Don't let a few missing brain cells get in your way!
You may be thinking, 'what a weird blog title, Don't let a few missing brain cells get in your way!' ... well, over the past week or so, I've done a few things which maybe wouldn't neccessarily be associated with someone who has Cerebral Palsy, rightly or wrongly.
Last Friday, I went out with Gillian, Sam & Tom. Gillian set up 'Accessible Derbyshire' to find all things accesible and inclusive in our area, which is Derbyshire and the Peak District. Visit the Accessible Derbyshire website here, http://www.accessiblederbyshire.org, and find some amazing and fully accessible things to do! Both Sam & Tom (Gillian's sons) have disabilities and we went cycling! A place called Parsley Hay (obviously in Derbyshire!) has a range of accessible and disability friendly bikes you can hire from hand-cycles, and big tricycles, to bikes which you can attach a wheelchair too! So, if you ever think you can't ride a bike, well, think again! Thank you to Gillian who took me!
Gillian and Tom (photo above)
On Tuesday, I went to Alton Towers. I first went to Alton Towers about 6 years ago, and I literally went on nothing at all. 6 years on, after quite a few visits, I now go on lots! However, nothing that goes upside down - I don't cope well with upside down! For some bizarre reason, when I first went to Alton Towers, when I looked at the bigger rides, I immediately went in my head 'I can't go on that, I have CP!', and to some extent I don't think that'll ever escape my mind (hence the no upside down rides!).
But, as I've become older, I've been able to talk myself into trying the bigger rides, one at a time. I told myself, a ride isn't simply going to crash/go wrong etc. in some way just because I happen to be on it and I happen to have Cerebral Palsy! And, I'm so glad I managed to convince myself to try out these rides, as it appears that rollercoasters are my guilty pleasure! There's nothing like being launched at 60mph and flying through the air! Also, the faces of the people in the queue are a picture - they stand there and all over their faces you can see 'as if that girl just got out of the wheelchair and she's about to be launched from 0-60mph! ... oh, and she also queue jumped!'
And, now for the final 'shocker' of the week! This weekend I went to my first ever festival! Before I went, I did wonder how the hell I was going to manage, but I kind of put that to the back of my mind - you only live once and all of that! Well, it was an amazing experience, but I'm pretty sure someone could have made a damn good sitcom out of me this weekend! Portaloos were not meant for people like me, especially on a slope, and then at night in the pitch black - I was falling all over the place and bouncing off the portaloo walls like an angry wasp in a jam jar! And the mud - I can't walk well on normal, flat ground, who decided to add mud to the equation?! I can only drink through a straw, so I was drinking pints of cider through a straw ... I've never drunk a pint in my life, let alone through a straw! But as Joe said (one of the people who I went with), 'I just blend in at a festival anyway as everyone is falling and wobbling over!'.
Getting dressed in a tent was laughable, I'm surprised the tent didn't collapse due to me hitting, elbowing and kicking it every time I put an item of clothing on! When we first arrived, I was basically chanting to myself in my head, 'stay up right, stay up right, stay up right!' as I decided I could make it from the car to our tent with my rucksack with everything in ... I was probably concentrating even harder than I did in my A Level exams!
When we went to listen to the bands, we took my chair (stamina of an 80-year-old!) and when we went to listen to a band called Baby Godzilla, I got more than I bargined for! This particular band is absolutely insane (watch them on Youtube!) and you actually fear for your life - at this particular performance, one of the band members climbed onto the marquee roof, and one of my friends had to be taken to A&E after being crushed! I was sat literally outside of the marquee (only crazy fools were inside!), and then the lead singer came running out, saw me, and climbed on the back of my chair whilst screaming in my face!
It was all-in-all an amazing experience, and despite the 'struggles' I'm so glad I did it! Something I do want to investigate is actually how accessible are music festivals for physically disabled people? No doubt in my mind, although I managed this weekend on the whole (largely thanks to the support given by the friends I went with), the accessibility side could have been a lot better!
So, what crazy things are you going to do this week? ... Don't let a few missing brain cells get in your way!
Now, for this week's guest blogger, Jack, who is boyfriend to Cat Lee, one of the CP Teens UK Ambassadors. An interesting perspective on Cerebral Palsy, thanks Jack!
Throughout the many years since my birth I have encountered many people among this world, the insane, the kindred, the evil, the hearted and everything in between. I count myself lucky to have been asked about lots of different types of "classes" of people, not that I like calling them classes but sadly that's the way the world labels everything nowadays, but as I said I have been asked about all these people but not once have I ever been asked about my feelings on the disabled and how I'm affected by the physically or mentally impaired.
You might have noticed I used both disabled and impaired before, although I prefer impaired and say it a lot more than I do disabled the norm goes with the latter which is perfectly understandable. But back to the point in hand, what are my thoughts on disabilities? Or Hemiplegia for that matter? To really grasp my thoughts on all this I have to travel back in time to when I was at Somerville Primary School in Year 2, there was kid in the year above me who had some form of disability that affected him mentally and he was very emotional most of the time and as a kid I'm afraid to admit I was terrified of him, partly because of the fact that I was following my friends who were very wary to be around him at lunch time but mainly because I was terrified that I could end up like that myself. Sure I had problems myself with a blown ear drum that left me unable to take a shower without an earplug the size of Mars sticking out of my ear but I just didn't ever want that disability and in the end sadly a few years it all got too much for him and he ended up dying of injuries he caused to himself.
In hindsight looking back to that I feel bad for the way I felt at that time, but I catch myself thinking I was just a kid and that's how most if not all kids would react now to that situation just like I did.
Now at the age of 19 my previous thoughts have been completely eradicated. I know lots of people who suffer from some sort of impairment and I treat them as if nothing about them is different to people that are essentially dubbed "able" It doesn't affect me in any shape or form and I think it's wrong that people do stop themselves from getting to know people just because they have a disability and I find it pathetic that people don't regard people who have an impairment the same as themselves, I've seen this first hand in a group session once I won't go into details but when someone with a disability who is trying to suggest ideas and are getting knocked back outright without any thought drove me to the point where I almost gave them a high five in the face with my fist.....
There are two people I know who have Hemiplegia, the first is a customer of mine called Ruth she is quite badly affected by it, she struggles to walk properly and because of that one leg of hers is a lot longer than the other, and sure you can tell she struggles to walk properly sort of leaning from one side to the other but does it bother me? No. Absolutely not. And I don't see why it should, Ruth is a really nice woman and doesn't let her impairment affect her in any way. There is one another woman I know who has Hemiplegia, but I'm sure if you're reading this you know who she is ;)
Cat is what I would call a marvel, it is so fascinating watching her in the way she goes by day to day life, how she does things compared to the way I and many other people do things such as simple things from tying shoelaces, to doing up her hair with a band to complex stuff.
It's interesting the current way life is, many abled people would say that having a disability completely messes up your complexion of life and you have very dark and hauntings thoughts of people, but with Cat sure she might be slightly mad (she'll kill me for saying that) but she just carries on with life the way she wants to live it and after seeing her doing some modelling it really does put some models to shame when they say they have the "perfect figure" quite frankly there's no such thing as perfect (unless you feel as if you've reached the perfect optimum of life in which case you've won) but it does pose the question why aren't the disabled treated equally? Why aren't there more disabled models? Presenters? Bosses of businesses? Celebrities? Actors? The list goes on and on. But the simple reason is that people are scared, why? I do not know, but it will change, maybe not in this life time but slowly but surely things are starting to change and like I said it might not change in this lifetime but right now I consider myself lucky.
Lucky to be part of the possible dawn of a new era, and lucky to be with a woman who is right in the battle of it all. And her name is Cat Lee.