BBC News – Paralympics: 10 lesser-spotted things

BBC News – Paralympics: 10 lesser-spotted things.


At first I thought, ‘Another day, another paralympics-themed article’. In reality though, it does contain some useful info. For example, I had fleetingly wondered, ‘why no gymnastics’, until I realised not enough people would have the physical function to be able to compete. Other things are more common sense, but not immediately obvious, for example, to introducing every single athlete as part of the TV coverage. Here’s another:”numerous swimmers and volleyball players removed their limbs before competing. Can you imagine all those limbs floating about the swimming pool?! Others are more intriguing, such as why Deaf people aren’t generally included un the paralympics. However, I briefly heard about one of the visually impaired swimmers whose name I did not catch, having a small flashing light near her st the start of the race, because she is Deaf as well. Have you noticed anything else ‘quirky’ about the paralympics?

BBC News – Paralympics 2012: Is it OK to call the athletes brave?

BBC News – Paralympics 2012: Is it OK to call the athletes brave?.

Was the BBC brave, or stupid, to cover this?

What a minefield. The only people who care about this are people who won’t like whatever language you chose to use. Most disabled people, as far as I’m aware are either confused by the debate on language, or non-plussed by it. If you asked a focus group of disabled people of varying ages and disabilities which words and phrases they least liked, I bet every single person would have different answers.


While we’re on the subject, I’ve heard various bodies on channel 4 use every one of the phrases they were apparently supposed to avoid. I’ve also heard Ade Adepetan go out of his way to ask what someone “suffers from” and he’s a disabled person himself! That’s part of why this is such a minefield. I notice also that it’s Damon Rose of Ouch who has written the article. One wonders why he bothered, now ‘Ouch’ is reduced to a miniscule presence on the BBC news team. Once upon a time, this article would have been the subject of one of his editorials and  would have been discussed with relish, by a whole stream of disabled people of varying ages and backgrounds on the now defunct BBC message boards. As it is, the article will disappear with barely a whimper, and whose fault is that?!

Never mind the politics, what about the language?

As for the language of the article itself, like I say, I’ve heard channel 4  commentators use every one of those phrases on the list of words best avoided, repeatedly. One wonders whether they ever read the document. I doubt they care, they’ll just be happy to have snatched the Paralympics coverage from the jaws of the once smug BBC.

It’s wrong to call the athletes ‘brave’, ‘inspirational’ ‘suffers from’, ‘sufferrer’, ‘victim of’, ‘normal/abnormal’. Firstly, who decides what is normal or abnormal? it’s all relative depending on your own experience. What is normal for me as a disabled person will be abnormal to someone else. Things like falling being as natural as breathing, is true for me, but completely abnormal for someone else. To say ‘suffers from,’ ‘sufferer’ or ‘victim of’ makes us sound passive, like vegetables as if we have no life. We are not sufferers or victims, we are people who are living our lives in ways that are ‘normal’ for us, against the backdrop of the pigeon holes the Government, the DWP, the media and medical records try to squeeze us into.

The days that dared to change my already complex life…

The preface to the days that changed my life… 

Thank you to my friend Tanya for her searingly honest and thought-provoking post on the day that changed her life. You can read about it here. I’d highly recommend it. If you’re someone who is easily prone to tears I’d keep the tissues handy. Tanya’s post gave me the inspiration for this one. There are several days which have changed the course of my adult life, rather than just one. (There were several incidents as a child which had a profound effect on my life, including my journey to faith at the age of nine. However none of that is my focus here, but is reserved for later posts.)

Day 1: The day I got ‘chucked out’ of home

 Fortunately for me, this isn’t actually true,.It’s just something of a family joke. My mum’s always said one of the best things she’s ever done is to encourage both me and my brother to leave home. It’s part of what’s made me so independent now. My days at Stirling University seem so far away. If this was a film of my life, the camera would have to rewind 11 years to my first day at uni! I cannot believe it’s that long. It makes me feel so old. And yet, I remember the first days of independence so clearly. The feelings of being lost, both in the sense of not having friends, and also feeling physically lost. My sense of direction has never been my strong point. My brother got the full measure of that when God handed it out.
When I look back now, there are so many things I wish I’d done differently. For example, I wish I’d joined more clubs and societies. The only one I ever joined was the Christian Union (CU), though by the end I guess I’d had quite an impact on it by the time I’d left. There are quite a few things that happened at uni which still affect me now. For starters, I was in and out of hospital a few times, which impacted on my studies. The situation was not resolved until I was 25 but more of that later.
The other significant thing that happened at uni was that three full years into my degree, I failed. This time I was unceremoniously kicked off the course. I’d been trying to complete a BEd alongside a regular arts degree. I wasn’t much good at it, though I remember my tutors saying that they always praised my values highly as these were always well established, and I still hold to them now. It took me a long time to get over the loss, even though I’ve admitted I was not good at teaching. There are incidents coming back to me now which I thought I’d consigned to the dustbin of history. Quick girl, keep typing, get onto the next screen shot in your head. This one’s far too painful. I still remember now the sense of loss. It hit my parents so hard. They hadn’t realised the road would come to an end so abruptly. They’d always thought I’d get there somehow like I always did. Not this time though. I remember it hitting my Dad particularly hard, as my brother messed around in his first couple of years at uni, and still sailed through. I’d worked so hard and failed.
I did do an extra term to finish off a bog-standard bachelor of arts degree. Leaving things half done was not my style. That last semester was such a disaster though. The mess I made of relationships with my flatmates might have had eternal consequences. I still think About it sometimes now and pray that it’s not true, that they’ve found Jesus other ways, as they didn’t find him through me. I was a mess that term. Looking back, the bottom had just fell out of my world. I didn’t make things any easier for myself though. The memories are all slamming into one another now. Lets move on.
I then had to spend a difficult nine months at home thinking and working out what God would have me do with my life. I was offered two roads — an English one and a Scottish one. I picked the former, and packed my bags again. Before that though, I have a distinct memory of my Dad talking to me in the car and saying things like “I want to talk to you very seriously now. I want you to think long and hard about Leeds. What if you get ill, you’re doctors in Aberdeen. If you’re at Aberdeen you’re not far away, but if you’re in Leeds and have a disaster, we can’t get to you”.

Day 2: The move to the ‘wrong’ side of the border!!

Well, I did move to Leeds. The loneliness and sense of loss reared it’s head again. I cried for an hour SOLID about missing home, and had I done the wrong thing. It felt so far away. I did make it through that year. Now it feels like I just scraped through. I’d do it all differently if I’d had the chance to start over. Well scrape through I did, with ‘just’ a pass. A masters, when I wasn’t supposed to have the mental capacity to finish primary school. When you think of it like that, it does sound like an awfully big deal. 

Day 3: the one with the operation… 

Again, I remember this like it were yesterday. November 2008, so a year after I’d scraped through the masters. I’d not been feeling well for quite some time, and had just been existing on the insides of plain baked potato, and white bread and butter, that sort of thing. I’d been in St Mary’s in Leeds having physiotherapy amongst other things, and had to have an emergency appt. at the hospital. They’d offered me an ambulance or a taxi there a few days before, but I hadn’t seen the need. It all came like a bolt from the blue. I remember sitting with doctor Sprakes, and him saying, “how would you feel about saying in hospital for a bit. I don’t think it would be a good idea to go home.” I said to him, do I have a choice? It’s not down to how I feel if you think I should be in here.
Fast forward a week, to ward 53, ward 59 as it was later called. I wasn’t getting any better, not even IV steroids were working, and Dr Everett said, “lets get a sensible surgeon in here.” Along comes Mr Saunders. Honest and straight forward to the point of being brutal. He told me a bag on my tummy would be a certainty, probably for ever, but at least for the short term. Wham, it hits me again. The familiar wall of emotion that I just have to cry out. The deep sense of loss, and the frenzied thoughts. I already had cerebral palsy and was finding it increasingly difficult to walk, never mind coping with a bag into which I poo, as well.
The day arrived. Barring a serious RTA, I was up. So, the accident never happened, so it was my turn to be centre of attention, not that I wanted it. I felt such fear on the way to theatre. I started to wail under my breath, as it’s always sounded when I’ve tried to sing. But had you been a fly on the wall, you’d have heard a hopelessly out of tune version of “my Jesus, my Saviour”. I remember being in the pre op room as well. Then trying a failing to find a vein. Then nothing. They wake me. I beg to be told if I have a feeding tube or just a bag. Just a bag, they say. It was no longer the worst case scenario. I breathe a sigh of relief. And so the rest of this day that changed my life is not quite over. I remember the sense of relief in the left hand side of my tummy– pain free. It had not been that way for months.
I only later learned of the enormity of that day. How touch and go it had been. How my heart rate was dropping and they’d had to halt my op, quickly, just as they who had delivered me all those years before had had to do. Mine was one of the ‘hellish’ operations my surgeon forgets, so bad it was, he had to be convinced it was he who had done the operation, and nearly fell off his chair when he remembered. My bowel had been so twisted and so scarred, it took them eight hours just to save my life, never mind do the rest of what they had scheduled. They’d saved my life, misson accomplished. My mum denies it was ever this serious, but she wasn’t in the very first meeting with the surgeon, or any of the subsequent appointments, so let’s leave it there.
I recovered remarkably quickly, given all I had been through. just 9 days after the operation, all that was keeping me in hospital was that I was struggling to cope with managing the bag on my tummy. Something I’ve struggled with for just over three years, and only gave up the actual changing of it fairly recently. Going back to how I was then, I cannot believe it was almost 4 years ago. What happened then, is something that’s happened a few times in my life. God has seen fit to partially heal me. No problems so far with scar tissue and no problems with the scar healing. It was so well healed, getting the staples out was agony. Someone had to hold me down while someone else took the staples out!
There was one nurse in particular I bonded with. Nurse and patient relationships are such an important part of recovery. This nurses calm demeanour and the way he coped with each of my emergencies, his quiet way of going about my care, and the way we’d always laugh and joke throughout was a big part of how well I recovered. I can see how the NHS is going and it’s a tragedy of massive proportions. Something Lansley never understood, and I think his predecessor understands even less, given how he hadn’t a clue about some things that stared him in the face. I’m in the ‘Jeremy Hunt as health minister is a disaster’ camp unless proved otherwise, but frankly I’m more likely to be proved right. If I’m wrong, and your someone that believes in the guy, if he gets it right, I’ll buy you a beer!
The days after were so difficult, and I’ve struggled for the last 3 years. I’ve never properly managed the bag on my tummy, but am so good at putting a face on things that everyone apart from my parents has thought otherwise. A couple of years back, someone’s nephew was going through a similar op to mine and I bolted out of the room in an emotional mess, instead of being there for them. I managed to pick up the pieces of that afterwards, but still wish I’d been able to be strong. My mum has always been so matter of fact about how I should be over it. It’s only now, four years later, that I feel there is now some distance between me and the operation. I still do have days now where I wonder what the thing is on my tummy and how I will care for it for the rest of my days on earth. For a very funny, honest account of what it’s like living with a bag, follow Wendy Lee on twitter and read her blog, she’s fabulous. 

Day 4: The one with the ‘wheelie chair’

 (If you’re still reading this now and haven’t given up the will to live, thank you!) One is a couple of years back. Am sat in a rehab consultant’s office, let’s call her doctor P.  I sit there, relaxed, thinking this will just be an ordinary review and I’ll be out in half an hour. I’d foolishly gone to the appointment on my own. However, at some point the room starts spinning, swirling round and round and I have no idea where I am. “…you need an electric wheelchair full time. It’s not the end. you’ll have more energy and be able to do more. it’s just that you are doing so much damage to your hips that if you carry on the way you are, you’ll need to start being hoisted in the next few years…”
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m writing this with a laptop balanced precariously on my knee, with a chair of wheels surrounding me. The second the NHS had to offer, because  the first had so many faults it had to find it’s way back to the people who made it, as not even reps from that company could find the fault, they just fixed the same things as those contracted to service it. Normally you’re not provided with a chair when you can still stand, but the pain and fatigue was having such an impact on my life, there was no getting out of it. In fact, even with the chair, I’m dosed up on something I shall not name, but I’ve heard is addictive. Just something else I have to trust the Lord with.
I’m aware I haven’t mentioned Jesus much in this search of my soul. He’s always been there, even when I’ve let go of Him. I’m aware of the theology of overcoming, and am not sure how I feel about it. More of that in future posts, as I would like to talk to a few people about that one first. I’ve had some help recently to process everything that’s gone on in the last year. I got my electric wheelchair the middle of last September, and started having care two days later. Add to that the heaps of appointments I’ve had in the last year too. Not working is a full time job! And we come to…

Day 5..The joys of being cared for…

I’ve written about this in a previous post. It might be more than you can take to read it now. However, it is worth reading! This again, is something I’ve had to come to terms with, and is still not easy. It still gives me trials on an almost daily basis, partly because the office ‘crisis manages’ the situation rather than calmly planning the whole thing. However, I won’t say any more, because planning has never been one of my strong points either!


I’ve been privalidged to have so many opportunities to share the gospel with this lot, but even more than that, I’m privileged to call some of them friends, and the gospel sharing may be for later on. Some of them just need a friend right now. What is it about carers, that trauma just seems to follow almost all of them? Not one of them who comes through the door isn’t hurting about something or other, and brings that to the job. Enough said about that, I’m probably already in trouble.
I’m signing off for now, you’ll be relieved to know. Off to find my phone alarm and take my prescribed ‘sweeties’ as the noise will be bugging the neighbours right about now…

BBC News – Pakistan blasphemy case: Imam held over ‘Koran plot’

BBC News – Pakistan blasphemy case: Imam held over ‘Koran plot’.


We prayed for Rimsha  in “prayer and share time on Sunday, and I have been praying for her since. I urge you to pray for her too. I heard an interview on UCB UK this morning with someone from Open Doors suggesting that they hope this young woman may be the tool God uses to overturn, or at least make this law more safe. Please God, may this be true. All I have thought of all day is the verse from 1 Corinthians 1:

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

May she be freed and returned to her family with no further harm done to her.

For more on this story see:

Lord Jesus, please hear our cries as we ‘stand in the gap’ on behalf of this young woman. May be know your presence and may you take away her fear and give her peace. Thank you for her faith, and we pray you will send angels to protect her and watch over her. May she be freed imminently with no further harm done to her. In your name Jesus, Amen


BBC News – Christians take ‘beliefs’ fight to European Court of Human Rights

BBC News – Christians take ‘beliefs’ fight to European Court of Human Rights.


I wait with interest to see what happens in the case of these four Christians. I thank the BBC for covering it. I am not sure whether it is really a ‘watershed’ moment. For me, too many of those have passed without comment for this to be that important. However, I recognize the outcome of this case is likely to have repercussions. I have some reservations about the cases that have been chosen.


I feel, yet again, that we are making issues of the wrong things and all this is likely to do is get people’s backs up. I do not believe the wearing of the symbol of the cross is of central importance for two reasons: 1) What we do with Jesus is far more important 2) we can live in other, more meaningful ways that bring more honour and glory to Christ than the wearing of a symbol around our necks… We ought instead to “take UP our crosses, and follow HIM.


Also I do not believe either Gary McFarlane (relate counselor) or Lilian Ladele (registrar) have valid cases to bring. Around about the time McFarlane’s case was first brought, I was on a counselling skills course at college. I agree wholeheartedly with the opinion of my Muslim tutor, that if he has such objections he should work for a Christian organisation. In working for relate, he has brought the problems upon himself because relate have a policy of not restricting their counselling services, so neither should Mr Macfarlane. 


As for Lilian Ladele, my opinion is similar to that above; she does not have a case to bring in working for the state, and should have changed vocation when the legislation was brought in. This may be far too simplistic a view, but I feel both those cases will do more harm than good, and just look like the church is banging the same old drum, rather than reaching out in love. 


Over to you…

How salty are you?

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves

What comes to mind when you think of salt? Do you add it to your cooking, because vegetables never taste the same without it? Is it for special occasions, like only on chips, steaming hot from the fish shop, or do you hate it and never use it? We’re warned against eating too much of by health professionals fearing we’ll all die of heart disease, and manufacturers are berated from time to time for adding too much of it to their food too. 


As Christians, we don’t have a choice whether we like salt or not, we have to be salt. I’ve been thinking about this recently, and especially what it means for my online presence – this blog for one, twitter, Facebook, and on Big bible where I am a #digifisciple. You can read my recent thoughts on it here. I have also been influenced by the thoughts of Richard Littledale on what it means to be ‘salt’ online. 


This morning I was listening to Prayer and Praise on UCB. I don’t always rate the daily devotional kind of preaching slot they have in the middle. It been old-fashioned styleof ‘preaching at’ people from a good few years ago. However, this morning I sat up and took notice — and notes, as he was talking about 2 things that interested me, firstly Strength in Weakness, and secondly, salt; The verse he quoted was from Romans 15.


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A slow start, to a slow Monday

Apologies for the lack of posts of late. Have had a big change to my medication regime which makes me feel poorly all the time. I’ve also been writing my next post for Big Bible which will go live later today. Wasn’t able to write that for falling asleep. I had Friday to early Sunday to write those 600 words, but it took me all of that and more the amount of time it took me to wake up and everything. I’m off in a bit to phone Virgin Media and ask for a new router. I don’t know how many times I had to switch it off and unplug it over the weekend. This post comes to you courtesy of a monitor borrowed from my parents. I must have dropped my laptop a hundred times in 6 years with no apparent damage, and then this last time I busted the screen.

Off to find a caffeine shot or something to get some energy into these tired sickly bones…