Choosing jeans as a wheelchair user is often not straightforward. Traditional jeans are not designed for people who are seated so there are some things for designers to think about and things for wheelchair users to consider when selecting the most suitable pair of jeans.
This video shows a typical day in London for me. I start with a healthy breakfast prepared at home & then we take the picture of the day for my Instagram close to our London flat. You will see me take a push to our local shops, visit our gym to go swimming and finish off the day in a wonderful Persian restaurant with my husband not too far from where we live.
My name is Samanta Bullock and I’ve been a wheelchair user for the past 25 years after an accident when I was 14 years old. Chronic pain has also accompanied me on this journey. It is a very strong pain, a very sharp pain and kind of hot all at the same time. Every one that has this type of pain has different feelings. It is due to the nervous system being damaged and to date there is no cure. I experience the pain 24 hours a day 7 days a week – all the time basically. To be in a wheelchair is not that hard compared to living with constant pain.
I’ve been to a pain management clinic where they help me to live with the pain and give me some advise on how to manage and ‘soften’ it.
One of the things I have learned is that the pain is not my enemy, it is my friend and it is part of me. I have made peace with my pain, understood it is there and I have tried to live a happy and fulfilling life.
The other thing I have learned is to change my focus. On the days where the pain is getting stronger and intense I just go to the gym or do another form of physical activity. Exercise is such a good thing, releasing endorfiness and it instantly making you feel better. Alternatively I watch a funny movie. Once your mind concentrates on something else the pain does not have any space to be present . I also go out with friends, talk with my family. Simple things take the attention away from the pain. It all helps.
I have learned to understand that sometimes there is nothing I can do. If I am extremely tired I now accept that getting some rest is part of the game. I no longer criticise myself for that. I accept I am tired and with some rest I will be feeling much better. Taking pain killers helped. Sometimes I didn’t need much, just enough to keeping going. For sure, in the past, I was on so much medication and it wasn’t helping my overall wellbeing. I was always very tired and my memory affected. Also the body is smart and the more medication you take more the body gets used to it. So every time you increase the dosage of a drug the body will adjust and soon you will need a higher dosage. After 24 years I was tired of using drugs all the time and dealing with the side effects including nausea, fatigue, dizziness, sores,etc.
So I started to meditate, and it has helped so much. To be in the moment, to filter my thoughts and to soften my emotions. Meditation makes me much more aware of my body and my emotions. But the best thing I did for my pain was to change my diet. Pain comes to show us that something is not quite right, such as when I need to go to the toilet or when I have an infection, or when I am sitting too long in the same position. Any ‘wrong’ thing that my body recognises as a threat can trigger pain. So I learned to monitor my body very closely. I realised that too much sugar or when I couldn’t go to the toilet because my stomach was dry, were the first causes of my pain. Too many classes of wine, chocolate or cakes at night would cause me to feel pain all night. So I went vegetarian and it has made all the difference. I think that because I am no longer eating meat I can empty my bowels more often and I wasn’t constipated any more. My level of energy increased and I could start to reduce some medicine that I had been taking for years. This effect became a snow ball. The better I felt better the more I reduced my medication, the more energy I had, and the less I wanted to eat meat and processed food. It is not that I don’t eat any processed, but now I am much more aware of everything that I eat and how my body responds to it.
I have reduced my medication by 85% and I hope in the future to be ‘drug free’. For sure I still have my bad days, mainly when I am sick with infection but since changing my lifestyle I have far fewer infections.
When my pain comes I ask if she wants to have a cup to tea with me! Its part of me, but she is is much more gentle nowadays and I hope that is the way it will be. I am keeping my part of the agreement with her I don’t give her many reasons to be there and she respects that and doesn’t disturb me too often. We are living in peace right now.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any pain and how you deal with it.
Some many assume that it’s difficult to keep your weight in check while in a wheelchair, but losing weight actually revolves heavily around your diet. Of course, staying active and exercising is a key component, which is why I always try to get to the gym each week, but nutrition is the main factor.
There’s a common saying that you can’t out-train a bad diet, and that’s why I focus on eating a healthy diet. Other than being dairy and meat-free, I try to keep everything as balanced as possible, because that’s what allows me to perform at my best. In fact, I don’t eat this way to lose weight, I eat this way as it benefits my body.
Ultimately, you should only attempt to lose weight if you truly want to. If you don’t, then be happy with yourself and love your body, because beauty comes in ALL shapes and sizes. These tips are just to give you some help for improving your diet if you wish…
Pasta is loved by millions across the world, including myself, but excess carbohydrates are stored around the body as fat. So, to keep your carb intake low, then you can make some delicious vegetable pasta with courgettes. Slice it into strips, spiralise it in a pasta machine, and cook it. Then, just top it with your favourite sauce, and you’ll have a lovely meal.
It’s no secret that a lot of people hate vegetables. However, vegetables are a terrific source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, which will allow you to maintain your good health. Therefore, why not try to consume all of the goodness from vegetables in liquid form instead? You can add vegetables, and accompany them with fruits and other things to improve the flavour.
Banana Ice Cream
Ice cream is one of those things that I love to snack on while watching a great movie or a binge-worthy TV series. Although, traditional ice cream is full of fat, and isn’t recommended for a healthy, balanced diet. But, there are ways to increase the nutritional value of ice cream, and a way that I love is to make my own banana ice cream.
Fruit for Dessert
There’s no denying that having a dessert to finish off your meal is popular, but devouring a chocolate sponge or a sticky toffee pudding won’t do your weight any flavours. So, why not substitute those common, unhealthy desserts with a scrumptious bowl of fresh fruit? You’ll get the same sweet flavours, but without all of the fat!
One of the best ways to satisfy your appetite, and curb any tendencies to snack in between meals, is to enjoy a hot soup. When it comes to soup, its extremely quick and easy to make, and you can choose whichever ingredients you desire. For instance, you could have a basic tomato soup, or you could choose to fill it with tons of different vegetables.
Use these tips for your diet, and they’ll help keep your weight at a level you’re comfortable with. But, remember, you should always be happy and confident with your body no matter what!