MND Association, Cornwall Branch
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Elsie's Diary - 2011



A Trip Down Memory Lane


After a sparkly black walking stick and a rose decked rollator my next challenge is to place my trust in keen robust humans who find themselves jostling forward to volunteer to push me in a manual wheelchair! Some of my keen pushers have no experience of prams or pushchairs, even the more mature volunteers who have grown up children appear to have forgotten the hazards. We therefore set off with rose coloured spectacles, some oblivious of pit falls and others into a trip down memory lane.


It all comes flooding back. The uneven paving slabs, disappearing pavements and huge kerbs. To the uninitiated all of the afore mentioned and more besides. Thank goodness for Pelican Crossings, I now find myself teetering on the edge of a busy London street to reach a Map Exhibition in the London Library. It brings to mind of how a toddler may feel, face to face with pulsating car grills and revving engines all waiting for the lights to change in their favor. Eyes down I concentrate on the tarmac. Whoosh we are across with not a moment to spare.


Next challenge is to find a wheelchair friendly access. Yes you have guessed we now set off on a slalom course down to the entrance. What a pity this wheelchair does not have attendant brakes! It is smoking shoes over stretched arms restraining a runaway wheelchair. Phew we have made it to the entrance. My once tidy hair is now swept back exposing a bare forehead creased into worry lines. We find a lift and run the gauntlet of prematurely closing doors. Wow what an exhibition, beautiful maps, some extend from floor to ceiling. I expect you have guessed, in their enthusiasm for me to see as much as possible, I am positioned as close as feasible. My view is limited, I now have good close ups of small sections. My Lightwriter is firmly gripped on my lap, however no one is reading or hearing my messages they are understandably engrossed in studying the maps. Then music to my ears, time for a tea break one of our group utters. A well deserved rest for my volunteers and my strained neck muscles. Next the challenge of retracing our steps or in my case wheels journeying back to the car. Enough said!


Moral: Practice may make perfect eventually.


A Journey Too Far


When you have lost the power of speech and use a Lightwriter to communicate be very careful what messages you type. After a delicious meal in a quaint country pub, it was decided a walk was needed. Myself in a manual wheelchair and four family members leave the pub to set out on what turns out to be an unexpected adventure.


From the car park I could just see the tower of the village church high above us. I foolishly pointed upwards and simply typed ‘church’. Before I could type any more my family decided my every wish was their command. When being pushed in a wheelchair, my arms are restricted. Holding my Lightwriter securely on my lap with one hand leaves me with only one wavering finger to type, virtually impossible as I am on my bone shaking way up a near vertical hill! As we progress, now with all four family members bent double, two at the back and two holding and pulling from the wheelchair arms we battle on. The tarmac has long vanished we are now transversing a stony path no wider than the wheelchair. Up up we go. Sighs of dismay the path runs out, countless steps for the final challenge. At this point there is an unanimous decision to abandon the ascent. After all their efforts it is established the church is locked! Eventually my trusty family recovers from their back braking exertions. It is now the challenge of descending to the base station of their personal mountain. We slip slide and jolt down with pauses to relieve over stretched arms and aching backs. The descent is accomplished. My son-in-law states the experience is imprinted on his brain for a lifetime. NOW IS DEFINITELY NOT THE TIME TO SAY I HAD NO WISH TO VISIT THE CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Moral: Some statements are best not expressed.


Off Road Capers – Early Days


The sun was shinning what better time for a push about in my wheelchair. How about the Camel Trail was my escort’s suggestion. We cannot imagine any problems on a purpose laid track. As we set off, we commented upon a group of young people setting up a table with drinks etc. Perhaps refreshment stop for a sponsored bike ride or walk? We made the pleasant journey to Bodmin. A steady upward gradient commented my companion which deserved a well earned cuppa and cake at Bodmin Goal before the easier push back to the car. A relaxing push back to our starting point followed. What could possibly go wrong we are nearly back to the car park?


My intrepid escort states with great macho spirit, I will take a fast run to tackle the steep dog legged slope up to the car park. I hold on tightly to my Lightwriter (I have lost my power of speech) and silently through thought transmission hope all goes well. Ok up to speed, so far so good. Disaster strikes. The small front wheels plunge into a rut in the tarmac. The wheelchair performs an emergency stop, I don’t! I continue to travel forward flying through the air with the greatest of ease. What goes up must come down. I did with a thud still holding onto my Lightwriter. Fortunately I am wearing a well padded jacket so no physical harm incurred. Whoops how to get out of this predicament? My intrepid escort says he can lift me. Reinforcements arrive in the shape of 2 hunky males from the refreshment table. I am soon lifted back into the wheelchair still griping my Lightwriter. My escort says he can manage now despite offers of assistance. I hastily type on my Lightwriter please accept assistance. I reach the top of the slope being pushed by 3 good men. Thank goodness for kind volunteers.


Moral: Always wear a seat belt.