7 Day Wheelchair Challenge 2018
Day 1 of the wheelchair challenge.
So today was the 1st day of my life that I got to see what is an every day experience for a wheelchair user.
I went into this challenge knowing it was going to be hard... the parts I thought were going to be hard and the parts I thought would be straight forward I couldn’t of been more wrong if I tried.
So the day started with the school run, a challenging run with hills, roads and bad pathing.
Next was from the school to the archery range, this part I was most looking forward to, thinking it was going to be easy with a few downhill sections as I had planned the route out previously... this is where I realised that as a walker I took everything for granted, paths sloping from left to right or vice verse, downhills, curbs, people and many more obstacles.
Never did I know/realise that on these sloping paths you needed to slow one wheel down and speed the other wheel up, this was difficult at first as my first experience was up a quite steep hill so twice the challenge. Next was downhills, this is the part I was mostly looking forward to (the kid part of my escaping) but this again on these fine English paths was a challenge that could of and very nearly did result in an accident, nothing like the plain sailing I was hoping and expecting it to be.
Next was people, I was surprised by different ways people treated me. Some would seem to have not even noticed me, or would simply just stand in the middle of an aisle even though they had seen me coming towards them, it wasn’t that I expected people to move out of my way but as a common curtesy people move out of each others way when passing by. Some people changed their tone of voice when speaking to me.
The amount of building/shops that in this day and age aren’t setup for wheelchair access is ridiculous, today I couldn’t get into one shop in Runcorn Old Town and another I had to move a full queue behind me so I could reverse out of the shop as it was laid out so badly, there was plenty of space and I feel with a bit of disability awareness the layout could of been improved and this could of been a better experience for myself and the others. I also had one shelf stacker put a trolley in my path and walk off knowing that was the only path to the tills and another shelf stacker moved it out of the way and apologised before I reached it. This may of not been intentional but shows the lack of observation.
Don’t get me wrong, not everything I’ve experience today has been bad, I’ve had some great experiences today also, some people were really polite and helpful, some people telling of their experiences with either themselves in wheelchairs or them aiding others in wheelchairs. I’ve receive a massive amounts of support from people when I have told them the reason I’m doing this challenge and have wished me luck.
When I thought of this challenge I had an idea I would get more out of this challenge than the club will and just one day in and already I feel like I have more than I was expecting to experience for the week.
Just another 6 days to go and I’m both excited and scared... oh and did I mention my shoulders are aching like mad too 😩
Day 2 of the wheelchair challenge
Today started with a bit of pain in the shoulders from yesterday’s epic adventures, not enough for me to second guess if my challenge was too much though.
Started the day with the school run, a short but challenging trip, roads steep hill and a path badly damaged by tree roots. I managed to beat yesterdays time on this trip (not sure if it was me getting used to the chair or the kids walking quicker). It’s on this trip that my hate for dog owners that don’t clean up their dog foul came from... an experience that I wouldn’t want to ever go through again. On heading up the steep hill once you get to the top where the path meets the bridge, there is a big chunk of pathing missing and the front wheels struggle, having to lift the front wheels (wheelie style) and get up the remainder of the hill is challenging enough but then the person heading in the opposite direction decided they needed 2/3 of the path... this forcing me to turn mid wheelie and drive through the lovely pile of dog crap... being on the back wheel you can only imagine what happens next.... yup you got it... all over my hand... I was fuming not only at the person that had forced me nearly off the path but also for the lazy dog owner for not cleaning up after their dog... other than this, school run was a massive success with no issues.
Next was a trip to the range and I thought since yesterday’s trip was minimal in drama/issues I would try a different route through the town park, heading through Bluebell Woods I realised that I hadn’t been through there for many years, a great place to ride a bike though or walk... not the most ideal place to be in a wheelchair, the downhills were mossy and hard to slow the chair down as the wheels would stop but they would skid on the moss at the same speed... then came my biggest mistake of the day... after 3 good fast downhill sections I very quickly remembered that there was stairs on the bottom of the hill I was heading down... now I’m normally game for a challenge... but a challenge within a challenge is too much, I was riding solo today so any errors could of been dangerous, there was a stream, a bridge, 12 long (but not long enough to fit the chair on) steps and a very mossy/slippery path... no thanks... not for me today... so back up the killer hills I went to go back to the different route again. Climbing the hills with the moss on was hard, one wheel kept spinning in the same place meaning myself and the chair were facing a 20 foot fall into the stream... this was the only issue from today’s trip to the range, otherwise it was a great trip... shoulders still aching too. I tried a bit of shooting also and it wasn’t too bad apart from the shoulders aching.
From the range I went to visit my parents, they either need to move to somewhere that isn’t up hill the full way or I’m not visiting for the next 5 days 😂, managed to shave 4 minutes off my time for this trip.
Then it was time to leave for the school run... leaving the parents a little later than I had hoped to leave I needed to speed myself up for this trip, this is when the shoulder pain started around the half way point. Managed to get to the school after not being able to find a drop kerb so needing to add around 500 yards onto my trip (not ideal when in a hurry)
On heading back home from the school run I had my 1st fall (was my own fault for not remembering how far back the front wheels were) coming down the hill was fine, coming off the drop kerb was fine, the drop kerb going up the other side isn’t flush with the road and is raised about an inch, I lifted the front wheels to bump up it and dropped them thinking I was over it with the front wheels and misjudged it and over I went... was a little embarrassing but again, another learning curve.
Think that’s me done for outdoor adventures today as don’t want to cause an injury and have to end this challenge short, still got 5 days so best to be realistic about what my body can take in one day. This is definitely a lot harder than what I was expecting both physically and mentally.
Oh talking of injuries... my hands are a mess... potentially broken knuckle on the right hand (thanks to a doorway biting me), 2 knuckles missing skin and a blisters on the other hand one at the base of my thumb and the other at the base of the palm of my hand.
Lacking in photos today as like I said I was riding solo so didn’t have my photographer (Paula) with me.
Money raised so far
Facebook fundraiser - £135
GoFundMe page - £30
Offline donations - £20
Total donated - £185
Just under a third of the way to my target so doing good. Want to say a massive thank you to all that have supported and/or donated so far.
Day 3 of the wheelchair challenge.
Not a lot to share in today’s blog so will change it up a little and talk about me for a change.
So today the aches and pains are really kicking in, my shoulders are aching and my left shoulder feels like there is a strain or rip in my rotary cuff, it’s quite painful if I lift or move my arm, across my shoulder blades are feeling the use of them but not unbearable. I think I realised today that trying to keep up with my normal walking pace was not the best thing to be doing as my body feels rough and is clearly taking the strain.
After talking to a few people and explaining why I’m doing this, I’m now starting to understand why people said I was crazy for doing it for 7 days, but if I only would of done the challenge for 1 or 2 days then I wouldn’t of been able to truly experience life in a wheelchair, at least this way most of the things I do on a weekly basis are covered in my challenge giving me a better understanding of the requirements and difficulties of a wheelchair user.
Today was a much slower paced day as I didn’t want to cause any further strain on my shoulder, tomorrow I will get more miles in and hopefully the shoulder will have eased up if I slow my pace down a little.
When I was reading up on common injuries for a wheelchair user it seems this is a very normal injury to occur due to using your shoulder as it’s not intended to be used.
So today was Paula’s college half day and I was looking after Charlotte, some parts were tough, not impossible but just not easy. So we were at the range and lunch time happens, one of the challenges was to take the baby to a different part of the range and get her high chair, after discovering that feet and the footplate come in handy for this little balancing trick, this was one of the easier challenges. Nappy changes were a struggle as I am left handed and normally stand side on to the baby changer, this couldn’t be done as I couldn’t get the chair in place so I had to do the nappy change from the bottom of the changer and rendered my left hand nearly useless. Playing was easy as she loves being chased in the chair and riding around on my knee (she’s easily amused 😂). Putting her in the high chair was nearly a fail on my behalf as I forgot to put the breaks on and the chair was moving away from the high chair... once I remembered the breaks this wasn’t any more difficult.
Taking phone calls whilst pushing the chair.. that’s a crazy art form... headphones for future calls as saves going in circles.
Day 4 of the wheelchair challenge
So today was a great day in the chair, had a quick visit to the bike shop in the old town, only to discover I could only fit in the doorway but it wasn’t an issue as they asked what was needed and all was sorted so in terms of wheelchair accessible I would say both yes and no, more yes due to the fact that they are more than accommodating to help, but for browsing it would be a no due to the space taken with the bikes on display.
Next off to the range for a meeting and member sessions. Was quite a lazy day at the range and not too challenging at all, so I decided I would have a cheeky little shoot of my bow (it’s been a while) the issue I found with my bow was that it’s a little too tall to shoot from the chair and if it was a permanent thing then I would need a bow two inches shorter. Today’s shoot has given me the knowledge of what difficulties a wheelchair user may run into, also given me a better insight to equipment requirements for me to recommend when they are ready to purchase equipment.
Next was a visit to see the parents, so back up that beast of a hill (even though I said they would have to move down the hill before I visited again 😂), on my new method of slowing my pace down and not trying to keep the same time as my walking pace, this made a massive improvement to my shoulder.
Next I done the trek from Castlefields to Brookvale, an adventure with many different routes and many ups and downs and towards the end is an amazing downhill down the back of the ski slope. So I think if I continue to pace myself to this good little pace that I went today my shoulder should stop aching so much.
Had a great conversation with one of the club members who is also a wheelchair user and compared notes on my discoveries and it’s funny the things that I’ve discovered and a long term chair user has grown accustomed to, these I feel are things that no person should have to get accustomed to as they are both a challenge and sometimes a massive inconvenience, some of the things that we chatted about was disability ramps, how they are designed and place by the council and hated by wheelchair users as they are mostly too steep or too close to something that will block the run to them (a road, a car park space or just a pointless angle to get to).
When I started this challenge I wasn’t too sure if I was going to offend wheelchair users because I am an able bodied person imitating a wheelchair user to raise awareness and funds, However I am grateful that I have been given peoples respect and masses of support and encouragement from other wheelchair users.
I think I said this in my first blog about me getting more out of this challenge for me personally than the club could ever get monetary wise, after 4 days I can confirm this is true and more than I could ever of imagined. I have always had respect for anyone with any disability whether that be physical or mental. But what this challenge has done has magnified that respect with a little insight to what people go through on a daily basis.
I couldn’t be more in awe of every person that lives their life with a disability.
If every able bodied person got into the same mindset of the people living with disabilities even for just one day, to be able to see from their perspective, the understanding and differences that they could make to someone else’s life would be amazing, and it only take a little change to make a massive difference in someone else’s world.
If you are a shop owner, a restaurant owner, or own any business, what I would ask of you is when you next go into work, stand at your door and take a good look around, see if there is anything you can do with your place to make it more accessible for everyone, both into and out of the place. There is over 11 million people in the UK with disabilities, that’s the chance to improve 11 million peoples lives with one small gesture that could take you just a few minutes of your day.
Day 5 of the wheelchair challenge
Today was a challenging day, today was soft archery day with the little people aged between 2 and 8 for today’s session. Setting up was a bit of a challenge from the chair but thankfully it was all done on time, I set off and gave myself an hour to get to the range and set up, walking this wouldn’t of been an issue as it’s a 20-30 minute walk but in the chair not going to fast as to flare up the shoulder injury again I paced it and made it in 37 minutes.. the little people were great and were really intrigued why this week I was in a wheelchair.. after explaining to them they seemed to understand why I was doing it.
Challenged myself to another visit to the parents house for a bit of lunch and I have to say my new pace is doing me good, also had someone ask me if I was the guy off Facebook raising awareness for disability so that was amazing since I didn’t even know the guy, and another guy that was impressed at me getting up the steep hill without stopping and making a joke that I will have shoulders like a tank.
Today all in all I think I am at my happy place with the chair, kind of a shame that I only have 2 days left with it as I’m strangely enjoying it, yes at first it was really hard, but now I have found my pace and a good rhythm to push on the hills I’m actually a little gutted for it to nearly be over.
Today developed a new injury that’s been brewing for a few days and it’s on this stupid left side again... a full length blister down my thumb, I’ve realised why this has happened and today corrected it, but too little too late unfortunately.
Took some pictures from the height of the wheelchair today and the pictures I feel give a good feel for what we don’t see walking... also the beast of a hill that I have to do each day that I go to the range (taken from the top looking down)
Just 2 more days to push this goal and hopefully hit my target.
Tomorrow is the weekly get together for members so all targets out and running have-a-go sessions and a big beginners course so that will be interesting to be up and down the field in this chair... hopefully it doesn’t rain tonight as the chair isn’t as grippy as o would like it to be.
Fundraising so far
This page - £265
GoFundMe - £50
Offline donations £30
Total of £345 out of a target of £600
Should be a loads better blog tomorrow.. just don’t want these blogs to seem all negative so leaving this one here and finishing the day on a positive high.
Day 6 of the wheelchair challenge
Where do I even start today?
So today was the 1st full setup of the outdoor range. Thankfully there was Richie and his electric scooter to save heavy lugging up the hill with the trailer (don’t know how I forgot about doing this part each week).
So once the stands and the targets were up the hill I could help by lifting them onto the stands, to be honest I felt very restricted as I was very limited in what I could do from the chair. I decided I would see what other equipment I could get up the hill, so I took the stack of cones up balanced between my feet and knees for the slog of getting up the hill. The first part of the hill isn’t the worst, just the longest, there are a few tree roots along the way but avoidable mostly. The second part though is like climbing a mountain doing a handstand, hard on the triceps and shoulders.
Next was my beginners course, this was very interesting as I have 2 people at first and it was easy to navigate between them on the line as they were using lanes next to each other, my main difficulty was looking from behind as I was so much lower than what I needed to see, I needed to be shoulder height.
The second hour of the beginners course was a lot harder and more challenging as I had 7 people to teach. By the time they started shooting and I tried to get to see them all I wasn’t even halfway down the line and they had all shot, this went on for an hour and was really frustrating for me as a coach to feel I couldn’t do my role. Again the height was a massive issue and I had to ask for assistance off another coach to look where I couldn’t to see if it was correct.
Once the beginners course was finished it was the members shoot, helping one of the members shoot with a new finger tab I could see what the issue was with the arm holding the bow but couldn’t see what was happening with the hand under the chin so again needed to ask for assistance, for me this was very frustrating as I don’t like not being able to do something myself (not that I’m too proud to ask for help, I just don’t like being defeated).
Today I felt a little deflated as I felt I couldn’t achieve everything I was required to as a coach and needed to rely on others to do what I couldn’t... this has been a bitter pill to swallow, I have had some tough times though my days in the chair but none had made me feel like today did...
On the flip side of this, everyone I spoke to was commenting on how well I had done and asking me about the things I had learnt whilst in the chair... sharing this knowledge felt great... like I had achieved my goal and created better disability awareness... even if only a little and if it only changes how aware people who read this blog or have spoken to me in person then I feel this challenge has been a huge success. It’s made all the pain, missing flesh and the struggles worth it.
On taking the range down at the end of the session, I could help a little more than I could on the setup as it was downhill and easier to stack myself up and use the footrest for the target stands.
I think all in all, today was both a success and a fail for me... a success in that I found a lot more things that I couldn’t do due to me being very restricted in the chair with the difficulty on the grass and the steepness of the hill, but a fail in that I let myself feel down about things out of my control... looking at it now that it’s all happened I can see how easy it would be to get frustrated and depressed about things you used to be able to do but no longer can in a chair (I’m not saying this does happen, this is just my thoughts on this from my experience and feelings). I think the way people adapt to their disability to continue everyday life is amazing, people are so strong and I think sometimes that the extra strength is overlooked.
From my 6 days in a chair... this was both mentally and physically my hardest so far.
I have one day left of this challenge and I will be both happy and sad to get to the end of it, I’m not saying I am enjoying being in the chair, however I am enjoying the discoveries I am making each day and personal goals I am achieving.
There are parts of my own life that this challenge has made me look at, things like thinking I’m not good enough at something so not even trying it. This challenge I think has made me mentally stronger and taught me to be more patient with myself and also to pace myself (I mean I’m not getting any younger 🙈)
I will be happy to finish, to say this was an easy challenge would be the furthest thing from the truth, it’s been both physically and mentally draining for me and the people around me have been amazing in helping with the parts of my life I haven’t been able to do... BUT in just 25 hours time I will have completed the hardest challenge I have set myself so far in life.
Day 7 of the wheelchair challenge
So today is the final day..
Today I experienced a bus journey... only a small one but that was enough of an experience to tell me that the bus service just isn’t adequate for wheelchair users at the moment, don’t get me wrong, the driver went above and beyond... it’s the actual bus. The first bus was one of the gas buses which wasn’t too bad for space to turn and reverse into the wheelchair space at the front, the second one however was one of the new sapphire buses, seems to be a little tight to get the swing around the poles and into the space as took 3 attempts to get into the space as I kept hitting the chair or the pole, and these are meant to be the newer buses.
Not sure who actually reads these blogs but I would like to say a massive thank you to the Arriva driver of the 79c to Murdershaw at 13:15 today, who was amazingly helpful.
So we needed to go to the solicitors to get the newest version of the lease signed, it was difficult to fit myself, Richie and a pram into the reception area, it’s not really designed in the greatest way but we could just about squeeze in there.
There seems to be a massive amount of inconsistency on buses, some drivers only allow the 2 prams on and others will just fill up the spaces allowing 3/4 prams, maybe the answer to this issue is a bit of consistency from drivers sticking to a rule of 2 prams no matter that the situation, that way no one is getting pushed aside as the rule is the same for everyone, with 2 prams they can have a side each and shuffle together if a chair user needed the place.
Prams are a majority so there isn’t always room for a wheelchair user, I understand there are more children in prams than there are wheelchair users in Runcorn but if there hadn’t of been a circular bus that runs every 10 minutes and it had of been a bus that runs every 30/60 minutes then I would of been sat around as there were 3 prams on the bus. I’m not saying make the parent and child wait for the 30/60 minutes, I’m saying that maybe the bus service needs to think this one through a little more so it’s acceptable to everyone no matter their situation. No issues shopping in various shops today.
School run was fun, got to do that killer hill one last time and I destroyed it, had speed, skill and it looked amazing on video... like I was a pro chair user 😂
Next was off to the range to meet with the newspapers for a little photo and video session, hopefully if this gets into the paper it will massively boost disability awareness to many more people than my blog is.
(Oh did I mention I done my PB time from home to the range.... 2.3 miles in 34 minutes 😁)
One of the things I have discovered that I wouldn’t have even thought about is being in a wheelchair doesn’t only effect the persons in the wheelchair, but it affects the lives of others surrounding them (family/close friends).
This challenge/adventure has been hard work, it’s beaten my body in ways I couldn’t even start to explain, I have learnt so much that I can take away from this and other things that will give me a different look on life and a lot of changes/adaptations that can be done in the range to make it more accessible... there are a few thank you messages that I want to hand out at the end of this journey...
A massive thank you to Millercare superstore Warrington as without your donation of a chair for me to use, none of this would of been possible.
A huge thank you to everyone that donated or supported my along the way.
A huge thanks to everyone (friends/family) who have gone out their way to help me. I’d love to say I’d make it up to you... but you all know me better 😂😂
And a special thank you goes to all the people with a disability that have experienced Kyujutsu Archery Club, as you have given me the inspiration to do this totally unique challenge.
I could climb 100 mountains, jump from 100 planes, abseil down the tallest structure BUT none would have given me the insight into the cause I was doing it for and for that I am massively appreciative.
46,626 pushes of the wheels later and my time in the chair is done... not too sure on how many miles I covered this week but I completed everything I do each week so my guess would be that it’s around the 40-60 mile mark. My body no longer aches and I have kept a great pace today and yesterday. Funny as a lot of people mentioned that by the time I am finished in the chair will be the the time when I’m almost used to it.
I don’t think 7 days would ever be long enough to discover all the challenges that wheelchair users face on a daily basis but I hope my experience has given me enough Insight to make a difference to the clubs accessibility for everyone.
It’s definitely made a massive impact on my life.
What a perfect way to finish this blog with this amazing quote
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” –Christopher Reeve