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!
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).
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.
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:
- for my own good – to push myself and give myself some focus as I’ve lost that of late
- 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
- 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?
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:
Every penny donated will go to helping someone with a spinal injury so every penny is gratefully recieved!