“Van life” One thing that there is to love about the UK is that no matter what the situation, if you look hard enough you will always find a lovely little place to just park up and relax.
Like many people both now and in history , The idea of travelling and the concept of learning! has always come with excitement and adventure. Jamie is no different and with his love culture and different traditions travel was soon on the cards.
How people live and interact with the world around them. People fascinate me but at the same time terrify me.
I have seen what one human can do to another in the most horrific of cases. I spent a few years in the Army and seen more than I wanted to.
Yet I have seen acts of kindness that are more impressive than anything I have ever experienced and it’s those qualities that fascinate me the most.
Jamie dreamed of camper life and soon that reality was born from a time in his life that was in his words absolutely unbearable like anything Jamie faced it head on.
When my ex wife and I split and went our separate ways I felt that somewhere along the way I had lost myself. Lost who I was.
We all change for our partners in small ways here and there and suddenly over the years you realise you are a completely different person. Sometime you need to take stock, look at yourself and see where you go from there.
The idea of a van was for Jamie to go and find himself. Reading books of adventure and tales of those who are doing just that excited him beyond belief. Meeting new people along the way, learning new things and experience different ways of life is more exciting to Jamie than anything and it was a goal he was determined to achieve.
Hello! I am Jamie! The man behind See No Bounds. You have read all about me. You may have seen some of the crazy adventures I have completed. Now you get to hear my story, my thoughts and my feelings in my own words.
Do I worry about failing? No! Why not? Because you never fail and you never lose! You either win or learn.
It is true that in life we are surround by so many different people, so many different warps of Life. We are also surrounded by so very extraordinary stories.
Every one has a story to tell something to share or a voice. We are all scared with a past or faced with the tests of time.
This show is about giving people a voice, opening the platform of expressions. And showing that we have a purpose and maybe that purpose is handing down the lantern of knowledge and experience to others.
I have met a lot of people over the years, Some have been motivational and inspirational, others have just worked hard to get where they are. recently I met an amazing women called Esther.
Esther is motivational with out a doubt. Her story is inspirational to anyone who has had to fight addiction. And it is safe to say she has had to work very hard to get where she is now. So with out wasting any more time here is her story.
As a motivational speaker based in South Wales myself, I need to build a network. A simple concept of and business person. People buy from people. But who are the people you are actually meeting? Well when i met Dave this was not the story I had expected.
Diagnosed with Heart disease Dave was not going to be held back. Going from not being able to walk up a set of stairs to walking Peru Dave’s story is rather remarkable.
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Jamie Gane and I met around a year ago through a mutual friend and since then I have followed him as he progressed further on in his journey.
I find his story incredible. When i first thought about the “Guest Spot” project i knew i needed to get Jamie involved. He has shown me so much about adaption and over coming. Adding this to my already adaptive way of thinking has made me very much a “go getter”
I recently got together with Jamie who agreed to have a chat with me and tell abit more about his condition and his Journey!
Jamie, your a lower limb amputatee that never seems to get held back. And its fair to say you dont let it slow down either.
For so many this is a massive inspiration, if you dont mind telling us, What actually happened?
I developed a condition at the age of 9 which initially affected both feet. After multiple operations, the pain condition became worse and developed into a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
Due to this condition, I was unable to use my right foot at all – I wasn’t able to place any pressure on my foot or wear shoes or socks.
If I was to go out in the rain or wind, I would need to quickly get back inside as it was too much for my foot. This ultimately lead me to becoming a full-time wheelchair user.
And how old was you when your life changed?
At about the age of 16, a doctor spoke briefly about amputation as a passing comment. Despite his swift talk, I was adamant to investigate the potential of amputation.
As a young person, I had already undergone 25+ surgeries and was ready to remove the pain. Despite this, it took me 6 years to find a surgeon that was willing to amputate my foot.
Eventually it was done in 2016 and in June 2017, I received my first prosthetic leg and started walking for the first time in 14 years.
For many people reading this, having your leg amputated would seem a negative life changing event. But in some cases taking the plunge to have a limb amputated could infact be a positive move forward! would you agree with this?
Absolutely! Amputation, for me, gave me the chance to be free, a chance to live without pain.
Even waking up post-surgery, I immediately felt so much better and my concentration levels started to increase.
I found myself coming off of medication and life started to have a purpose.
Tell us a bit about your initial build up to having surgery, I mean it must have been a terrifying time for you but at the same time there must have been an element of excitement?
All the way up to the day of surgery, I was very excited about the procedure (as excited as anyone can be about an operation anyway).
I was nervous that it would not remove the pain however I was ready to start the next journey of my life.
So Jamie I want to take you back to those first moments! you have had surgery and you have now woken up with a below-knee amputation!how did you first feel about your new situation?
I started to feel completely different even in the first few days – my pain was gone and I started to think about how I was going to live my life.
I had fought so hard to have my amputation that I didn’t realise how much energy I used thinking about the operation itself.
Once it was gone, I had a new space in my head to start thinking about new possibilities.
I see that you are an international competitor in judo. And I believe you have managed to bag a few silver medals aswell. Well done! what got you into judo in the first place?
Started Judo at quite a young age however when my disability started to escalate, I had to stop.
I think with any sport, if you have the passion there, you will return. Once I had my amputation and that had healed, I was ready to go again and start Judo.
Now I currently play Squash, like you in my chosen sport I am the only squash player in the world with a lower limb disability of my kind.
My goal when I first started was to compete against able bodied players. since then I have played in local competitions.
Moved on and started playing in club leagues and in April I will be playing in the European masters. do you think you would ever be in a position where you could compete in an able bodied category?
Don’t worry, you aren’t the only squash player in the world with a lower limb disability – I know plenty of lower limb amputees who play.
Thats awesome maybe we need to get together and arrange our own League.
All of my international competitions are against those without any physical disabilities.
I am not allowed to compete in Judo with a prosthetic leg so I simply have to hop around the mat and try to trip people up.
Would love to get into more disability-focused sports such as sprinting.
I would love to see Judo to be made into a Paralympic sport. It currently has a visually-impaired classification however I would love to see this expanded into Physical disabilities.
I think it is so important to be able to inspire others with disabilities and open their eyes into what is achievable.
Certainly think there is a need for it.
Lets move on to Tough Mudder! you are an Ambassador for the competition, and a little birdie told me that you have infact completed more courses than any other adaptive athlete! Am I right?
Um….sort of… That is certainly true in the UK. Worldwide, there is another amputee who has completed over 100 Tough Mudder courses however I have completed more courses than him as an adaptive athlete (he was able-bodied before his amputation).
How many courses have you completed?
52 to this date. I have 3 more to complete by the end of this year.
How did you get into tough mudder?
Initially, I completed my first Tough Mudder with a friend of mine while I was a wheelchair user.
I loved the atmosphere, the teamwork and the challenge and I was certainly keen to come back for more.
How does your amputation effect you in this gruelling sport?
You’re dealing with very uneven terrain, which is very difficult to run on often for an able-bodied runner.
Without an ankle to support me, it places a lot of pressure on my knee and hip so completing multiple courses can be very difficult and recovering between runs is very essential.
I’m always having to make alterations to my prosthetic and having to wait for different sockets or liners to be made for me to continue.
My prosthetic certainly takes a bashing so it’s important for me to have a great team behind me to support my sport.
Jamie you are clearly very active! do you think this helped you in your journey from amputation to now?
I think it has – it’s given me something to strive for and a reason to continue
Lets talk abit about 2020! Tokyo! is this still your long standing dream?
Actually not so much anymore.
Unfortunately, I had lots of issues with my recovery when I had my amputation.
The initial planned amputation was cancelled just 10 minutes before the procedure and subsequently my recovery was put back about a year, meaning that 2020 was/is just not simply achievable.
Having said that, I think that it’s now far more important for me to enjoy my sport and at the moment, I couldn’t wish for anything more.
Thats a massive shame! what sport was you looking to compete in?
I was looking to compete in discus, javelin and shotput.
Well never say never! i think we will be seeing you in the Olympics one day for sure!
how is funding coming along?
Just this year, I very kindly recieved the support of a sponsor, Essity, who have been fantastic at helping me achieve my goals.
That awesome! If people want to support and get involved how can they do this?
Famous for it Roman baths. Magnificent to say the least but understated for it architecture and history. Bath really is a very special place.
I really fancied a little trip to this fantastic historic town but it has been a while and I find that whenever I seem to go back to a place I always find something new. maybe its because I am getting older and all of a sudden my tastes are changing. Who knows?
We visited Bath Abbey and what a place. the pictures just don’t do it credit. Sitting in the pews and looking up at the magnificent stain glass window was just blinding. The shear skill and art that had clearly gone into the making of this monument is just breath taking. Trust me if you are in Bat you need to go and see it and appreciate it magnificence.
The building itself although shadowed by its master window, is something quite amazing as well. The work and stone masonry that has stood the test of time is a tribute to the the old ways.
a bit of history
Bath Abbey, former Benededictine monastery is part of the Anglican church. First founded in the 7th century it was recognised as Bath Abbey in the 10 century and still know as that today.
It unbelievably seats 1200 people and is still very much used today for ceremonies, concerts and lectures. Its congregation numbers are in the hundreds, and annual visitors to this amazing place reachers numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
The choir also performs in the abbey and if you are lucky enough to witness this, i hear it it is something quiet amazing.
Everywhere you look you are surrounded by a mix of modern day life and historic buildings. With the street performers entertaining the crowds.
The masses of history wherever you look. There is literally so much to see that neither your brain or concentration can absorb it all in one go.
We stopped for coffee and cake down by the river and for a few hours i could have not imagined being in a more fantastic place.
So the weather is a little drizzling and yet you still need some fresh air. What a better place to go than the quaint and beautiful town of Cheddar.
It been years since I have been and I can honestly say I had forgotten just how beautiful this little town actually is.
The shops are all very unique and quaint. Little craft shops and art shops. The cafe’s here are also very different.
We stopped for a Bite to eat right on the stream. The views were fantastic and the staff where just so friendly. Every window had its own little picture of beauty.
The whole town is very quiet and peaceful, the passing crowds where mainly walkers who had been out and about exploring. All with their walking boot on and back packs. Made me a little jealous that I had not been up in the hills exploring myself. Maybe next time!
I think when I get my little van this may have to be a spot I stop at for a few days and take in the surroundings. Go for a walk or should I say a Jamie style walk.
A bit of history
The Cheddar Yeo is the stream that runs through the town and the water is crystal clear. In fact it makes up some of the feed for the local water supply. Honestly I can see why, cleaned through the rocks and reeds the water is simply amazing.
I was very surprised to find out that it in fact the stream comes down from the Mendip Hills. Part of one of Britain’s biggest underwater river systems fed by the water through the limestone rocks.
The village itself has a long history and was once a very important centre to both the Romans and the Saxons. If you look closely you can still see the signs of long ago pasts.
It’s also no surprise that it is a village famous for its cheese but believe it or not the cheese is still made and still matured in the caves around the area.
Cheddar offers a great deal for all ages from the gorge, the hills and right through to the history tour. Something else I will need to do next time.
Literally loved it here, a few hours of peace and tranquillity. And still loads more for me to do on my return. a nice little adventure to add to my blog
It’s strange really when I sit down and think of it. Usk is the town of bloom known to many. It’s won awards for it splendid flower parades. There appears to be a community spirit around the place with the recent “great Usk Bike Off” and everyone is getting involved. But all this is amazing in itself but nothing amazes me more than the fact I have never actually visited this quaint little town before.
I have driven through it loads of times and in fact it is a matter of 20 minutes from my house. Yet, I have never been here and enjoyed all that it has to offer.
It has some very quaint shops.
I went into one shop and it was jammed from floor to ceiling with basic brick ‘N’ brak. It amazed me how he sold anything. Clearly does alright with what he is doing though or he would have closed along time ago. The walk ways where so narrow I could hardly walk up and down.
I did however enjoy the whole concept of the place.
Living up to its name
Usk is very cute and lives up to it’s name of the town in bloom. Everywhere you look there are flowers.
Every garden is beautiful and full of colours. Even the fish and chip shop looks like it should be on the cover of chocolate box.
I visited the museum. What a treat! What a jewel in the crown for USK. In this picturesque town is a cave of history and heritage. The museum is run completely by volunteers.
Housed in an ancient malt barn the Museum has 5000+ exhibits. I was informed that these items had been collected by local enthusiasts over the past 50 years. A true monument to the work of country people in the Welsh Borders. Some of the museum peaces date back to Victorian times. Displays range from the smallest hand-tools and household items through to large agricultural machinery and vintage tractors.
I read on a plaque that the museum portrays rural life in Monmouthshire covering a period of approximately 100 years. As a registered charity and run entirely by volunteers with an addition the museum contains the Usk Visitor Centre with local information and guides together with advice and guidance about the area.
If you do go then this is a must stop location even if it is just to wonder around its history.
Loads to see and do
With a short walk to the castle there is a fair amount to do and see here. I cant believe it’s taken me this long to actually visit this lovely place.
Sadly the castle was closed but I did enjoy a pack of fish and chips in the grounds. Basking under the sun and chilling in my own world of peace and harmony. Definitely need to go back for a second trip and this time hopefully the castle will be open to.
Ever since I was a boy Tintern Abbey has been a popular run out location in the car. Many a picnic or walk along the river with my family. However as strangely as it sounds I have never actually been in side the Abbey itself. It has to be said all these years I have viewed from a far and I have missed out. The d
A little history
The Abbey was first founded in 1131 by Walter Fitz Richard of Clare. Walter Fitz Richard was an Anglo-Norman lord. the Abbey was then later destroyed by Henry the 8th.
My Tintern Abbey EXPERIENCE
The grounds are very special, it is so clear of the history that once surrounded this amazing place. Everywhere you look near the Abbey shows strong connections. There is a scare of time once bustling with life but now stands in ruins.
The structure shadows over you and offer’s a real sense of calm. Looking around it is still almost clear to see the touches of life that once inhabited this mighty structure. You can almost imagine what it would have been like to live here.
Entrance if you are disabled is free for both yourself and your career. I was amazed at how accessible the grounds where as long as you where relatively capable in a wheelchair. Although I was able to use my crutches on my visit I would have been very happy to have taken my wheelchair.
You could still visualise the kitchens and the rooms off of this area. There was clear signs of the drainage system that once held its own as the most advanced drainage system of its time. If you looked hard enough you could see the last remaining traces of the medieval glass in the windows high up in the abbey’s inner walls. but you have to look hard.
An amazing place and with the right imagination you can happily experience life in a very different time.
The white monk cafe
Now here is the place to go if you want cosy, reasonable and you are looking for good service. the Staff are all lovely and in fact I think beautiful would be a better description. I enjoyed a bit of banter with them as I was suffering with a hangover but the waitress made me smile and for me that is what counts.
The food was fantastic and the White Monks Hot chocolate was amazing. To be honest the biggest glass of water they had went down rather well in my current state.
The building itself holds some strong connections to the Abbey and there are plenty of features that show this. The mix of tables and chairs gives this cosy little room a real sense of warmth. Very well laid out Space and very welcoming.
The church of st mary the virgin
Up on the hill-side over looking the Abbey is an old church. If you look into the trees you can just see the bell tower. The church was once rebuilt in 1866 but then was destroyed by fire in 1973.
The features of the church still stands tall and proud but the last few years has seen mother nature take back what was once hers. I looked around the yard at some of the most amazing tombs. Standing landmarks from hundreds of years ago. I was very surprised to find graves there as recent as 2015.
This little treasure is very understated. stood high above the beautiful abbey it is hidden in the abbeys massive shadow. I am so glad that I decided to venture up to it. if nothing else the views where also absolutely amazing.
summary of the day
I love spending time out and about with my mother. We are and have always been very close. My Mum has always shown me that honesty is a strong quality but also sometimes life is way to short to spend it stuck in one place.
What are Sundays for? Day trips, family time and maybe lunch out. Today I had all those things. A Day out with my Mother (Mama Mac). Hay-on-wye was our Sunday destination.
Since my Dad passed away in March 2016 life has been very different for my mother. Since my wife left in January this year I have also felt the burden of time on my own. There is nothing like the silence of your own company. Don’t get me wrong I love my own company, but after a while it is deafening. Today my mother and I decided to team up and hit the road. Go and see something different. Have a spot of food and a natter.
A very quaint country town. Hay-on-wye situated deep in the Welsh hills of Powys. Surrounded be stretched views and engulfed in history. Cute little shops and commonly known as the “town of books”. Hay-on-wye has a lot to offer. I have been here before but for some reason it was like it was my first time. We first hit a lovely little coffee shop called Cafe Hay. What a lovely little place very clean, well presented and a great cup of coffee. If you go it’s not far from the car park so really hits the spot as a first stop.
Books, Books and Books!
They call Hay-on-wye the “town of books” and I can definitely see why!
Book shops are everywhere but book stalls are on every corner. Little sheds or lean too’s with shelves of books and an honesty box.
Mama Mac who loves a good read had a good nose around those! Most of them was like £1 for a hard back book or 50p for a soft back. So if you are a book-worm and out in the area stop and have a look they are there in mass.
We stumble across Hay castle by accident. At first we didn’t know what it was. The building is completely run down the grounds are left un-maintained and all in all looking very sorry for itself.
But underneath all that it is a fantastic piece of history that is currently being rebuilt. I don’t really need a reason to come back to this gorgeous little town but the development of Hay Castle is something I am very excited about. I have followed them on FaceBook so will definitely be keeping a close eye on the progress.
If you are anything like me you will hate shopping! I do however love the little unusual shops that you don’t get on the high street. Hay-on-wye had loads of these little shops selling odd little items that you don’t see every day.
One little shop that absolutely stood out was a place called OtherWorldz. I loved this shop. the layout was so cool. The decor was fantastic and the overall atmosphere was rather magical. The lady that worked there was so sweet and chatty I even forced her to have a selfie with me.
The owner was in the shop next door called Satori. Also a really nice guy. There was loads of magical stuff in his two shops. Jewellery, Crystals, Incense, Candles and Windchimes. I really want to take my friend Lewis to this shop he will love it.
My final thoughts
This town can be described as cute, as beautiful and very special. From start to finish I kept coming across more and more cool shops and lovely corners. Most of the town is wheelchair accessible however it’s not all easy as there are a lot of hills and several shops have steps. I think this is a common issue with old towns like this but for me I have always understood that it can’t really be helped as most of the properties are listed.
But over all if you are looking for a peaceful place to go then this has to be one to put on the list.
Minimalist living seems to create two very different opinions. The main concept is to live. Not to be suppressed by possessions and be free of the clutter both physical and mental.
Some say that they like there stuff to much. Others love the concept of no clutter. I feel clutter causes stress. Clutter takes away the ability to sit and not be crowded in your surroundings. A clean environment offers you the chance to have a clean mind.
I watched a show on Netflix called The Minimalists. The show inspired me to want to try and live a clearer life, free from the unwanted clutter. I came to realise the pressure of the want. The want for the next best thing. I realised how we are pressured by marketing and general conception that what we need to have lot of stuff. We are convinced that it is stuff that marks our success in life. The show showed me that in fact happiness in the true measure of success and it is something we can all work towards in our own way.
My minimalist journey
I started to clear out my home after my marriage broke down. This difficult task offered me the chance to create my own space. I could have my home how I wanted it. The feeling was energetic and I quickly felt free. Firstly I cleared out the kitchen and got rid of all the stuff I have not used or intended on using. I cleaned every cupboard and organised my belongings to make it easier to use. Sorted out the bathroom and I had clear and free space. I then simply moved from room to room doing the same thing and before I knew it my house was completely clutter free.
Once the house was done i moved onto my life
Once the house was completely minimal I realised that I had to much space. I have decided that I dont want to keep the house anymore! There are to many memories there to much mind clutter! I needed to have a sort out of my emotions as well as my stuff.
So I have decided on moving into a relatives house for a bit to get myself on my feet. Give my mind some free space to think. I have thought about following my dream of buying a motor-home. Then I thought well if I had a motor-home maybe I could get rid of the car. And then the true reality of a life long dream hit me!!! Why don’t I just live in the motor-home!! It’s a perfect solution. Cheep, as minimalist as it gets and I can go wherever I want.
At first i was Fuelled by my new found ambition. Full steam ahead with the plans. Of course! I have been faced with two very different opinions. Of course I have! On one side, I am completely crazy. On the other side my idea is amazing.
Let’s go back to crazy first!
I currently work full time and every penny I get is taken into the cost of the bills. No little luxuries! No free cash! Just bills and paying for food and fuel. So I spend my life earning just enough money to go to work and eat. I am trapped in a job I don’t really like! Feel captured like a caged animal in a world made up of two computer screens and a telephone headset.
I drive a car that basically works as a tool to get me back and forth work to pay for a house that is fundamentally half of my ex wife’s. I have all the normal debt and nothing to spare at the end. Let’s hope my boiler don’t break down.
So I ask you is it not crazy to live this life for the next 40 years? Running on the spot to simply pay bills? Never seeing anything more the two sets of four walls!
now let’s look at the amazing opportunity.
Living a life of little responsibility. Enjoying seeing some of the most beautiful parts of the world. Never having to worry about being home for work on Mondy. No dead lines! Not governed by targets! No real rules except your own. Taking time, having a clear mind. Living life your way at your pace and being free to roam and explore.
For me the life of a full timer is definitely for me. Yes I am worried about the life changing choices. Getting rid of my STUFF was in fact the easy bit. Essentially turning my back on normality and creating uniqueness is the dream.
I plan on writing a book. Get more creative with my poetry. Take up photography and simply being free.
With simplicity and minimalism your requirements are rapidly reduced. Your expectations are fewer and your decisions are less complex. You are free to think! I have now moved out of the house. De-cluttered my mind and my stuff. I now have what I need. Everything I own has a purpose. My mind feels free from the stress of perception and expectation. Will I travel full time? Will just travel part time? Who knows! What i do know is my life will be simpler and less congested leaving space to concentrate on me!
As a wheelchair user one thing I do struggle with is cups of boiling hot water. Carrying multiple cups at the same time! carrying even one cup and something else, like biscuits is a bit tricky.
For many this simple task is an everyday event but for me it can be an impossible chore. I have attempted to try several ideas. To be honest I have either got to do several trips or ask for help. Hot tea in one hand and the risk of wearing it getting from A to B is normal.
The area I was struggling with was in work. I work as part of a team and we do have a tea rota. The team I work with are fantastic and treat me no different to anyone else. Yes they are well aware of my odd restriction and in fairness never ever raised any comments. If I never made a cup of tea they would understand! for me it was a simple task that I wanted to be involved in!
I have never been beaten by anything and it was frustrating that I couldn’t do it. Recently the company’s health and safety department decided that they would review how cups of boiling water was being carried around the office.
The company purchased 1000 muggi’ and this for me this was an absolute revelation. It meant that I could now take part in the tea run. Ok there is a catch! Due to health and safety in work I am unfortunately not aloud to carry the cups on my lap with tea in them. However I can now carry all the empties to the kitchen! wash them! fill them! however then one of the guys just carries them back to the desks. So much better and very simple.
At home it’s another story. This simple design makes carrying so much easier. No more risk of spilling. I get a sense of pleasure when I can roll in with the teas. However as I recently discovered it works great with a few beers and also a bottle of wine and two glasses.
I know for many reading this you may ask! How is something so simple as making tea such a big deal? It’s about the simple things that make the difference. This is better than any tray. The cups are secure. There is a lip so nothing can spill and it fits nice and solid on your lap.
This really is a fantastic wheelchair must. I would love to see how someone with poor grip would benefit I think it’s design would assist in that area two. I think the Muggi has really hit the unintentional mark.
• Muggi is designed and manufactured in the UK from a lightweight but super tough Polypropylene.
• It is available in a range of colours including Blue, Red, Grey, Purple, Green, Pink and recycled Black.
• It securely holds most shapes and sizes of mugs, cups and wine bottles and will catch any unwanted spillages, BUT it also features four non-slip rubber feet, finger and thumb holds!
• Can be produced in virtually any colour for orders over 1000 units.
Instantly impressed by the look and design. Tried them out and really fancied putting them through their paces.
Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk, to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use over the years.
I have a set from early days that are adjustable NHS issue and they do the job. Except the fact that you clink every time you take a step. I was then issued with a solid every day set. Made to measure! These where great but came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly.
over looked on everyday crutches
Let’s look at a few of the things that are over looked on everyday crutches. The elbow cuff is normally made of moulded plastic that can be a little rough. Jumpers tend to get snagged and soon ruined by this.
The hand grip is normally also made of hard plastic and anyone who uses them for a period of time will get that red painful palm where you are basically pushing down on the grip.
The rubber feet that you only ever get full floor coverage when the crutches are completely straight, use these on tiled floors like super markets and they can be lethal.
The main point to note
Crutches are really designed for a short period of time. Crutches are not designed to take your full weight. The main idea is to assist with balance not to replace it.
I tend to take most things and turn it on its head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it. not its purpose.
When smartcrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits.
So whats my verdict
Everyday use they are great. Covering the initial issues every box has been ticked. The elbow support is strong smooth and padded so you don’t get the issue with snagging and most of the support is through the elbow rather than the wrist.
The hand grip is a soft comfortable rubber that has plenty of give. The elbow section adjusts so that you can effectively use them solely with the elbow taking the pressure off your wrist all together.
Even though they are fully adjustable you don’t get the clinking as they are a good fit and well-built.
To me the magic is in the feet. Being flexible they offer a constant platform and grip to the ground so slippery surfaces are not so much of an issue and as a result shopping is a lot easier and I feel much more secure.
The adjustable elbow support means that once they are at a 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow, not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to.
Now for the best bit
So as always once I had used these for everyday use I wanted to take them out of their comfort zone.
Squash is an active sport and one I enjoy. It keeps me fit and healthy but I used to fall over a lot as the floor is a slippery surface. My normal NHS crutches didn’t offer me a good solid platform to lean into.
The smartcrutch has really improved this area and is a massive assistance on court. The look is stylish , comfort is amazing and overall usability is awesome.
Next was to try them off-road. Here is where these awesome crutches find their slight but not complete weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well. On loose dusty surface they tend to lose a little grip.
Now here they do shine, on relatively uneven rocky surfaces the flexibility in the feet seemed to work fairly well. The adjustable elbow joint means you can place a lot of your weight through the crutches but only if they grip the ground. I have not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal.
few words of IMPROVEMENTS
I really am not going to take anything away from this product the conditions i put them through are not what they are designed for.
In my opinion however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all-rounder. It would be all in the feet!
If I could have one improvement on this product it would have to be the addition of off-road feet. As an adventure lover I am never more alive than when I am off the beaten track and up a mountain.
There is so much potential for the Smartcrutch to be used as off-road with the design of feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow or better still sand. I think smartcrutch are missing this vital sector.
final few words
These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others. I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits and i am very impressed.
I think that they still have so much more to give and really look forward to the future of this product.
Imagine this as a scenario! You are going about your life as anyone else would and something dramatically changes!
No warning and no time to plan! You end up in hospital! No clue what has happened! You know something is wrong ! But you don’t know what!
For many people going into a chair that is the exact experience. Let’s be honest who sits down and thinks I am just going to keep a few thousand aside in my bank just in case I need to redevelop my life around a disability.
I know I never! If you are reading this chances are you didn’t either. So initial shock has passed and along come the next stage.
What to do now,?
what do I need?
It’s all perfectly expected, and a natural fear of the unknown is common. Here in the U.K. We get the privilege of the NHS It is a privilege! Because in many countries this is not the case.
So you now know you need a wheelchair and you need one soon. An absolute need to live the best life possible. Something light enough to manoeuvre around in and don’t forget getting in and out the car.
Your new wheelchair is not just an item that gets you from A to B it is now apart of you. Annoyingly it also becomes your new descriptive characteristic. So yes it’s an important purchase.
So what do they cost?
Well honestly a few grand to be on the safe side. They are custom-built to your needs and everything down to the wheels is an added extra.
The big question is do you have to buy new?
Well for me that was not an option! If I had my way I would buy the Carbon Black, it’s amazing, light, sexy and expensive. If I was completely honest I would have struggled to go for a lower end spec chair from Bromkin, RGK or maybe Quickie.
So I turned to the internet and to be exact EBay. I knew my measurements and what I was looking for. The big things you need to know is leg, hip, and seat size.
If you look at chairs that are fully adjustable you will be on a winner. It is a case of spending the time and making sure you are happy. Don’t forget to ask other people what they think. You are not just buying a wheelchair you are buying the one thing you will use everyday and all day so it has to be right.
So you purchase a chair for a fraction of the cost and you may want to just put a personal touch to it! Your options are endless with some new casters that cost a few pound from a skate store or eBay. Kids scooter wheels are normally perfect.
Maybe you want to give a whole new style and refurbish it, look at sites like Pimp my chair they do all sorts from nice straps to complete back and cushion . But at the same time you may not need to do anything and it may be perfect with a few settings adjustments.
This option may also leave you a fund for accessories like the FreeWheel. I purchased a fantastic Kuschall wheelchair that I have had for three years and believe me I have put it through its paces including taking it down flights of stairs.
I have upgraded the wheels to spinergy, replaced the casters and lowered the back rest but initially all I done was tweak the settings to fit.
By going second-hand I saved an absolute fortune and would recommend you shop around before shelling out loads of cash if you can’t afford to. Since then I have now purchased a second chair that I used just around the house, again cheap and cheerful but does the job.
I know for many the importance of a custom fitted chair is unquestionably vital but for some it is just not in the budget and it’s those people like me that find the journey the biggest struggle.
There are several types of people suffering with disability, those born with a disability, those who suffer from an injury and those who suffer from an illness.
If you weren’t born with a disability as many aren’t, it can be a struggle learning to adapt and enjoy your new lifestyle. This will lead to times of frustration, sadness, and despair. It shouldn’t have to, you are the one in control and you do have the power to succeed. I get it! Yes! This is Easier said than done. Yes! We all struggle. Yes! It is perfectly natural however it’s important to find your new way of living. Your task is finding a way to make ‘you’ happy.
Coping with your emotions
It’s hard and even more so if an injury or illness is keeping you from doing the things you enjoy. You will start experiencing a profound impact on your emotional and mental health.
For many people there is the offer of counsellors to help them sort through their emotions. Some like myself this is not necessarily on offer so I turned to friends and mentor programs. Programs like what is offered by the BackUp Trust.
Truth is you just need to find people to talk through your feelings with. It helps if they have a grasped understanding of your situation. There are loads of foundations and organisations that can help in this area for example Limb Power help with individuals that have lost a limb or have limb impediments. I have recently been a guest at the Katie piper foundation. They support burn and scaring survivors. The foundation and the patrons are fantastic and supportive.
I was very lucky as I met people through sport and those people introduced me to other people. I joined my local baseball team. (Archers Wheelchair Basketball) This helped loads, my journey from there has been positive and now I am in a position where I can offer others a bit of support.
Through sport I found confidence and from confidence I found will power. Before I knew it I was back in the saddle, I was planning adventures and deciding what I wanted to do next.
Your limits can be a massive issue. Your body’s new limits is something you will need to explore and also experiment with. This is the area however that will make you angry and at times irritable. You can gain a lot of benefits from working with physical or occupational therapists to help you find new ways of doing things. Effectively using your body to its best potential will be how you overcome the limitations presented to you. For all of us the hardest thing to beat is our own frustration.
Be patient with yourself it will come in time. We all try we all fail but if you don’t try then you have failed before you begin.
Now this is the area of real pressure. It comes with its own issues and I have often stated that no one plans this life changing event. Often a recently new disability will keep you from working. This could possibly be long or short-term so you are effectively already starting on the back foot.
I know here in the U.K. You can seek benefit support and in other countries there are other such assistance. The application process can be lengthily and often complicated. You may even get rejected on the first attempt but the hard work is worth the effort. Remember two things:-
You need this initial support and never be too proud to ask for help. One of the biggest mistakes that many people do in my opinion is to fund the new unexpected out goings on credit cards or loans. This is the voice of experience.
Financial hardship is common, you are not the first. Sometimes the sudden lack of income can put massive pressure on an already pressured situation. You don’t have to face this alone and you can visit well run organisations such as Citizens advice or stepchange to seek financial guidance.
Finding new passions and hobbies
Hobbies will be very healthy, your life may have changed due to disability but your life style doesn’t need to. If you are unable to keep working in your current job try seeking a further education.
Sometimes hobbies have to change. I was a runner before my wheelchair but I found new activities such as wheelchair basketball, Handcycleling, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair squash and of course I became a blogger.
It is absolutely vital that you find new ways to enjoy life. There are plenty of hobbies and activities you can do. All you need to do is just be willing to explore your boundaries. Step outside the box.
It is hard to adapt but trust me you will find away. When I developed my disability so many people told me what I couldn’t do but all I could think about was “but why not?” So I decided to try to find a way to do these things for me that became my hobby! And I love it…
The journey from where I started to the place I am now has been long, painful and frustrating. I have had to overcome, push my limits and rediscover who I now am. People would say it’s not about the chair you are the same old you. No I am not I am a new me. I laid the able version of me to rest and embraced the version of me that has a disability and decided that if this was the cards I was dealt then I am playing them my way. Keep hope, keep faith and look to those around you for the support you need. You can do it and you will…
When I was asked by Beverly Jones of Awaken Life Coaching to talk in front of a group of ladies, in St Cadoc’s church and where they are all older ladies. I admit I was a little worried. These where a group of ladies that have lived through a world war. Seen and experienced things I could not begin to understand. And here I am with a story of my life. How could I even begin to offer them anything of any value.
I decided to open up my talk with a poem, something I wrote, something that had dear meaning to me. Very quickly I realised that my audience was engaged, so i continued with my talk feeling a lot more relaxed and comfortable.
I told the story of waking up one day and my life had changed for ever, I talked about loss and about how I had to learn to cope. I spoke about the path I had travelled on my journey and the exciting things I had experienced along the way.
These ladies where relating to me each in their own way, they where listening intently to what I had to say and I felt a real vibe of interest in the room. The setting was St Cadoc’s church Raglan with the large church organ behind to set the scene. It accrued to me exactly how fantastic this was, so prudent, I was a single man tiny in form engulfed in the architecture of this absolutely stunning building. Lit by the light coming in from the massive stain glass windows towered by the stone walls and watched by this incredible church organ. And yet here I was making a difference to people’s lives. simply by communicating and sharing my experiences with others. This was an amazing experience.
I spoke about my journey through medical investigations, tests and examinations, heads started to nod and a reaction of familiarity showed in the ladies faces. It dawned on me that these ladies had been on similar journey as I had. Of course they had! why did i even think for a second they would not understand the feeling of ignorance you get from doctors at times. The pain and frustrations of once being capable and suddenly you realise you are not so able. Each and every person in that room had a story, each story special and full. everyone there had experienced so much and seen so much and yet they offered me the grace of appreciating what I had to say.
I spoke about jumping out of aeroplanes and a sea of smiles shined back at me. I told the story of challenge 2015 and the interest grew stronger, these amazing ladies where so captured by my stories and tales of craziness, every joke I cracked was welcomed with laughs and interaction between each other, the best part was that all the way through they never took their eyes off me and that was extremely refreshing. (not one single mobile in the room)
I was so please when i finished and was showered with applause and congratulations, the questions flowed that I was happy to respond to. I explained what exactly a blog was, for some reason this was by far one of my finest moments of the past few years.
I have done many talks and I can honestly say that this was one of my favourites. I worried about what value I could offer these amazing ladies, I hope I achieved what I set out to do. However the fact they ended up offering me the grace of their time fulling with pride. The experience left me feeling very humble but really buzzing all at the same time.
This right here is what I need in life. This moment is the drug I am addicted to. This is what I want for myself. The moment you sit in front of a group of people share your time and story and leave with the feeling you have added value to the lives of other people is worth more that anything in the world. I would like to thank the ladies of St Cadoc’s church Raglan group for the most amazing evening and an experience I will hold very dear for a long time. Thank you xxx