Day 1. The first try.
This was going to be the make or break. I started a video diary which can be seen on my instagram page (wheelybigchallenge) and my facebook page with the same name. I got myself all prepared. Got comfortable in my extremely heavy NHS wheelchair, the one you can see me in, in the hospital photos! Then I set out. The 1st wheel was just to see where I was at. I managed about 2 miles. With alot of stops. It is actually alot harder than it looks to self propel a wheelchair. There are a couple of small, but steep hills at the quay where I live, but I managed to get up them. It was really tough. I went right through a pair of gloves too. But I did it. I iced both shoulders, and was actually quite pleased.
Along with wheeling twice per week, my plan also involved gym training to build some more strength and endurance in my upper body with sports specific exercises to help prepare myself for the challenge.
Along with starting training. This is when I started to do some research. I contacted guiness world records, and as far as I know there is definately no record of a woman wheeling from Lands end to John O’groates using a standard non modified wheelchair. So I would be setting a new world record. I also started looking into a plan. How would I be able to do this? Why do I want to do this? Support needed etc… The 1st and most important thing that I need is the wheelchair which I will complete my challenge in. I want to make sure that the chair I use is an everyday wheelchair. There are a few makes and chairs that look amazing. The RGK Tiga and max light both look brilliant, as do the Quickie Argon and Helium. The only problem with all of these is that you do not get one of these on the NHS, and because I may be able to walk one day using a prosthetic, I dont get a huge individual budget for a light, and very functional wheelchair. So this is my 1st hurdle. Sponsorship. Trying to get sponsorship for a wheelchair, and so that the event will be possable. I also had to decide which charity I wanted to fund raise for. This was such a difficult decision because they are all briliant.
Wheeling session number two was a little more tricky than number one! Ive mentioned that I live in a 1st floor appartment, and I cannot go out without my wife to get my chair up and down the stairs. So we had to think of a plan so that I could try to go wheeling during the day when she was at work. Before my surgery, I had to use a wheelchair alot as I couldnt walk or use crutches as the pressure on my foot when it was dangling was agonising, so we baught a cheap wheelchair for me to use (the one in the picture). Now this chair is fine for pottering around my appartment, or being wheeled about, but self propelling, its like trying to wheel yourself with a 100lb back pack on. It is really heavy. The weels feel like theyre going to fall off. It doesnt handle any bumps at all, and feels like its going to collapse if you hit any. So this was an absolute nightmare. Couple this with the fact that we had to keep it in the bin store outside, as there is a step in and out of the downstairs hallway, which I cannot get a chair into or out of alone. Well, it was all really difficult. Involving crawling on my hands and knees, which is often the best option, especially for stairs, but it does hurt. Well, eventually I got outside, and into the chair. Strate away it was very uncomfortable. No stump board, which was really bad. Stumpey really could not cope with dangling at all, so I kept on trying to bring stumpey inward so it was on the seat still. This caused alot of pain to my knee. So that was pretty uncomfortable too. I almost fell out 3 times. I did partially tip over once. But I did make it as far as my 1st wheel. O was so proud of myself. It was so much harder, but I did it. Anything would feel easier than this….