I am paraplegic with a hind-quarter amputation of the left leg due to the removal of a chondrosarcoma from my sacrum. I was first diagnosed in 2001 when I was 20 and from the initial surgery was left fairly unscarred. In 2003 I had my second surgery and due to nerve damage I had very little feeling and movement in my left leg. I first joined SportsAble after this surgery solely for the use of the swimming sessions and never ventured to the club. I then had amputation surgery in 2005 and a further surgery in 2007 during which the last of the tumor was removed and I had rods put in my spine to stabilise my posture. During this last surgery further nerve damage meant that I lost complete feeling and movement in my right leg. I then had trouble with a deep-lying bone infection which was misdiagnosed as a pressure sore which went on from the end of 2007 to 2011 when I was finally given the right diagnosis and hence treatment.
I rejoined the club at the beginning of 2011 when I moved into my own flat I realised the need to have somewhere to go and so decided to see what the club could offer me. As I had spent quite a few years in hospital a lot of my friends had drifted away and so I was looking for a new way to socialise with people.
I am a member of Air Weapons and Wheelchair Basketball teams. I can only relate to playing football for Maidenhead Boys when I was at school but the coaching is of a much higher standard at Sportsable and typically has a much better structure to it. SportsAble is also unique in its ability to supply a social element alongside the sports with use of the bar after sessions.
I really enjoy playing Wheelchair Basketball as I played football a lot before my disability and it gives me the opportunity to play a team sport again. There is a good bond within the team which is something I enjoy. I also enjoy shooting but for very different reasons. It gives me the opportunity to be competitive with myself and I am constantly striving to be more consistent with my results. I shoot in the Middlesex Air Rifle competition. There are summer and winter leagues.
SportsAble has completely changed my life. Before SportsAble I was in complete denial about my disability but since joining the club I have learnt to accept it and with encouragement from other members I have learnt to dismiss it and look forward. SportsAble has helped me make a new group of friends amongst whom are like-minded people. It has also helped with my fitness as after spending a year on bed rest I had put on a lot of weight. Since joining the club and becoming more active I have lost around seven stone and am a lot fitter which benefits my everyday life in getting around in a wheelchair.
I would tell other people to join SportsAble as soon as possible as it can only add to their life. I took far too long deciding whether or not I should join and although that felt right at the time I would have benefitted greatly from joining sooner.
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