Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Powerchair Update | 3 Months On

3 months of freedom. 3 months of independence. 3 months of living again.

I can't quite believe that I'm already writing this update, that 3 months have already flown by. And yet, at the same time it feels like I've had my new powerchair for years. I look back and wonder how I lived the way I did for so long, how I coped with leaving my home once a week, how I coped with missing out on opportunity after opportunity and precious family moments. I couldn't imagine going back to that life. 

To me my new powerchair has been more than just increased independence, increased comfort and decreased pain, it's marked a change in my life. I left behind a lot in 2017 but for a while I still couldn't shake off the old me, but ever since my new powerchair arrived I've had this new confidence within me. I feel like I'm finally becoming the person I'm meant to be. Sounds ridiculous right? Even I recoil a little when I hear myself say that because how could my new powerchair change so much in my life? But, I truly feel like I entered a new chapter on that day though, a whole new world opened up to me, one that I'd been denied access to for years, and I felt like a new person. 

Metaphors aside, what has actually changed in these 3 months? What have I done? I'd get comfy because this is going to be a long post.

Shona is sitting in her powerchair, wearing a black midi dress with 3 white stripes and black and white flatform shoes, a leopard print bag rests on her lap. Shop fronts and tables and chairs can be seen to the left of her and behind her.
Photography by Kaye Ford

One of the first big things that I did with my new powerchair was something that I'd promised I would do years ago; I took my Mum to see Les Misérables in London. For as long as I can remember my Mum has wanted to go and see Les Mis and finally last year everything seemed to come together at the right time and it was possible to fulfil that promise. I booked the tickets spontaneously, not something I do often, and I also booked them before my new powerchair had arrived so it was a tad risky but thankfully my powerchair was delivered 2 weeks before we were due to go.

With my old powerchair we would have had to go into London, see the show and then rush back so I could lay down at home. I'd likely struggle to enjoy the second half of the show due to pain and we wouldn't have time to properly enjoy the experience as a whole day. But, with my new powerchair we were able to make a day of it, starting off with showing my Mum the street where they film a lot of the BBC series Sherlock, and then heading to Shaftesbury Avenue, stopping by to see the Chinese New Year decorations on the way. We then had something to eat in a little pub and my Mum was already close to tears after having walked past the theatre. Beforehand I would have been in unbearable pain by then but the tilt function on my new powerchair meant that my pain hadn't built up as quickly or as badly as it usually would.

Seeing my Mum's face as we entered the theatre was something that I will never forget, and a memory that likely would not have happened if I was still stuck with my unsuitable old powerchair. My Mum cried the whole way through the show, and I really do mean through the whole show! We had to walk back to the station in the rain after, we got absolutely soaked, but none of that seemed to matter as we were both still on a high. It's fair to say that we are both theatre fans but I think what was equally as exciting was that I'd been out the house for hours and there were no signs of pain induced tears. Neither of us could quite believe that I'd been able to do it.

This is a collage of photos. Image one shows Shona, smiling, with her Mum seen smiling behind her, the photo is a selfie. The other 2 photos show the interior of a theatre, with a programme for Les Miserables in one of the photos.
Photo of a street, the angle of the camera is pointing upwards. Chinese New Year laterns can be seen, with blue skiers in the background. The street is full of people.

Months before my powerchair arrived I'd planned to shoot with Kaye to celebrate a new beginning and to show everyone what they had donated their money towards. The way I'd describe the photos that came out of that shoot is that they are powerful. I think I look badass and it represents my journey of self empowerment over these past 6 months, having left behind a lot of damaging people in my life. I also took part in the Behind The Scars photoshoot by Sophie Mayanne recently, this was something that had been planned for months and I was so glad to have my new powerchair for it. I felt so confident, so empowered and nowhere near as nervous as I thought I would be as I undressed in front of complete strangers! I should get the photos soon so keep an eye out on my Twitter and Instagram to see them.

Up close image of Shona with a small smile on her face. Her hair is down and straight, she is wearing a black dress, leather look jacket and a leopard print bag.
Shona is sitting in her powerchair smiling, her powerchair is raised up 10 inches using the elevate function. Shona is wearing a black dress, black and white flatform shoes, a leather look jacket and a loepard print bag. She is smiling.
Photography by Kaye Ford

Something else that I was able to do thanks to my new powerchair was accept a very last minute invitation to speak on the Channel 5 News about how the movement to ban plastic straws affects disabled people. I got the call and within a few hours I was on a train heading into London, I never would have been able to do something that last minute with my old powerchair. It was my first time doing live TV, after having done recorded TV for Channel 4 months prior, so I was pretty terrified and you could see it on my face but I survived it and I think I got across my point well within the few short minutes I had. It was a terrifying but exciting experience!

Kings Cross station can be seen, the sky is blue and a red double decker bus is visible.

Well timed as well was a British Heart Foundation meeting that I attended last month, a nearly all day meeting that I'd attended twice before, both of which were extremely difficult to attend previously. I would often leave early or have to find a sofa (even putting chairs together to make one) so I could lay down, so I was excited to attend the meeting, the whole meeting, without unbearable pain. In the breaks I fully reclined, getting some comments from my fellow group members about how cool my new powerchair was, and I tilted back during the whole meeting also. I no longer fear these meetings now and I'm able to participate fully and enjoy my role more!

Spending more time with my family, especially my nephew, was something that I'd been looking forward to as well. I've missed out on so much over these past 2 years so being able to do things like take my nephew to the park, or go out for dinner with my family, means the world. My nephew is loving my new powerchair just as much as me as well, he loves sitting on my lap and whizzing about with me! He even knows what buttons turn on the lights and sound the horn, but he isn't sure about the rise function yet. I'm looking forward to this Summer, we've already got some fun plans including my 21st birthday, my first birthday in years in which I will not be limited by my pain!

Image is taken from behind, Shona is sitting in her powerchair next to her 1 year old nephew in a green and blue trike.
Shona is sitting in her powerchair wear a yellow top, grey checked leggings and white converse style shoes, she is smiling. Her 1 year old nephew is sitting on her lap with his hand rested on hers.
A small 1 year old boy is sitting on an adult sized chair, with a big open grin on his face, holding a bag of crisps. He wears a red top with a tractor on.
A small 1 year old boy wearing a red top and blue sunhat is holding up a plant pot as water pours out of it.
A small 1 year old boy wearing a red top and blue sunhat is peeking out of a red tent.

My new powerchair might not solve everything, I still get exhausted after leaving the house and I can't do big trips every week but my quality of life is the best it's ever been. I no longer have to limit myself so much now, if I want to go to the supermarket and town in the same week then I can. If I want to get 2 buses to the shopping centre then I can. If I want to go out just because I can then I'm free to. I do so much more now just for fun, I leave my home just because I can. So many doors seem open to me now, I'm accepting more and more invitations and I've even got a little city break planned for a few weeks time.

Someone asked me recently about whether I'm able to work now, the simple answer is no. Maybe one day in the future, whether that be soon or far, I might be able to work but right now I'm just happy to be living again, to be involved in society rather than restricted and so often trapped inside my home. I have hope now for the first time in a long while and let me tell you, that makes such a difference to a persons life.

All that's left to say now is thank you. This would never have happened without the support of all of you. Whether you donated or simple just retweeted, everyone made this happen and I can't tell you how much of a gift this has been. Life changing is an understatement.

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6 comments

  1. What a fabulous post. I fully understand how your chair has transformed your life and well done for fitting so much in.

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  2. I'm so happy to read this post, Shona! x

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  3. Loved reading this post Shona! I'm so happy that it has transformed your life for the better! xx

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