Hi! My name is Chloe Tear, I am 20 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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Adventures of a vintage tearoom
In reality I try to be a 'normal' teenager
(whatever that actually is) and last weekend was no exception, so off I went to
a vintage tearoom with a friend. I had never been to this little cafe before
but from pictures it looked so adorable, and I wasn't going to turn down the
opportunity to get a good coffee any time soon. However, when I am involved
things never seem to go plan, because that would be far too simple wouldn't
it!? I've always said, unless you use a wheelchair, or are with someone who
uses one then you won't realise how inaccessible this world actually is. You
won't realise that the vast majority of pavements are on a slant (check next
time you are out), which makes pushing yourself very tricky. Or how random
little steps can cause such issues, now don't even get me started on
For this particular outing we got the train to
where we needed to be, surely this wouldn't be a problem, they have ramps and
it is a public place- I honestly didn't give it much thought. When on the train
I had the normal negotiation with mothers and their pushchairs, some people who
are more than happy to move and others who point blank refuse to move (despite
wheelchair users having priority of this space). My friend and I spoke about
the cafe we were going to, attempting to plan the walk ahead as well as how
excited we both were. As students we will do anything to get away from
assignments, we all need a break now and then! Coming off the train was not a
problem, the ramp was put up and off we went...
Stranger: "Would you like a hand down the few
steps to get out of the station?"
Me: "No, no it's fine- we will manage"
(thinking he means one or two steps which can be negotiated)
Stranger: "Honestly I don't mind, look I'll
come with you"
Me: "Ermm.... okay.... thanks"
Stranger: *Quickly walks to the exit*
When people say 'a few steps' I imagine two or
three which can be done in a chair if you have someone behind you, these kind
of steps may be annoying but cannot be avoided 90% of the time. However, when
we approached these steps even my friend seemed a little nervous. A long and
narrow staircase was right in front of us both, with the added slippery surface
of rain and wet leaves. Recently I have lost some mobility from a fall, but
even on a good day this flight of stairs would have been daunting! This
stranger was adamant that he would carry me down, as embarrassing as that is,
it really didn't look like I had another option if we were going to get to this
vintage tearoom. Not only did he pick me up, he picked me up bridal style
(probably the best option considering I was wearing a dress!) and proceeded to quite
happily walk down the stairs. My friend and PA followed behind and kindly
carried my chair. I know I will probably never see that man again but I would
like to thank him for his time and kindness- he obviously understood the
importance of a good coffee...
We joked about this for the rest of the day, it
isn't a common occurrence to get carried down a flight of stairs is it! Saying
how we should hire him for future trips to this train station, or how it was
like a scene from a film. On the other hand, this particular station happens to
be the place where most students move to in their second year at university.
Why have ramps on your trains, say you are accessible, yet have a massive
flight of stairs to get out of the station? Surely it would put me at a
disadvantage to move away from new found friends and be further away from the
university that I attend? I am pretty sure I won't be the only wheelchair user
who has found that particular staircase a barrier to access something that I am
perfectly entitled to do. I will be getting in contact with the station to see
if there is any possibility that anything can be put in place between now and
next September so that it is possible for me to move over there, until then I
might have to stick to tearooms that are closer to campus!
For those of you who are still intrigued about the
tearoom- it was amazing! Very, very cute and lived up to the expectation. I had
a chocolate cupcake and a gingerbread mocha, after a very busy week it was most
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…
Like any new mobility aid, the cane was going to take some time to get used to. I may not have liked the idea of it all to begin with, but I felt the same when I started using a wheelchair and a walking stick- there seems to be a theme here! Yet, this felt slightly different, entering a new medical world of visual impairment.
After being registered as partially sighted in February, it was advised that using a white cane would be beneficial due to how my visual impairment affects my sight. I am not going to lie, this was a shock. If you have read previous posts on this then you'll know that I did decide to learn how to use a long cane in an attempt to stop myself tripping up over things, but I was quite apprehensive about using a long cane.
To begin with I did find it helpful during the training sessions and saw how it could be really useful for myself, but using it was another thing all together. The first time I used my white cane was when I was looking in a few shops with my fam…