Those who know me will tell you that I often snigger when people ask me to sponsor them for tasks that I would find easy.  It’s a flaw of mine – as a disabled twenty something, walking on a crutch and living with chronic daily pain, I find it a little offensive when someone that I know who has no health issues and leads a perfectly ordinary life (I’ve seen them out clubbing) asks me to sponsor them for walking 3 miles. I know I shouldn’t, and I know it’s very very naughty & damn right bitchy of me – who am I to judge other people?  I call it disability-snobbery … or just damn right snobbery!   Especially as, give the person a health problem of some kind and I’ll leap to their defence and say how inspirational they are for over coming their society-imposed constraints – cause lets face, 90% (an opinion not a stat – I’m probably very wrong, it’s just a feeling I get from talking to other spoonies) of disabled people will say that is society that prevents them from doing things, not their actual illness!

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So today I’m going to be a hypocrite – I’m going to ask you sponsor me for something that may or may not be a challenge.    Starting today I will be taking part in the Aspire Channel Swim 2016 – challenge to swim 22 miles over 12 weeks to raise money for a charity that helps those suffering from spinal injury.

It’s a cause quite close to my own heart – I have never suffered spinal injury (unless you count a wealth of lumbar punctures that have gone wrong) but I have had spinal reconstruction – and skull reconstruction if you want to be really pedantic about it.  I have suffered from a neurological condition for pretty much as long as I can remember (I apologise if you already know all of this and please do bare with me – I don’t talk about my illness all that much so not everyone will be aware).  I’m going to skip the gruesome teenage years (they were mostly hell – too ill to go to school & undergoing surgery after surgery so I spent my days arguing with imbecilic personal tutors who felt it was okay to switch my mock GCSE exam on the day – her name was Dot and she was more than Dotty).

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Aged 18, when they thought my condition (Arnold Chiari Malformation – where you’re brain herniates into your spinal column and causes all sorts of havoc) had worsened enough that I was potentially going to lose the use of my legs, I underwent a surgery that (for the most parts) stops you getting worse.   As I’ve said, I was 18; I recovered quick and became their wonder kid!  Not only did I not got worse, I got better!  My legs came back, my balance (still shaky) improved, and I began to live a normal life.

You see, it’s possible (for some) to recover from spinal injury or spinal surgeries – the advancements in medicine have helped (more than helped – have you seen the quadriplegic playing guitar hero after they implanted a chip in his brain and hand?). But another factor in the number of people making remarkable recoveries is from the help and support they get from charities like Aspire – charities who encourage and support, who organise physio, counselling, support groups for those directly affected by spinal injury as well as those related to the injured – the wives, husbands, partners, daughters, sons, parents.   I know myself that some of the biggest support I received in my own recovery was from friends and family and that a lot of pressure was put on them, more sometimes, than on myself.   They need someone to turn to – without a doubt.

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That is one of the reasons I have decided to take part in the Aspire Swim the Channel Challenge.   The idea is to hit the swimming pool for 12 weeks and swim the length of the channel – that’s 22 miles.   Now, I am a swimmer.  I spend a lot of time in the pool – it’s the only place I’m remotely graceful  or coordinated (and about the only form of exercise I can do with head, neck, or back pain).   So I want to challenge myself:

  1. for my own good – to push myself and give myself some focus as I’ve lost that of late
  2. to show that people with spinal problems (and disabled, visibly or otherwise) are capable of pushing themselves and doing more than what society expects of them
  3. to honour those whose recovery are greater than mine own – to honour the sheer grit and determination that it takes to overcome spinal trauma of any kind by pushing myself with grit and determination.

Because of this I plan to swim the 22 miles in 4 weeks – that will mean swimming 1.3 miles a day between today and the 9th October.   It’s going to be further complicated by the fact that I’m working away a lot and will not always have access to a swimming pool. I’m going to have to push myself, to swim when I’m tired and cranky – to swim after a gruelling 6 hours travelling, to swim at 6 am so I can get in a mile before work.   After all, why not challenge yourself for a worthy cause?

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I’m aiming to raise £500 for Aspire and I really hope you will join me in this challenge – I’ll be posting updates to my Facebook page and will check in in two weeks time to tell you how I’m getting on.   If you were feeling up to sponsoring me – then my Fundraising page can be found via the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/charli-2016-channel-swim-9337

Every penny donated will go to helping someone with a spinal injury so every penny is gratefully recieved!

C xx

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