Saturday 9 July 2022

Disability services I use and would recommend

Radar key

A key in a lock. The key has a blue easy to hold handle and a key ring attached.
Radar keys help you access disabled toilets and Changing Places that are fitted with a radar key lock. By having a radar key it helps you to access more of these facilities such as for me when I stop off at Peterborough Services my radar key enables me to access their Changing Places facility.

If you don't have a radar key you can get them from places like continence services, the blue badge company, aids and adaptations stores, Age UK, disability rights UK and other places.

Radar keys also come in different designs so the key I have has a large easy to grip key end making it easier for me to hold the key to unlock the door.

Sunflower Lanyard

A green lanyard with sunflowers on with a card attached that is green with sunflowers on and a white rounded corner with text reading hidden disabilities
The Sunflower Lanyard scheme is for people with invisible illnesses/hidden disabilities. Though when I leave the house I'm in my wheelchair I sill have hidden parts of my disabilities whether that be speech or cognitive difficulties, needing a carer with me or having hidden medical devices and other things. So because of this I wear a Sunflower Lanyard to identify to staff that I have hidden disabilities and this helps me with accessing the support I need. Such as one time I was able to bypass a queue into a store when explained that I was unable to queue aided by the highlight of the Sunflower Lanyard I was wearing. I do find that wearing my Sunflower Lanyard does help and staff are more receptive to offering more assistance or aiding my access when I do go out.

I just have a plain Sunflower Lanyard and card but you can get cards for your lanyard that specify different medical conditions or things like autism or that you a carer. You can now get personalised ID cards for your Sunflower Lanyard (which are sort-of similar to the Access cards but a little different).

You can get your Sunflower Lanyard and cards from the Hidden Disabilities website and then head to their shop through the menu.

Continence card

This is a little card that you can carry around with you to explain that you 'can't wait' and need quick access to a toilet. This could be if there is a queue for the toilet, explaining a need to use a disabled toilet (because not every disability is visible) or even in a shop or restaurant to hopefully use the staff toilet if there is no public toilet.

You can get these cards from the IBS Network and also The Bladder and Bowel Community. You can also get these cards for travelling having the same 'can't wait' information in other languages.

Access card

Access cards are a quick and easy way to communicate what your access needs are. On your card you will have different symbols which outline your access needs from having an assistance dog, being d/Deaf, needing essential carers with you or level access. For more information see their guidance on their different symbols.

When you apply for the card you have to explain why you need each access symbol. You will have to complete an application for a card and submit supporting evidence. The card costs £15 and is valid for 3 years.

To find out more check and to apply for an access card got to their website here.

CEA card

The CEA card allows you to go to the cinema and have someone get in for free with you. It is part of providing reasonable adjusts for disabled people meaning they can have someone enter the cinema with you. This means that this additional person is able to then provide if needed any support you may require.

There is a small cost for the card and it is valid for a year. You do have to provide evidence of disability to apply for a card.

To find out more check out the CEA card website here.

Audiobook services

I use several audiobook services, some of which you may be eligible for. 

The first is the RNIB Reading Library. I've been using this for many years way back when they used to send out to me books on a CD to listen to. Then they brought out a way to access their books through an app on your mobile phone instead - however you can still access what they have in their library in other formats.

The next two audiobook services accept a wider range of people to use their audiobook libraries - both are accessed through an app.

The second is Listening Books; like RNIB Listening Books is a charity that enables disabled people to access audiobooks. As well as books newspapers and magazines can also be accessed. 

Listening books does charge a small fee though this may be wavered based on your circumstances.

The last audiobook service I use is Calibre Audio. This is a free audiobook service and is very similar to the ones run by RNIB and Listening Books. Like the others I choose to listen through the app.

Sunday 3 July 2022

Sometimes birthdays aren't a celebration

A plate with some rectangular slices of chocolate cake with decorations on top and some lit candles
A few weeks ago I had my 29th birthday but since becoming chronically ill in 2013 more and more as the years passed by I've found it harder to see my birthdays as something to celebrate.

This year was particularly hard as turning 29 I'm not where I planned to be as well as the thought that I'll be 30 next year! Back in 2012 and even before then I had my life (well my career as that was my sole focus in life) I'd planned that by the age I am now I'd be advancing in my career in mental health nursing with children and young people ready to start my psychotherapy training when I hit 30/my 30's.

Unfortunately that is not my life now and I know that I need to accept and work with my therapist on making a new plan for my life and to focus on the the present moment. I do practice gratitude and I do aim to celebrate the big and small achievements in my life. Simple things most people probably don't think twice about but for me they are truly are big things like recently managing to Shellac my nails when I haven't felt well enough to do so for a while bringing joy into my life as I love having my nails done.

So yes on my birthdays there are things in the past year that I have "celebrated" but I still find a birthdays a hard occasion to celebrate as I feel like my life is stuck. Most of my "celebrations" are over the small things (which are still important) but there are no big milestones moving my life forward in the way that that I'm wanting it to. Birthdays especially are a process of grieving as I see myself getting older and I wonder things like 'will I ever return to education?', 'will I even have gone on a holiday?', 'will I ever have my my own home?', 'will I even be able to work or volunteer?' and such things. Rather than happiness I often feel sadness on my birthday missing what I had planned for my life to be but struggling to plan a new alternative life for myself that's more accommodating for the challenges with my disabilities. I see my age increasing but I don't see my life going anywhere anytime soon and I feel so disheartened.

I do try to make my birthday a nice day. This year I kept to my usual schedule for the day that helps me manage my M.E and other illnesses. But I put on a facemask I'd been saving for a special occasion (so a birthday is a perfect reason to use it) and I put on some makeup (which always makes me feel brighter). For my afternoon activity I opened gifts from friends. For tea I asked if we could eat something I enjoyed so we had salad and fish finger wraps.

So it was a nice day and I did enjoy my birthday but there was a lot of thinking about 'here and now' and grief over the loss of the life I had planned out and I know now that I need to make a new plan both short and long term and I have started on that, it just takes some healing over the life I've lost.

I really hope that by next year I can truly celebrate my 30th birthday! - I've already asked if I could have some 3-0 balloons as a way to celebrate.