Skip to content

Guest Blog: Claire Farndale – No such word as ‘can’t!

Posted in Uncategorised

Claire Farndale is a Test Analyst for Northumbria University.  She’s also a wife and a mum – here’s her story of living with Cerebral Palsy:

So all my life I have had varying levels of discrimination because of my disability whether it be being picked last to be on someone’s team (because you are slow, or because you cannot catch) kids can be cruel to most recently discrimination in the jobs market but I always like to prove people wrong.

This ethos was instilled in me at a young age by my parents, who would always say there is no such word as “can’t”.  The doctors told my parents I would not walk and that I would not talk; my parents answer to this was to find a new consultant. My parents encouraged me to talk, so much so that I’ve never shut up since and I can talk the hind legs off a donkey!  Mam used to get me to play zippy (from the children’s 70’s-80’s TV show Rainbow; his mouth was a zip and could be zipped shut when he talked too much) I’m showing my age here!

As a child I was awarded the Edward Taylor Kelsey Trust award in Jarrow for my achievement in swimming and at senior school I was awarded the Lisa Anderson memorial trophy for all round endeavour; I guess if I didn’t have CP I would not have had the sheer determination to prove people wrong.

I never thought I would get married, I look in the mirror and most days I see Frankenstein staring back (all I see are scars from various operations) whereas my husband always says I’m beautiful and more importantly he has taught me not to take life so seriously. He is my rock and always picks me up when I’m down (sometimes literally when I’ve fallen over!). His favourite is when I’m driving and people stare at my handset (adaption to drive my car with one hand); he is like “blow them a kiss they think you are a supermodel!” which has me crying with laughter whereas 10 seconds earlier I was so self-conscious.

I was told it would be dangerous to my health having a baby – it has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done but every day is amazing, it’s funny how a slobbery kiss or peals of laughter make you forget your pain. Yes, I’ve had to be creative in how I do things, but I’m enjoying the challenge. I bought a changing mat that has a harness on to strap my active toddler in to help me get him changed and an old school friend pointed out “What will you do when he gets up and runs away with the mat strapped to his back?” Sh*t I never thought of that! Thankfully he hasn’t gone and done a teenage mutant ninja turtle on me yet!

Most recently I returned to work after maternity leave only to be told I was being made redundant after 16 years of service. My world was turned upside down and more discrimination materialised going for interviews. First contact – the dreaded handshake. As I don’t have use of my right hand I would always offer my left, then the questions would start – “Oh I didn’t realise what else can’t you do.” –   I’m left thinking, “erm really I did fill out on my application form which you obviously haven’t read.”  Anyway I don’t want to bore you as I could go on….

Thankfully my work life has been kick started again as I secured employment at Northumbria University in July. My managers Jack and Gillian have been fantastic, so helpful and understanding about my hospital appointments (I have them coming out of my ears) and it makes such a difference working for a disability confident employer. Yes it’s been hard leaving my little boy with my parents or in laws but I just want to make him proud.

Here is my list of perks of living with CP:

  • Work meetings come to me
  • I make people blush when I say we should all be French and air kiss when we meet people, instead of the inherited (Greek) handshake not sure how that would go down in job interviews!
  • I get free parking in my city centre
  • Fond memories of wheelchair race with my husband’s grandad along Whitby pier!
  • Getting into the cinema 2 for 1 – so only pay for one posh seat but get two at the Metrocentre!

What are your perks?

 

Comments are closed.