Out of Hospital & Better Than Ever!

Sorry for the radio silence but to be honest I’ve been crazy busy since coming out of hospital.

Luckily everything went well with my surgery and my scar is healing so quickly it already is hard to see. Nice! As part of my recovery I have had to stay in my wheelchair for ever longer periods, and so Diane and I have been going out enjoying the weather. This means I haven’t been focusing on work so much. I should say this is also because my injury was caused by working so hard, so I did find going back to work a little off putting.

Having said that my time in hospital did lead me to write two articles for the Huffington Post, both on the subject of Assisted Suicide. Very current with all that is going on recent;y and as anyone who reads my stuff will know, something I am passionate about. I hope you’ll take the time to read my articles as I think they raise important issues on the subject and give an insight that can often be overlooked in a debate fueled by emotion and fear.

So the first is called When “No” Means “Yes” For “Your Own Good” in the political section of the Huffington. It explores my views on my fears around some of  the medical profession’s attitude towards sick and disabled people and how they might impact on the concept of allwing them to assist those very people to die.

Then I had Assisted to Die or to Live? in the Lifestyle section. This article stemmed from the other disabled people I met in hospital who I feel had not been helped to cope with their new abilities. They were mostly depressed about being disabled. I asked if more focus should not be placed on helping people like them to live happier fulfilling lives and not on helping them end their lives?

I am back to work finally and there should be more to tell you about soon. Next week I am working on a music project with Drake Music, and I even get to sing. Can’t wait. as soon as the project goes live all info will be here!

Right, off to do my vocal exercises.. Meeemeee. Mooomoooo. (Poor neighbours eh?)

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New Article Round-Up

Here’s a round up of some of my recent articles.

First is a  piece on Wheelchair Dance in Disability Now, as it doesn’t matter whether you live on wheels, legs or both you can cut a rug on the dancefloor.

Then I have an article on sex and disability published on Miss Alice Gray‘s website. It’s the first of a two parter, with the second art being more of a “how-to” guide to sexiness and disability.

I have also joined the writing team at Disability Horizons as an occasional contributor. My first story for them was about dressing up for the party season if you are disabled, called Festive Fashion, but it works for all times of year. You know me, I never need a reason to dress to impress… or shock! The next article for DH is on the recent casting at the BBC for the cream of disabled acting talent which asks Is It Time For Our Close Up? Ages back I wrote my views on Assisted Suicide, so if you missed it maybe check it out.

You can also check out my column in PosAbility magazine at their online portal. It’s not the most recent, but keep checking back as they update it regularly.

So that about it for now. Got loads of new articles coming up, so I’ll keep you all posted.

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Web TV Debate

Here is the web TV debate for everyone who has been asking to see it.

I just wanted to say it was great day and it was a joy to be able to discuss the issue in a sensible and rational manner, well for most of the time. Heather Pratten was a joy and the team at Markettiers were amazing too. It was an honour to be able to represent the voices of so many people who are usually ignored in this debate. If we could explore the issue this way more often we might come to a conclusion that works for everyone.

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Right to Die? I need your views.

Anyone who reads my blogs or hear me talks on the subject of assisted dying knows my views on this issue. I have repeatedly explained how I fear a change in the law to legalize assisted death would destroy the doctor/patient relationship, worsen the way that way that society views disability and illness, put pressure on those who are disabled or sick to end their life prematurely and even lessen the amount of medical research carried out in to serious illness and disability. But this is a message going to all of you, as I need your views on the matter.

This Monday, May 13th from 1pm onwards, I shall be taking part in a live online web TV discussion on the topic and want to ensure that I can quote views other than my own. Even if you are in favour I would like you to comment on this blog as I feel it is essential for me to fully understand the differing views on such an important issue.

You can also put your own questions to myself and someone from the Pro-Assisted Death campaigning group Dignity in Dying by going to one of these two websites. Either visit Studio Talk TV or Benenden Health and post a question.

I will be running the debate on this site too, so please tune in. I will do my best to get over the arguments against a move to legalize medically assisted suicide, and I hope that many of you will support me in this. Whatever your views it is a major event in the debate, especially as Jane Nicklinson and Paul Lamb are taking their cases to the High Court on Tuesday May 14th.

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Right to Die? Right to Live is better!

Yet again the press is filled with the story of a campaigner who are going to court to end the terrible suffering of their life as a disabled person. This it is Paul Lamb who is claiming that his life is should be ended at the hands of the medical profession, as he feels he no longer wants to go on but is too disabled to end his life himself.

I am so saddened that another person feels that they have the right to even consider taking this case to court, whatever their disability or condition. I keep hoping that our society will start to see that if we do go down this road, we are starting out on a very slippery slope. Once the law has been changed to allow doctors and medical professions to assist a person to die, where will it end? I know from own experience that some doctors see someone like myself as having a “poor quality of life”, no matter how much I have tried to make them see how wonderful and fulfilling your life can be when you are disabled.  But we never see that anywhere in our media, not even when the Paralympians were going for gold. It’s always how amazing we are in spite of our disabilities, not thanks to them. And you never see anyone who feels like me, that becoming disabled was the making of them. The constant barrage of  negativity creates a stereotype of disability that feeds into the psyche of everyone, especially those people who suddenly find themselves with a new level of ability. Something that is really important about Mr Lamb’s case is that he is not terminally ill. No he has a static disability, and therefore is not being “saved” from a ever growing level of illness or incapacity but rather from his feeling that things just cannot get better for him and people like him.

I know, as while I have been disabled from birth, when I became a wheelchair user at the age of 15 I really thought my life was over. I just couldn’t see how I would live, work or find love. I imagined the kind of life which Mr. Lamb describes when he talks about his own. Yet this is not what happened. Instead, with the support of  family, friends and many others, as well as taking advantage of all of services that the state provides, I began to build a new future for myself.  Within a few years I had started out on the road to becoming the man I am today, with the amazing life I live. I now look back on my newly acquired level of disability as a truly positive thing, the day my life started for real. I truly believe that everyone could learn to feel this way, if they were given all the assistance, guidance and support that is required to help people come through what is a hugely difficult process.

This is what Mr Lamb really needs. Not a change in the law that would open a can of worms for all of us, whether we have a disease, disability or are elderly… or eventually squinty, ugly or just undesirable. No he needs help! From watching his interview on the BBC earlier this evening, it is obvious to me that he is depressed. Not only is this a normal effect of learning to live with a  disability, and I myself went through a serious depression early on in my life on wheels, but it is also caused by chronic pain, another issue that Mr Lamb complains of suffering. Yet again this is something I fully understand as I also have long term chronic pain  as part of my disability. So I really do understand why he feels this way, but I just can’t support his quest for assisted suicide. I would instead want to see a campaign that ensured that people like Mr Lamb were supported to have the kind of life he wishes he could have, which is possible no matter what society might believe.

We must stop always focusing on the negative stories of the very few people who are finding it difficult to cope and instead expose the myriad of positive stories our there of happy, contented disabled people. It will be of benefit for all of us, disabled or not, and will go a long way to changing the lives of so many people who are having such problems with building a new life after coming to a disability. The thing that saddens (and worries) me the most is that this campaign coincides with the big government push to cut costs and services. To me this is not by accident. Why spend all that money on creating a society that ensures that disabled people can live fulfilling, happy, independent lives when you can assist them out of this world and save all that lovely cash for the fit healthy non-disabled? Combine this with the terrible way disabled people have been portrayed as drains on society or fraudsters and it is a perfect storm for this story.

So please, everyone who reads this; stop and think. Next time you see someone begging to be “put out of their misery”, no matter how much you might buy into the stereotype that this must be the only human thing to do, please understand that you are entirely wrong. The only true act of humanity would be to stand beside them, support them and help them through on their journey to a new understanding of what is possible for someone with a disability. If we all fight to create a world were that is the reaction to seeing people in Mr Lamb’s position then not only will they benefit, and thus become less and less common, but so will we all. Because at the end of the day the fear of how people would  cope if it happened to them fuels the public support for this campaign, and of course all non-disabled people are just disabled people the day before the accident or illness hits them. So if we could remove that fear and instead start living in the knowledge that we would all be helped to create a new, and possibly better, life, then the word “disability” would no longer have all the negative connotations that are currently associated with it.

Being disabled should never be considered a reason for a person to be put down. I just hope that one day being disabled will be something that people feel  proud about. I know I am… very.

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