Well hello

Welcome to the blog of me, Paige Tabone; student, writer, nerd, self-critic, telly-addict and self-confessed Cerebral Palsy-er (or wobbly if you will). It is the latter that has brought me to blogging. Ramming my way through the bullshit stereotypes that surround disability, showing the undiluted truth of someone twenty-two years into living on the often bumpy and unpredictable road against what's seen as 'normal'.

I'm aware you might have just got lost trying to navigate yourself to a hilarious cat video; now you are looking bewildered as you see nether a ominous looking jump or an unwittingly naive cat. Yet whether you find yourself here by purpose, mistake or luck I welcome you and offer you to get yourself comfortable, grab a nice cup of tea or a strong, stiff drink and stay for a bit. You see this isn't a story about some poor, unfortunate girl with a disability; it's simply a story about a girl with a set of tits, a set of tires and a mission to set the disability misconceptions record straight...

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Man in the Black Cloak

This wasn't a pre-planned entry, or one that will follow my usual pattern of humor or sarcasm. Sometimes jokes can only get you so far. Sometimes life throws stuff at you that laughter won't help. Sometimes you have to highlight the bad it life to see how truly amazing all the other stuff is. I've tried in my previous posts to show you how positive disability is, how regardless of our limitations we are just like the rest of you. The truth is though, sometimes being disabled is shit. Disability has brought into my life some of the most amazing things. It has given me unbreakable friendships, once in the life time opportunities to represent my country in sport and given me a more varied and happy life than I know I would have every had without it. In the same breathe it has brought me unbearable heart-ache.

Tonight I found out that an old friend of mine passed away. He was 28. Far to young to be so cruelly taken away. Sure he could be an absolute arse at times. He was always  getting himself into some form of trouble and I'm sure a borderline sex pest ;) but he was just one of those guys that made your day more exciting. It's an all too common thread of life when you live with a disability, death follows you around like a bad smell. You know it's there, it often makes it's presence known with a tap on the shoulder and a waver of breathe. It can pass through your happiest memories and loom over them. Often it's friendly, it takes away the pain that disability can bring but sometimes it's sadistic and taunts you for fun; like a big kid poking a worm with a stick. I'm sure it stands there looking at you from afar, waiting until your guard comes down, thinking he might have left you alone for a while, then takes a running stab at your from behind.

Disability can be  a life affirming quality, it can bring you a brilliant outlook on life but it can also be a death sentence. It angers me no end that good people die young because of a little bit of genetics.

Death played it's first hand in my life when I was just 13. He played the long game then. He took his time, playing his hand piece by piece. Filling me with hope, only to dash it days later. His first victim my best friend. Nowadays he has got quick and far to greedy. There s no gentle tap on the shoulder anymore, just  a sudden gut-wrenching blow to the stomach. Within the last twelve months he has got a little to big for his boots claiming a best friend and Cornish star, a  jack-the-lad joker and a right little trouble-maker.

We used to play this game, my first friend and I, where we would make up lives in our heads, we would play it for hours. We'd have the best cars, the most handsome boyfriends (in the early 00's we are talking Brian McFaddon and Duncan James) but most of all we'd grow old. Well that's what you are meant to do isn't it? Grow old. Have kids. Live.

I've had enough. Death is really getting on my tits and I'll be damned if I let his lust for disability triumph.

He's had his fun and caused his pain but let's not let his victims be his victims for no reason. One day, and I don't know how long from now, death will just be that stairway at the end of your very long life. For, in a world where we hope to achieve regrowth of limbs in 50 years, then why are lives still being unnecessarily shortened? The government see a child on the street wasting away and put millions into funding for shelters and food banks to stop it. Yet there are thousands of people who's bodies are effectively doing the same thing, who's life can be prolonged by just one drug that the government are unwilling to fund. What makes one persons life superior to another?

So this is my post for them, my friends who were taken to young. To tell the government to pull there fingers out of there arses and sit up. People are dying so shove your prestige and do something about it. For all those mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, cousins, friends and foes who got off on the wrong stop, here's a  celebration of lives that, yes, where far to short but by god, left an impression.

To the boys. I miss you all, more than my unquestionably cool exterior let's on ;) Rest in peace you nutters; I hope you are playing havoc with those angels.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Let's Get Physical

Today I’m going to try something a little different. A lot have you have got in contact with me regarding my weekly ventures to the gym and asked advice on how to best work out when you use a wheelchair. As I see myself as a pretty helpful individual, nay dream-maker, your query is my pleasure to answer and today I shall bring you an advice blog. Brace yourselves…

Working out and staying fit must be one of the single most impossible things to achieve when your mobility is limited. I started training back in March, mainly to lose the fat baby I had been steadily growing over my first year at university. In the space of just a few months I had ballooned from a UK dress-size 16 to a rather unhappy size 20. Some drastic action was required; it was time to dwindle off the pizza and lay the alcohol to rest. With a bit of hard graft and substantially less pizza, I’ve managed to lose 2.8 stone and wriggle back into my size 16 jeans; just two stone away from my goal weight. It was tough though. Exercising always is, but even more so when you are in an electric-wheelchair, like me. Now, I’m not saying you manual wheelchair users have it easy; oh I can feel the ripple of controversy brewing as I speak, but work in a little enthusiastic push down the sea front and you can get your heart rate up and burn all important calories. When your peak of daily exercise is pushing a small joystick forward however, things aren’t as simple.

First you’ve got the drama of accessibility. For this I have no simple remedy but a gentle squeeze of reassurance that accessible gyms do exist. They are as allusive as gold dust granted, but hidden in the tiny crevasses of society there are a few. My best advice is just to ring around and see what’s about. I know it sounds mundane but it works! That’s how I found my gym and it's brilliant. Most places will also give you a free tour or induction so you can see what the place is like before you join. Plus everyone loves a freebie! If you do find a gym that is wheelchair friendly, congratulations to you; it would have been easier climbing Kilimanjaro. Alternatively you might just settle for a little home work out, but wherever you choose, then comes that panic of what to do when you get there.  Well fear not! Here is a few ideas for you, whatever your abilities.

If you have good upper body movement then I really suggest ‘Box Fit’. Primarily it can be fun. It’s great for letting of some steam. Had a bad day? Then I can whole-heartedly say there is nothing better than beating the shit out of some boxing pads. Secondly, for  the less aggressive and more health conscious of you, it is great for cardio. Cardio exercising it’s really hard to achieve when you are in a wheelchair. The big trio in the cardio game are the treadmill, exercise bike and cross-trainer, and let’s be frank, without the use of two fully functioning lower limbs you’ve got more chance of using them than Katie Hopkins has of becoming a decent human being. I hold no judgment I am in the same metaphorical boat. Boxing is your gold ticket solution. It brings your heart rate up, works your whole upper body – including your abs and laterals, notoriously the hardest part of your body to work in a wheelchair, and it’s great for strength and coordination.  I’ve been working on boxing and pad work 2-3 times a week for the last month or so and I can see a noticeable difference. Beside a vast improvement in coordination, which is equivalent of a step on the moon for someone with CP, my bingo wings have reduced to winglets and my stomach is far less pregnant-esque; we are talking more 6 weeks than 6 months. If that isn’t enough boxing motivation for you, you’re going to need a pad partner, who more often than not will be a fit personal trainer…

Now let me bring you on to the hand-bike. A bike you use with your hands I hear you exclaim; genius! A marvel of modern fitness apparatus and a cardio phenomenon. This can work for pretty much anyone. If you’ve got good upper body strength and movement then I’m afraid it’s a case of brute strength and determination, you’re going to have to put some graft in. Don’t dismay, get past that initial burn and it’s great for working those triceps, biceps and helping with core strength. God I sound like an 80’s fitness video! If that’s not the case, there are some hand bikes which self-propel; I told you these were ingenious little beauts. This is really handy if you have limited or no upper body movement; strap’ em in and go.  It will give you a good muscle stretch and help improve flexibility. Plus, set that thing high enough, and it’s sure to get your heart rate going.

Weights can be a trickier subject to tackle.  For me I’m able to use ordinary dumbbells or the weight machines. There are so many different weight lifts you can do and, as you probably already know, each can target a specific area. I don’t want to patronize you, you are big and ugly enough to work out for yourself what areas you want to tone and what works for you, so I’ll just give you a few example of what I do and how they help me. Arm curl (biceps), arm extension (triceps), shoulder press (shoulders, duh) rowing pull down (abdominals, wrist strength and pectorals; this is easiest done using the wire machines, but a rubber pulley will also do the trick), truck rotations (abdominals, laterals) and the ab cruncher (pretty self-explanatory really). I’ll warn you the ab cruncher is a bitch. That said I’ve slowing managed to nurture a baby ab, singular; if I breathe in and clench really, really hard!

Of course vein busting weight-lifting is not everyone speciality. A more universal fitness practice is deep breathing. Not only is this a brilliant way to relax, but for those of you with limited movement, apparently it’s the best way to work on your cardio and even improve your muscle durability. The theory is, so my trainer says, by deep breathing you get more relaxation thus more flexibility in your muscles with can aid your overall suppleness. I know it can also help strengthen you lung muscles too if you suffer with a more muscle-wasting condition, but I’m sure you already knew that so I’ll just shut up…

Finally a treat for the less Hench of you. You lucky people get to venture into the world of robotics. Now, I have heard rumour of a contraption which takes the strain of moment for you; it’s like a giant metal exoskeleton. I’m not promising that you’ll find these world-wide but if you do stumble across one you have to have a go. There is a girl who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), who messaged me about a machine called an ‘exercise buddy’. With a little help and some intimate man-handling from a few muscly personal trainer (she thought that one through well didn’t she?) the machine is able to help her move her limbs in a way which she can effectively have the range of movement DMD restricts. She told me she is able to box, light-weight train and seriously increase her flexibility. I know realistically this isn’t feasible for the majority of you but it sounds pretty amazing, right? Plus it just goes to show not matter your ability exercise and fitness isn’t as unmanageable as it seems.

Well, I hope that disorganized rambling helped, even just a smidge. Fitness is a mistress no-one can easily master. For those of you who want to try, I hope this gives you some ideas to arm yourselves with so you can give it a right good run for its money; wheels, muscle-wastage and all!

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Reformation of a Dating Dummy

I have popped my dating cherry and have made my transition into fully-fledged courting extraordinaire. Okay so practically naming my-self as the disabled answer to Cilla Black - the dating knowledge, not being ginger and a scouser - is maybe slightly premature, but as you might be able to tell my date today went rather well. The joyous news is I don't think I fucked it up. Well, we didn't, at least, end the date with a despondent nod of goodbye, so I know my dignity was not completely lost. If I could jump I'd be bounding right now; alas a small uncoordinated clap to myself must suffice. I can't quite believe I am able to write to you so optimistically. I was fully prepared to be sitting here writing you a piece about how, with the hope never to see another member of the male species again, I was developing my elicit plan to run away to a nunnery or lesbian commune to live out the rest of my days in utter shame of my dating incompetence. Instead I feel as though I might have finally mastered some dating prowess and am sitting here with a stupidly unwavering grin on my face.

I am dumbfounded.

My dating history has been more dismally unpleasant than a fart in the wind. Out of the select number of relationships I have had only one of them attempted to take me on a date. I say attempted because he didn't actually show up. It was a harsh lesson to learn sitting outside a pub in the bitter December wind and one that cemented my scepticism on dating for five years; until that is, today

Today for some reason seemed different. I'll be honest with you and say it didn’t start off with bundles of promise. The plan was to go on a late afternoon date, location to be revealed upon arrival, and he would get the afternoon off of work. That way I could make myself look like a resemblance of a human after my gym session; all would be dandy. That inevitably did not happen. He was not able to get the time of work, therefore the only time he had was the hour or so of his lunch break. This meant that our date, which later transpired to be pottery, was looking like it was heading for an early demise. Part of me was relived; the idea of pottery is not one I relish. Credit to him, his intentions were honourable; he was planning to visit his Nan this weekend (yes I has a little 'awww' to myself as well) and hoped to take some lovingly hand-decorated crockery with him. Nevertheless the thought of my ungainly self in a place surrounded by breakable things was a recipe for disaster. Not only is my artistic ability one of a cat on acid but there was a distinct possibility that at least one thing would get broken. Not wanting to let our plans go totally to waste he suggested we go for a quiet coffee. Looking at this impeccable human standing in front of me, who had just so heart-flutteringly said 'I don't care where we go on our date,  just want to go on a date with you' all I could think was, 'but look at my hair'. Due to the newly found time restrictions, I hadn't had time to change after the gym. I was still in my gym sweats with a jumper thrown on, three gallons of deodorant sprayed over me, flushing red-hot crimson with wayward sweat dried hair. Not exactly the look I was going for. Though, at the risk of sounding like a clichéd teenage fool, once he given me a gleaming reassuring smile that he didn't care - I mean jeez if he can want to date me looking like that then the man needs some serious kudos - I was going for that coffee whether I was dressed in a ball gown or a bin-bag.

Granted this wasn't the grand gesture of a date I had imagined. There were no scattered rose-petals, fine dining or a wooing violinist but it was down-to-earth, uncomplicated and unforced. Plus a lot more civilized and a damn sight less stressful than pottery! I felt relaxed and calm and not once did I feel self-conscious. At one point I even had a tiny momentary blip and an uninvited spasm cause me to jump and hit my knee under the table. To my surprise he didn't even register it but instead gave me a heartening smile and carry on as if nothing happened. I can't explain to you how overwhelmingly amazing that felt, for that moment on I was beaming. We have banter in the gym about my disability all the time but to see him so completely unfazed by it and see pasted my four wheels to me, which I know most of you quirky individuals will appreciate, was by far the biggest novelty I've had in a long time.

All in all I'd be as bold as to say it was a success. My uncensored weirdness and uncool nature did not seem to frighten him off; though my unparalleled love of cats did stay well and truly buried; I feel to reveal that at such an early stage could have been a step to far. I manage to survive the date without the inelegance of spitting out coffee or dribbling it down myself; I accomplished, even, not to snort when I laughed, which has been known to happen when I nervous giggle. No mayhem, mishaps or major fuck up's occurred at all and he was a picture of gorgeousness and an absolute gent.

Where it goes from here? Your guess is as good as mine. Though I have been promised the chance to achieve a less dishevelled look for our next date. Which, yes, dear fellow surfers of the internet and blogging chums, means there will be a second date! I almost want to say it all sounds a bit ridiculous, to be going on a second date. I've said it before to friends  that it feels like I’ve won a competition or people will see us on the street and think I've cashed in my wish from the 'Make a Wish' foundation. After today however I’ve realized, I really don't care. Right now the shit-eating grin plastered on my face dispels all my fears.

 Watch this space...

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Dangers of Inconvenient Penis's

If I have to see one more pair of genitals I have not willing asked to peruse I think I’m going to go insane; or chop them off I haven’t decided yet. It’s one of the more unexpected biohazard to life in a wheelchair; they are everywhere. When you’re the height equivalent of 3ft 11” they are just there, whether you like it or not. They get enwoven into your daily visual tapestry. The world is full of cocks; in this case very literally. As someone is coming towards you it’s the first thing you see, it’s unavoidable. For most people you look straight ahead and the first think you catch is eye contact because that is what is in your immediate vision. Me? Well mine is penis. Or vagina, there is a lot of those out there, I feel bad not mentioning vaginas, and I know my male friends would be seriously offended if I didn’t. We are all about equally on this blog. For me though its penises and I have to tell you being at penile height can be a real endangerment. For example, try being on a crowded train at eight in the morning with some old man genitals in your face and you can't stand up to avoid them. Not only is it highly unpleasant and exceedingly unsanitary, a man’s bits flapping around by your face so vigorously  you can almost feel the breeze as it whistles pass your ear, it’s a risk. Trains aren’t always the smoothest of rides and with the uneven tracking that you undoubtable come across on your morning commute, there is a very really possibility of a face/penis collision. That sort of face plant could cause some serious damage. Black eye, broken teeth, you name it. Just imagine that story when you get to work; ‘So Paige, what happened to your eye?’ Well…

Then you come to crowds. This seems to apply mainly to big crowds and when alcohol is involved, at concerts or  at the student bar. I’ve lost count at the times someone has unexpectedly stepped back on me while I’ve been waiting for a drink at the bar and suddenly I have a strangers arse practically thrust in my face. If I try and put my hand up to stop it I looks like I’m inviting it and trying to touch them up. Then what’s the alternative? Openly accept a face full of bum-crack? There is no conceivable way of getting out that situation well. That’s without highlighting a bum’s incredible effectiveness to strip you of your sight. I don’t know if you have ever been as a concert, or any large crowd for that matter, in a wheelchair and found yourself a few rows back? You might as well turn round then and there and head straight back to where you came from because the chances of you getting to see anything in front of you are less likely than me beating Usain Bolt in a 100m dash. There could be a giant monkey with five heads on that stage in front of you but you would be none the wiser because all you can see is a steel wall of arse. They are resilient little fuckers too, once they are planted no ducking or diving will see you get passed those jiggling barricades.

Okay so I can’t lie to you and say it’s all bad There has been times in my life, in my rampant teenage years, where this perk has been rather enjoyable. I say ‘rampant’ I really mean ‘desperate’ and ‘pervy’ and by ‘teenage years’ I mean ‘my life’. I think we’ve established in previous exchanges I was a late bloomer in the sexual world so inspecting a pert bum was the only way to pass the time. With my apparent lack of subtlety though, I always got caught. There is nothing worse than getting caught by you friend shamelessly staring a careers bum as they bend down to tighten a footplate. As I said before though it’s unavoidable I swear! Plus there is nothing more enjoyable than being behind a pertly bum in an otherwise soul destroying British queue, it makes the post office visit a lot more bearable. 

On reflection maybe it's a unrealized perk to disabled life, unlimited genital ogling, like free parking and half price concert tickets? Then I get the image of John McCririck on a train and I think a was definitely right the first time...

A Tale of Two Sisters

Have you ever been in so much discomfort that it feels like your whole body is burning itself from the inside out? This kind if pain should only be reserved for when you get knocked out by David Haye or go scuba diving with jellyfish. That has nothing on the cause of pain for my spasming wreck of a body though; I've just gone ten rounds with a personal trainer who has a bad day. It's the kind of tiredness that makes even getting dressed a near-on impossibility. I swear I just spent a good five minutes vacantly starting at the ceiling, I wouldn't be surprised if in those five minutes I had lost all control my face muscles and was dribbling as well! Though pitifully I hope this provokes some sympathy from you - I can see you shaking your head already - this isn't a vital point of today's blog post. It's just some mood setting so you can understand my motivation for the rest of the post.

Sitting here in the gym cafe where I am tasked to past the next THREE HOURS, until I can grab a lift home, I have been mindfully pondering what shenanigans I should bore you lovely people with today. I've been quite content. That is until I was faced with an ignorant mother and her child. I have absolutely no problem with children been inquisitive when it comes to my disability, in fact, if anything, I'd like to think I actively encourage it. Most of the time it’s the first instance when they have come into contact with a person in a wheelchair and I would rather them ask question and learn oppose to going away not understanding; it's that which leads to ignorance and sometimes even fear. I hate to think anyone would be scared of me due to my disability or wheelchair, but it's happened. I have a four-year old sister and that was my biggest worry when my dad told me that my step-mum was pregnant. Other than an older sister, with whom my relationship is sadly non-existent, I was practically an only child and never needed that acceptance from a child. I'd often felt throughout my life that I needed to gain acceptance from people to see me as 'normal', but the thought of a little person who was  genetically part of me not accepting me was frightening. I had questions in my mind like, what if I find it hard to bond with her because I can't run around playing with her? Or what's worse, what if she was ashamed of me? I know now that these worries were ridiculous and are just my own insecurities surfacing. She is a bright, cheeky and beautiful little munchkin of a sister who knows her own mind and is growing up to be open-minded dazzling little lady. This despite her occasional tendencies to behave unexplainably like a cat and her complete and utter energetic craziness for EVERYTHING. I've never seen anyone able to play with fluff so enthusiastically.

After my run in with the gym mother and her son, I realized how lucky I am to have her as a sister. I was surprised that two children, roughly the same age, can have such two contrasting mentalities. I don't blame the child. I blame his mother. I know he was guided by his mother’s judgmental attitudes, which makes it worse right? I'm not a mother yet so correct me if I'm wrong, but bring up a child is about nourishment. Part of your parental responsibilities is to nourish their natural inquisitiveness and individual personalities. Not allow them to judge before they have a concept of judgement. It might surprise you how often I see this ignorance in children. I have come to expect it from adults, after a pretty intense experience I had while on a night out a few month back - I haven't been able to write about it since - but I hope to share it with you soon. Yet I've had children following me around supermarkets kicking my wheelchair, calling me a cripple and parents pulling their children away from me in the street, like I'm going to run them down of something; seems ridiculous to me. When did we become a nation who allowed that? I sometimes have to remind myself that for every person who will slam a door in your face there is one that will open it; and that goes for children. I hope my sister will be the latter.

It might have been these contemplation's or my increasing tiredness which made me think about my family, I tend to come over all emotional when I'm tired, but seeing the way that child was made me proud that my sister will grow up being one less judgmental person in the world. That's not to say that the little boy, may not have a change of heart, I hasten to add. I'd hate to be the one to verbally condemn a four-year old to a preconceived life of ignorance. So, as sentimental as it may be, this post is for my sister. Today is not about righting the wrongs in society but about praising what I see as good. I only hope that this will encourage more people to allow their children the chance to have an open mind.

Let me begin to round this post off by telling a little anecdote, which I'm not sure ever her parents know, about my sister that perfectly sums up her adorableness and why she is absolutely ruddy fantastic! A few months back we were at the park, my sister, dad, step-mum and me. While in the midst of an intergalactic mission on the giant metal spaceship, my sister and I were joined on our fictional adventure by another child. We continued to fly our way through the sparkly, pink atmosphere to reach a faraway mystical kingdom when our newly acquainted passenger suddenly asked my sister why I was in a wheelchair. I watched her little face crease as she processed the question; I guess she never really had need to consider it before. Initially she shrugged and carried on playing and I told the other child that my legs don't work properly and that was why. It was a few seconds later when my sister stopped driving the make-believe spaceship, turned to the child next to her and with a decisive expression very matter-of-factly stated, 'I don't know, she's my sister, so it doesn't matter', before jumping off the equipment and running to the next imaginary game. In that moment I couldn't have been more proud of her. I don't know if she knew exactly what she was saying or whether it was just something her mum and dad had said to her before, but nevertheless that's a pretty ballsy thing to do for a four-year-old and it made me love her just that little bit more. I told you she was cool didn't I?

I'd like to end slightly differently today if that's okay with you? I’d like to end with a question for you. A paraphrase of the same question the child at the gym asked me before telling me my answer should be 'yes' as being disabled was wrong, dirty and that his mummy said I was going to hell.

If you could change being disabled, would you? Out of all the questions I get asked as a person with a disability I could rival Richard Brandson if I had a penny for every time this came up.

My answer is no. Being disabled has made me who I am. It's brought my amazing friend into my life, taught me values and strength and given me opportunities I would have otherwise never had. I'd love to know your answer... let me know. Drop a comment on my blog; I'd be intrigued.

Until then, one day my sister might read this blog and I'd like to tell her and the world that I love her, even more than this cheeky picture of us; which is a lot! 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Sorry, I'm Too Disabled...

Two people have said to me today that they are 'too disabled' to contribute to society; by my standards that is two too many. I have been talking to you about all the ways in which other people differentiate us from society, but the upsetting truth is some people with disabilities bring it upon themselves. I know that this post may rub some people up the wrong way and they may think that my view on this is unforgiving and inconsiderate, but so far you've valued me for my honesty and this needs to be said.

Not that long ago people with disabilities were locked up. We were seen as useless defects of society who had no purpose. We had to fight for our chance at equality and chain ourselves to buses in protest to even get the right to walk unaccompanied down the street. We are so damn lucky in comparison to now live a society where we are not treated like that anymore. Okay, I know it's not perfect. The government are conning us at every opportunity and the whole country isn't exactly built with a wheelchair in mind, but we are not locked up anymore; we have freedom. We can work, have kids, get married, drive, go drinking, drink too much, have sex, be sexy; my god if we put our minds to it I bet we could do whatever we damn well liked. So why choose to lock yourself up? It may not be a physical entrapment but letting your disability hinder you is worse than any cell. So when someone says to me 'oh I can't do that because I'm disabled', my reply is bullshit. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and living up to people stereotypes of disabled people; you are proving them right!  I can almost feel my blood turning molten in my veins. By saying that you are giving society exactly what it wanted 50 years ago, to have you mute and motionless, a thing to be pitied, a useless cripple. I for one can't think of anything worse.

Enough of this bullshit pity party.

If you do feel like that, then I'm sorry, but I urge you to get a grip and look at all the things you can do. Yes, I know some things are a physical impossibility. I'm quite aware that I'll never run a marathon anytime soon, or that someone with Muscular Dystrophy won’t be running around doing jumping jacks. Jeez, even carrying a cup without spilling it when you have CP can sometimes feel like the 'Krypton Factor', but that doesn't mean you are useless. Right now you are reading this. That means there are at least two things you can do; read and think. If you ask me that's a strong basis for pretty much anything. Those two qualities may seem insignificant but they can allow you to live your life. You can read a menu and make a decision on what you want to eat; or read the cinema listings for your local theatre and decided what to go and see; you even have the basics to be a really good employee.

You know what? So what if you can't walk? Just because your legs don't work doesn't mean your mind doesn't either. With a bit of drive and creativity you could do something like set up your own crafts business.

So what if you have limited movement? Technology is a wonderful thing! Pretty soon we are all going to be kick-ass robots anyway. Trust me, have you seen the film ‘Chappie’?

So what if you have 24 hour care? Some people pay a fortune for their own chef and chauffeur... I joke, PA's do a fabulous job and they are there to help be the person you want to be.

I might sound preachy and a little harsh and for that I'm sorry. I'm just sick of people putting themselves down. If we want to be seen as equals we have to accept ourselves as equals; get off out backsides and ramming ourselves full force out into the world around us. C'mon people it's a beautiful day... ish.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Wobbly's Guide to Dating Etiquette

I can't tell you how much I am freaking out about my date! It's like I'm in a permanent state between excitement and the panicking urge to throw up. I've got those butterflies you get as a child when you’re about to open a present but also the impending sense of dread you get when you've just realized Santa Clause doesn't exist and he is actually your half-cut dad stumbling across the landing. It's bloody exhausting! I'd like to find the person responsible for coming up with the notion of dating and give them a well-mannered punch in the face. When else in life is there such risk of social embarrassment, general awkwardness and major fuck up's? If it's not fear of the dreaded 'awkward silence', it's the total and utter hysteria that you won't make yourself look like a total loon by saying something like, 'oh for fun? Well with my 20 cats I'm pretty busy'. Not to mention, the added baggage of a big fuck-off wheelchair and its disability side-kick that brings its own dating hurdles to overcome. Therefore, if nothing more than to remind myself, I thought I'd share with you my most important dating to-do's in my newly christened 'Wobbly's guide to dating etiquette'.

1) Make sure you pick an appropriate date setting.

This is key. As whimsical and idyllic as it may be to go for a romantic beach walk at sunset, in reality, if you are in a wheelchair, you’re more liking to get two seconds in before slowing sinking into the sand while your date struggles ferociously to release you by manically heaving the back of your wheelchair. Meanwhile your sat there wheel-spinning, going nowhere fast - which runs the serious risk of projecting sand into your dates face and inevitable consequence of substantial retina damage...

If you do manage, however, to find somewhere that will not cause serious ailments or damage to either you or your date, you must negotiate your way around a wheelchair users most formidable enemy; stairs. Most of my life I have felt like a Dalek, before they became terrifyingly able to climb stairs. I was near-on indestructible, but put a step in-front of me and, poof, I'm fucked. I always have this fear that, if my date were to choose somewhere with stairs, he would have to resort to throwing food out to me like an abandoned dog. Not ideal.

2) During the date act with poise and grace at all times.

Never have the words 'lady' and 'Paige' been uttered in a sentence, so unsurprisingly this is the one I struggle with the most. Not only because of my unimaginable lack of grace but more pressingly my unachievable grasp of coordination. Anyone who has Cerebral Palsy, or knows someone with it, will know that coordination is not our greatest forte. This is only made worse in high pressured situations or when you are nervous. Therefore, the majority of my dates end in the date or myself having some variety of food or drink splattered over them either by a misjudgement of the distance to the wine glass or a complete brain malfunction between the food boarding my fork and entering my mouth. It seems to be unavoidable, as I can assure you it's not sexy or socially acceptable to whip out a baby food catcher at the dinner table. Then enviably there is the perfectly timed spasm. A hideous cretin of a beast who rears his ugly head as you are taking a sip of your drink, or more humiliatingly, in the most unassuming moments to make you look like a twitching mad-woman.

3) When the date gets going, turn on your inner seductress.

Piss easy I hear you scream. Bat your eyelids, give a little flirty wink, simple eh? I wish it was simple. First I refer you back to the previous coordination point. Winking with coordination issues must be one of the hardest tasks you can undertake. No, I retract, it is impossible. You categorically cannot wink. You just end up just blinking erratically like a manic, bewildered loon or look like you’re having some kind of unidentifiable fit.

I read somewhere once, that in order to optimally attract a person a girl must show stereotypical feminine behaviour, such as 'playful giggling or flicking her hair'. Fore mostly; rude. Could that statement be anymore stereotypically sexist if it tried? Latterly, if you can flick your hair and not get food in it when you have Cerebral Palsy then I am in unapologetic awe of you. With my general incompetence and unmeasured clumsiness, already defined above, this is an undoubtable certainty. Forget spinach in your teeth, there is a real and worrying possibility that there will be a whole family of spaghetti strings colonizing in my hair by the end of the date.

4) Giving at appropriate goodbye.

In my experience this statement is more directed at the datee oppose to the dater; in this case I shall identify myself as the dater. There are many appropriate ways to bid farewell to someone. There is the simple handshake; if the date was okay but you want to make it clear this is staying in the ‘friend’s zone’ from now until eternity. You may opt for a hug; if the date was enjoyable and you can see things progressing to date number two. That said, hugs tend to be a difficulty when you’re in a wheelchair; especially if you are both in wheelchairs, you have to practically be a contortionist to achieve them. If the date goes extremely well you may decide to take the plunge and go for the full-frontal, awkward first kiss. This is a risky strategy. Mainly as it's never apparent how much tongue to use.  You either end up like a baby lizard, darting in and out, or like an enthusiastic washing machine. Finally if all else fails, there is the respectful nod, as you are both signify the morning your lost dignity.

However whatever you do, never and I categorically mean NEVER, pat someone on the head. Nothing is more degrading than to be made to feel like a petulant child.  In this situation I, and all of my disabled chums, reserve the right to grab you firmly by the balls and give them a sharp twist. Then there will be only one thing that needs patting, presumably with a cold compress.

I could go on forever about the woe's and calamities of dating but I'm not even sure any of this has calmed my nerves of my impending date, or if I have just rambled mindlessly at you poor reader. Whoever said talking though your worries was productive?  Oh well, I guess the silver lining is I have two fully charged batteries and a valid disabled bus card to make a speedy getaway if it all goes disastrously wrong...

Friday, 17 July 2015

Sun-ish, Sex and Suspicious Positions

My deepest apologizes for this blog taking so long to hit your very fine screens. If I am honest with you I've been mustering up the courage to write this entry; as you might guess from the title its a little risqué. Yet we are 5 posts and 1,973 views in, so I figure we know each other well enough by now. I should say at this point this post will contain adult content and frank sexual chat, so if you are of a sensitive disposition, or my dad, may I suggest you stop reading now.

Okay, now the formalities are over, let’s talk about sex. Sex is one of those things that is still seen as a massive taboo in the biosphere of disability. I mean, how can someone whose legs are a bit wobbly been seen as sexual, have sexual urges or indeed have actual sex? Surely we are all prudish asexuals, who, are adorable when they have a school girl crush but that would never want to  have sex. Right? So very wrong. This is the biggest assumption about disability that really irritates me and frankly that needs to change. Let me put it out there right now, I've had sex. My friends have sex and, shocker, the vast majority of us are disabled; and do you know what? I bet were all pretty damn good at it. We are not wired any differently. If Jamie Dornan walked into the room right now I can assure you, like many of you, I'd be experiencing some flutters; and I don't just mean from my eyelids. Just because the messages to my legs don't get through properly doesn't mean the messages to my vagina are the same. Granted I'm not going to sit here and say sex as a disabled person is easy, sometimes you have to be a little, um, inventive, but it is possible. It's not like I can be shackled, upside down to the ceiling, 'Fifty Shade of Grey' style; though with Cerebral Palsy's joyous gift of spasms shackles could be handy... God knows that sometimes you feel like an amateur code cracker finding positions when your flexibility is that of a wooden spoon, but that does not mean that you can't do it and do it well. Oh and, hey, let's be fair, a disability can bring some novel perks to the bedroom. Take the so-called 'CP shakes' for example, just as good as any vibrator and you don't have to change the battery half way through!

Then when has sex ever been simple; for anyone? My god, it's a minefield isn't it? Admittedly I'm fairly new to the game; not many people get the horn on for an over-weight, spotty, doctor who loving teenage geek with Cerebral Palsy. All I can say is my maths GCSE had nothing on the complexity of the sexual world. Firstly there's positions. I mean even the suggestion of something called 'the windmill' must strike fear into the most horny of hearts. I have this image to a poor, unprepared girl being spun uncontrollably around, on the end of a bended-kneed man, like a screw cap bottle; that can't be sexy right? It's a damn certified moment for the 'boob clap' and no-one wants that.

Then you come to dirty talk. I'd like to think of myself as quite a confident and forthcoming speaker, but there has to be nothing more awkward than someone asking to 'fuck you like a dolphin', which is apparently erotic and was a line unfortunately exclaimed to me once during sex. Not to mention the unbelievable amount of etiquette involved, especially during your first time. I found myself becoming unfathomably British during mine. I became really conscious of everything. In front of me was a well formed, naked man standing to attention and I found myself politely questioning, 'excuse me, would you mind terribly if I were to grab that.' I think he half expected me to stick out my little pinkie and pick it up like a teacup. 

All I'm saying is sex is the same for everyone disabled or not. Awkward, enjoyable and often cringe-worthy, so if you are one of those people who has a problem with it, I urge you politely to deal with it.

There is a reason I decided to tell you all of this and risk the utter humiliation of my unsuspecting Nan stumbling across this post. The unashamed truth is I have a little update for you from my post a few weeks ago and it's the fuel that sparked this sexually driven entry. I officially have a date with Essex's answer to David Gandy, the gym Adonis! He stumbled across my blog, apologized and asked to take me for a drink to make it up for it. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it could be seen as a little fickle to accept after my less favorable post, but after all I have eyes and, well, after this post it's not like I'm coming across horny at all... Well at least now he knows what he’s getting himself into right?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


It may seem insignificant in the vast world of blogging, but today my little old blog reached it's first thousand view milestone! This is unreal for me. I pretty much say it all in the video but the fact that my blog has got even a few of you challenging the misconceptions of disability and coming together to discuss it is amazing and I just wanted to say a little thank you to you all....

Thanks for sticking with me for the first tentative steps, I hope you stay along for the ride to the next thousand!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Youth in Retrospect

I've realized that up until this point my blogs have been mainly a protest of the hardships of life in a wheelchair and for that my deepest apologies to you. Granted I am a moany cow a lot of the time, just ask those who know me, but let me take this opportunity to take a fresh stance and write about something more uplifting; the beauty of childishness. Life nowadays seems full of mundane responsibilities. Forgotten seem  the days as an uninhibited 3 year old could you run around your garden half naked jumping in mud puddles, ogle in the absolutely unashamed fascination of anything remotely rude (remember the hilarity of boobs and willies?) and laugh so hard snot bubbles appear... and then laugh some more at the slimy volcano erupting out of your nose. Now having the pressure of acting like a functioning adult, any of the above would see you having a visit from the men in white coats sooner than you could spell you own name.

It got me thinking about when I was last truly childish and carefree and it became apparent that being a student is a lot like reverting back to adolescence. Not necessarily running around half naked; though as a note if you do ever find yourself out in Portsmouth on a student night I'm sure that's one of the better things you would see, but the limitlessness and rebellion of youth that is something to relish at university. Student life brings forward the opportunity to experience all those little things you could never do as a child; go to bed when you want, eat what you want, wear what you want and act like a total fool without judgement or repercussions, so naturally you take the opportunity. I have most probably been more childish in my eighteen months of being at university than I have in my whole twenty-two years of life. You’re around people, regardless of gender, race, sexuality or disability where it once again become socially acceptable to laugh so uncontrollably that coffee come out of your nose or turn up to a fancy dress party as a giant banana and it just seems totally normal. This is the time in your life to make mistakes and do all the things you want before the inevitable loom of adult responsibilities befalls you. More importantly, nobody judges you and that's the thing I love about it the most. Despite my guise of self-confidence I can assure you I am anything but and this idea of people judgement is something that has followed me around for years, but at university there is such a vast spectrum of people that I don't feel like the odd one anymore.

There was a moment a few months ago that perfectly sums up the entwining nature of acceptance and juvenility that comes with university life; allow me to indulge you in a little story…

During a break from lectures a few newly found friends and myself decided to venture into town for our mandatory Starbucks (other coffee retailers are available...) when a pigeon walked in front of us with a bagel sitting loosely around his neck liked a plump doughy scarf. This isn’t itself a pivotal point to this story, nevertheless it was brilliantly funny and was only made better by the fact it was bobbing it head it in perfect time to Coolio’s ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ which was booming out from some nearby speakers. It was when someone unexpectedly came up behind me the story had purpose. Now at this point I should say that one undesired side-effect to Cerebral Palsy is involuntary startle reflex to any sudden noises or movements. So, this sudden appearance of a total stranger behind me resulted in my latte being projected all over me and the already unfortunate pigeon.

Out of everything my disability affects this is the worst for me and the route of most of my discomfort and embarrassment involving my disability. I could feel myself blushing scarlet waiting for the subsequent mocking laughter.

All I heard was silence. No mocking, no laughing not even a stifled giggle. I looked up and now-one cared, my friends just brushed if off and started reeling in all the embarrassing things they had done. It was the first time I had felt accepted and so incredibly normal. Not Paige, the girl in the wheelchair or Paige, the girl who jumps a ridiculous things, just Paige. It was a moment of clarity. We were all now experiencing a rare period in our lives where we could be accepted for who we really are.

So if I'm saying anything from this rambling catastrophe of a blog post it’s that this week I don't give a fuck.  Like my rhythmic gamey chum I'm going to dance uninhibitedly and bring a bit of my childhood back into my adulthood. From now I urge you all embrace it. Don't be ashamed to laugh uncontrollably, make stupid mistakes say wrong and inappropriate things. What's more if you feel like pretending to be a fairy princess for the day then damn well do it; and boys that applies to you to...

With that I leave you with two things. One, the empowerment to seize your inner child and two a clip that brings back my own childhood... Click Here and go on, I know you want to play along...

Friday, 10 July 2015

Bums, Biceps and Backwards Compliments...

Today was our official second month anniversary with the new found love in my life... the gym. I can see you now staring in disbelief at your computer screen, 'love' and 'gym sitting harmoniously together in a sentence? As ever let me explain.

Yes, indeed, the gym is the master slave driver, god of sweaty armpits and the governor of unsightly wobbly bits but it is also a mystical land filled with often the finest forms of the male species that this Earth has to offer. Perfectly formed pecs, Adonis like abs and bewilderingly pert bottoms are a feast for the eyes and a very enjoyable way to spend a leisurely Friday afternoon. That is until you find yourself having to interact with one of these unfamiliar creatures. Staring opened-mouthed looking like a diaphoretic fly-catcher seems fine but when actual conversation rears its ugly head it seems to become impossible to string a sentence together. Especially when you’re sitting there perspiring uncontrollably and wheezing like a deflating balloon while he's standing there like he's just walked out of a Hugo Boss advert.

Well that was me today, blazing beetroot with sweat patches developing in places I didn't know existed, awkwardly babbling at a tousled haired, green eyed beaut.

Surprisingly through all my fears it seemed to be going well. He was smiling, I was laughing, I mean you could smell the sexual tension in the air. Then something catastrophic happened, he opened the beautiful mouth of his and out came the words “you’re actually really pretty for a girl in a wheelchair”...

My internal conflict spiralled into meltdown. He said I was pretty! My inner self-doubting doppelgänger stood up straight, flicked her hair and fist pumped the air all while wheeling to Timbuktu and back.  I was elated, that is until she got squished by the unpleasant realization he used 'that line'.

If you use a wheelchair you will understand my upset but if you don't let me enlighten you. I have several problems with 'that line', Firstly the word 'actually'. This implies surprise. They might as well say 'wow, from afar I expected you to look more a bridge troll'. Secondly the phrase 'for a girl in a wheelchair'. Really? I mean REALLY?! It's like people expected wheelchair users to be un-kept, have bad hygiene or not be physically attractive. When in reality only a few of us have two heads and scaly skin. If you really want to flatter someone in a wheelchair, you'll get nowhere with that line; I think the guy realized that when he saw the expression on my face. Beauty can be found even in the seat of a wheelchair; if we can go to the moon, an attractive person in a wheelchair is possible.

That said, I get it. Some people just don't know what to say to a person in a wheelchair which can make for some pretty ridiculous and outrageous things being said. So if, like my gym’s answer to David Gandy, you don't want to make a fool out of yourselves next time your around a wheelchair user, here’s my the top three lines that should be firmly off your list of icebreakers.

3. Do you know so and so in a wheelchair?
Funnily enough no. There seems to be this archaic idea that all wheelchair users are on friendly terms with every other wheelchair user, like we have some weird psychological connection or live in one big, happy, step-free village. Just like you don't know everybody who owns the same iPhone 6 as you, I don't know everyone in a wheelchair, but I'm sure Sam from your local supermarket is lovely.

2. Good for you!
Perhaps one of the most outrageously awful things you can say to someone who uses a wheelchair. Annoyingly it’s always said whenever we do something basic, like pick up a dropped pen or, I don’t know; go out in public. I once even got told this exact line after going to the toilet in the interval of a show; she gave me an enthusiastic pat on the back and everything. Older people do tend to say this more often than younger people, so it’s hard to get mad because mostly it's a lack of knowledge due to their generational upbringing. Yet when you do something as simple as drive your wheelchair up a ramp, and someone says, “Good for you,” you almost can’t help but want to punch them in the face.

1. You're an inspiration.
I can't tell you how angry this makes me. The man who threw himself in-front of a Tunisian gunman to protect his fiancée; he's an inspiration. The nurse who works 12 hour shifts to help save people’s lives and still manages to single-handedly raise a family; she's an inspiration. Just because I am out and having a good time like every twenty-two year old my age and not hidden away that doesn't make me an inspiration. "You're an inspiration" equates to "If I were you I don't think I'd be able to leave my house" and frankly that's pretty insulting. When I cure famine or create world peace, then you can call me an inspiration.

So these are merely a few nuggets of advice. My biggest advice though? Just speak to us like you would any other human being and if you have said any of these, like my toned and tanned gym friend, I'm sure you’re not alone. Just heed these words of wisdom and resist the seemingly uncontrollable urge to pat us on the head; unless of course you don't mind us running over your toes and then speeding off into the distance with a shit-eating grin on our faces...

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Shove it where the sun don't shine....

I'm sick of this constant underlying tone of bullshit... Sorry if that's a tad crude  to start a blog so early on this Sunday afternoon but, fuck, I'm angry right now. Why does everything in life come down to the things that make you different? Be it because your, too tall, too big, too small, too ginger- for the record the utmost best section of society - or in a wheelchair. I really think it should be those ignorant, relentlessly inconsiderate arseholes, like the bus driver that just ruined my day, that should be treated different in society; for, and correct me if I'm wrong, being a twat is a much less appealing quality in a human being than being over weight or too tall?

It may seem nothing, a bus driver completely ignoring your existence and driving straight past you at the bus stop while your waving like a complete stark-raving lunatic for him to stop, but with this incident being one of many, it truly is the straw that broke the camels back. I don't know if it's just bus drivers in Hertfordshire, but this isn't the first time I've been astounded by their complete lack of care. Last summer I had the joyous pleasure of being threatened by one who aggressively announced 'I don't take cripple's on my bus'. Charming man. In hind-sight of this, and I have given it some thought, my response would have been more eloquent than just a bewildered 'oh', but, hey, it was that heat of the moment.

I guessed what I've realized is that it has become okay to treat those who might be a bit quirky differently and, gawd damn, it ain't right! Small things are creeping into our mainstream that are making us, frankly, not very nice people. As a 'minority' I  can't even count on my fingers how many times a taxi, or bus, has driven passed me because taking a wheelchair passenger is 'too much hassle' or I've been out shopping at the person behind the till has spoken to my friend and not me. Enough is enough.

Quirkies unite.

So red-heads grab your hairspray, wheelchair's brace those Allen key's, shorties break out the high heels, gentlemen adjust your balls and ladies grab your Spanx; it's about time we made a stand...

Better still, you know what? Why not open that door for the stranger in the wheelchair today? Or compliment that girl in the coffee shop who's looking a bit down on how nice her hair is? Or just go the full hog and tell the guy in the queue for lunch he has the best socks you've ever seen! I don't care; just for god sake human race, try and be a little nicer and let the haters shove it where the sun don't shine.,,

Thursday, 2 July 2015

And so it begins...

Do you know what annoys me? Tall people. I have nothing against them, I'm not out on some tall people crusade or anything, in fact they are an asset to my life in many ways. They can reach high shelves and navigate through crowded places with ease, but the reason they annoy me is that I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I get swamped by large crowds and can never reach the top shelf in the supermarket - which I guaranteed is always where the item I need most will be - all because I am 5ft 3" and in a wheelchair. 

Everyone is tall to me and it's infuriating. My life is a collage of bums and crotches. Before me on a daily basis I am presented with a sea of looming bodies above me. At times I'd be easily mistaken for being in my very own version of the BFG; I'm little squiggled Sophie looking up at friendly but often slightly intimidating giants and that's not to mention the neck ache. Have you ever been looking up at two people having a heated conversation? It's like watching Federer and Nadal play at the Wimbledon final I'm surprised I don't get whiplash. Sadly this is one of the many tribulations of living your life sitting down; well that and 'numb-bum syndrome', there is truly nothing worse.

So welcome to my world, a look into life in a wheelchair, the good the bad and the damn right insulting. No bullshit, no PC prudence and no patronizing niceties just my life as a 20-something, with tires, tits and hopefully a refreshing dash of truth.

But before you write this off as just another 'samey life blog', hear me out. Disability or no disability, wheelchair or no wheelchair, I'll tell it the way I see it and from all the way down here looking up, it might just be and interesting and surprising view.