Smartcrutch review 

Smartcrutch on a squash court
I first came across this product at the mobility show in Birmingham and I was instantly impressed by the look and design. I tried them out and fancied putting them through their paces.
Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk and to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use. I have a set from early days that are adjustable NHS issue and they do the job except you clink every time you take a step. I was then issued with a solid every day set that was made to measure and they where great but came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly.
Let’s look at a few other things that are over looked on everyday used 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 is that crutches are really designed for a short period of time and not to take you full weight, the idea is to assist with balance not to replace it. 
I tend to take most things and turn it on it’s head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it. 
When smartcrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits. 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 s 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow and not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to. 

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 and my normal 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 weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well, on loose dusty surface they tend to lose grip but 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. But not taking anything away from this product these conditions are not what they are designed for however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all rounder.
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 off road design feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow and I think smartcrutch are missing this vital sector.
These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others but I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits but I think that they still have so much more to give. Well done smartcrutch now let’s talk off road. 

http://www.smartcrutch.com

The start to minimalist living

Minimalist living seems to create two very different opinions. Some say that they like there stuff to much and other love the concept of no clutter. I feel clutter causes stress, it takes away the ability to sit and not be crowded in your surroundings and a clean environment offers you the chance to have a clean mind. I started to clear out my home after my marriage broke down it offered me the chance to create my own space and have it how I wanted it. 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. I sorted out the bathroom and I now 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 declutterd. 

My wife or I should say soon to be ex wife have spoken a fair amount about the house and what the plans are going to be once we are divorced. We came to the decision that we really needed to make a start at separating our ties with each other but we also agreed to make it as simple and as fair as possible.

I was offered the opportunity to take the house on, it would have been a fair offer as the house is adaptive for my needs but I took time to think about what I wanted and where I wanted to be.

I decided that we should sell up, sort out our divorce and go our separate ways in peace. Of course as I am sure you can tell the whole thing is very amicable but then there is no real reason why it should be anything else. 

So while I planned on moving into a relatives house for a bit to get myself on my feet I thought about following my dream of buying a motorhome. Then I thought well if I had a motorhome 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 motorhome!! It’s a perfect solution. Cheep, as minimalist as it gets and I can go wherever I want. 

Fuelled by my new found ambition it is 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, captured like a caged animal in a world made up of two computer screens and a telemphone 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! 

So now let’s look at the options of the amazing opportunity. Living a life of little responsibility. Enjoying seeing some of the most beautiful parts of the world and never having to worry about being home for work on Mindy. No dead lines! No 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. Essentially turning my back on normality and creating uniqueness. 

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. 

My blogpost will soon change, my journey will soon start.  Please feel free to follow me as I follow my heart into a journey of discovery and adventure. Learning from my mistakes and showing in my successes. But for now it’s a chapter of strip back organise and create space. 

The Witches May Strike 


The witches gather their plan is cast

The damage they cause the pain will last 

They sit they stir they laugh out loud 
The victim was swallowed by the burning cloud
It’s grey it’s thick it covers him 
His future is Troubled the air is thin
He struggles to breath holds so tight
They are laughing at him as he battles to fight
Once strong and gallant he rose to the call
Now broken and damaged how far can he fall
He didn’t ask for the pain he would so feel 
This was hard, this year it just cant be real 
Why me he asked, this pain I am to bare
His life is destroyed they don’t seem to care 
His broken world what is the point 
His broken body come away at the joint
His life is done it’s smashed to tatters 
The witches laugh as if nothing matters
He knows he needs to find a way 
Your stronger than this some voices will say
Sitting up high upon a rock facing my fear
Looking to the ground through my tears 

Should I jump and end it all 
I am pushed I am beaten against the wall
I can’t find away to get over this thing
Those witches pain that they did bring
lifting spirit Taking the crunch 
I am part of a team a solid bunch
I try to gain my valour back
That pride that I did so lack 
An empty home 
A silent phone
Why do I stay I ask myself 
Sitting back upon the dusty shelf
I need a change a place to cope
To find myself some glittering hope 
A new road to travel new place to go 
My life will come back my spirit will grow
Those witches behind me
Where I can’t see 
They will strike again that fact will be 
But not strike this way not strike at me. 

Gwenffrwd-Dinas Nature Reserve

The thing I love the most about the U.K is the fantastic amount of amazing places to go to that are both  beautiful and free. I love the fact that there is so much I haven’t seen and yet all these little places are tucked away from view just waiting for me to stumble upon them. Easter Sunday was just one of those days, original idea was to climb Snowdon but my sensible and safety head stepped in and advised me against it. The main thing about exploring and adventures is to know when you need to leave to fight another day. A wet miserable day down here is life threatening conditions up there.

What a day though, rain, mud, great company and amazing views seriously what more could a person honestly want on Easter Sunday. The website on this walk clearly stated it was not suitable for People less able, as they worded it. But then let’s be honest the person who wrote the website had never met me or infact Kelly. So we kitted up, wet gear at the ready, good foot wear which is a genuine must and I even borrowed Rhi’s old cannon camera. I quickly learned that I am no natural photographer but I do need to get a bit of practice in. Rhi has a nack of finding these little spots that seem to be away from the tourist eye with almost untouched natural beauty and this time was no different and an absolute winner.  Dan and Rhi always offer a knowledge to any walk their idea of freedom and acknowledgement to the natural beauty of the world we live in and the respect they give it never fails to full me with a strong sense of responsibility to my own wellbeing and the need to nurture our delicate but amazing planet. 

The walk started along a laid out boardwalk going over a marsh land this delicate water laid area had its own beauty, covered in a layer of what looked like watercress the water below was clear and looked as fresh as it does coming out of the tap. I watched to see if I could find any wildlife in the water but spring growth had created a fantastic coverage over the water surface so what ever was living in there was safely hidden.

The java moss had made its mark here covering anything with a surface, laid out as a lawn in some areas and giving a fairytale feeling about the place. I stopped for a moment and placed my had in a tree and this may seem a bit strange to most but I realised that the tree had it own life, it’s own place and existence but here is is offering a place for another to life, completely selfless and together they looked spectacular but most of all each element played its own place in the growth and survival of the gorgeous woodland.  Spring has to be one of my favourite times of the year. It’s like a journey of awaking. The world has been asleep and as the trees come back to life and show the first signs of buds its like they are taking in the fresh air for the first time in months. The shoot of green and sprinkle of white and purple offer the ground a carpet of lush freshness. Blue bells are also one of my favourite wild plants, so delicate and cute and yet grow deep in the woods under the canopy of trees surrounded by the mystery f the forest.
We soon came across the area clearly not suitable for everyone, large rocks, steep climbs and a few drops but Kelly navigated herself well, sometimes a little unconventional but who cares she did it.  Kelly has been since the day I met her one of my greatest inspirations her spirit to give it a go and her will to succeed is something very special so to see her in action in this river valley was just fantastic. Even though  know her hip was plying up with the weight of her prosthetic leg and the un even ground she never complained once, the odd little moan but i think she deserved it and I think she gain a real sense of achievement at the end. I relied on my off road crutches by good direction Ltd and still they have never let me down. Solid and safe just what you need. However this time I decided not to use my callipers. Was this a wise choice? I don’t know as i was suffering but then i suffer anyway so maybe it was a decision that made no real difference. I couldn’t have gone on much further if i was to be completely honest and it took its toll on me, pain always makes me tired so the journey home in the car was a peaceful one.

We followed the river for most of this trek and you just can’t do it without stopping and taking in some of the breath taking views. Nature mixed with conventional living and farming thrown in for good measure added of course with the new spring lambs it was a walk that cleared your mind releasing stress and allowing a bit of free thinking as for the weather well it never seemed to bother me although a hot coffee at the end was very welcomed. I loved this walk it was a bit of everything and definitely a must do again. I wonder what it would be like in snow?

Muggi – The safest cup holder around

As a wheelchair user one of the simple tasks I do struggle with is cups of boiling hot water. Or carrying multiple cups at the same time. For many this simple task is an everyday event but for me it is an impossible chore. I have attempted several ideas and to be honest I have either got to do several trips with a hot tea in one hand and the risk of wearing it and then get from A to B. The area i was struggling with he ,out 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 are well aware of my odd restriction and in fairness never ever raised any comment that I never made a cup of tea but 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 and purchased  a few 1000 muggi’ and this for me was an absolute revelation. It meant that I could now take part in the tea run, however due to health and safety in work I am unfortunately not aloud to carry the cups on my lap with tea in them but I can now carry all the empties to the kitchen wash them, fill them and then one of the guys just carries them back to e desks. So simple. At home it’s another story, this simple design makes carrying so much easier no more risk of spilling and it gives me 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 something so simple as making tea can be such a big deal but it’s about the simple things that make the difference. This is better than any tray, the cups are secured, there is a lip so nothing can spill and it fits nice and solid on your lap. This really is a fantastic wheelchair must but I would love to see how someone with poor grip would benefit I think it’s design would assist in that area two.  If you have used this please post a comment below of your thoughts. 

Muggi Specifications 

• 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!

• We can produce muggi in virtually any colour for orders over 1000 units, please call to discuss details.

Dimensions

• Width 200mm

• Depth 200mm

• Height 70mm

• Each cup holder diameter 89mm

Disability- lifestyles and life changes. 

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 but it shouldn’t have to and you are the one to control this to a degree. I get it, yes this is Easier said than done, yes we all struggle and yes it is perfectly natural however it’s important to find your new way of living and finding a way to make you happy.

  • Coping with your emotions is hard and 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 counselors to help them sort through their emotions, some like myself this is not necessarily on offer so I turned to friends and mentor programs like that 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 imperaments, I have recently been a guest at the Katie piper foundation for burn and scaring survivors and 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 and it 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.
  • limitations can be a massive issue and your body’s new limits is something you will need to explore and also experiment with, however it 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 and effectively using your body to 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. 
  • Coping financially, now this is the area of real pressure and 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 but 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 and remember two things, firstly you need this initial support and never be to 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 and 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 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, I have played wheelchair rugby, I currently play 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, you just need to be willing to explore your boundaries, this bit is hard but trust me you 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” and then I decided to try and 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 its 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… 

Do I have to have a custom built wheelchair 

So imagine this as a scenario. You are going about your life as anyone else would and something dramatically changes! You have no warning and no time to plan! You end up in hospital, your not sure what has happened, you know something is wrong, you know it’s bad, 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 and if you are reading this chances are you didn’t either. 

So initial shock has passed and along come the next stage. Planning, 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 and 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. To live the best life possible you need 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 Ato 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. But the big question is do you have to buy new? Well for me that is 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 well your options are endless with some new casters that cost a few pound from a skate store or eBay, and yes kids skooter 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. 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. Good luck and I hope you enjoy my blog please comment below with any hint tips or advice you would like to share