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Lifestyle

My Pregnancy and labour – Joy Addo

By | Disability, Lifestyle, My story

I found I was pregnant at work one afternoon and to say I was shocked would be an understatement. I remember it like it was yesterday, the fear and shock that I felt was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I asked my  friend Lauren to take a walk to the pharmacy with me that day, I told her my period was late and just wanted to rule out pregnancy, so being the friend she is she said sure of course. When we got back to the office I remember telling her to go and continue working and I did the test on my own I’m the toilet. 

When I looked at the test I saw 2 lines, so I panicked and honestly thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. In fact I genuinely hoped that they were. I honestly cleaned my glasses a few times a kept looking back at the test but it wasn’t changing. I called Lauren and asked her come have a look as her vision is better than mine. She looked at the test and started nervous laughing, she confirmed it was 2 lines and I was like “Lauren this is not funny” 

When my manager got back from I went into her office and broke down in tears. I showed her the test and she let me go home. 

It was about week later when I starting feeling really sick and of course I assumed it was morning sickness, but for some reason I felt absolutely awful. I had seen programmes on pregnant woman before but I never saw or heard of anyone feeling as bad as I did with morning sickness. 

I finally got diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) which is extreme vomiting and sickness during pregnancy. I felt so weak while I was pregnant and I had to be admitted to hospital about 4-5 times because I was dehydrated.

To be honest I did not enjoy pregnancy at all I had never felt so weak on all my life. 

Having my 20 week scan and finding out I was expecting a girl really made a difference to me. I finally was able to get excited and imagine a mini me! (Which she definitely is) 

My labour was very quick, I wasn’t sure if I was having contractions at first and the hospital said to stay at home for as long as possible, so did. 

As they started to progress I was on my bedroom floor grunting and panting for my life. Not to mention I was actually doing several squats, which my body was not made to do at all! 

My mum called a cab and we made our way to the hospital. However as we turned into  the road of  the hospital my waters broke in the back of the mini cab. 

When my mum got out and went into reception to get help, the cab driver came to open the door for me and as I stood up I could feel my baby was literally coming so I laid back in cab and pushed. By the time my mum came back out she saw her grand daughter being held up by my knickers and the cab driver was lost for words. 

Everyone around me was panicking but I had heard my baby make a little cry and her hand grabbed my finger so I knew she was fine. 

They rushed us into to labour ward and apologised for making me stay at home for so long. But everything was fine, my daughter was born I didn’t need any form of after care not even a stitch so I was happy and we went home the very next day. 

About 2 weeks after Janelle was born I had a knock on the door from Tarick the cab driver. He came to her and asked me if she wanted to buy his car when she’s older as it was her birth place! 

 

A new born baby in a hospital crib

Janelle, just after being born

Love Lounge Top Tips – Feeling Broody?

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge

For many people, becoming a parent and having children someday is absolute #lifegoals, but it would be difficult for anyone to dispute that it is a BIG decision, not least for those of us who are disabled.  If you’re feeling broody, that’s not to say that it’s not possible to be a brilliant disabled mum or dad, but there might possibly be a few extra things to consider on your journey to becoming one.  If you see kids in your future, but don’t quite know where to start, this one is for you.

Tip 1: Have the conversation

First things first, if you are currently with a partner, do they feel the same way about having children? As scary as it may seem, having the conversation and knowing that you are both on the same wavelength, or have similar timelines in mind when it comes to parenting, can be really helpful and productive for both of you.  And it’s totally fine if you’re not ready, or the person you’re with isn’t, as long as you are both honest with each other and never make promises that you don’t have an intention of keeping.

Tip 2: Plan as well as you can

Let’s face it, parenting takes a lot of planning, and this is most definitely the case for us disabled people.  If you are a wheelchair user, you might want to think about how you are going to get your baby, a pram and your chair in the car, if your energy levels can get considerably low, it might be worth considering whether or not you will express milk and bottle feed your baby at night time, so your partner and you can share feeding responsibilities.  Find certain positions difficult and painful? You might want to make sure this information goes into your birth plan.  These are just a few examples, and there are plenty of things to think about, but just remember, whatever works for you is the best and correct decision, regardless of what anyone else around you is doing or suggesting.  There is never a perfect time to have a baby, but it is possible to plan and make it the best time for you.

Tip 3:  Hack your way through parenting life

When the baby does arrive, enjoy parenthood! It might be worth becoming a bit of a parenting engineer, too, and hacking your way through the first few months.  Perhaps picking your son or daughter out of their cot becomes tiring and tough, and you might find a way that’s much easier on your body by creating a side door on the cot, for example.  Maybe body slings will work much better for you than a bulky pram, or perhaps you’ll come up with an innovative way to be alerted to your baby’s cries at night if you are hard of hearing.  Whatever ends up working for you and your child, please share the information with the communities around you, on or offline.  There is sadly still a taboo and fear around disabled parenting, with many people being desperate to be a mum or dad, but worrying quite how they will manage or whether they will be good enough.  Knowledge is power, as they say, and let’s remember that sharing a hacking success might empower someone else to take the beautiful leap to becoming a disabled parent.

 

Myth Busters – disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex

How often do you see disabled people ‘getting it on’ on tv, in films or even in porn? No, we don’t see it often either.  Society seems to think that disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex, and that’s a myth that we are here to dispel.  Want to join us, whilst raising a bit of awareness and education along the way? Keep reading!

Myth 1: Penetration

Sadly, we appear to have the (very incorrect) opinion as a society that sex isn’t ‘real’ if it doesn’t involve penetration, and therefore disabled people that can’t have intercourse aren’t sexual people.  This is wrong on every level, and whilst penetration isn’t possible for everyone, it really isn’t all that sex is about.  The possibility to be sensual and sexual exists for absolutely everyone, and many people that struggle with penetration put other skills they might have to very good use…! Perhaps, if we changed our view of penetration, we would also be able to educate ourselves on the complexities and intricacies of pleasure, in all its forms.

Myth 2: A lack of desire

Another common myth when it comes to disability and sex is that disabled people don’t have the same sexual desires as non-disabled people – something else that is desperately untrue! Whilst it is correct that sex can be a little more difficult for some of us (and take a little more time, effort and planning, sadly meaning that one night stands aren’t always on the table for all of us) the desire to have sex and be considered sexy still exists for lots of disabled people.  So, the next time you see an attractive, single disabled person giving you smouldering eye contact, don’t talk yourself out of it by thinking they won’t be interested!

Myth 3: Attraction

This third and final myth is arguably the biggest one, and the toughest to dispel.  It is so unfortunate that disabled people are portrayed so negatively by the media in many ways, and we are almost told not to find disabled people attractive.  Many of our colleagues, friends and partners are disabled and, let us tell you, they are all smart, funny, sexy and drop dead gorgeous in their own ways.  Don’t ever allow the world we live in to prescribe what is attractive and what isn’t.  Sure, a night with a disabled lover may require a little more thought, but it will most certainly be memorable.

So, to set the record straight.  When it comes to disability and sex…

We do, we will, and we can!

The earth and clouds below, a plane cruising at high altitude and above, space

Living With The Unknown 

By | Disability, Lifestyle | No Comments

Living with the unknown is both scary and interesting at the same time. There is no one to scream and shout at as there is no support. In turn this makes the world a big and scary place, but this big and scary world can suddenly become a world of possibility!

It seems to be human nature to want a label for things. I am no different. Over the years of living with my unknown, it has gained many names and personalities. The main label which I have given it is “Harriet Little Syndrome”, but the most resent has been Mango disease. The main reason these names have been so vital and important to me over the years has been due to so many skeptics. By giving the unknown a name it has meant that when the skeptics (which have included doctors), who tell me its all made up, I’m able to keep going as I know they are wrong.

The hardest part, as well as having to deal with skeptics, has been all the challenges the unknown brings with it. There is no support for people who live with the unknown and many patients get left isolated, which leads to other problems in the long run. Due to the isolation, I have been very down. However, I have been able to push through it and come out the other side. Don’t let me give you all the impression that the unknown is all dark clouds and rain though – as its not! The unknown is much more like living with the English weather. Some days there is rain and other days there is sun and rainbows. Through living with the unknown I have been able to meet some amazing people and have heard some amazing stories! A lesson I have learnt, over the 10 years of the unknown, is to make the most of the sunny and rainbow days as they don’t happen all the time!

By making the most of my sunny days, and forcing myself to get up and keep going, I have been able to write this blog. It would have been easy for me to have curled up in the corner and given up with life. But by pushing the boundaries of the unknown, I have shot for GB in archery, started writing these articles and continued with life!!

The lesson that I have learnt, and the one you can gain from the film ‘The Greatest Showman,’ is that you have to accept what you have.  Accepting you for you is what will get you through life. If people criticise you for the way you are, you just have to say well… ‘This is me!’ The unknown will not stop me and nor should it stop anyone. Love the sunny days and enjoy the rainbows!!

A blue tennis court with white lines looking through the black netting

Never take things for granted

By | Disability, Lifestyle | No Comments

My name is Harriet. Up until I was 9 years of age I was the type of child that would want to be on the move 24/7.  My main objective was scaring my parents to death with all my sporting activities and mischief. However, at the age of 9 my world changed. This is when I became disabled. My disability was no-ones fault, it was just one of those things.

For the last 10 and a half years I have lived with a neurological condition which has left me with many problems, including bladder problems, impaired sight and becoming a neurological paraplegic. The newest of all the problems has been becoming semi-paralysed in my left arm. Though doctors are still baffled by what my disability is or what caused it, over the years the illness has been stable and then gotten worse and then become stable again. There have been many tests and investigations which have knocked me down. However, once I have been knocked down, I refuse for it to keep me down, and subsequently get back up and fight even harder.

One of the things which helps me get through whatever this disability is, or as I like to call it ‘Harriet Little Syndrome,’ is sport. Sport has had a big impact on me both mentally and physically over the years. Thanks to sport I have been able to meet some amazing people and do some amazing things. As well as sport, I have used volunteering work to aid me through my disability. My feeling is that if a charity has helped me then I want to give all I can back.

The last 10 years of living with the unknown, has had its highs and its lows. However, if I’m able to help guide or inspire another young person in the same situation as me, then its all worth it.

I am currently at university, and have already started to inspire and make a change for the better in peoples lives. The degree I am doing at uni is Sport, Coaching and Physical Education. This degree has never had a disabled student before. So as well as them teaching me, I am having to not only teach my lecturers but also my peers. Even though I’m in a wheelchair and have a disability I’m still able to do all what they can. The overall battle with universities and disabilities has just begun, but its one which future disabled students coming through will help change for the better!

So, this is just a very quick introduction about myself and a teaser of what future articles will be about.

traditional buildings in Poland

Making History Accessible – Our Time In Poland

By | Emily Yates, Lifestyle | No Comments

I was fortunate enough to spend February in Poland, specifically in Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk, whilst travel writing for Globe Hopper Guides.  Poland is always somewhere I’ve wanted to go, but also somewhere I’ve always stereotyped as being cold and inaccessible.  Whilst I was certainly correct with my first assumption, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the latter…

A culturally and architecturally diverse capital, Warsaw is the place to go if you like eating a different worldly cuisine every evening, love the arts and the sciences (there’s the Chopin Museum and the Copernicus Science Centre within a stone’s throw of each other) and are a real city person who likes to witness a bit of ‘edge’ when they travel.  My highlight of the city, however, was slightly different.  Even though I love all of the things listed above, I was truly blown away by the accessibility in every single attraction we visited and the fact that there were dipped kerbs…literally everywhere! Result! I’ve been to quite a few cities now, but I’ve yet to see another one that lets passengers at each tram stop know when the next wheelchair accessible one is arriving by displaying a little wheelchair icon on the arrivals board.  Trust me, that’s such a welcome sight in -4 temperatures!!

Next, we moved onto Krakow, a vibrant place of contrast, filled with jolly stag parties and laced with an unspeakable past.  I was aware that, as a wheelchair user, I’d struggle to visit Auschwitz, a place preserved as much as possible to show the horrors that happened little more than 60 years ago.  I didn’t quite realise, though, how accessible the likes of Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, the MOCAK and the Salt Mines would be – all worth a look and a visit, wheelchair user or not!

Last but not least, we made it to beautiful Gdansk, a UNESCO Heritage site full of harbours, seafood and nautical treasures, all surrounded by astonishing buildings and a (nippy!) sea breeze.  Whilst not the most accessible place on our Polish list, it is most certainly worth a visit…. If you can contend with the cobbles!

A country steeped in history, tragedy, pride and strength, I could not recommend Poland enough to any traveller wanting to learn from the past, whilst embracing the promising charm of Poland’s future.

a group of people participating in wheelchair yoga

From wheelchair basketball to strictly wheelchair dancing: disability sports in all forms.

By | Disability, Lifestyle | No Comments
Photo provided by http://mayallbehappy.org

 

As a disabled person who is not particularly athletic, the phrase ‘disability sport’ often fills me with a little dread. I am never going to be as incredibly sporty and successful as Hannah Cockroft, the gold-winning wheelchair racer, or swimming’s sweetheart Ellie Simmonds. I used to play wheelchair basketball, and absolutely adored the social side of the sport as well as the opportunity to improve my health and fitness, and realise my truly competitive side! But, there came a time where training did not fit into my working schedule, especially with my travelling commitments as a writer for Lonely Planet. So, I gave it up, watched local tournaments and huge events like the Paralympics completely in awe, but from afar, and decided that maybe disability sport just was not for me…

…How wrong that perception of mine turned out to be! There are so many ways those with disabilities can continue to be conscious of their health, work on self-improvement and have fun along the way without quite the same time and effort it takes to be part of a winning, competitive sporting side. Here are just a few of those ways:

Wheelchair Yoga

Like with most exercise, the benefits of wheelchair yoga really are surprising. As you probably expected, your flexibility is likely to improve and you may well become stronger pretty quickly, but also expect benefits of a better sleep, less stress and anxiety in your everyday life, and a clearer mental connection with what is going on around you. Who wouldn’t want any of these things in our fast and busy lives?

Top Three Wheelchair Yoga Poses

These excellent wheelchair yoga poses will hopefully have you feeling connected and strengthened in no time, each one working a different part of your body. Thanks to www.mayallbehappy.org for their wisdom.

Cat Pose

  1. Grip your chair or place your hands on your thighs
  2. Exhale as you round your upper body forward, dropping your chin toward your chest, arching your spine like a cat
  3. Hold in this position for a few deep breathsCow Pose (front of body-opener)

Eagle Pose

  1. Inhale and lift your arms
  2. Exhale and cross your arms at the elbows so your hands are back-to-back
  3. Hold in this position as you continue to breathe for 20-30 seconds

Hip Stretch

  1. Inhale, lift one leg and cross it over the other
  2. If you want a deeper stretch and you have good trunk stability, exhale and lean forward from your hips
  3. Continue to breathe as you hold the stretch for 3-5 breaths
  4. Gently release your leg and move to stretch the other side

Wheelchair Dancing

For some reason, the thought of dancing in my wheelchair is also something that has made me feel pretty nervous and un-coordinated in the past! But most of us like to get our groove on, right?!

Wheelchair Dancing (especially ballroom dancing) may be right up your street if you have a partner who is either non-disabled or also a wheelchair user. For those of us with disabilities, it can often prove pretty tricky to get active with our partners and find something that we can both do, are good at and will enjoy. Wheelchair dancing can be taken at the couple’s one pace, and there is equal elegance from both sides! It is an opportunity to get physically close, whilst having a giggle and meeting other people in the same, or similar, situations. A good middle ground between an individual and a group sport, and a chilled or exhausting activity, wheelchair dancing might just be the sport for you.

 

People working together for a better future

How do I connect with other Disabled people in Turkey?

By | Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge | No Comments

Hello,

First of all forgive me for my poor English. My name is Gokhan and I’m 31 years old. I’m living in Turkey. As you can imagine the life for disabled people is not easy here. And of course the sexual activities we have no chance to do anything and We have no chance to meet any professional workers here.. But also I can’t meet with any girlfriend and no chance to dating valintine

I’ve got scoliosis and my body is curve. So Every time When I look at the mirror , I’m starting to ask my self.. Why ??  And start to cry.. My body is not sexy I’m very ugly :(( I know maybe you can’t do anything to me from there… But only I want to write my thoughts to you :((( I am feeling so lonely at my country. Any disabled person is free about dating and sexual activities. There is no chance to even talk about these topics in Turkey.. I even can’t touch and contact any disabled person for sharing ideas and feelinga about sexuality and dating…

There is very public force to hide these feelings and realities in my country.. I even haven’t got any chance to hold a girl’s hands.. I haven’t been loved by any girl.. I am a romantic and emotional.. Forgive me for my poor English… I am very sorry…

Thank you so much for your kind heart…  DEAR SIR GOD BLESS YOU 🙁 Please don’t leave me alone

Very kind regards

 

Dear Gokham,

Thank you for contacting the Love Lounge. Your letter touched my heart. I too have a Scoliosis, and know what it is like to look in the mirror and hate what you see. However I did learn that whatever you see when you look at your reflection, it’s not always what others see. I battled with confidence when I was young, and was sure I would never find a partner but I also thought that it is better to try and fail than never try. With this approach I soon found that while there are many people who are not interested in being with a disabled person, there are also many who are. I should say I am now married to a wonderful woman who is my soul mate.

My advice would be find something you love to do. I loved music and taught myself to play piano and sing. Whatever you love; art, sport, culture, engineering,design, or music like me, whatever fires your interest go and pursue it. Love every minute that you spend focusing on it. This will make you happier and give you a focus for your passion. Make sure you go out and pursue your pass time, mixing with people. You will then meet people who share your interest. This mutual shared interest will mean you make friends that you have loads in common with. I found that this opens people’s eyes to the real you, thus they get to know you. Which in turn can lead to them not seeing the person you see in the mirror. I met my wife when playing in a band together, so you can see I know this approach can work!

Now I have to consider the cultural issues you face. I know that disabled people in Turkey face terrible issues which I can’t begin to imagine. I found that campaigning for equality and better treatment for disabled people gave me a huge outlet, a real confidence boost and allowed me to meet some amazing people. This might be something that you could pursue, campaigning to make Turkish society better for disabled people. I searched online and found a group called Alternative Camp (http://www.alternativecamp.org/), who work with disabled people to help them build independent lives, and provide all manner of activities to try too. I know they are based in Istanbul, but if you can’t get there contact them to see if they can help you. They will also help you discover if there are other disabled people near you, so you can support each other.

I would work on the confidence and finding the joy in life, then try to find love. I know it will be tough, but you may find that while you are falling in love with life, love might find you. Please stay in touch and all of us here at the Love Lounge will give you support and help.

I wish you all the best, and I’m always here to help if I can.

Mik

A woman read the 50 Shades of Grey book whilst enjoying a latte in a cafe

How should I go about writing a steamy book with disabled characters?

By | Emily Yates, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge | No Comments

Dear Love Lounge,

I am a sex writer and really want to include disabled characters in my writing – but I feel unqualified to do this as I’m not disabled myself! Do you have any advice please?

 

Hi there, and thanks for writing in to us!

So often, we shy away from disability, be it with communication, dating, or even sex writing, because we don’t feel we know enough about it! My advice would be to research around the subject, chat to disabled people (if you know them) in order to make your writing informed and authentic, but ultimately, challenge your fear around the topic and write! Our knowledge and understanding of disability will never improve if we don’t face it head-on. Write a story that’s really sexy and just so happens to have a disabled person wrapped up in the plot.  Ask disabled people to read it and give you feedback…. and then you’re good to go! You’ve busted the sex and disability taboo AND helped to change perceptions along the way.  What more could we ask for in a steamy story?!

La la land film dance

Random Review Time – La La Land

By | Hollie Williams, Lifestyle, TV/Film | No Comments

I think it’s time to take a break from my usual chat about disability and have what I have christened one of my HRRs, that is a Holly’s Random Review. This is when I use my blog to give my thoughts on a show, film or other piece of entertainment that I’ve seen. I do this normally when it’s been a big treat or something I have particularly enjoyed or just when I haven’t found a news story that had piqued my interest. So I have decided to give my opinion on the film I’ve just seen: La La Land

La La Land (PG-13)

This modern take on the classic 1940s Hollywood musicals follows the love story between frustrated jazz musician Seb (Ryan Gosling) and waitress and wannabee actress Mia (Emma Stone) as they struggle to build and maintain their love affair while at the same time pursuing their individual careers in tinsel town. The movie has been showered with acclaim by critics who seem enraptured by director Damien Chazelle’s attempt to take the genre in new directions for the modern era but personally I found the work problematic. While the film starts of on a sunny, upbeat note with a number in which drivers stuck in traffic on the Los Angeles highway jump out of their cars to sing and dance, followed closely by another featuring our heroine getting ready for a night on the town with her girlfriends. The film quickly sags into a tone more fitting to an semi-serious examination of modern relationships with large periods of realistic dialogue and acting during which it is easy to forget you are watching a musical at all. I don’t have anything against realistic drama, though it is not a genre I particularly enjoy, nor am I against heightened realities on film as long as the hyped-up style is constant throughout the piece. But the two married together is very jarring for a watcher of modern musicals, who perhaps needs the cartoon burlesque factor of Chicago or Hairspray or the overblown melodrama of the screen versions of Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables to feel comfortable with characters bursting into song at any moment. It is almost too comical to have our leads exchanging natural dialogue about their lives and dreams one minute and then floating up to dance on the ceiling the next.

Of course Chazelle is trying to reference something great here, looking back to the great ‘put on a show’ shows of MGM such as Singin’ in the Rain or A Star Is Born. But while audiences of the time were happy to believe the puffed dream of Hollywood glamour, viewers in the 21st century are perhaps a little more savvy as to what goes on behind the silver screen, and trying to address this more sophisticated view on the world Chazelle perhaps loses something. Seb and Mia are very modern characters with all the flaws, hang-ups and ego drives of modern performers trying to be a success, they behave and are played like a hundred other romantic leads in other comedies and dramas. The performances by Gosling and Stone are subtle and not overblown so when they do suddenly burst into song out of the blue its seems frankly bizarre. Maybe if everything had been ramped up to ten with violent declarations of love and hysterical sobbing the addition of songs wouldn’t seem so out of place. But La La Land wants to have its cake and eat it, being both naturalistic for long stretches and then diving half-heartedly into fantasy when it remembers it isn’t simply a drama. The setting is very much a Hollywood version of Hollywood; back lots and palm trees, where the seedier side of struggle and failure is only hinted at, a Hollywood that perhaps did exist once upon a time but is unbelievable  in 2017.

The overall atmosphere of La La Land is that of a unenthusiastic smugness. The film gives the impression that its doing something deep and marvellous while in fact no-one seems to be trying that hard. The songs are melodic and hummable but easily forgettable once the credits roll which is bizarre as Gosling’s character is meant to have a passion for jazz. Likewise, Gosling himself does a passable job in the role. He can hold a tune but that’s no challenge as the melodies are so marshmallow light that they can be spoke-sung without much effort, although his whole demeanour gives of the air of someone who isn’t really comfortable as a song and dance man. Whenever he performs, you are given the distinct impression that he finds it all rather embarrassing and would be much happier if this was just a straight drama. As for Stone, the word to describe her, and so much else in this film is ‘nice’.  She looks very pretty crying in the close-ups and her voice is sugary and a lot better than some past actors and actresses roped into the rebirth of the big hit musical (see Richard Gere in Chicago). But what the film highlights is that these days a big name doesn’t guarantee the skills needed to carry off a musical performance and for those who have seen real singers and dancers who have to come up to scratch night after night on stage, the flaws show. This is especially the case with much of the dancing which seems lacklustre and walked-through, making you realise just how much effort and skill is put in to something like say Strictly. Because Chazelle has borrowed so much from the greats of the past; Astaire, Kelly, every number leaves you with the reminder that it’s all been done many years before and so much better.

What makes La La Land differ from those golden movies of the past is that it lacks heart. I don’t have a problem with it creating a highly false edifice so long as there are some true emotions behind it. The problem is the story of Mia and Seb’s very modern romance doesn’t seem to fit within the reality the film tries to create.

2/5 Overhyped and boring. Nice background film for grandmas.

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