For Andy's christmas present I bought, in conjunction with 2 friends who were buying for their other halves too, a wheelchair climb for 'up @ the O2'.
Initially we were offered a date in May but we couldn't find a suitable one between the three couples so we asked the O2 to put us back on the list. We were then offered the 12th September, which also happens to be mine and Andy's wedding anniversary - this year being 18.
The climb started at 10am and we had looked at booking overnight accommodation in London but this presents many problems including needing a hoist, which most hotels don't have, a pressure relieving mattress, which most hotel don't have, a profiling up & down bed, which most hotels also don't have. Plus we would have to have accommodation for the day staff to sleep overnight and the night staff to sleep in the morning. So we decided that we would go up in the morning instead. (These are harsh reminders of our new life and its limitations which I struggle to cope with)
Going up on the morning wasn't easy either, for Andy it was a 4am start and for me it ended up being around 4:30am. We were aiming to leave at 6am to travel to Greenwich for 9:30am. The first hiccup was leaving at 6:20 instead. We made good time until Swindon when we hit traffic from a road accident, we then hit a 2 hour tailback on the M4 and at this point there was no option other than keeping on going. My satnav wanted to take me via central London - crazy, stupid idea!!
I went the M25 instead and caught up most of our time only to hit more traffic on the M11 into London, but we did eventually get parked up, by mistake in disabled parking at North Greenwich tube station about a 2 minute walk away from where we had to be.
Upon arrival we were suited and booted and taken to the start point. Andy was in a sporty wheelchair that had a trike wheel put on the front of it to allow it to be tipped up, lifting the front wheels. The trike wheel was so tight fitting I did wonder if we were about to stumble at the last hurdle and not achieve our goal of getting up, but with a bit of jiggling of Andy's legs we got it in and then Andy was rigged up and pulleyed up the rubber canvas that we were walking up, that the ITV weather girl had walked up to present the weather report a mere 3 hours previously!
When we got to the top we were unhooked and allowed to move around and get a 360 view of the Greenwich area, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, the Olympic area to name a few. Then we made the descent.
On the ascent Andy had gone first, facing forward and on the descent he came down backwards and last in the line. It felt steeper on the descent than the ascent but we had another excellent view but I don't think Andy did so much!
Once back on the ground we unbooted and unsuited and went and got momentos and then lunch. Then we made the long journey home, stopping for a break along the M40 and worrying when Andy shouted "STOP" on the M25 but apparently he was dreaming!
It was a really good day trip out and I would highly recommend this for anyone but in particular for disabled people as they were so accommodating and helpful, and had the facilities to make it work. the staff who pushed and pulled andy up couldn't of been more helpful, biggest shout out to the guys at #upattheo2
Andy Blagden is a young man, married to Charlotte and has 3 children; Lauren, Katie and Nathan. (The children were 12, 9 & 2.5 years old at the time of diagnosis).
Andy was diagnosed with a tumour in his spinal cord in June 2013. The tumour was at spinal level Cervical 3 going down to Thoracic 2 (C3-T2). This is incredibly high up the neck and the only option was to operate. This in itself was not without risk but after a 15-16 hour operation the tumour had been removed. The outlook was good. Then Andy became ill....
Early September Andy contracted pneumonia and then sepsis, Andy's kidneys then failed and he was put on constant dialysis for a month and required a blood transfusion during this time.
Andy came through all this but he now lives with the consequences; paralysed from the shoulders down and unable to breathe without ventilatory support, this is his ongoing story of rehabilitation with the goal of getting back home to his family and his future.
Friday, 23 September 2016
So the summer holidays arrived and I must admit I did feel a dread to it. I wasn't sure how we would keep 3 children entertained as well as learning to live as a proper family with a 24/7 care package.
Well, we made it through the summer holidays and have started back at school with no issues. We have had some day trips out as a family, the kids have been busy - Katie especially. And, most importantly, I think we have begun to settle down into our new life.
Some of the activities we got up to as a family or individual components within the family are:
- Going to a book signing in Milton Keynes of Lauren's favourite 'you-tuber' Tanya Burr
- Going to the treetop climb at Salcey forest
- Going for a date night
- Going to Bristol zoo for an evening opening
- Going to Symonds Yat butterfly zoo
- Going to a 'maize maze' in Worcestershire
In amongst these I had work to go to still and the kids had various childcare arrangements, such as staying with either grandparents whilst i was at work.
Katie went to two camps at the Tom Roberts Adventure Centre, of which Andy is a trustee and my parents manage. Lauren did the catering at the second camp too.
I had a week off work and took Nathan away to Brean Sands, camping for a few days, which he really loved and I enjoyed a couple of days away.
All in all, it was a good summer holidays but i am glad that normal service has resumed:)