Row hard, row fast

New Gym

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. So much has happened, but I’m not going to bore you with history.

Important information though it’s my birthday today!! So I’m feeling loved and supported, and all cozy inside.

Moving swiftly on, I was inspired to start writing again as part of an agreement with the Cambridge University Sports Centre was that they would give me a membership, if I would blog for them about my road to Rio.

I went to visit the gym, as it’s the only place in Cambridge which has a bench pull system which is essential for my strength and conditioning training. I was very impressed with the setup, lots of equipment, looking well maintained, clean, and enough space. The fitness suite looked good as well, nice and smart looking, plenty of modern cardio equipment.

I was delighted when they offered me membership in exchange for some random rambles by me!! I was also happy as Matt, who I used to work with at a previous gym is also there so can help support me as he’s done some rowing and is drawing up my S&C plan at the moment.

I also got to experience the classes and went to my first Pilates class yesterday. I always feel a bit awkward turning up unannounced with no warning about my mobility impairment. The class was really good, the instructor very welcoming, and as I have done some Pilates already I was able to adapt any moves appropriately, surprisingly my core was still pretty good. The time flew by, some classes you count the minutes, but this one seemed to move quickly. Even the leopard print leggings didn’t put me off too much 😉

Overall I’m very impressed so far, although it would be better if there were lockers in the accessible changing rooms.

I hope to return to blogging more often now, but that remains to be seen!!

Call of thanks

First of all thank you to everyone who has shared my fundraising campaign over at http://www.makeachamp.com/claireconnon I’m overwhelmed by the support and generosity of people so far.

As a public thanks to you all I shall have a roll call of all donators proudly on this page. So here we go:

Jet Spero
Sarah Gibson
Steph Caird
anonymous #1
anonymous #2
Phil Howard
Colin Bullock my first para coach
anonymous #3
Rosemarie Adams
anonymous #4
Caroline Kay
Ulrike Bauer
Alice
Claudia Catacchio
Julia Fischer
Julien Huppert MP
Tobia Smith
Amy-Alys Tillson
Colette Morgan
Toni Newman
Christine Micklefield
Rhonda Durow
I’m so grateful to you all, I can’t believe you’ve all been so generous and this is just in the first 24 hours of the campaign. I will do my best to honour my dreams and get that Paralympic medal. Every penny really does make a difference. You’re all awesome

Updated- sorry it’s taken so long to get you all listed.
Judith Weik
Anonymous #5
Becs
Caitlin
anonymous #6
Sarah Nixon
Ruth Brannan
Aleksandra Wlodek
Anonymous #7
Molly Smith
Chesterton Rower
Anonymous #8
Chloe Bousfield
Ulrike Bauer
Anonymous #9
Anonymous #10
Johnathan Stokes
The Lumb Family
Nines Rower
anonymous #11
Jill Drury
Anonymous #12
Martin Hartley
Jan Kvasnicka
Anonymous #13
Ben Marsden
Leah Carvell
Leanne T
Chris Barker
Maria Larcombe
Anonymous #14
Helen & Kurz
Edwin
Sally Bray
Anonymous #15

Sorry I got distracted with life and the list was growing faster than I could keep up with!!

Sarah-Jane
Karen Cresswell
Karl Hudspith
John Redos
Anonymous #16
Anonymous #17
Anonymos #18
Colette Milbourn
Alex Elbro
Anonymous #19
Anonymous #20
Rosie Black
Bethany Millar
Amy Bland
Anonymous #21
Anonymous #22
Anonymous #23
Linus Harrison & Grace Quantock
Anonymous #24
Alisa Benton
Anonymous #25
Lizzy Johnstone
Anonymous #26
Dan
Miss Pugh
Denise & Paul
Becki Luscombe
Girl on the River
Rachel Rowe
Anonymous #27
Monmouth RC
Pete & Jen Fuller Green
Linda
Tom Copeland
Matthew Byrne
Kathryn Hosfelt
James Holmes-Siedle
Susanne Hackenbeck
Louise Partridge
Mary Whitteridge
Lydia Stirling
Anonymous #28
Anonymous #29
Leonard Martin
Yasmin Amhed
Anonymous #30
Ying
John Seward-Lewis
Michael Gilmont
Karen Clark

That’s all 107 of you, plus there’s been a few offline donations as well. Thank you all so much.

Words cannot express how much your generosity means, but I am spurred on by your support.

Well it’s been a while

There’s no real reason I haven’t blogged, other than lack of time and nothing much to say.

Let me start with the traditional January pleasantries (when exactly is it late enough in the month to stop saying these?!)

I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and a happy new year. I wish you a healthy and fun filled 2014.

Okay before anyone asks my Christmas and New Year were memorable for many of my family whereas they’re completely forgettable (forgotten technically) by me.

The tale starts the 22nd, when we decide due to bad weather I’d drive up that night. All good and fine when I eventually managed to leave at 20:30 for a 2:30 drive. The next day is spent uneventful (for once), until I realise that having come up early I didn’t have enough of my anti- seizures medication to cover the whole period. Trip to the chemist the next day “oh, sorry It’s a special order, we can’t get it in time”, so being sensible we go to the local hospital, who thankfully can supply it after a long wait, but we weren’t urgent, so I’m not complaining, I’m just grateful they were so understanding. They had to go to the other side of the hospital to get some though as it was a specialist drug. So all sorted, ready for Christmas.

Right?!

Wrong. I wake from a nap, coughing and coughing and getting more and more breathless. This is where the fun began. I phoned 111 who insisted on sending an ambulance. I’m sure emergency docs would have been fine. Except my body decided that having a seizure as well would be extra fun. Had that treated and managed to escape just before midnight. Apparently I was quite entertaining as I was rather full of drugs and insisted to my mum that I could walk, to which she replied, no you can’t now sit down!! That was me told.

Christmas Day I don’t really remember much of, I was suffering the after effects of the night before. Had dinner did all the usual Christmassy things and then had another seizure, apparently I spent quite a lot of the night in resus and was looked after by a cute doctor (dammit why do I have to be unconscious when the hot doctor is around?!) woke up the next morning very confused as to why I was in a hospital bed. Had multiple seizures whilst there so don’t remember much other than them feeding me mostly baked beans as that’s all they had that was dairy free!! I wasn’t allowed home until I was 24 hours seizure free. Managed it and got home, only to have another seizure, so back I went. Had the same paramedic both times, which was handy.

On the whole I was treated fantastically, received good care and the doctors tried their best for me. Nobody knows why I had so many as usually I only have one, could have been a virus, they don’t know. Given they don’t Know for sure what causes them it’s difficult. I’m hoping the neurologists will shed some light on them ASAP. I’m grateful they’re not epileptic as that would be much worse, but they’re still far from ideal.

I managed to get back down to Cambridge the next day. Upon which I was sent to A&E as there were concerns that my retinal tear had got worse. Assessed the next day in emergency eye clinic. Thankfully no worse and should be safe without treatment phew!!

I thought that was it, until New Year’s Eve, I partied hard- we painted a friends house!! But then the coughing started and I became breathless: got home and rang for help. Due to 111 not being perfect they put my lack of proper breathing down as low priority!! Poor paramedic was not impressed although worryingly we remembered each other from a previous visit!!
It was a long night in A&E not that many drunks, but it was very busy. I think it worked in my favour as I was actually put on a ward round so saw a specialist who was quite helpful and I saw a respiratory nurse which was handy. I was admitted for the day and let out late that evening.

It’s been fairly quiet here since thankfully, other than a bit of grumpy asthma still. I’ve got a busy month with specialists, but hopefully things are going to start moving forward.

I’m in the process of sorting out changing to Direct Payments from a care agency. An agency who have been an absolute nightmare and I’m garnering the energy to put in several complaints about them. I’ve got two PAs lined up, but no funding as Social Services messed up the admin so I’m stuck at the moment especially as the agency are terminating my contract. So I’m at risk of having no care for a while, which is not going to be good for me.
Why do we have to fight for such basic things? The ‘care’ agency debacle is definitely worth it’s own post, which will be done soon I hope.

How did I get here?

rowrowyourboat

I try not to spend too much time in my own head, but a few conversations I’ve had recently have caused me to do some reflecting.

I recall a Paralympian being asked

Did you always dream of being a Paralympian?

Their response

No, not before my accident!!

Nobody born healthy plans to be a Paralympian, let alone disabled. It certainly wasn’t on my career plan at any age. I grew up, like so many, with no indication of what lay ahead for me. So how did I get here? Could I have done things differently? Would an earlier diagnosis have improved my prognosis? There are so many questions you can ask, but does it really matter now? I’m where I am and I’m going to make the most of it I can. Do I blame anyone for what’s happened? Was it my fault? Blaming anyone isn’t going to help, pent…

View original post 1,043 more words

How did I get here?

I try not to spend too much time in my own head, but a few conversations I’ve had recently have caused me to do some reflecting.

I recall a Paralympian being asked

Did you always dream of being a Paralympian?

Their response

No, not before my accident!!

Nobody born healthy plans to be a Paralympian, let alone disabled. It certainly wasn’t on my career plan at any age. I grew up, like so many, with no indication of what lay ahead for me. So how did I get here? Could I have done things differently? Would an earlier diagnosis have improved my prognosis? There are so many questions you can ask, but does it really matter now? I’m where I am and I’m going to make the most of it I can. Do I blame anyone for what’s happened? Was it my fault? Blaming anyone isn’t going to help, pent up anger is only going to expend precious energy, and nobody is perfect, we are not infallible. All we can do is learn from any perceived errors, and try to ensure they’re not repeated.

I write the rest of this from a position I’d become relatively unaccustomed to. I’m back in hospital after an emergency admission, just waiting to get my discharge letter.
Last night was a very long and drawn out procedure, including being told I could wait six hours for the OoH’s doctor, when the EMT who arrived first on the scene quickly identified that I couldn’t wait that long. Whilst we waited for the paramedics we chatted, amongst things he said that I must have done all the

why me? Why did this happen to me?

But in reality, no I didn’t. I was too busy trying to live the best life I could and as someone else once said,

why not me? What makes someone so special that they can avoid their share of difficulties?

I’ve now escaped hospital, after one of my more traumatic hospital experiences. The nurses were fantastic, I was looked after really well, but the actual situation was quite unnerving.

Anyway back to the original point, I’ve known from a very young age that I was different. I didn’t do the same things other children were doing. I never really fitted in, but because I was succeeding at school, (I was fortunate to have a strong interest in academia from very early on) nobody really paid much attention to my social interaction and other difficulties. It certainly made things more difficult as I went through school, but would having a diagnosis in childhood made things better? Or would it have just segregated me even further? I suspected in my teens I had Aspergers, but I didn’t know how to pursue it, and debated whether I wanted to be labelled, when I was having a hard enough time with the bullies on a daily basis.

I also remember being in pain from about the age of five. I particularly remember doing a vault at gymnastics and my knees made a huge cracking noise, which sent pain rushing down my legs. It was always passed off as growing pains, and I spent a lot of time with various bits of me strapped or in tubigrip. There were so many signs that there was something going on, like ‘spraining’ my wrist using a cookie cutter. That ‘sprain’ turned out to be a tear in my scapholunate ligament, which took doctors about 10 years to actually do something about. I was fortunate to be referred to a fantastic plastic surgeon in my early twenties who realised when he could manipulate the bones independently there was clearly something wrong. I owe so much of my hand function to him. As the tear had been left so long other problems had developed, including a thumb joint that spent more time in a dislocated position than it did in place. There was also the time I fell off an inch high curb, and tore ligaments in my ankle- that was a pretty lovely looking bruise!! These are just a few of the incidents. Warning signs were missed, none of my dive or gym coaches questioned all the strapping and injuries that in all honesty I couldn’t explain. I was identified as hypermobile, but that was it. I was doing sports that welcomed flexibility so I guess they weren’t too worried. I guess I do feel a bit let down by them, they just kept pushing and pushing, and didn’t worry that I got pain from doing any high board work. I hope situations like that now come under welfare concerns.

In general I was passed off as clumsy and a bit of a hypochondriac. The GP was fairly useless, we turned up in an emergency as my knees had completely locked straight after being outside for a fire drill. His response “don’t go out in the cold”, very helpful(!). I bumbled on like this for years, spending a lot of time in pain especially with the aforementioned wrist. I used to get in trouble at school as my writing changed style regularly, but it changed dependent on pain and strapping positions. Exams were a nightmare, so much pain whilst writing essays, but I was a case of ‘suck it up, and get on with it’. I passed them all and eventually started university.

I could spend time wondering if things wouldn’t have reached this stage had there been an earlier diagnosis. Instead I realise that the lack of any diagnosis from either aspect taught me to be resilient, determined, physically and mentally tough, motivated and generally it has caused me to be who I am, for which I’m grateful. The skills it taught may never have developed to such an extent had I not been through the situations I’ve been through. I honestly don’t know if I would change how I did things as I could have ended up being a very different person, and I’ve kind of grown to quite like me.

University brought more problems- I took up rowing, which my knees didn’t really agree with. I later discovered they were maltracking which was causing the pain. A physio put me back together on regular occasions, and again identified hypermobility, but said the knee pain was because my bones had grown faster than my muscles, so my knee caps weren’t sitting quite right. He diagnosed me with a few things he could tell I’d had previously, but still nobody took me very seriously. I learnt the art of strapping joints in place with tape, and that was it really.

Things started getting a lot more complicated when I went back to uni for my second year, a chapter of my life which was the beginning of the 5 years I spent with a misdiagnosis.

That however is another long story, but as I said originally none of this was in the plan, but nobody has a life that runs to plan, if they tell you they do, they’re lying!! We all have our obstacles to climb and hurdles to get over, some are just bigger and more plentiful than others.

Disaster zone

I’m known for breaking things, but seem to have taken it to a new level recently. I’m currently in the VW van centre, getting my van looked at. It’s randomly losing power which is not very helpful. Hopefully it’s nothing too major and I can get it fixed quickly and get back home.

My powerchair still remains broken, I need to get that chased up, dragging myself through the car is really not good for me!

Manual chair is fixed though. I replaced the brake myself and with some fiddling, have managed to get it so it is working again. That’s one to me, 2 to inanimate objects.

The final major failure is my rowing seat, I’ve broken one weld and completely sheared through another bit. It needs to go back to the seat hospital. So now we need to change the seat and rails back to my old ones, which aren’t as good, but better than nothing.

Update: managed to get my chair fixed, which is rather handy. Does mean the rails have to be changed again tomorrow, but never mind!!
Car isn’t a VW fault, they believe it’s the alternative ignition that came with the hand controls. Phoned the relevant company who were adamant it wasn’t anything to do with them, until I mentioned what the guys at VW said, then suddenly it was possible it was to do with them!! They, however, haven’t rung me back so need to chase them next week.

I went back home on Thursday afternoon, until this evening. Was a nice change of scenery. Ready for a hard week of training, as I’ve been selected to row for England next weekend, assuming there is still a race. I haven’t heard much so not sure what’s going on. Fingers crossed it’s happening, I loved it last year. It’ll be good to see where I am, and where I need to be for the National Championships in October.

I’m also rather excited as I’m going to see Ash on Tuesday night, (definitely worth skiving off one session to see them!!).

Marlow & beyond

Marlow Regatta, for me nearly didn’t happen. Having come down to the area the night before, to ensure I was on time, relaxed and ready for it, none of those actually happened. My Sat Nav has gone on a holiday and appears not to have found its way home again, so I was relying on printed directions. I left at 9:30, for a 15 minute journey, I eventually got there at 11:10, having had to send someone to let race control know I was on my way. You wouldn’t believe the number of ways you can get lost in Slough!! Thankfully I found a vaguely helpful gentleman, who pointed me in the right direction.

The consequence of this, was that I was wheeling around at high speed to get boated in time. I just made it to the start line in time, but I wasn’t at all prepared mentally, so my race was pretty poor. I finished third and then was approached by someone from BR, who congratulated me. I was a bit surprised by that, until he explained that they hadn’t realised that two categories were racing, and that I’d actually won my event!! Sadly no medal, but I was presented with the winner of the other category’s medal, then had to give it back, but they’re going to get me one engraved and sent out to me.

I was meant to finish this entry off before I went to Henley Women’s but it didn’t quite happen. HWR was a fantastic experience, although it would have been even better if we’d had more para-rowers. I’d had some coaching by a different person between Marlow and HWR, and I was pleased to see the technical changes we’d made, I managed to produce on the day. I was the only entrant in my category, so raced up a category. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I was determined to do my best. I had a good start, on which I built, and managed to lead for the first 400 m, but as the wind increased, the difference between being able to use just your shoulders, versus the whole of the trunk, became very evident. I dug deep though, and I had nothing more to give at the end, so I can’t be disappointed with my race. It has given me things to work on, which is a good thing, especially so early in my rowing career.

I had to try and hold a coherent conversation with the umpire until we got to the landing stage, who wanted my thoughts on the event, para-rowing in general and a bit more about me. My main thought was, I’m tired, and cold!! Can’t remember what I actually said, but she seemed happy enough with my responses.

I think that’s the main races done for me for a while. There’s the National Championships, but they aren’t until October, so will probably do a few local regattas with my club in the mean time. Other than that it’s mostly training for now. Well, when I can avoid hospital appointments. Not sure how I’ve managed it, but I seem to have loads of tests at the moment, and appointments all within a few days of each other. Not my favourite past time!!

This morning the fun is radioactive egg, with toast and jam. I’ve only got an hour left. I’ve had 3 or possibly 4 scans so far, each an hour apart, so I’m quite bored!! I nearly escaped the last one, if my stomach was behaving, but there’s still quite a lot of the food left, so I’ve still got one more scan. Time has been passed talking to the other girl, who is also having the same scan. I’ve been abandoned now though. The most trying bit of the experience was having to eat the jam. I don’t like jam, let alone jam with seeds in it *shudders* seeds are a big problem for me, I’m terms of my ASD, so I’m kind of proud of my success!!

Tuesday I spent an hour trying to sleep in an MRI machine, whilst also following instructions, multitasking at its finest!! I’ve got two London consultants to see in the next 12 days and a dermatologist up here. I’d been working so hard to cut down on the number of appointments, and don’t know how I’ve managed to end up with all of these.

Right time to go and do something useful, or procrastinate until it’s time for my outing!!


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