Hi! My name is Chloe Tear, I am 19 years old and I'm a university student studying Psychology and Child Development. I have mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of my body as a result of being born 8 weeks early and weighing 3lb 3oz, as well as epilepsy, chronic pain and impaired vision. During this blog, I will talk about what it’s like being a student who may face a few more hurdles than most. I hope you're able to follow my educational journey because anything can happen!
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Ending summer with a bang!
If you regularly read my blog then you will be aware that summer started with a bit of a bang (quite literally, and resulted in a hospital admission), but that’s enough about that! However, the end of summer seems to have also ended with a mad final week with not a lot of time to actually think about what was happening! I think during summer I have been quite good at pacing myself, not doing too much at once, but still trying to get out of the house and see people. On the other hand, that has certainly gone out of the window towards the end- safe to say I am paying for it now but wouldn’t have had it any other way with it being all so exciting and fun.
On Wednesday a friend helped me take a few pictures for a campaign. I had this idea a couple of weeks ago and told her about it, so was really nice to actually be able to produce something at the end of it that can be used. The idea behind it was to show how cerebral palsy, and many conditions for that matter, can change on a daily basis in terms of how much it affects you. I feel that the concept of a part- time wheelchair user is still not understood my many and it can be hard for them to get their head around. How can someone possibly be able to walk one day and not the next? When in fact it is probably more likely that they are still capable of walking, but the energy (and possibly pain) that is put into walking would make it impossible to successfully function over a longer period of time. I posted this picture on my Facebook blog page and so far I’ve had really positive feedback! I also was able to use some of the pictures for a Scope article which is currently being processed.
On Thursday I had an orthotics appointment to pick up my new shoes. Due to having one leg which is longer than the other (I have no idea why!) it means that whenever I get new shoes the left one needs to be sent off so a raise can be added onto the sole, making me more level- well attempting too. However, this was the first pair of shoes that I have had that fit my new splints and they made sure that when they cast as narrow as possible, and somehow changed how high the sides were. By doing this it meant that for the first time I found a pair of shoes that are only one size bigger than my actual size, meaning I can say goodbye to clown shoes! Since wearing splints again I have become accustomed finding really nice shoes which just weren’t practical with splints and just accepting that I wouldn’t be able to wear them- until now… I think it is going to take a while to get used to them being small but more than willing to do that so I will be able to walk in them!
Finally this takes us to Friday, the National Diversity Award ceremony which I loved so much. I had an incredible and unforgettable evening which I don’t actually think can be justified in words. No I didn't win my category, yet I came away feeling probably just as happy and proud of the work that I have done to raise awareness for disability. During the evening I was reminded of the importance of celebrating diversity and that other people should just be proud of who they are. To be in the same room as some of the most incredible people in the UK to celebrate diversity was an honour to be a part of, and even more crazy considering that I was one of the youngest people there. It was so uplifting, and sometimes emotional to hear the stories of others and the work that they have done to make the world a better place. A group of people on our table were a charity which helped asylum seekers and refugees and how they managed to make such a change to people's lives was amazing, and hearing the truth about the conditions was eye- opening. The passion that every single person had was evident and a joy to see, I know it can be rare to find someone who is so excited and driven by a specific topic so to be in a room full of those people created an incredible atmosphere. One of the winners said we should push away shame and bring forward pride- and they were right. What is the point of hiding something about yourself that could be used to help others? During the night it became apparent how important and what a difference it came make to people’s lives. I think I was just stuck in the cycle of writing a blog, and it had become the norm to write about things, without actually thinking too much about it. However, after the National Diversity Awards I feel like I want to carry on more than ever and I hope this is just the beginning. I would just like to say thank you to everyone who voted for me and allowed me to attend the ceremony, it means more than you could ever imagine and is something I will remember for a long time.
After a very busy week, it ended with me moving to university on Sunday- just because I hadn’t done enough already… So far so good but I will update you on that new adventure shortly.
In order for me to complete university away from home, and get to lectures in one piece- a PA (Personal Assistant) has been vital in me being able to be as independent as possible. I have actually enjoyed the process of hiring PA’s despite it being a little stressful to find one in time. Yet, when looking for a PA, it had to be someone who could drive as well as being capable to suit all of my needs. By having a car it would mean that I could get to hospital appointments easily. However, when advertising it was often extremely hard to find someone who was fairly young (not that this is essential!), was capable of the job, could drive and was okay being with people aged 19- 21 all of the time. After 30+ applications it became clear this was all quite a big ask! Who knows my full medical history? Who would have experience in Cerebral Palsy, seizures and visual impairment? Who can drive and wouldn’t mind being with young adults all day? Who would actually quite enjoy lectures? There is a…
Dear Chloe, You're currently 7 years old and are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. This journey will show you the world in a completely new light, it will show you things you never thought you would see, and allow you to meet people you might otherwise have never met. Unfortunately, this journey is tough, it will test you past the limits you thought you had and cause so much frustration and upset- but you are capable of overcoming this, you can find tremendous joy in every aspect of your life. You have just been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. You have never heard of this, and have no idea what it is! But don't worry- mum's done lots of research and has your back! These hospital appointments may seem strange, and unnecessary as you don't think anything is wrong, but it will all become clear with time. Ever wondered why you walk on your toes and fall over more than your friends? Ever wondered why you can't hop, struggle with maths and feel tired? Or hav…
I am a part-time wheelchair user, this means that one day I can use my chair, and the next I can be walking with my stick. Being able to use a wheelchair on a part-time basis allows me to managed my energy levels and reduce pain, allowing me to function more effectively in everyday life. I am exactly the same person whether I use my stick or my chair, so why does the behaviour of others sometimes change?
Over the last few years, I have noticed people act differently to me depending on the equipment that I am using at that time, yet it was when doing my food shopping, of all things, that made me realise what those differences were.
I've noticed that when I use my stick, people don't tend to mind. I sometimes get a few inquisitive looks as they tried to figure out why a 19- year- old is using a walking stick, but apart from that it is fine. People in shops talk to me, telling me how much the items cost and expect me to pay- good job really considering it is my food for the week…