying some for my kids friends for christmas"

"E loves them. She still sleeps with them under her pillow" 


"Do it again! Do it again! Look, it got et! See! the cookie got et!" 7yr old child discovering Biscuit Baking's 'flip book' effect.


"You know you've been pushing it when..."


£6.99 each, £1 donated to The Hypermobility Syndrome Association per book sold. Perfect for all who can see the funny side of life.
"Really funny and a great way of conveying wheelie life." Helene Raynsford, Paralymic Gold Medalist 2008


"Ideal stocking filler gift book" Book shop owner.


"Ditch the leather gloves, this book is THE essential wheelchair accessory!" Carrie B, Wheelchair User.


"That's brilliant! It shows a completely different perspective - and it's so funny." Random chap on the train.


"This has to be the most perfect book for all wheelchair users out there! It is funny, true and gives such a wonderful insight to the world of being a wheelie. So many of the pages in the book have happened to me and the simple but effective way Hannah Ensor has drawn the stickmen is ingenious." 'Loosebones'. Wheelchair user.



Of course, there are T-shirts, more books, communication cards and more on my website too...

Friday, 11 November 2011

Latest Project: Communication Cards

How do you explain to strangers that you are OK when you have fallen in the street and lost your ability to speak coherently? 
How do you say "don't help me up by pulling my arms because they will dislocate" when you cannot talk? 
How do you reassure the people worriedly flapping around you that this is all within 'Normal' and you will be fine shortly? 
And how do you deal with the fear of knowing this is likely to happen and you will be helpless to stop people from damaging you by well intentioned, misplaced 'help'? 


 A friend of mine faces this every time she leaves the house. I too have problems with intermittent speech issues and a body that does things that worry people while I'm simultaneously unable to explain that I am fine. 


 So we thought up a solution: Stickman Communication Cards! (sorry for the long column of pictures - the slide show didn't work)







       



 I made a set for my friend. But fell in love, so made some for me too. 


Professionally printed, laminated, and on a keyring. Small enough to slip into a pocket. Easy to hold, easy to flip through. And fun - not a disability aid that leaves me feeling inadequate and embarrassed, but one that has such style and glee that I'm almost looking forward to having to use it! 


 With them in my pocket I feel so much safer, knowing that if my body throws a strop at me in public, I have the tools to deal with it. I hope my friend feels the same! 


 The concept can be easily tweaked to suit all sorts of 'non-verbal, important communication' scenarios. Anyone interested in a set adapted to their needs can contact me at admin@stickmancommunications.co.uk

Monday, 7 November 2011

Whooop! I just did some IRONING!

Yippeee!


I just ironed! 


At least 4 T-shirts and 2 pairs of trousers. Three Cheers for me!


And no. I'm not being sarky. I am genuinely pleased. Genuinely proud of myself. Smirk.


What was that magic combination of circumstances that enabled such a feat?

  1. Months and months of physio.
  2. My heating is off it's near freezing outside, so the heat from the iron made the temperature tolerable instead of triggering an over-heat collapse.
  3. I found a mini ironing board I can actually set up.
  4. And it's design means I can iron sat on the floor - so I don't fall.
  5. Nothing had pleats or other complicated thingys that require finely tuned coordination.
So now I bask in my sense of achievement and the haze of painkillers as I reattach my wrist, wibble other wonky joints back into place and try to get my neck to stop switching my quads off.

Hehehe. I did it! I ironed! All by myself.

And now it's time to make dinner......

*looks at current physical state*

Blast


Saturday, 29 October 2011

"Have a seat"

At the Dr's surgery the other day, I entered the sub-waiting room. It is very narrow, with two rows of chairs facing each other. The first chair each side was occupied which would make it awkward for someone to walk up the middle. The chap in one chair glanced up and saw me "here, have a seat" he said, shifting quickly along a few seats...

"...Oh. You already have one". Embarrassed, noticing my wheels.

I grinned. "You've made my day"

He looked confused.

"You saw me, acknowledged me as a person and then you saw my wheels. I like that. I like it when I'm a person first, and my disability is registered later."

And we chatted on about random things until appointment time.

What he saw as a mistake, a failure to take in the whole situation at a glance, made my day.

And it still keeps making me smile.

Because I like being 'just another person'.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sign of Approval

On Saturday I launched Biscuit Baking and Welly Walks.

The books I'd worked on for months, fallen in love with, and which make me grin every time I pick them up. But now: the moment of truth. Letting the public judge their worth.

A hall full of children and parents - the atmosphere much like a child's party with face-painting, balloons, kids chasing bubbles on the patio or sitting quietly with colouring sheets and pencils. Children shyly telling me their names to write in the front of their shiny new books.

And not only that, ex-paralympic swimmer, Fran Williamson had also come to show her support and appeared delighted with her signed copies.


But my favorite part was reading them out loud to the children and their parents. The smiles, the pointing, the giggles and occasional 'look Mummy!' made my day.



My books were approved by those who matter most. The children.

Thank you to all who came - I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!


Thursday, 20 October 2011

A brief stroll....

It might be immature, but Saturday's stroll made me laugh.
(Best viewed if you click on the first picture - it brings up a slide show)




Well, I thought it was funny.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Launch of Welly Walks and Biscuit Baking


Photo by Nicole French, 2011

Launch Date: 22nd October 2011
Time: 2:00-3:30pm
Venue: Willowcroft Community School, Mereland Road, Didcot, OXON, OX11 8BA
Books: Welly Walks and Biscuit Baking by Hannah Ensor
With balloons, book sales (my other books will be on sale too) facepainting, bubbles, book signing and more.
Also attended by Fran Williamson: Five-time World Champion Swimmer and six time Paralympic medallist.

2 children’s books. So what? What makes these so special?

1.    The illustrations are unique. Clear, joyful, simple and alive. And so are the stories.
Who’d have thought stick people could be so expressive? The biggest challenge is not grinning whenever you see them.

2.    They include disabled children without being about disabled children.
Plenty of books about disability for 2-5 year olds, but how many can you find about fun which just happen to feature a disabled child? The balance is being addressed.

3.    They raise £1 per book for Whizz-kidz (charity no 802872)
Who help children enjoy fun and full childhoods, get the right wheelchairs for them at the right time, and learn the skills they need – all without pity or patronisation. With loads of input from the kidz themselves, it is run with humour, respect, positivity, professionalism and cheek. A charity after my own heart.

4.    And each book has a special feature ....................
It is the same feature in every book, but also different! My nieces and nephew who pre-viewed my books wanted to see this charming and unexpected facet of my books over and over again.

That’ll keep you guessing!

I still can’t quite believe the responses I’ve had from the adults who have seen them. They pick it up and within seconds they smile, often progressing to 'laugh out loud'. What greater compliment could they give? If the fun these stickmen children have is so contagious, maybe the message that disabled people are just people will catch on with equal ease.

Photo by Nicole French, 2011

So here’s to helping change the world, a little at a time. Starting next Saturday.

(Pre-ordering available from the publisher 2QTWHSmiths,and other similar places. I have been told that Amazon is taking a long time to process orders.)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Disability Pride?

There are many opinions on 'Disability Pride', many different approaches. From people who think it is the only way to be, to people who think it is all a lie and emotional denial. Today I had a think. Where do I stand? (This is simply my current thoughts. I have no problem with people disagreeing.)

If, 8 years ago and before I became disabled, someone had asked me whether I was proud of being able to walk I would have looked at them like they were from another planet. How can you be proud of something that you were born able to do, something which is easy, straightforward and every-day boring? It was simply a small part of who I was and held no evidence of anything praiseworthy. Why the big deal?

And I think this attitude still works for me today. Proud of being disabled? Why should I be proud of something which life dealt me? I did nothing praiseworthy to become disabled, it just happened. It is my normal. Simply a small part of who I am. Why the big deal?

I am, however, proud of my achievements, proud of my approach to life, proud of who I am. And that encompasses my disability as well as my abilities - because it is only when I include the disability that I am completely me and completely grounded in reality. If I try to hide it or pretend it is not there I cheat myself - I try to achieve things I don't need to and miss perfect opportunities. It is only when I accept who I am as a whole that I can use my strengths, improve on my weaknesses, grow as a person and have a full-filling and bright future.

Proud of my disability? No. A concept I don't really understand.

Proud of me, disability and all? YES!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

You're Inspirational!

Something I hear so often that it grates.

Like so many wheelchair users when I go out for coffee, pop to the shop, go to the post office, I run the gauntlet of 'how inspirational' 'how brave' 'how amazing'.

Why? Tesco holds no fear and Starbucks no hidden terrors. I may go in my wheelchair, but seriously: it is no big deal. Well, it is in that when on wheels I am so much more part of the community and able to interact and enjoy things (see 'statement of disability'). And clearly there is nothing remotely special in doing everyday things that are within my capabilities, in an everyday way.

It irks me. It's depressing that people have such low expectations of me that my posting a letter can inspire them.

And this has coloured my reaction to compliments about my attitude or achievements - my automatic inner response of 'I'm just getting on with life, just let me be myself and stop setting your expectations so low that they imprison me.'

Recently I was in hospital. A nurse asked me about my conditions then read my books for more information. We chatted more. I told him about my up-coming book releases.

He said I was inspirational.

I paused, looked at my inner reaction and compared it to reality.

The comment had context. It was backed by thinking my books were really fun and educational. He'd never read anything like them and found them really useful. He saw being a published author as something special - and to have achieved it on the basis of a talent found during bouts of intermittent speech problems was, for him, inspirational.

And thinking about it, I'm OK with that. I am proud of the talent I discovered, and that I have found ways to use it that help others and earn money. 

Over the course of their life, the average human will do things that inspire, things that scare, things that are despised, things that are respected. Being told you are inspirational isn't always patronising. Sometimes it is just recognising you as another human being and appreciating your achievements.

Sometimes the inner reaction should be looked at before spat out.




Saturday, 24 September 2011

Achievements

We all have a perception of what 'society' and 'other people' would see as achievements.


Obviously, getting my books Biscuit Baking and Welly Walks published and arranging the book launch for the 22nd October (details will be published when confirmed) is an achievement which everyone would recognise.


But what I consider an achievement should not be governed by others. 


So here is an achievement which, for me, is greater:


Last week I had friends round for dinner. I cooked. I held my first dinner party EVER and gave others a good time. I loved it. And I didn't use my wheelchair.


The 'Other People' in my head says "Every young woman should be able to do that. Besides, all the food was oven-ready, pre-prep stuff. All you did is put the oven on. And your guests had to take the food out of the oven and clear the table! And by the end you were too exhausted to talk or walk safely!"


But I choose not to listen. 


Because from my perspective to be well enough, for one evening, to give others a good time and enjoy it myself is too beautiful for words.


The daily physiotherapy, the weeks in hospital, the relentless monitoring my activities to keep myself from total collapse, the medication side-effects, the having to ask for help with housework, the accepting retiring on medical grounds while still young - it has all paid off.


An achievement of monumental proportions that I will hold in my heart forever.


I hereby promise to evict the 'Other People' from my head, and acknowledge my real achievements each day.


Today I did some ironing and didn't dislocate my shoulder.


Another achievement I am proud of.







Friday, 16 September 2011

The man on the train

Yesterday I got chatting to the business man sat opposite me on the train. 


At one point he asked if there would be someone waiting with a ramp at my destination station. 


"Hopefully!" I grin. And we chat a bit further how wheels affect travel.


Then he grinned.


"I bet you have great fun on them at times"


I could have hugged him. He didn't see my wheels as a statement of disability. He wasn't afraid of them. He saw them for what they are: a way of getting around that has its pros and cons.


And conversation moved on.


A stranger un-phased by my mode of transport, 


A man holding no predjudice. No belief that wheels need pity.


I doubt he'll ever realise how special it was for me.


I salute you, Mr Man-on-the-train.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Beating the heat!

My cool vest is my most treasured possession (after my wheels). At the request of several jealous people, here are some of my cool vest secrets:


(this is entirely from my own experience, and is simply being shared incase it helps anyone else. It may not be the solution for everyone)


What difference does the vest make? 
Without it I cannot tolerate temperatures above 22 degrees. I get increasing mental clouding (brian fog), feel awful and end up semi conscious. With the cool vest, I can be out and about on summer days, go on picnics, sit in a wedding reception, go out for meals -all without over-heating and best of all: feeling alive.


Make and model:
Cool vest lite, from www.coolsport.net  (A US company. I had to order by email and fax rather than direct from website. I could find no comparable products in the UK. I have, however, suggested to a UK disability equipment supplier that he looks into stocking them.)


Basic details:
A cotton tabard/vest with 4 large pockets for the cool packs, and lots of velcro. Looks something like this:




The vest can be washed in the washing machine, and the packs wipe clean.
Very size adjustable. 


Approximate Cost: 
I bought 2.
Vests:$160 each
Postage: $62.35
Import duty+VAT: £100
Plus currency exchange fees etc. 
Final bill was in the region of £350.


Ease of assembly:
I have some problems with my hands but can put it together and put it on by myself. 


How long does it last?
It depends. On a day that is just a little bit too warm for me, it can last about 5 hours - even a bit longer. On a hot day it can run out after about 3. 


How long does it take to recharge?
It depends. If the packs are stacked up it can take 24 hours to recharge them in a fridge, but if spread out in a single layer they can recharge within 4 hours in a fridge (recharge before your other set runs out - very handy) much less in a freezer. 
ALWAYS recharge them flat otherwise they 'freeze' all rumpled and lumpy - very uncomfortable.
I've never tried recharging in a bucket of iced water like they suggest because it is far too difficult to find a big enough container so they can lie flat, fill it, find ice..etc...etc. But might be worth a try if you are at a bar serving iced drinks and have a set that needs re-charging.


Is it really cold?
No - it is about 16 degrees. Like holding a bottle of cool water to your face on a hot day. Refreshing. 


How heavy is it?
The weight should be on the website. When on it is a bit of gentle pressure but doesn't feel heavy.


Fashion...
Yes, people do stare some. And yes, it can look rather like a flak jacket. But not nearly as much as most of the cooling vests I've seen. 


With the cool vest lite you can get different coloured vests to suit the occasion/outfit. I have one black and one white. You could always make your own vest once you have the cooling packs. Accessorizing with handbag, shoes and watch, or choosing a brightly coloured contrasting top to wear beneath the vest means I still look good (yes, I am female. Although there is no reason males couldn't wear bright pink DM boots if they wanted to...). Experience says when I wear it with confidence it is quickly accepted by people as 'something I wear' I still get curious people asking questions and a lot of jealous looks in summer, but on the other hand - I am out and about and enjoying myself, a few questions is a small price to pay and I rather like the envy factor :D


You can wear a loose top/shirt over the vest. I don't usually because it makes me look a very odd shape. I prefer that people can see I'm wearing something non standard rather than stare for ages trying to work out whether I am genuinely a wierd, bobbly shape or wearing something odd!


The black one works extremely well with goth/emo/punk fashion - which can make it look like a fashion statement rather than a disability aid, but I've also worn the vest when all dressed up with high heels and a a pretty dress - and still looked good.


When will it need replacing?
Dunno.
Had mine 18 months, been either in the fridge/freezer or in use ever since. Still going strong.


Can I take it on an airplane?
Although you can't take liquids on planes normally, you can for medical reasons. I've flown to Norway wearing mine and carrying my refills. I had a Drs letter explaining what it was, and that it was medically essential. I also notified the airline in advance and took the info sheet that I got with the cooling vest to provide more information if needed -including the suppliers contact details.


General tips:
When out for a warm day I wear one set and put my second set (already recharged) in a small cool bag with an icepack to help keep the temperature down. That way I can be out for longer - go on day trips etc.


In B&Bs/Hotels without a minibar fridge in your room: Travel with some antisceptic wipes and ask if you can borrow a bit of freezer space in the kitchen - reassuring that you will sterilise the packs first so no hygiene risk. (if possible ask in advance)


On days that are slightly warm I can find that while my symptoms benefit from wearing the cool vest, I also have chilly arms. then I wear a light jacket over the cool vest and it makes a lovely little microclimate perfect for me.


In Conclusion


I am dependent on mine for my ability to live independently - if that isn't a contradiction! It was the best thing I've bought (next to my favourite wheels) and I wouldn't be without it - my keys to feeling alive.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Project: Angel Gifts

I don't usually post about commissioned work, but this I can't resist!


"I'd like some angel pictures, for 'Guardian Angel' gifts" - after further discussing the project, somehow I knew exactly how to make the plans turn real.


I draw very much by 'feel'. The emotion or event conveyed must be true, real. Something I can connect to. This project I could connect to - drawings that said in picture form things I'd want to convey to those close to my heart, and also which I'd like to receive when things are getting tough.


So after talks, brainstorms and sketches I created 3 illustrations.


And now they are for sale. Selling alongside her other jewellery at http://beautifulgems.webs.com/ are the small 'Angel' pendants accompanied by my illustrations - on cards approximately business card size. Products, design and ideas all belong to Karen H - all I did was draw the pictures.


The Guardian Angels illustrated with my stickmen can be bought here



The Birth Angels illustrated with my stickmen can be bought here
(The 'Sketch Angel' - pink square for a girl, blue square for a boy)





My only regret is that they didn't exist during my long hospitalisation last Christmas. Far from home and very poorly but determined to stay positive, it would have meant the world to me to get a cheery Angel through the mail -a permanent reminder that people really care. Something I could hold in my hand, or wear around my neck to remind me that I am loved during those times where even opening my eyes was an effort beyond me.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

'Tired? I know how you feel'


I appreciate that you are trying to empathise - honest! Once I have got over the urge to bury you in sand bags then make you cook dinner. Can't? Just pull yourself together!


I have PoTS, secondary to EDS/Hypermobility Syndrome. Many of the symptoms are similar to CFS/ME. The fatigue and its brain-fogging companions. The utter toe numbing exhaustion where just moving a hand makes you want to hurl. And when you try to explain you either can't find the words through the jelly in your head, or the listener switches off cos you are whining.


Before my PoTS became severe I had no idea what this fatigue lark was really like. I would try to understand how people felt - and couldn't see why they got so tetchy. Now I am the tetchy one.


So, egged on by friends and family I wrote and illustrated "You know you have POTS when..." - although much of it could equally well be called 'You know you have CFS when..'



Explaining without the tetchy.



And whats more, the 'not entirely somber' approach seems to make people actually start to respect my condition. They laugh with the book, but then they see me flolloped but instead of 'I understand, but pull yourself together' I hear "She's in zombie-with-head-full-of-cotton-wool mode again! - so I'm making tea"


For each book sold £1.00 is donated to the Hypermobility Syndrome Association (Charity no: 1011063) and £1.00 is donated to the Association for Young People with ME (Charity no: 1082059) for each book sold.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Statement of disability?


I am often accompanied, as I journey through life, by my wheelchair and flak-jacket-look-alike cooling vest.

These obvious aids create a statement. Interpreted differently by each reader.


 Or could it possibly be "I'm getting on with my life"?

Venturing out without wheels or vest: I am disabled. Staying upright takes all my concentration. I cannot look around. I cannot talk. I cannot relax and enjoy being alive. And I'll probably fall over anyway. But no pity and no general public reaction. No repeated offers for help and no 'you are so brave'. I am just another person, assumed to be going about my business.

When on my wheels, with my trusty cooling vest, I am alive. I am free. I can chat. I can interact. I am another ingredient in a rich community.

Yet with these beautifully expanded horizons, my aids - read as statements of disability - are recognised as setting me apart.

Yes, I am different. Limited in certain ways.   

But perhaps, reading between the lines, the statement actually says:

 “Now I can be alongside you” 


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Whizz-Kidz and Me

Have you every browsed through kids picture books looking for wheelchair users? or searched an online bookshop for kids books where wheelchairs are accepted as normal and not an issue?

I have. I failed to find any I liked. None that conveyed that sense of joy and freedom my wheels give me. None that made wheels feel normal.

With help from Whizz-kidz, this will change!

Working with a group from Whizz-kidz, in time for Christmas I will be having published the first books in a new series aimed at 2-6 year olds! Perfect for all young children - colourful, fun, unique - and breaking down the fear of 'different', helping all who read them (parents included) see past the chair. And raising money for Whizz-kidz at the same time. Perfect!


It is early days yet, but this project has totally captured my heart, and the time I've spent so far with the Whizz-Kidz and the input from them has been phenomenal - not least their liveliness and humour - which I now need to try and capture on paper!

I predict that the next 2 months are going to include some of the most rewarding hard work I have yet done!

(note: featured picture is not the final cover of the book.)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

But it is 'Accessible'...

Sometimes I hate things labeled as accessible.
Advertised as accessible.

Accessible for me? Accessible for you? Accessible for who?

It usually doesn't bother me at all. I'll just ask questions to get the info I need -until I meet someone who's only answer to my questions is 'it is accessible'.

How does an estate agent who has met me once know what is accessible for me? What does he know about my coordination or hand function or grip strength and how that applies to my abilities to open an external, locked gate?

"Don't worry because of course any gate installed will be accessible, it has to be by law."

Erm. No.

Reasonable adjustments have to be made. That doesn't mean all external gates on the market can be opened by me. Or that a well meaning builder will put in something that I can open. It means they can be opened by most people with a range of ability levels. Accessible for 90% of people doesn't necessarily include me. - just tell me for definite what the gate opening mechanism is (key? Yale lock? (definitely not me-friendly) swipecard? movement sensor? coded keypad?) and I'll know if I'm in the 10% or 90%.

He said how helpful the developer was trying to be. And how everything would be wheelchair accessible. I appreciate all that. I'm not trying to campaign or make a point. Just answer my question. I've been asking for weeks. Any builder/developer can easily find out what kind of lock is on the gate he's bought.

I may have been patronising.
I may have raised my voice in frustration.
I am not proud of this.

But it worked. Slightly.

He called back: He'd spoken to the developer. The pedestrian gate which will be installed shortly will be opened by coded key-pad. I thanked him, said that answered my question and would be accessible for me, and that I would instruct my solicitor to proceed with the purchase.

But he didn't really understand. He continued trying to 'explain'.

If I wasn't disabled and had asked what colour the gate would be, would it have taken so long? would I have had to sit through lectures on 'the developer won't choose a colour that looks bad'? would the agent spend ages explaining that he couldn't tell me the exact chemical composition of the paint and therefore neglect to tell me the colour either?

When I ask about accessibility it isn't out of irrational fear. I don't want reassurance.

I want answers.

Direct and simple answers to direct and simple questions.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

The beauty of life

Yesterday was beautiful.
It was happy.
It was perfect.

Yesterday my train got delayed by an hour.
My pain levels were high.
I used up my energy for at least a few days.
3 Taxi's refused to pick me up.
My estate agent had a moment of disability related patronising oik.

And yet, the day was beautiful. And as I arrived home I could not have been happier or more content.

Why?

Because no-one and nothing could take away from what I had achieved.

4 years ago I started drawing stickmen.
Yesterday in a meeting with whizzkidz PR and fundraising chaps we initiated a project which might help change the attitudes of the country towards those in wheelchairs. Which will raise money to help get kids the wheels they need to be kids. Which will involve working with some kids - who will then get their names in published print. And which will expand my stickman empire. ( I will post more on this later...)

Of course I was proud of myself, but actually, this was only a small part of my contentment.

The big part was that I had:
Travelled to and across London on my own.
To somewhere I had never been before.
Had a business meeting lasting over an hour during which I was able to concentrate and talk until the very end.
And then....
I went shopping. Wheeling free and independent through the shops around Victoria. Completely alone in the crowds - just one person in a seething mass of humanity. Yes, I sometimes got rescued by random shop assistants and passers by, but so would someone carrying a heavy box - and it doesn't take away from my achievements.
I randomly met an old lecturer from my pre-wheelie days. We chatted and she didn't pity me or patronise me.
I got back across London with my shopping - hailing a taxi all by myself - before catching my train and getting back home.

It was beauty. It was perfection. Simply because: I did it.

A year ago I couldn't hold a 10 minute conversation while curled up at home and remain coherent.
A year ago a trip to London wasn't even a dream. My dreams were things like being able to visit someone for coffee and not end up semi-comatose. It was so far outside my abilities. It would have put me in hospital. And medically I had been given no hope that things would change for the better anytime soon.

But with my new medical team at the Bristol Heart Institute: Dr Thomas, the Arrythmia nurses, ward nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and their pioneering treatment, the sky is my limit.

I feel human again. Taking steps into new areas. As important as those first steps on man on the moon.

Yes, I am paying for it now. I can't concentrate for long. Speaking is difficult. My fingers ache, my elbows aren't properly attached......etc....etc...

But "what price perfection"?

It was worth it.
And no after-effects can take away the fact that I did it.

On my own.

I did it.