2016, what have you meant to me?

It's pretty normal to get to this time of year and reflect on the last 12 months, but what has 2016 meant to me? This year is actually extremely hard to put into words. I hope you just continue to follow this journey and have enjoyed reading my posts throughout the year!

I've been hospitalised more times this year than I have in my life, going from one extreme to the other with my health. While things have improved I've certainly had my fair share of knocks to slow down this process. I'm sorry for starting with such a negative topic, but these things happen, it's been a big part of my year- just not the only factor of my year. It's even been suggested that hospital appointments should be an added module for my university course! Although physically I may be struggling at the moment, earlier this year I was walking the best I have in a very long time and know for certain it is possible to get this back in 2017- hopefully keeping it up for a little longer this time! Medically it has also meant that this year I had the transition from child to adult services (in most things) and in others seemed to be left floating in the middle. This year I've been through a lot of different health departments, some being able to provide answers and some not. Yet their favourite phrase has been "your case is too complex for me, I'll refer you to the specialist", trust me when I say this gets boring pretty quickly! Some answers have been found in 2016 and I would definitely say they are closer to figuring out things like pain and seizures, yet this is something that will continue to be part of 2017.

However, it most certainly has not been all doom and gloom, in terms of education I don't think I could be happier. Gaining better A- Level results then I honestly thought I was going to get and starting a brand new chapter at university. This in itself was a massive step, moving away from home, starting a new course- hiring PA's to ensure my independence and safety. My Sixth Form gave me so much confidence which has only helped me on my university adventure. Despite only starting this September I've managed to settle in really well and made some great friends who I cannot wait to spend the next few years with. Managing education along with everything else that is going on has never been the easiest, did you know people with cerebral palsy use 3 to 5 times more energy than everyone else? I am not surprised we are all tired! When looking through my past posts I know that I said (many times) that I wanted to be an occupational therapist. When it came to applying to university I changed my mind, not only because I wouldn't pass health exams, but also due to studying psychology at A- Level. This is why I cannot think of a better course than psychology and child development for me to study! Although I know I want to work with children, the fact that it is all very open at the moment is great- who knows where I will end up!

Another big part of my life is this blog, and the vast number of opportunities this has provided over the last few years, with the last few months being the best yet! Did you know that over the last 12 months I've been able to DOUBLE my page views from 13,000 on 1st January 2016 to 26,000 December 2016? This alone is unbelievable and actually leaves me speechless. I write because I love writing, I honestly couldn't imagine not writing a blog anymore. It's become the norm to educate, to bring about change and to be honest about my own experiences, but that's fuelled by a passion for understanding. That understanding could be through educating people who have no idea of the medically challenges I face, or getting others to understand that they are not alone in their journey. Why do something alone when you can do it together? It can't get much simpler then that.

When thinking of the opportunities I have been given this year I'm completely blown away. One thing has led to another and it's snowballed more than my wildest dreams. I became a writer for an organisation called 'The Mighty' and have had three pieces of work published for them as well as continuing to work with Scope and having four pieces of writing published across this year. As well as continuing to work closely with CP Teens UK, an organisation that means a great deal to me! Also, over the last 12 months I've gained five awards, two being at a national level!!! Chances like these have meant I've been able to expand my work so much further than before, yet this is what has made this year truly special. I didn't expect to achieve this in a lifetime, not to mention one year! I've been to some pretty fancy award ceremony's this year, any excuse for a new dress, right? It is these evenings that have meant so much. It is these evenings where you sit back and appreciate life. You become so inspired by people in that room who have faced so much, who have achieved so much, who have so much wisdom to give.  I love hearing about what they have done, what positive changes they are putting into the world. To be in a room with other people who have such passion about life, and the stories they have to tell- it honestly is a feeling like no other. 

This year has shown me that anything is possible. Don't take things for granted because you don't know how long it will be there, but enjoy! Enjoy every single moment that you can, and carry on doing what you love. 

Wishing you all the best for 2017!

~ Chloe x

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