Sunday, February 2, 2003


Wow! January came and went with real fury, didn't it?

Here in the UK we had terrible floods ongoing from Christmas and freezing temperatures which then brought the first snow of the year!

Now you all know what snow brings with it! Yes! Slippery roads, slushy pavements and if you're disabled, days and days of staying in 'cos you're too frightened to chance breaking your legs or hips on the ice! Mind you, some of us stay in anyway, whether the weather is clement or against us! Why?! Because we don't like being seen using sticks, crutches or worse still, sitting in a wheelchair! It means we are not in control anymore, have lost our independence!

For me, this was the worst obstacle of having MS to overcome. The pitying looks, sad smiles meant to comfort, friends not knowing quite what to say! Well! I found a way of coping with this! If I was going to be disabled, whether slightly or severely, then the aids I would have to use would be as lurid and garish as I could make them. People would definitely see me coming!

At first I used a walking stick so I painted it in bands of luminous orange, green and yellow! Their first Christmas saw them decorated with bright red tinsel and baubles - you couldn't help but notice those!

As I became less able, my crutches invited themselves into my daily life! So my husband Arf bought lots of bicycle stickers - one said " Orange Psycho Biker!" - and we plastered them all over each crutch - you'd be surprised how many people stopped me to have a closer look!

The crunch came when I had to admit to not being able to walk far enough with these customised crutches - they were OK indoors or for short walks around a store but for the majority of trips outdoors, I either used my chair or didn't go out at all! Became a hermit!

So! Off my Arf went into town and then disappeared into his garage - I say 'his' because I have a space in it about the size of a bathroom cabinet whilst the rest of it is filled with the car, of course, and a model railway, shelving full of every screw and nail you could wish for and gardening tools which must have seen Queen Victoria at least once! I heard Arf shout my name and I staggered to the patio door to find my wheelchair had it's very own bell taken off my old bicycle and car number plates in yellow and black! SAND 1E One for each side of the chair - at least it was part of me or I was part of it! No more hiding for me!

We went to a fete and a lady shouted "Hello Sandie!" and I waved back - not having a clue who she was! Then another person did the same! I suddenly realised they had seen my number plates! I smiled a radiant "Hello" back and actually blushed! Yes! Me! I blushed!

What I'm trying to suggest is that if you're disabled in any way - flaunt it! Don't hide behind it! Be creative - use anything to make your aids just that bit different - as long as it's safe! They are part of you and as such show your personality!

Go on! See how good you feel!