My Journey into Public Speaking
1 Weekend, 1 Leg, 50 Miles of Running
Growing up, I had a very difficult time relating to others and was never truly able to gain inspiration from others. I had a very difficult childhood, consisting of multiple operations, very difficult family members and multiple types of abuse – all of which lead me to a very dark place.
Struggling to relate to others, I somehow grew strength from inside and continued to persevere through some extremely difficult times. It certainly wasn’t easy however, now I have come through the other side, I see the importance of being able to be a role model for others and inspiring them to achieve.
Runner's Anxiety is Real but Manageable
Surprisingly, I never feel ready for a race. Whether I’ve broken my collarbone or my stump is sore, I never feel ready for the upcoming run. Despite not feeling 100%, most of the time, as soon as the adrenaline kicks in, I never seem to notice the niggles and my body tends to hold up.
I suppose niggles are just a part of a runner’s life. Here’s how I pushed through those niggles to achieve 30 miles at Europe’s Toughest Mudder and two standard Tough Mudders in one weekend:
That's One LUSH Stump!
Your heart is pounding, you're sweating and you haven't even started running yet. You feel a pit in your stomach while butterflies work there magic inside of you, eating away at any confidence left - these are all very common feelings for an individual with runners anxiety. So what is runners anxiety and what can you do to help manage it?
Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
What's better than feeling you're looking after your diet and exercising? Looking after your skin and physical-wellbeing obviously! As amputees, we are very accustom to sores, rashes, sweating a variety of other problems that stumps/residual limbs just seem to attract. Overall, my stump is very well-behaved and I'm able to wear my leg all day, every day but this is after trialling a range of products that really work for me. As an employee of LUSH, my product and ingredient knowledge has allowed me to recommend the following products.
From Obstacles to Obstacle Racing
A few weeks ago, I asked my Facebook followers whether they felt that individuals are still being discriminated against for their disability in the workplace. Out of the 166 respondents, a shocking 89% answered 'Yes.' So with 19% of the adult working age people being labelled as disabled in the UK, why is the community still facing such adversity?!
My Ten Shockers of Nepal
Until last year when I started walking, I was never a runner. Even as child before my chronic pain condition started and I was using my wheelchair, I was never a runner. I remember at a school sports day, I must have been about 8 years old and the other children were already at the finish line, as I approached the halfway mark. As the teacher blew her whistle and shouted our commands for cross-country, I would immediately feel a sense of dread. So how did I turn from a child that was unable to even run away from the word ‘running’ to an obstacle course runner?
An LGBT Amputee in Nepal
As a well-travelled individual who has also grown up around a highly populated Nepalese area, I had some clear expectations of Nepal. To my surprise, I was shocked by some of the sights and facts of my travels and here are my top ten shockers:
An Invitation to Buckingham Palace
As my adventurous spirit was begging for a new experience, I decided to take a trip to Nepal with my partner. With only the flights and accommodation booked, we decided to take things as they naturally occur and plan a day-or-two in advance – a very different approach to my standard two-monthly plans. I normally run my life, driven by my hectic yet enjoyable schedule and have to allocate time for spontaneity.
As an amputee, I worry how other cultures will react to my prosthetic and me as a tourist in an LGBT relationship but here's what I found:
Where do All my Right Shoes Go?
Following on from my Duke of Edinburgh speech at St James' Palace, I had received very positive feedback and was invited back to be a guest presenter at Buckingham Palace for not only one but two presentations!
Gecko XT Trail Shoes: A Review
With only one foot that wears a shoe, what happens to the right shoe? Although I do have the opportunity to wear a pair of shoes if I am not using my Blade XT, most of the time I only require a left shoe. Do I have a cupboard just full of right shoes? Do I only keep pairs of the shoes that I think i'll wear regularly? Do they fall into a black hole to be lost forever? Do I have a shoe buddy or do I just donate them?
Discovering my Life Values
Often after an obstacle race, there will be a trail of shoes leading to the car park where participants have clearly worn inappropriate shoes for mud, obstacles or general trail routes. Last season, I searched high and far to find a shoe that was versatile, strong and comfortable. I felt as though my search was impossible but then I came across the Gecko XT trail running shoes.
Over the past 4 weeks of having my Gecko XTs, I have run over 65 miles and conquered over 100 obstacles but the shoes are still standing strong. With no sign of wear or tear, I strongly believe that these will be the longest-standing trail shoes that I have ever had.
Spartan South West Volunteering & Running Review
Values help us decide what is important in life and where our priorities lie. They help us to differentiate between two alternate options but with so many to choose from, which ones fall into my top 5?
I met yesterday with one of my mentors from the True Athlete Programme, where we worked together to find values, and the meaning of those values. We discussed how values naturally change over time and they can be used as a tool to measure how well you're sticking to your life plan.
Fortunately, the values I discovered can form the acronym B-HELD, with an aim for me to be held up through these values. Here's what they stand for:
Wheelchair User to Marathon Runner - One Year On
Having recently received my 20th Tough Mudder last weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to venture out into different OCRs. Spartan races and Tough Mudder have always been rivals so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give one a go - the South West Sprint. I signed up to volunteer initially for the free swag and race pass so spent the Saturday volunteering and the Sunday running. Here's what I thought of volunteering and running:
Adaptive World Judo Games & Ben Van Der Eng Memorial Tournament
If you would have told me in April 2017 that I would be running the 2018 London Marathon, I would have never believed you. This time last year (mid-May 2017), I had just received my first walkable prosthetic leg, following my amputation in late 2016 and started to walk with two crutches. It is with great pride that I am able to say that I have completed a marathon: and here's how I did it:
What is CRPS?
My preparations for the World Judo Games were somewhat limited due to my difficulties in accessing training. My Judo training sessions had temporarily been put on hold due to my other commitments and training requirements. Nevertheless, I packed my bags and flew off to Amsterdam. With competitors from all over the world, including Brazil, Sweden, Finland and USA, I was incredibly excited.
Riu Touareg Hotel Accessibility Report
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, CRPS, is a very misunderstood and under-diagnosed condition which causes debilitating pain. Doctors often search for answers through multiple medications and procedures while patients search for relief. Having suffered with CRPS for about 13 years before my amputation, I can promise you that it is not a condition that is to be taken likely. It affects your energy, mood and often leaves people in such a confusion and distressful situation.
Flying as an Amputee
Beautiful beaches, fantastic scenery and sunshine galore but how accessible is the Riu Touareg Hotel in Cape Verde?
Cape Verde is a beautiful set of islands to the West of Africa. As an independent, Portuguese speaking country, Boa Vista is the largest of the islands and is home to the Riu Touareg Hotel. The hotel itself has 1151 rooms, an adult only section (which admittedly I did not enter) and a large selection of staff, able to assist or entertain you.
Exploring New Sports as an Amputee
Cabin pressure, security procedures, luggage and simply knowing where you’re going – all standard issues when flying but these are even more difficult when travelling as an amputee. The good news however is that you are able to bypass a lot of queues and get through security quicker, as well as free priority boarding for you and a few of your travel companions.
In the past 2 weeks, I have boarded 3 plane flights, varying from 6 to 10.5 hours. With my international European competitions, I have also encountered very short journeys and have encountered the same issues. I have flown as a full-time wheelchair user and also as a fully ambulant amputee and they each have their own unique access needs.
Searching for Adaptive Individuals
Another week has passed and I find myself still exploring new sports and enjoying my career as a full-time adaptive athlete.
Finding and discovering a new sport as an amputee can be very daunting but also extremely rewarding. It's difficult to find clubs that are able to cater for your adaptations and confidence is needed to join an able-bodied club but it does host a whole load of benefits.
As many of you know, I am very passionate about inspiring others to achieve their dreams. Last year, I organised for a chap to be pushed around the Tough Mudder course with my Mountain Trike wheelchair and I am pleased to announce that I am looking for more adaptive individuals to inspire. It's my aim to show an adaptive individual round every UK course this year so let's spread the world and inspire others together.