>101 in 1001 – Item 34…

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Spend one day a month away from the computer for a year

…has been completed!

In a lot of ways I have enjoyed this one.  Being away from the computer makes for a lovely break.  Sure, I love the internet and computers for a lot of things.  And my life would be harder in several ways without it.  The computer and specifically the Internet are huge huge time sucks for me and not always a good thing.  So a forced break from everything once a month has been a very good thing.  I will still try to do this but I’m not sure at the moment if I want to keep it at once a month or not.  Maybe that will be my aim but not as strict as I have been.

I won’t list everything I’ve done on my computer free days, mostly because I haven’t kept a list and I don’t think I can remember!  But the first day was last July when I went to see We Will Rock You in Birmingham with two uni friends (the first time, thought I’d better specify that seeing as how I went back in September with two different uni friends).  And the last was Wednesday just gone when I went to London, to the Tate Modern with mum.  Not all of the days have been days out, some have just been ordinary at home doing errands type days, it’s been a real mixture.

>101 in 1001 – Item 75…

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Go on a random day out

…has been completed!

I wasn’t really sure what would constitute a random day out and was thinking about ticking that one off after my day out in London yesterday (went to the Tate Modern with Mum) which is something we were talking about on the train home.  My mum reckoned as that was planned it shouldn’t count and she suggested the day before was a better one as it was more spur of the moment.  I wasn’t convinced it counted as a “day out”as it was very in and out darting around different places.  So then I suggested that maybe what I should do was ask her or one of my friends to plan a day out for us and not tell me anything about it – that would certainly be random.  However she said if I asked her to do that she’d just take me to her house!

So anyway I think I will go with this being ticked off.  And go with Tuesday.

Tuesday I was supposed to go out with a friend but she wasn’t well and cancelled.  I knew Mum was heading over to the next town which is somewhere I haven’t been in a few years, so I called her and invited myself along.  To be honest there isn’t much there and I’d forgotten how bad the paths etc are.  But I did wheel myself all the time either solo or with help.  And we parked miles from town.  Coming back I spotted a few spaces a bit closer and sat and waited for mum to bring the car there.  I also ended up getting blisters on each of my thumbs, making my need for new wheelchair gloves even more definite.  We also bumped into an old friend’s mum (my mum is friends with her mum too) and chatted a bit as well whilst walking into town.

I had a bit of a wander around about two shops and then bumped back into mum sooner then planned.  We sat on a bench while she had a snack and I had a drink.  All I bought was my drink and some plasters to cover the blister like holes in my thumbs.  I took photos of them but I won’t share them.  Then we went into two more shops where mum bought two books for herself and one for me as a treat (although the only reason she got two was they had a “buy two get this for 99p” and we both thought the second sounded good).  Then we came home.

I pretty much transferred straight into my powerchair and went back out.  I went down to the arts centre to book priority tickets for a few shows as the booking opened that day for member.  I got tickets for Mitch Benn and The Distractions, Chris Addison and Alun Cochrane.  I also took my netbook with me and sat in their cafe bar with some chips and a j2o and did some writing.  I wrote 600 some odd words.

Popped into Sainsburys very briefly for three things (and came back with just those!) then came home and went sailing a bit later.  Ended up as there was a spare boat and light conditions that instead of going out with his usual buddy one of my friends went by himself (as I do now) and his buddy also took a boat out.  We randomly all ended up sailing around together like we were sailing in company.  It was a lot of fun, especially when I overtook them both!

We ended up getting home a lot later than usual but that was fine.  It was a good night – and a good day as a whole too.

>Down 2

>This is liable to be relatively quick, I’m going out around 11 and I want to get my gear for sailing sorted before I go so I don’t have to do it when I get back (likely to be flying in and back out again).

I did manage to exercise everyday this week apart from yesterday. And I really pushed the water.  When mum and I were out at a show on Saturday night I just drank water, I didn’t have any wine or J2O or anything else despite wanting it and I resisted asking Mum to get me a snack when she went to get herself one!!  Plus, when I made flapjacks yesterday I only ate one and didn’t touch the mix when it was still in the bowl. So I think I can say I’ve got the snacking down too.

It was definitely worth it.  I’m down 2 and a half pounds this week.  Total weight loss is now a tiny fraction of a pound off of a stone and a half since (21lb) since February!!  I’ve also lost all the weight I put back on in the last couple of weeks and am at my lowest again. Which means – virgin fat to lose next week! Woop Woop!!

>A Refreshing Experience.

>I’m having a couple of weeks of from some of my regular responsibilities and activities.  A bit of a staycation if you will.  I’ve got several very fun things planned including some very long days out.  I’m also doing some bits I’ve been meaning to do for a long time (like today I did some baking, and I synced my iPod, removing some music and putting a load more on) and having a bit of a chillax.  I spent a while this morning working out some of the train journeys I’ll be making and then rang through to book the assisted travel.  I need to work out two more at least as I haven’t sorted next week out yet but know that there’s a NaNo meet up on Sunday and I want to go shopping one day.  But three days worth at once was my limit.

I said to the guy that I had several journeys on several different days to sort out and I thought they would be complicated to do.  He said “Probably not.” and I didn’t believe him because one of the journeys I’ve only done once before and sorting it out was an absolute nightmare. From here to Reading and then change at Reading on to the local stopper to London Waterloo. There are trains direct to London from here but I’d have to go on the tube and that’s not doable not least because last time I checked the tube station at Paddington has step free access within it but not into it. And it seems like where we want to go is walkable from Waterloo.

Anyway, last time I had a bit of an argument with them as they tried repeatedly to arrange for me to go via Paddington as “their computer wouldn’t let them book it that way.” and then when I went to Milton Keynes a couple of years ago the same thing happened when I found a route which avoided me needing to change trains in London, with them quoting the same rubbish and also trying to tell me the tube was accessible and I should trust them (amusing as on the website it says its not!!).  Both times they found a way but I had a feeling we were heading towards a replay.

So I’d geared myself up for it. I’d decided that if they were really difficult I’d ask to speak to a supervisor and that one of the points I’d make would be this: Able bodied people don’t have to justify their choices for why they want to get a specific train so making me do so was discrimination (I do realise that by saying “you could go this way” they’re being helpful and I appreciate that but seriously when I say “I know but I want to go X anyway” don’t argue with me).

And it all worked out completely fine. He had absolutely no problem with booking that way and when I said I’d had trouble with that sort of journey before he said that the system doesn’t like it but you just need to force it to do a through Reading route (I found it only by search for from Reading to Waterloo direct services only than then working back to what time I’d need to be in Reading).  Plus there were no problems with either of my other journeys, wheelchair spaces were available on all reservable trains and he called me back with the reference numbers once he’d got them rather then me hanging on.

How very refreshing!

>The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

>I was asked to review this book for WHSmith.  I found it quite hard going and didn’t manage to finish it which I’m a bit disappointed about.  This is the first of the books I’ve had to review that I didn’t finish.  I would be interested to hear what people think about the disability aspect I mention below.

My review:

This book has a really interesting premise and I was looking forward to reading it.  Unfortunately I didn’t find that it lived up to that and as such wasn’t able to finish reading it.

It is well written and several of the plot strands are very interesting and draw you in.  However they switch between them very suddenly and I found that I kept getting lost and confused by what was happening.

I also found the use of “combat autism” that one of the characters turns on and off at will to be inappropriate. The idea works well in the story but calling it “autism” isn’t right and perpetuates a bit of a of a negative stereotype about disability and autism in particular.

Having said all this, I do think this book is worth the attempt at reading, it just wasn’t the right books for me. I would however be interested to read more by Hannu Rajaniemi, as it is clear he has talent.

>Slipping a bit.

>This week I am up two pounds.  Which is a little disappointing although I’m not really surprised either.  This past week probably hasn’t been the best it could have been in terms of healthier eating etc but it wasn’t horrific either and I’m still not drinking Coke or eating Chocolate so that’s definitely something.  To be honest I was probably due for a bit of a blip around this time because I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for 11+ weeks now and I probably need to shake things up now.  In a way I’m surprised I haven’t plateaued a bit before now.

Plans for this week are to really push the water as I’ve been drinking a lot of squash, ribena and diet lemonade lately. Try to use Just Dance everyday (I love that game so much and am really pleased that Just Dance 2 is coming out this year!) as I didn’t really manage that this week.  And cut down on my snacking.  I don’t snack anywhere near as much or as often as I used to but it is creeping back up a bit if I’m honest.

And speaking of honesty I must admit that I am fed up and stressed out at the moment.  After tomorrow I have a pretty good break coming up for the next two and a half weeks (which I’ll blog more about tomorrow or Thursday) and I have to say it’s very welcome.  As I walked back from the bureau yesterday all I could think was how good it was going to be to chill for a while and take it easy.

>Been There, Done That

>I’ve been writing a piece about a woman in a wheelchair over the last week or so.  Basically, we’re doing a creative writing anthology in the class I go to. The tutor wrote an opening to a story, the premise of which is that this woman owns a haunted mansion and offers £1 Million to anyone who can last an entire night in there.  We’re all writing our own versions of what happens next.

And as soon as I heard about that idea my first thought was “that sort of place probably wouldn’t have wheelchair access”  I took that idea and ran with it for my part.  Writing it gave me fits but it’s pretty much finished now, just needs a decent edit and I might write a bit more of an ending.  I gave it the title of “Unreasonable Adjustments” which, as I mentioned before,  I absolutely love.  I might stick it online when it’s done or I might not.  Depends what I decide to do with it really.

Anyway at the class on Thursday we each got a couple of people’s opinions on our piece.  Three people read mine and I got some useful feedback.  Although strangely I’ve since reread it and picked up on a major mistake which none of them pointed out.  I did get comments about how it helped them to get into the head of a wheelchair user and see what it was like.  I also got told by one guy that he loved my humour and sarcasm and that it was “very Bridget Jones”

I didn’t write it to help people see what wheelchair users experience or anything like that. And I never set out to be funny, I rarely do deliberate humour in my writing.

I wrote about

Needing to ask pointed questions about whether you can get your wheelchair in the disabled loo and does it have grab rails – because I have found ones before where you can’t.  Or where you can but you can’t shut the door.  Been there, done that.  And later on in the story Claire my main character discovers things aren’t as they were described.  Been there, done that as well. Unfortunately.

About disabled loos being kept locked and staff not knowing where the key is. I haven’t had that one but I carry my radar key on my house keys and I have been asked in places to open it for them because they’ve lost theirs.

Looking for the loo before you’re desperate because it takes time to find it and all the other stress that can go with it.  Been there, done that.

Staff not knowing that they have a disabled loo despite others saying they do have one when you ask in advance.  Been there, done that. In fact at one of my schools a staff member once asked me where the disabled loo was because she had a visitor in a wheelchair and didn’t know.  What gets me about that was it was they knew in advance some of the people coming were in wheelchairs.

Wheelchair access being around the back, by the bins or otherwise out of sight.  Been there, done that.  Too many times to count!!

And about finding people having sex in disabled loos.  I just noticed that one of the people who did a crit for me has written “good humour, one hopes it isn’t based on personal experience” by that bit. And you guessed it, been there, done that.  Once.  And hopefully never, ever again.  Although I didn’t actually see anything thankfully…

Yes, a big plot point does revolve around disabled loos.

I can’t help thinking however that this might show them “what it’s like to be in a wheelchair” from their point of view.  But from mine it really doesn’t.  I don’t know what it would take to show that in a story and I’m not sure I want to try.  This piece might be fiction and it might be a lot of fun.  And I’m really pleased with how it’s come out and especially with the feedback.  It’s a huge part of my life that highlights however.  And a part of me does want to go “this is my life!!” and make them see the bigger picture.

But I don’t think I will.  Because that’s a route which often leads to pity and guess what? I’ve been there, done that.  I don’t want to do it again!!

>You know you’re a writer when…

>…you get lost in writing and forget to have dinner

or the long version:

You know you’re a writer when you have a great idea and a fantastic title for your part of a group anthology (that we’re doing in creative writing part).  You get stuck on the how, write the beginning (takes two weeks) and then spend a week trying to figure out how to make what comes next work.  Two hours before the class you figure it out and start trying to get it down.  You do get a rough first draft done but you get so lost in the writing you don’t eat dinner.  Instead you have a quick and very small snack while running out the door.  After the class you then go to the new restaurant in town for drinks and decide to order a small glass of rose and a more substantial snack.  Which turns into them bringing you a large glass of rose (twice as big as what you ordered) and a not as substantial as expected snack.  And as you rarely drink you end up feeling kinda buzzed despite drinking water as well as wine.

It was ALL very fun though!

And the title of my piece? Unreasonable Adjustments.  The anthology is basically a starting piece that our tutor wrote and we’re all doing our own version of what happened next with our own characters.  And I’ve thrown a wheelchair user into the mix, and a setting that isn’t very wheelchair friendly.  DDA requires businesses etc to make “reasonable adjustments” so I thought Unreasonable Adjustments was the way to go.

The tutor commented at one point that not everyone has given their bit a title.  I just went “I’m not getting rid of my title, my title rocks.”

>Well, I never would have guessed!!

>So I’m finally seeing the Dr tomorrow to get my blood test results and discuss what needs to be done about the whole screwy periods thing.  Apparently the bloods I had done last year didn’t show PCOS so now I’m really confused.  Hopefully this lot will show something useful.  I want answers.

Must admit I’m a bit nervous about it but I do realise that if my results had been totally worryingly bad I’d know by now most likely.  It doesn’t help that I’m not seeing my GP.  Have been trying to get an appt all month with her with no luck.  And have also been asking to see a female GP if not my one (more women then men at my surgery).  But no luck with that either.  Finally I gave in and said I would see any of the GPs and they fitted me in with one of the male ones, giving me a choice of two.  I’m not that bothered really, I’ve seen him before and I didn’t really take to him but he was nice enough.  It’s not even really the subject matter that bothers me I just figured if I did need to see someone I don’t know well then a woman might be easier.

It does make me mad though.  First I had to go through a ridiculous process to get an appt which will eventually have gone on their statistics as having been arranged within 48 hours of requesting it per their policy despite the fact I’d been trying to do it for two weeks and it was the 5th time I’d tried to do it.  And what about the right to request care from a female GP?

Anyway, I’ve just been googling various bits about it so I can be prepared with questions I need to ask etc.  One of the things I wanted to check was contraindications for the Pill because I know I can’t take it and I don’t want to.  But it is one of the usual treatments for this sort of problem so I wanted to be clear on it.

The very first thing on the webpage I read was “Not to be taken by pregnant women”

Yeah, I never would have guessed that!!

Did make me giggle though 😉

>Hindsight is always 20 – 20

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Image description: Badge which says Healthy You Challenge 20 pounds gone! It has a star in the background with the text over it and underneath is a red stripe with scalejunkie.com written on it in white. Colours used: red, brown, light blue.

Down 3lb from last Tuesday which means I have now lost a total of 20lbs since 22nd February this year!!  I’m so pleased!!  If I’d known how good this would feel I probably would have gotten started sooner.  But I’m not beating myself up because I know that a lot of this is happening and happening so easily because I’m doing it at the right time and I’m determined.  Hindsight, and all that.

It’s late and I want to go to bed (I’m aiming for before midnight every day this week) so just two points quickly

I am still off of all coke and chocolate.
I went swimming yesterday and used Just Dance for a workout this evening.  I hope to continue daily exercise this week.