"Finding a way"
Tell us a little about you and what brought you to Neuro Connection?
I was born with a form of cerebral palsy called ‘Spastic Diplegia’ – it means two limbs are affected from the waist down. I use an electric chair to get around and have always lived by the mindset of “finding a way.” What brought me to NCF, was quite simply, value for money. Before I came to NCF, I was using a gym catered for people with disabilities and the “get physical” vouchers I received for my cerebral palsy care went up, so it was costing me more. I spoke to the Cerebral Palsy Society and they told me about the Neuro Connection Foundation, and their price point proved to be great value for money. Funnily enough, I already knew about Conductive Education too, but thought it was just for children.
Why did you choose Neuro Connection?
I believe it’s good to change things up every now and then and try something new. I decided to come to the foundation based on the referral I received from the CP Society and since attending class, believe that’s exactly what I get to experience - “something new.” The team at NCF are 100% committed to empowering their clients and I really enjoy my time in class.
What are some of your biggest challenges in terms of your everyday tasks?
Probably my biggest challenge is in needing help to dress the lower half of my body. Although I can shower on my own, it’s the simple things like getting socks, shoes and trousers on that I need the most support with. I still cook and although I do most of my housework, I do receive a little help here…this includes my electric chair which can move up and down, which helps a great deal to clean my windows! I can also vacuum with my chair too.
Who are your biggest supporters and how do they support you?
My biggest supporters have been my husband, daughter and extended family (Sheryl is the youngest of nine children and there is a 25-year difference between Sheryl and her eldest brother!). I have also been extremely fortunate throughout my life, having grown up with a mother who was a Paediatric Nurse. When I was a baby, my mother used to play music and I would often roll towards the sound of the music. I look back on that care and obvious knowledge my mother had and feel so grateful for that now. My dad also pushed me very hard when I was young, and the expectation was just to “find a way.” My parents gave me little sympathy in this respect. I grew strong from this parenting and found ways to get by - just like everyone else.
Please tell us about something that you have recently overcome or feel proud of, regarding your current abilities?
I recently achieved a ‘bridging’ exercise in Nora’s class. (This requires you to be lying on your back, arms flat down by your side, with your knees bent together and feet flat. You then lift your hips off the ground to achieve a ‘bridge’ position). I had been told by another healthcare provider I had been attending prior to coming to NCF, that this was not a realistic goal for me to achieve. However, I proved them wrong! (Talking to Sheryl, we find that her stubbornness to surprise carers with her abilities has become a regular thing. During our conversation, Sheryl recalls her seven-year old granddaughter asking whether CP stood for “clever person.” She laughs at the memory and her reply of “sure, that will do – I’ll take that!”).
Please tell us about a goal you have in mind right now (ability related or not), or something you are just keenly working towards?
My goal is always to just stay fit. To keep what I’ve got – as I realise the more independence I lose if I don’t move. I am terrified of having to use a hoist one day, as I’ve often heard of people being dropped, so that fear keeps me motivated, as I fully understand the implications of choosing not to move! It’s simple for me, “if I don’t continue moving, then I may not be able to move in the future. I’m not a hero – I’m just a stubborn person who wanted a normal life!"