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Guest Blog: Thomas Talbot – My Racerunning Story

Posted in Accessibility, Cerebral Palsy, Cerebral Palsy Sport, Disability Aids, Disability and kids, Disabled Access, Family, Racerunning, and Uncategorised

Thomas Talbot is 13 years old and has Cerebral Palsy – it hasn’t stopped him from becoming a successful international Racerunner. Here’s his story. . .

My story

Picking up my new RaceRunner

Hi – my name is Thomas. I’m 13 years old and I live near Lincoln. I am an International RaceRunner and I have cerebral palsy. I have to use a walker to get around and I sometime use a wheelchair if I get tired.

RaceRunning is an athletics discipline with a three wheeled trike and no pedals. Athletes can run on the track or use it for therapy.

I first discovered RaceRunning when I went to watch a Cerebral Palsy Sport athletics competition in Gateshead in August 2013. There were two RaceRunners competing and I was absolutely captivated by it. It looked such fun and looked like it could be something I could do. The boy that was racing was just like me – using a walker and I just loved the look of it. I badgered my Mum about it for some weeks about it after that!

My 2015 haul of silverware!

I went to a Cerebral Palsy Sport taster day in February 2014 and tried it for the first time. Wow – it was so exciting and I loved the feeling of being able to run without my walker. Then I went to a couple more taster days through 2014 and I told my parents I wanted my own RaceRunnner which we fundraised for and in April 2014 I collected my very own RaceRunner.

I don’t think at that time I knew where it would lead. The physio I had then kept saying that she thought I was getting a little stronger by using it and all I knew was that I loved doing it and it was better than painful physio.

I competed in my first RaceRunning competition in May 2015 in Manchester and then competed the whole season in different places including the CP Nationals. I won four events for Under 13’s and I was also awarded the Colin Rains Trophy for endeavour in my first season. I also won my District Young Achiever of the Year Award in 2015.

European Championships 2016

Sadly I had to have a big hip operation in January 2017 and I was in a hip spica for 6 weeks as they took some bone from my leg and grafted it into my hip. For all those days in the hospital and then recovering at home, all I wanted to do was be back on the RaceRunner (and also watching my beloved Manchester United). During my recovery we worked hard to build up strength as I have quite a leg length difference and this meant hydrotherapy as well as painful physio. But thanks to a good friend I got to see England and Manchester united play football!
I wasn’t able to compete this year until September and I really missed my friends. When I returned back to track racing at the Nationals, I won four golds in the Under 16 age group and nearly beat most of my PBs. I did not expect that!

The RaceRunnner helps me move so easily when I am on the track. I can run with the RaceRunner but can’t do that as easy with my walker. It gives me freedom. I use a chest plate and back strap so my physio also says it helps with my posture and the strength around my middle. I just love to run!

I train two to three times a week in Lincolnshire depending on homework and also what competitions are coming up. If I have training or a competition at the weekend I only train twice in the week.

European Championships 2016

I’m hoping to be selected to go to the CP World Games in Spain in 2018 and represent England. I have made the long list so really crossing fingers for final selection. I was too young when it was in Nottingham in 2015. To be selected – well that would be fab!

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family and friends. I’ve made so many friends who are just like me and I don’t feel quite so alone. I know when I get to the track or at a competitions I’m going to see them and enjoy having a laugh with them…as well as racing. It has made me much fitter since I started RaceRunning.

I feel much better about myself and more confident. I have made a lot more friends and love spending time with them at the track. I think it has made me believe in myself abit more. I am much more outgoing than I was before I started RaceRunning and I like going to different places to compete. The trip out to Denmark as an England team was awesome and we did have lots of fun!

Challenges of a Disabled Mum: The School Run

Posted in Accessibility, Cerebral Palsy, Disability Awareness, Disabled Access, Disabled Parent, Education, and Family

How the time flies! It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was breastfeeding and watching my little boy learning to walk. Now, he’s just started school and I’m just like any other mum doing the school run every day.

Well, not quite. The school run can be stressful enough but add a wheelchair to the mix and stress levels go through the roof! Luckily, Jack went to nursery school last year so he loves school and has settled into Reception brilliantly. But the rush of excited children and their parents has made the morning drop off quite difficult. Particularly as the route to Jack’s classroom is through the nursery area and the door had been propped open with a box of toys, limiting the width of the door!

However, I knew the school were very supportive of me so a quick email sorted out the door issue. Now to just try and drop little man off without running over any little toes! I try to get to school early so that we’re first in and at least I can say goodbye to Jack and then very slowly make my way out, facing the stampede of children!

I try to leave Jack at the classroom door as if I do go in, I find it difficult to manoeuvre around and watch for little people, who don’t yet have an awareness of me!! Then I try to find a quite space to let everyone else pass, before leaving the building. By the time I get home, my nerves are shot and I’m just relieved to have done another successful drop off without incident!

There’s no answer to this, children are children and it’s on me just to be very careful. But I do wish I had eyes in the back of my head!

Challenges of a Disabled Mum: Capturing Memories

Posted in Accessibility, Cerebral Palsy, Disability and kids, Disability Awareness, Disabled Parent, Family, Motherhood, and Personal

It’s something most parents don’t even think about. Quickly grabbing the camera to capture your child’s first of something is what every parent has done at some point. Indeed, my hubby has thousands of pictures capturing everything from Jack’s first taste of sweet potatoes to his first attempt at writing his own name.  Each are being kept safely for the day he brings home his first girlfriend!

But for me on my own, it’s not so easy to capture these precious moments, though I do my best. By the time I get my phone or camera out and then steady myself enough to take a decent photo, the moment is often lost. On Jack’s first day of school nursery, Jack very nearly threw an understandable tantrum as I begged him to keep still, click after click, until I managed to keep steady enough.

 

 

I was therefore very touched at a recent Mother’s Day assembly when another parent kindly offered to take some videos and photos of Jack and send them to me.  Each child had to stand up and say a line about why they loved their mummy and it was a moment I wanted to focus on (pardon the pun!) rather than be worrying about recording it.  I was able to laugh as Jack told the whole assembly that I “put on her lipstick and then she dances!”   Two things I definitely never do but a moment to treasure forever, none the less!

Thanks so much to the parent who was so thoughtful and enabled me to just enjoy a wonderful Mother’s Day assembly!

 

Challenges of a Disabled Mum: Finding support & information

Posted in Cerebral Palsy, Disability and kids, Disability Awareness, Disabled Parent, Does it wet the bed?, Family, Motherhood, My writing, and Personal

Before I became pregnant with Jack, I wanted to see a medical professional who would be able to advise me on the impact that pregnancy might have on my condition, Cerebral Palsy. I wasn’t naive, I knew it would be physically tough but I wanted reassurance I suppose, that it was possible and I wanted advice on the birth. Would my spasms and general movements make a natural delivery difficult?  Would I be able to have an epidural if I wanted to? Most of all, I knew what I wanted – reassurance that the events of my own birth, which caused my CP, wouldn’t repeat themselves. I knew it was unlikely, I knew there were no guarantees in life but I also knew talking to a professional about my fears would at least help in belittling them.

But despite asking my GP and searching online, I couldn’t find anyone who seemed to specialise in supporting disabled mothers. Eventually, we decided to go private and booked an appointment with a Harley Street Consultant in Obstetrics. He specialises in high-risk pregnancies, though thankfully he assured me that I wasn’t high-risk at all!  He assured us that a natural birth would be entirely possible and that my CP shouldn’t impact much at all.  He said an epidural shouldn’t be an issue and even recommended it. We were left wondering why we’d troubled him at all!

Nonetheless, it was just what I needed to hear and shortly after that appointment, I became pregnant.  At this point, I began looking for other types of information and support.  I wondered how I would cope with feeding, dressing, changing nappies and though I was aware of a couple of other disabled parents, panic set in!  Just how would I manage?!

But again, finding information was absolutely fruitless. It was as if disabled people just didn’t have children, like it wasn’t normal. Most of the support I found was for parents of disabled children and not the other way around.  I emailed the Disabled Parent’s Network but never received a reply and their website didn’t really provide much insight into the practicalities of being a disabled parent.

When our gorgeous boy finally arrived, I still wasn’t exactly sure how I’d do things but with the enduring support of hubby, I was determined to find MY way and in fact, it’s amazing how quickly and instinctively I learnt. I wore holes in all my jeans pushing Jack around the house in his moses basket because I couldn’t lift and carry him.  As he got bigger, my knees continued to suffer as I carried him short distances whilst walking on my knees!!

Although I developed my own ways, I still think it would have helped my confidence to talk to other disabled parents and chat about how they manage. That’s why I wrote my book and started this regular blog – even now, there needs to be much more awareness of disabled people and what we’re capable of.  We should be sharing our stories, good and bad, in order to support and encourage each other.  And as always, society as a whole needs to be more aware, as many people have been very surprised to learn that I’m a mummy!

If you’d like to share your story as a guest blogger, I’d love to hear from you!

Challenges of a Disabled Mum: A to B

Posted in Cerebral Palsy, Disability and kids, Disability Awareness, Disabled Parent, Family, Motherhood, and Personal

I knew when I fell pregnant with my son that motherhood would present more challenges to me than most and the thoughts about how I would cope gave me a few sleepless nights. I knew that I wouldn’t be the same as other mums, that I’d have to think creatively to overcome my disability in motherhood.

My hubby was amazingly supportive and even when I doubted myself, he refused to believe that there was anything I wouldn’t be able to do. His stance gave me so much confidence and from then on, we’ve focused on the solutions and ignored the problems.

Most parents have a pushchair at the top of their shopping list but that wasn’t even on our list. Two sets of wheels don’t work.  So to ensure I could get out and about with Jack, albeit never too far from home, we brought a baby harness which strapped to me and worked really well even though I was sat down.  It wasn’t perfect as I still needed help with all the clips but it at least allowed me to visit family and friends and take Jack for short walks. Jack loved riding on my lap and I called him my little joey!

 

Jack soon grew out of the harness and I had to look for other ways of getting us out and about safely. For a while, I strapped Jack on to my lap using the wheelchair seatbelt, which was long enough to go around us both.  Hubby also brought us some reins but we found that they were too short – if Jack stopped suddenly or fell over as he sometimes does, he’d be in danger of being caught by my wheels.  We had to give him more slack, so reluctantly, we replaced the strap on the reins with a much longer dog lead!  It meant that Jack could go further ahead of me and I’d have more time to stop if needed. I told you we had to think creatively!

More recently, as Jack is now at school nursery and approaching his fourth birthday, I started to feel that Jack had outgrown the reins.  Most mums, by now, would just be able to hold their child’s hand but there’s still a risk that Jack will run into the road and being in a wheelchair, it’s not that easy for me to react as quickly as other parents.

So we’ve now invested in a wrist strap, which finally allows me to “walk” holding Jack’s hand but gives me the security of knowing that he can’t run off! I can’t tell you the joy I’ve experienced, holding his hand in mine, just like any other parent and I think it’s probably something that we all take for granted.

Being a disabled mum isn’t easy – it took me about 20 minutes last night just to put a clean duvet cover on Jack’s bed! – but I wouldn’t change it for anything!