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Over the past few months we’ve been busy working away in the background trying to track down a whole host of writers to contribute to the Sunrise Medical blog. We’ve spoken with Paralympians, racing drivers, models, business owners and lots of other people and we think we have some really interesting, relevant and engaging articles lined up for you over the coming months. We like to refer to our team of writers as the Sunrise Medical Blog Squad and we thought it would be rude not to introduce some of them to you. Here we introduce Quickie Krypton user, Claire Lomas.
Do you hate this chair a little less than that one?
That is the question they had to ask when choosing my first wheelchair not many weeks after my life changing accident. I couldn’t say I liked any of them - I felt angry, embarrassed and devastated that a fit and active 27 year old needed a wheelchair. That was back in 2007.
My accident and accepting my wheelchair
It was a spilt second that totally turned my life upside down. I was a chiropractor and top level event rider when a freak horse-riding accident left me paralysed from the chest down. Everything came to a grinding halt and I could no longer do all the things I had worked so hard to do.
Of course it was hard to accept I would need a wheelchair to be able to get around. I never appreciated having the full use of my body but when it is suddenly taken away from you you realise that ease of movement is something we should be grateful for.
Finding activities I can do as a wheelchair user
Over time I adapted to my situation and decided to fill my life with all the things I can still do. That included finding new sports such as skiing, cycling (and more recently motorcycling), fundraising, becoming a wife and mother of two girls and a career as a motivational speaker.
Disability doesn’t define who you are. I am the same person just sat down, and I have found new things to do in my life which I love. Most importantly my daughters think it is brilliant as they have always had mummy’s knee to sit on and whizz along! Although I had to endure some dark days following my accident I have had opportunities I would never have had, and now wouldn't change my life back.
My Quickie Krypton R
When my new Quickie Krypton R arrived - it makes me think back to how I felt after my accident and my thoughts now. I feel so incredibly lucky to have this smart lightweight wheelchair. I am certainly not embarrassed but I am proud. I am not sad or angry but excited, happy and grateful. The lightweight Krypton helps my independence, being able to get it in and out my car easily and without straining my arms. It feels stylish and neat too. I am also aware that my arms get a lot of use and the Krypton is so easy to push along it is much less wear and tear on my arms.
My fundraising events
Not long after I left hospital I decided to raise money to help cure paralysis. Since then I have organised events, written a book , walked various races in a robotic suit including the London Marathon 2012 , Great North Run 2016 and Manchester Marathon 2018. This has taken my fundraising total to over £660k.
My next fundraising challenge began on 9th September 2018 when I rode a lap on a motorbike at Silverstone during the British Superbike (BSB) race meeting, I continued throughout 2018 and will carry on in 2019 so I can ride at all the BSB series raising money for three charities. (Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, Matt Hampson Foundation and The Bike Experience).
My latest motorcycle challenge
Riding motorbikes is relatively new for me. I had never sat on a bike before my accident so learning has been very testing. I have catchers and launchers to help me start and stop, a gear shifter so I can change gear using my hands and some velcro to stop my knees moving. I started with The Bike Experience charity (who usually get injured motorbike riders back on bikes) and decided I wanted to continue if it was possible. Rockingham Speedway offered me the chance to practice there and I became good enough to attempt to get my race licence so I could then do track days.
I passed on my second attempt at Donington Park, one of my greatest achievements. I have now had the experience of six track days and I seem to improve each time, riding with 40 able bodied riders, mostly men and I am loving it. I am looking forward to the next challenge although understandably nervous! I get the freedom on the bike, the adrenaline and satisfaction of achieving something I never thought would be possible, but most importantly it raises money for some brilliant charities.
Find out more at: claireschallenge.co.uk