This is my new logo for the event. I have made some clothes trying to get things out there a bit. I have a hoodie, baseball cap, T shirt, vest, and a long sleeve T shirt. All with my logo on. Cat also has a hoodie. Theyre all awaiting sponsorship logos. I still havnt got any definate sponsors as yet. I am sending emails out all of the time. I will persevere and perhapse change the email. I was sent a T shirt and hoodie from Saltrock which will come in handy post training. Sunwise are also sending me a pair of sunglasses. All of these things are absolutely wonderful, but none of them are getting me closer to my goal. I need to get my event out there. I have been speaking to the British Legion about my wheelchair, and they said they would help me. Im just awaiting a home visit at the moment. Ive just joined BLESMA too. Which is for veteran amputees. They have also been really helpful so far, and will be sending someone out to help. So I have made some progress. Now keep all fingers and toes crossed for the new chair. I only have 15 to cross now, so I need help with the others.
I had a really nice suprise last week. Steel bones had put a feature on their facebook page and web page about me, and what Im doing. I thaught that was lovely. So things are getting out there more and more. But not enough yet. I despirately need some sponsors. But I think that everything is a learning curve, and what doesnt work the 1st time, may need to be changed and adjusted. I will not give up.
This has been steady. The Gym sessions are going great. Getting some good strength and endurance. Were trying things that weve never done before, which is so much fun. The wheeling or pushing, some people call is, is going well in some ways. But I really just need the chair. The NHS finally came up with my replacement. I was really hopeful. I thaught that it must be a little better than the one I had. It futs better, in that the width of the seat is smaller, and so it fits, but that is it. The extent of the improvements stop there. It isnt lighter, even though its made up of half plastic! The seat is too short. The wheel I use for self propulsion is really difficult to grab and I cant use it without gloves. My padded gloves dont stick at all, like they used to with the other one. I could go on, and on. Safe to say, it is a huge disapointment. I went out today for my 1st training session and it was disasterous. Really slow. The wheels seem to love to go towards every gradient. It doesnt free wheel at all, even downhill! It does have anti tipping, which is amazing. I actually think that the red one was better for training, and thats saying something! But as always. I will keep trying. Keep plodding on. Theres always a plus side to everything. Maybe this is supposes to be this way. Give me some good strenth before I get my real chair. I hope so anyway.
As my journey into the life of an amputee is progressing. Im finding that there are alot of challenges, but also alot of things that you can do as well. I went to Exeter Arena for a trial on the sport wheelchairs. It was absolutely incredable. Actually alot harder than the pros make it look. But amazing. I had a one to one coach for the hour from southwest athletics academy, who taught me how to wheel, and turn. The gloves were the funniest. You need help to get into them. Theres a hole for your thumb and 2 for 2 fingers, and another 2 for the other 2. Then your fingers get taped shut into a sort of fist, and you punch the wheel to make it move! Its really tricky to get the right movement. But a couple of times it went really well and I felt like I was flying. It was amazing. Id love to do more of this. Especially when my challenge is completed. Maybe look at sprinting? If any of you get the chance to give it a go, I would thoroughly recommend it. Just so much fun.
By the time id gotten to my training session on Sunday, my body was rather exhausted. So far this week its been to the gym 4 times, wheeled around the track and wheeled in the heavy brick for 5 miles! So sunday was a hoot!! Very slow. Very tiring. But still good. Everything hurt. Which I see as a kind of test. If I can keep going through the pain now, then It will prepare me for the pain during the event. Get used to it now, so it will be better then.
Alot has happened in the past few days. Where do I start? Well, I was back at the mobility centre and my awesome prosthetist managed to get me an amazing leg. Its almost a blade, its so good. Aparently im the 1st person i the southwest th have a blade like this one. I walked up and down the bars with it on. It felt amazing. Amazing, apart from the pain. Which just increased and increased, until I couldnt bear anymore. Ok this is getting a little worrying now! I tried not to think too much of it. But if your anything like me, trying not to think aboit something, meana you think about it constantly, and your brain just has a battle with itself! So, thinking about it all of the time….and trying to convince myself of anything that it could be, other than what it may be! But even with all this going on, I was still so happy to try my leg. It was only a few days later that I was back at the mobility centre and I tried it again. The same situation occured. Lots of pain! But I decided to struggle on through. I walked with my crutches. Went up stairs, and down, and up and down a slope. I had to stop a few times, but I diddnt care. Because my physio said that if all went well, I could take my leg home after this session. So this session was going to go well. No matter the pain.
I got to take it home. Then came to giving it a name. It cant be called ‘it’ forever. So we went round in circles with my favourite names, but none of them fit. Then came Florance. I was thinking of Florance Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo) the amazing world record holder for 100m and 200m sprint. My lovely wife said strate away, ‘oh, like Florance and the machine. Shes Florance the machine’. I actually really like that reference. So my leg is now Florance.
So she is now home. I have managed a couple of minutes per day. But then im so sore I have to take her off. Its so annoying. I keep hoping that one day I will put her on and it wont hurt this time. Fingers and toes crossed for this one! But in the mean time, im shuffling along in my wheelchair. Still despirately trying to get funding for my, what I call, proper chair. I have been in contact with the British Legion, and hopefully they may be able to help a bit.
This is what ‘stumpey’ is fast becoming. We’ve gone from being swolen and chunkey, to thin and baggy, hense the name! But now we have made some progress in the world of walking. I have had 2 sessions with the pam aid, which is basically a long blow up leg which goes over your stump with a metal frame, so that you can kind of walk. These all went really well. Then I was casted for my leg. Basically a plaster cast of my stump. This was a really funny morning. Catherine, my prosthetist, and her student both did a casting, and both times stumpey diddnt want to let it go! So the plaster got stuck. We all tried to pull it off, but no luck, so it had to be cut off! But it wasnt the end of the world. Even though it had a big cut in it, the cast could still be used for my new leg. Then before I knew it, my leg was here and I got to try it on. My foot hadnt arrived at this point, so I was using a loan foot, but I got to have a go. First it felt really strange. I hadnt walked without crutches in such a long time. The socket itself felt quite tight and was actually really painful. Me being the stupid me that I am, diddnt say to Catherine quite how painful it was and just tried to go with it and grin and bear it. This is not the best thing to do. The prosthetist needs to know what is happening so that she can make adjustments. So on my second visit, I did say. But unfortunately by this time, I was in alot of pain in general.
IS IT CRPS??
So, Ive been in alot of pain for the past week. It started very randomly when I was sat in my wheelchair in my kitchen. All of a sudden stumpey started to hurt. A combination of feeling like someone was scraping out my bone marrow with a spoon, and horrific painful pins and needles. The concerning thing was that the pain was similar to my CRPS pain. The strength was right up there too. I just hope that I am wrong. Ive had similar pains in my other foot too over the past few weeks. So hopefully its just pains from use. But you know when you get a sixth sense about things. I get this, and Im not usually wrong. But I really hope that I am this time. When we walked using my new foot yesterday, I could tolerate my prosthetic for a few minutes before I had to take it off. The new foot is amazing. Its like a mini blade. Aparently im the 1st person in the southwest to get a foot like this. Its super springy, and almost feels like a real foot. I love it. I may be able to take it home at the end of the week, if all is well. In the mean time, its back to waiting to see doctors for me. Trying to find out what this pain is. Just keep everything crossed for me that its not the dreaded.
Lots of people lately have been asking me why I want to do this challenge. Along with quite alot of comments like ‘your mad’, and ‘your crazy’, and basically alot of other comments along the same lines. I have also had alot of wonderful words of support and encouragement. So why? Well, its not just a case of why? I think the whole need to do something came from the 6 years of not being able to do anything. You see, before all of this I so wanted to do a half ironman triathlon. For those of you who are not sure of what that is, its 70.3 km broken down into 1.9km swim, 90km bike and, 21km run. So when all of this happened and I couldnt even begin to properly train for it, I was devistated. So when my surgery was done, and I started to realise that I could do something. I just had to change my activity.
When I first came up with the idea it was to give me something to do to help get some level of independance and fitness back. Something to achieve now, instead of waiting for the day when I can walk again, and maybe even run (hopefully). But as I started to look into things, it soon became more than that.
I wondered if somehow it may inspire other people to realise that having a disability doesnt have to mean that you cant achieve something extraordinary. Yes Ive lost my leg. But my leg was stopping me from doing everything. I was in a kind of limbo, and now I have a definate sence of who and where I am. So to me being disabled doesnt mean anything other than a new set of challenges to overcome. This will be another one. I think that everyone is capable of anything that they want to do. All you have to do it put your mind to it, and your body will follow. I hope that people will see what is possable in an ordinary wheelchair, by an ordinary person, and see that nothing is too big that you cannot overcome it. All tou have to do is look at it, and find a way. Thats what I plan to do with my event. Take every day as it comes. Do the best that I can, and good willing, make it all the way. I may have lost a leg, but I think ive gained an understanding of alot more. Myself.
Answer…..the wheelchair ive nicknamed ‘big red’, which I used for Wednesdays training session. I thaught Id try going another way along the quay. It turns out that this was a bit of a mistake. It would seem that big red cannot travel over the smallest pebble without tipping over, getting stuck or leaving me wheelspinning! But, never to be defeated, I carried on. It felt like miles and miles of this relentless terrain. Actually it was probabaly a mile! Eventually I found myself near the bridge which would lead me back to a smoother path. But the bridge entrance is massively steep. But again, never to be defeated, I plowed ahead. Wheeling with all I had, up the incline. I made it to the top to face a 10cm metal lip onto the bridge. I tried and tried to get over it, but I couldnt. I even fell out of my chair trying. Which prompeted a lovely lady to stop her car and ask if I needed help. I declined (stubborn as ever!), and managed to hop up, grab my chair with one hand, lift it over the lip, and clamber back in it. Needless to say, I will not be going this way again! Not in this chair anyway!
I made it back to my starting point relatively unscathed. This chair is very heavy, and rattles constantly. Im hoping it will help me with my technique for undulating terrain. It will hopefully help with my strength too.
I am so looking forward to getting a proper chair. I had a fitting with Unique mobility and Sunrise Medical yesterday (Thursday the 13th June). I was fitted for a Quickie Helium. This chair is perfect. Its excellent for my eveeyday mobility and will be perfect for my challenge. The only problem is that the total cost for the chair with a descent cushion so I wont get pressure sores, is just over £5’000. So far ive managed to raise £60. I dont have any savings to use, otherwise I would. So im plugging away at the manufacturers and wheelchair suppliers. Im hoping one of them will be kind enough to sponsor me with a wheelchair. So that I can train using it and complete my challenge in it. Afterall it will be benefitial for them. When its done, their chair will be part of a world record and will have been tested beyond most chairs. It will have traveled nearly 1000 miles on consecutive days. Not to mention the miles I will be doing in training. I am also trying to apply for grants. There are alot out there, bit when you start looking into them it seems that I only qualify for a few. I am also a wildlife artist (probably havnt mentioned that), I am holding an exhibition of some of my work between 4th – 11th of September at the custom house, Exeter Quay, and using all of my proceeds towards my chair/ the event.
Im now a few weeks into training. For the most part it is going well. Im now up to 5.7 miles. I have done this distance twice now, and this sunday (which is my distance day) I plan to increase this. Im still despirately trying to fundraise for a wheelchair. I havnt heard anything yet. Im sending emails out every day, talking to people on the phone, but nothing yet! I have set up a just giving page and have had a few donations already, which is amazing. So fingers and toes crossed!
At the end of my second session I felt a little niggle in my right shoulder. I iced it and diddnt think much of it, but the next day, wow it hurt! I made an appointment with my GP, but as usual the nearest appointment was 4 weeks away. Hopefully I will get to see a physio before Christmas! Anyway, I iced my shoulder three times a day for a week and finally I could see improvement. I was very careful with weights in the gym too. I diddnt want this to be the end of the road already.
So my session on Saturday the 8th of June was brilliant. I only stopped a couple of times, and this was mainly to let people go by. I made almost 6 miles and could have done further. This is all in my silly, heavy chair. So im hoping that by the time I get a lighter, more permenant one, I will fly along!
The gym strength training is going well. My strength has almost doubled. Ive been working on my nurtition, and increased my protein and carbohydrate intake. Huel kindly sent me a box of goodies. A couple of t shirts, and some protein powder, which really came in handy. Its gluten free too! (Im allergic to gluten….very allergic!).
So today im back to using the quite dangerous, red chair. I wont be defeated though. Every hour in the chair helps. Every hour is another step closer to my goal. Hopefully this time next year, I will be getting ready to set off….