So, the number of newspapers that I've been in recently is starting to become a bit embarrassing! I have now appeared in The Derbyshire Times (due out Wednesday 30th Oct), but it is already online and you can view it here:
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I have recently got into Paralympic Sport. I am currently training for the 'Club Throw', which is basically the Paralympic version of the Hammer Throw. I also do the Discus (or the 'flying dinner plate' as me and my coach like to call it!). However, I have a go at all the athletic events, as we like to say, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Anyway, as I was saying, the Club Throw, I started in May and I could only throw the club 5 metres or so. Now it is October and I can throw around 10 metres, with a PB (personal best) last week of 11.5 metres. That probably doesn't sound a lot, but when you have to do it from sitting in a wheelchair, and the Paralympic gold is about 20 metres, it's getting there!
The funny thing is, with Cerebral Palsy, no two throws will ever be the same and consistency doesn't really exist as we've found out! The other day, I was on about my 5th throw and half way through I let go and it went flying towards my coach's head! It was hilarious and he always sees the funny side! He always jokes '10 points if you get my knees, 20 points if you get my stomach and 30 points if you get my head!'. Another funny moment was about 3 weeks ago when he told me that I 'needed more height' on my throw (basically, I need to release the club a bit higher when I throw), so I gave it a go and it went up, up and up, hit the ceiling, came back down and went over the tiered seating on the track!. My coach went 'that was amazing Ellie, but I just hope to god we don't have any dead, unconscious people in the tiered seating who have been knocked out by a paralympic club'!
As I am serious about Athletics and I really do love it, I have bought a wheelchair to play sport in and it wasn't quite expensive enough! I was killing two birds with one stone as I really did need a new wheelchair; the pink, heavy duty one that I had since I was 10 wasn't really cutting the 'cool' look and wasn't the best for shopping (number 1 priority of course!). But, it still baffles me how expensive wheelchairs are, especially if you want one tailored to you, which of course everyone does. I could have bought a cheap new car for the price of my wheelchair. Unless you come into direct contact with buying a wheelchair, people have no idea about the cost. Even the extremely basic 'models' start at about £800, and then when you start adding all the little bits, such as 'foldable handles' or 'rigid handles', the cost runs into at least £1,500! I had to laugh as the cushion for my wheelchair was about £35 (and that was the basic of the basics!) and I was sat there thinking 'well, I've not really got a choice have I as what's the point of a wheelchair with just a metal base?!'. If you're not familiar with wheelchairs, let me tell you, not having a cushion is like having an ice cream cone without the ice cream in it or a bath without a plug!
Next week, I am going to a 'Team GB Paralympic Day' with British Athletics to train with Paralympians and their coaches, which I am very excited about! I am also going to be 'classified', which means I will be given a letter (I'll be F and T for 'Field' and 'Track' as I do athletics) and a number (I'll definitely be '3' something as the '30's' are for athletes with Cerebral Palsy). You may remember all of this from 'LEXI' at the London 2012 Paralympics? So, come the 2014 season I'll be able to compete and it will be official under British Athletics, how cool is that?! I really hope that Hannah Cockroft is there next week as it was just amazing to meet her back in April, at first I didn't even believe that it was actually her!
I hope that everyone has managed to stay on their feet with this storm across the UK, as let's face it, if you're anything like me, you don't really need a storm to help you wobble over! I do quite like windy weather, just not when it decides to knock me flying and usually in a public place. Let me just go and hide under a rock and hope that no one even saw that!
I could go on forever, I definitely do sometimes struggle with the concept of 'be quiet'! So, I'll hand you over to this week's guest blogger, Liz Hore. Yet again, Liz is another person I 'met' on Twitter (I must sound so weird 'meeting' all these people on Twitter!). However, in this small world that we live in, I had already sort of met Liz many times before. Liz was only the landlady of a pub that I have always (and still do!) visit when I'm on holiday and I have been going ever since I can remember! But, the story gets even more strange (is that the right word?!). Liz had a daughter with Cerebral Palsy who very sadly passed away, but how bizarre that I had sat in Liz's pub over the years and we only 'met' when I was at a age where I could use Twitter and we found this extraordinary connection! And, I only came across Liz on Twitter because somebody else retweeted one of her tweets, I remember seeing her profile picture and thinking 'I definitely know her!'. The world is incredibly small at times. I feel incredibly old saying this, but technology these days hey!
'I write this article from the perspective of a Mum who had a child with CP. Over 35 years ago, our second born child was born with Cerebral Palsy. Carole Elizabeth weighed in at a healthy 6lb something, but immediately with no crying as she took her first breathes it was evident something was wrong.
At the age of 21 and already with a toddler, it wasn’t written in my life script that this would happen and the unfolding events over the next few days still makes me shake my head in inglorious sadness. Placed in a ward with other mums and their perfect new babies, my Carole was whisked away from me and placed in what was then Special Baby Care. From there she was tested and re-tested, and sent to another local hospital for brain scans where we were eventually told that our beautiful daughter was deaf, dumb, blind and was having fits – sometimes as many as a dozen a day. I blamed myself, I blamed the hospital and I blamed God – oh I so blamed Him!
We were warned not to expect her to live for very long, but she battled and scrapped (as did we) and stayed with us for eight and three quarter months. In between there were a few life stopping dramas – she’d choke and splutter and I saw the inside of ambulances and the children’s ward more times than you should ever have to. She had token physiotherapy, which achieved nothing and when I look at all the special things that happen today in terms of mental stimulation, I often wonder if we could have done more?? Who knows?
What I do know, is that over the years, I’ve met very special people who struggle with CP and then a couple of years ago, the fates decreed that I would meet Ellie Simpson, the founder of this fabulous new website and I realised that having the title of Cerebral Palsy did not automatically mean that you have no future – if anything, Ellie, and others like her, have great futures to look forward to – particularly thanks to the Olympics last year. Our society is no longer one that doesn’t want you to look at and embrace disabilities, it no longer wants to shove disabled youngsters in institutions to whither and pass away unknown and uncared for & I’ve had the honour of meeting great teachers who work tirelessly to stimulate seemingly unknowing souls to smile!
Lastly – I don’t blame God anymore. It took many painful years, but this whole life changing event helped make me the more understanding and empathetic person that I hope I have become.'