How much my walking frame helps me

My Nimbo Frame Martha
My Nimbo Frame Martha

Sometimes I think that I take the independence my walking frame allows me to have for granted.

I was chatting to a man in the train station the other day, and he was saying that my Nimbo frame Martha looked really good, and that the little seat on the back was a good idea.

He said that it was great how something like that could make such a big difference to someone’s life, or he assumed that they would. I told him that in my case this was very true because if I didn’t have my frame, I would find it really tough to leave the house on my own.

I wouldn’t fancy not taking my walking frame Martha out with me unless I knew that I had someone with me whose hand I could hold onto. I might be able to walk to the end of my garden, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make it to the end of my road without falling flat on my face.  Any unexpected dips in the pavement always run the risk of throwing me off balance. It doesn’t take much some days. I have a knack of falling over even when there’s nothing there to trip on. I know that I couldn’t get up and down the kurbs to cross a road.

Most of the time, I don’t even stop to think about all the things that I can do with Martha in tow that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise because I’m just so busy doing them. It’s only when I have these conversations with people that I take the time to stop and think “wow, it helps me more than even I realise sometimes”.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty that I don’t always take the time to stop and appreciate the impact that the walking frame has on my life, in a good way. I never really think about it until I explain it to others. I always like telling people about how useful it is, because it always makes me feel grateful.

As I’ve mentioned before, Martha is the first walking frame that I’ve had with a little seat attached. Before she even arrived, I knew that this would be a huge advantage for me, but I couldn’t have anticipated just how much until I started using it.

I’ve used it just to take rests as and when I need them, while stood talking to people in the street. I’ve also used it on the train when there are no other seats (standing up on moving things is always a challenge, even with the frame). There have also been times that I’ve used it to rest my shopping bags on while I’ve reorganised them all because it’s easier than having to bend down all the way to the floor.

It’s safe to say that I don’t think I could go back to having a seat-less frame anymore. Well, I’d struggle with at least. It’s helped so much that I will always make a strong case for having one when I have to get new frames in the future, although I know that this might not always be possible.

I don’t ever remember not having a walking frame at any point in my life, and I really don’t know what I would do without one.

Decorating Martha…sort of

My Nimbo walking frame that I call Martha
My Nimbo walking frame that I call Martha

It’s no secret that I love my walking frame Martha. I’m not sure that I could manage to get around outside of the house without her.

The only problem is that I can’t fold the thing up myself because she’s too big and bulky and I’d probably fall over if I ever tried. It’s probably not as hard as it looks once you know how it’s done. Just tip it onto it’s back legs, push the right buttons and it should just collapse.

However, Martha has lots of them on her frame so that you can change the height of each leg invidually, so if you don’t know which ones are the ones you’re supposed to press, it’s easy to get confused.

Martha's new stickersYesterday I knew that I would be taking a taxi, so Martha would need to be folded up to get her in the boot. Mum decided that to make things a bir easier for the drivers (and other people who may need to help me collapse the walker later on), she would put some red tape next to the buttons that you have to press in.

So, Martha has now been slightly decorated beyond all of the things that come stuck on by the hospital and the manufacturers. In the past I’ve covered my walking aids and wheelchairs in tinsel at Christmas time, or tied ribbons to them as mementos of holidays that I’ve taken. I don’t know if this is something that I would carry on with. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

 

Martha update

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about my Nimbo Frame Martha being in need so some TLC after her seat became quite stiff and she developed a squeak.

I haven’t really used her since then because following that post we had a lot of rain and then I wasn’t very well so I gave her a couple of weeks much-needed rest and used my wheelchair for a while.

My Nimbo Frame Martha
My Nimbo Frame Martha

Now that we are have loads of glorious sunshine here in the UK, I asked my mum to get out the WD40 so that I could see if that made her any better and it did! Her seat now goes up and down without too much trouble and she’s stopped squealing whenever we go uphill.

I just thought you’d all like to know.

Making progress, maybe…

There have been a few occasions now where I’ve blogged about getting butterflies in my tummy when it comes to using the bus on my own. I’ve done a bit when I’ve not really had a choice but I always worry about being able to get my Nimbo frame Martha on and off, and there being room for my walking frame on board and a whole host of other things.  I usually try and avoid going it alone as much as possible, but I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to just get over it and get on with it so that I won’t be so nervous anymore.  Well, I have some news…

I DID IT AGAIN!!

Yup, that’s right. And this time I could have chickened out and got a taxi, but I didn’t. Sure, my friend stood and watched me get on in case there were any problems and my mum met me at the other end just to give me an extra bit of confidence, but I did the rest. Well, for the most part.

I lugged Martha up and down the ramps and negotiated her into a safe position for the ride. A nice man did help me get the frame back out of the hole I’d wedged it and myself into when I reached my stop so that I didn’t have to struggle quite so much to do it. The important thing is though that I felt able to do it for myself, I just didn’t want to offend the guy by throwing his kindness back in his face, and, I’ll be honest, he did it far faster than I could’ve done.

The thing that surprised me most of all though wasn’t the fact that I achieved what I set out to do (get home in one piece), it was that those butterflies didn’t kick up anywhere near as much as they usually do. I’m not sure if that was because I travelled at a time of day when people weren’t trying to get their kids to and from school and most shoppers had already gone home for the day, or if it was simply down to the fact that I’m slowly getting more comfortable with getting the bus like I am already am with the train.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m seriously hoping it’s the latter.

The Betsy Chronicles

Betsy and I at my graduation
Betsy and I at my graduation

Before my blue Nimbo Frame Martha came into my life, there was Betsy. She was my silver Kaye Walker. I promised you all that I’d tell you all her story one day and now that day has finally arrived.  If you’re a bit confused and want to find out why I choose to name my walking aids, you can check out this post here. If you want to just hear more about my old one Betsy then grab some snacks, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you.

As I’ve said before, she was given to me the day before Christmas Eve in 2011 and went into retirement last month. Usually these frames last longer than that but she was given to me second hand. I didn’t mind. I got a new frame when I needed it and that was all that mattered to me. I was in my final year at university by this point was making an effort to do as much walking as possible so I made sure we had some good times before we had to go our separate ways.

I like to think of Betsy as my frame of firsts. She came with me on lots of work experience placements, was there on the first day of work at my last job and came with me when I got the bus by myself for the first time. This last one didn’t go so well. It’s safe to say that catching the bus alone is not my strong point, but that’s a story for another time.

Oh, and she will always have a special place in my heart for being the frame that I used to get across the stage at my university graduation, which for me was the most symbolical moment  of my life so far.  It was the moment that me, my family and endless physios and doctors had been working towards all my life to date. People said I wouldn’t, people said I couldn’t and others thought I was just too lazy and would rely on my folks to do it all for me forever, so I upped-sticks, moved away  and went on an adventure to prove them all wrong. In that moment, I knew I’d made it. We all made it, and Betsy was there every step (or should that be roll) of the way. For that, I will love her forever.

My new Nimbo Frame Martha
My new Nimbo Frame Martha

There are a few ways that the Kaye Walker differed from my new frame Martha, aside from the fact that she was silver and not blue. My Kaye Walker didn’t have a seat on the back. This meant that I couldn’t always sit down as much as I would have liked, but it also made the frame a lot lighter than my current one. It meant that my arms didn’t get as tired when I was using it (guess this means I should probably work out more, huh?) and that it was easier to lift it up and down kurbs, and for me to deal with every time I got the front wheel stuck in a pot hole (this happened more times that I would care to admit).

It also means that the frame is less compact and takes uo more room in the car  but it was all still worth it in my eyes. Like I’ve said before I can now take rest breaks as and when I need them, sit down if I need to take notes when carrying out interview and I’m guaranteed to have somewhere to sit. To me it’s totally worth it even if it does mean I have to grow some muscle and buy less shopping on my trips out. In the end it’s probably better for my body and (my bank balance) anyway.

The story of a girl and her wheelchair

Do you remember how I said in my first post that some days were better than others and that I sometimes need to use a wheelchair? I think if I had left the house yesterday I would have taken that with me and given Martha a day off. I knew before I even got out of bed in the morning that it was going to be one of my more awkward days when the Cerebral Palsy likes to remind me that I’m not Super Woman, but still, it wasn’t the worst.

Getting up on a Monday is always tough for anyone, but the first thing I noticed yesterday when I made the leap of faith out from under the duvet other than my usual urge to answer a call of nature was the knot of pain behind my left knee. I could tell as soon as I started walking on it that this knot was settling itself in for day so I popped the heating on (I seize up when cold) and took myself back to bed (any old excuse will do). I hoped that warming myself back up would make it go away. I was wrong. My back then decided to join in with the protest and starting aching like it usually does when I spend too long lying down and demanded that I move around. My leg, and by this point, my hip objected to this greatly. In the end I decided to give up, get up and heat myself up and wheat bag while the lot of them battled it out to see which one of them could irritate me most. I’m still not sure who won.

Although I’ve had my walking frame for as long as I can remember, I didn’t get my first wheelchair until I was 11. I refused up until that point. I can remember being in nursery school and vowing that I would never let myself have one. I even used to try sneak out into the playground without my walking frame sometimes. I never managed it obviously but excitement I got from knowing that I could try and be outside without it made the thought of a telling off afterwards worthwhile.  Yes, I am the first to admit I was a very mischievous little madam with no sense of danger back then. If I had managed it, in truth I would have probably burst into tears when the teacher and caught me, but I still like to think it would have been worth it.  I used to get up to these kinds of antics at home too when I’d launch missions to get upstairs without anyone noticing. We didn’t have handrails then so I wasn’t allowed. I’d usually only make it halfway up before I got stopped but one time I made it all the way to the top and managed to get into my Mum and Dad’s room. I was delighted and started started to look for a place to hide and surprise them later, only to be scooped up and carried back to the living room by Mum much to my disappointment.

Despite all my protests I knew deep down that when I started high school it probably wouldn’t be acceptable to take my major buggy with me anymore.

I was surprised to find that I didn’t regret my choice as much as I thought I would at the time. The chair (otherwise known as Louise) and I have had some fun times too. I still get the giggles when I think about the time one of her wheels came off while my boyfriend was pushing me down a hill (It’s okay – I wasn’t hurt so you can laugh if you want) and I decorate her in tinsel at Christmas time. It took me a long time for me to realise that getting her wasn’t a sign of deterioration like I thought it was, but a practical decision and I am proud that I managed to stop being stubborn long enough to see that.

Please, call her Martha

Martha and I
Martha and I

Well, I think it’s about time I introduced you all to me trusty counterpart Martha – AKA my very new, and indeed very blue, Nimbo walking frame. I know what you’re all thinking –pfft, she’s named it, why on Earth would she do that, nutter – well, I’ll tell you.

I’ve always had a frame for as long as I can remember but I haven’t always given them names. That tradition started with my last glamorous aluminium-assistant Betsy who sadly had to go to walker Heaven about three weeks ago after about a year-and-a-half by my side (I’ll tell you more of her life story another time, though).  Her name came about almost by accident. I was given her by the hospital the day before Christmas Eve and I was really excited because the last one was getting so wobbly that I couldn’t wait to get her. In my excitement I decided to announce to the physiotherapist that gave her to me that she deserved a name and that name would be Betsy.  Enough about Betsy for now though, let’s let Martha have her moment of glory first.

After a while, and many confused friends later, I decided that this should be a tradition that I would keep up.  After all, when you are a child you name the teddy bear that you carry about with you all the time and lose on at least sixteen occasions while you’re growing up, so why shouldn’t I do it? And, even though I’m not embarrassed by the fact I need a frame in any way, I think it sounds nicer to ask my parents if they’ve put Martha in the car rather that saying ‘did you remember to bring ‘the frame’”.

Giving her a name is great too because it helps get me out of trouble “Martha didn’t mean to hit your ankles Mum. She’s got PMT today and is very sorry, she won’t do it again”. My mum can’t help but laugh every time I pull that excuse.

It’s a great ice-breaker at parties too. When I say “I’m Nic and this is Martha” they usually look at me like I’ve had one too many, then ponder on it for a minute and offer up what their own choice of name would be in my situation. I think sometimes, it helps people who’ve never met me before relax a bit and realise that they can ask whatever they want about the CP, and that I’m probably not going to mind, as long as they’re polite about it.

As I said, Martha is very new to me but she’s also very special because she is the first walker I’ve ever had with a seat attached which makes all the difference. Now, I don’t have to worry about there being somewhere for me to sit so that I can take notes without falling over if I’m interviewing someone at an event, I can rest if my sister is taking too long to decide if she wants to buy that dress she’s been mulling over for an hour, and I never have to worry if there’ll be a free chair that I can use in the pub. It is these little things that make the biggest difference.

Welcome to my world, Martha. We’re gonna have a blast!