A Brand New Year

I cannot believe it is 2016 already, and that it has been about 6 months since I last blogged. To any regular readers that have missed me…I’m sorry for being away for so long, and I am very happy to have some loyal followers. I genuinely don’t believe my life or my blog are interesting enough for loyal readers, but I love writing, and it makes it more worthwhile to know someone out there is reading it! I promise I will be a better blogger this year (one of my many new years resolutions).

I thought this blog post should be a quick round up of the second half of 2015, sort of picking up where I last left off. I believe I last wrote about my burn on my lower back, and the skin graft (which still gives me shivers when I think about it). I am very happy to say that it has healed nicely, although I do have quite an ugly scar that I am hopefully making less ugly with the help of Bio-Oil. And I am even more happy to say that I have not had any more stupid incidents with hot water or anything else since then. I have been quite injury and illness free other than a pretty nasty UTI before Christmas and a bit of a dodgy shoulder at the moment.

So my summer was somewhat ruined by my back burn, but I did manage to go to France with the family during my recovery. The surgeon cleared me as long as I was sensible, so I enjoyed a lovely few days with my parents, sisters and their husbands, and my little niece. I was very good about keeping pressure off my back, but then on one of the days it was soooo hot and everyone was in the pool and I was fed up on being all hot and sweaty, so I thought screw it, and went in. Probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but I got away with it and didn’t cause any damage, so it was totally worth it!


Keeping pressure off my back while hanging out with Lexi in France

I also tried out some sailing in the summer, but I will save that for a separate blog post. I joined in a Sailability session at Rutland Water, and it really was incredible. The facilities and instructors there are amazing, and it is something I would love to do again this summer when the water is calm and the sun is shining. But I will write properly about it another time.

In October I was lucky enough to go to the England vs Australia Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham with my dad and two of my sisters. Hopefully enough time has passed now that everyone had accepted England’s early exit. I felt it was a bit too raw to write about it at the time!! (Bring on the 6 Nations, woo!!). We had a great evening though, despite the result, and the parking, access etc was all amazing. And it really is quite cool being a wheelchair user at a sporting event because you get a great view and the marshalls/stewards are always so kind and helpful.


Close enough to smell the action!!

A couple of days after the rugby, I flew out to North Carolina with my parents. We were going to visit Ali (who I met when I was out in China) and her family. It was Ali’s sister’s wedding, and we were kindly invited, so decided to make a holiday of it. We spent a lovely 10 days in the sunshine (except the wedding day, which peed with rain – typical). It was so nice to relax and unwind, and it was my first proper holiday in a long long time. Everything went pretty smoothly (mainly due to my dad’s immaculate planning in advance), and it was so great to catch up with Ali after not seeing her for a year. We formed such a great bond when we were in China together, and even better was that Jenny (who was also in China), is now living out in America too, so we got to see her.


A few weeks after we returned, I went to the Rooprai Spinal Trust Ball, which was my first black tie event in quite a few years. I have mentioned the RSTrust before, but I have become very close friends with Marrianne (who is the inspiration behind the Trust) and we have a lot of fun (and wine) when we hang out together! I won’t write anything else about the ball because I am putting together a blog post about it for the RSTrust website, but once that is up, I will put a link on here, so you can read all about it and see all the great (and not so great) photos. Here are a couple of piccies though..


Ok, where am I up to now?! Almost December I think…the build up to Christmas, which I absolutely love. And December just went so quickly and I was so busy. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…I’ve started playing wheelchair tennis – that’s why I was so busy towards the end of last year. Again, I will save that for another separate blog post (and thankfully I don’t have any pictures of me playing). Basically, I went to a taster session at the end of the summer and I actually quite liked it. Contrary to everything I have said over the last few years about not wanting to play a sport that I used to be good at, I decided to just go for it. And I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Since then I have been playing a couple of times a week at Sutton Tennis Academy where they have wheelchair tennis coaching sessions with a great group of players and coaches. My enjoyment has slightly turned to frustration now, because I want to be good! And I am impatient!!! It has pretty much been like learning a new sport from scratch because of the court movement and playing shots is different…it’s a whole different game really! So I am trying my hardest to be patient and not get so wound up when I’m playing badly (which is most of the time). I have been borrowing a sports wheelchair during my coaching sessions, but just before Christmas I was approved for funding for my own chair from The Dan Maskell Tennis Trust, which is SO exciting. So once I’ve got my own chair there will be no stopping me, and no excuses to not get better!

If you’re still reading, then congratulations, you’ve almost made it to the end of my 2015! All thats’s left now is Christmas, which I got to spend with the whole family. It was amazing that we were all together, and we had a lot of fun. It flew by though, and now here I am back to the usual routine. 2015 was on the whole a great year for me. I had some very low points at the start of the year, but with the help of some hypnotherapy I think I really turned a corner and have started to make some really positive steps towards a bright future. As always with me, I make progress very very slowly, but as long as it is forwards, then I’m happy. And to mark my newfound positive attitude, I am having a party thing in London to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of my accident in a couple of weeks. I cannot believe it has been 5 years already, but I am celebrating this occasion because I’m actually quite happy these days. (I’m totally terrified at the thought of seeing lots of people/being out in Soho etc, but let’s not dwell on that for now!)

In the spirit of this blog post, I will end with a photo collage of Christmas with the family. And seriously, well done if you made it to the end of this blog post…this was a mammoth one!!


Burn baby burn…

So the last four weeks have been a bit unusual for me. Just as I was preparing to enjoy my summer and make the most of the good weather, I had an incident with a hot water bottle that resulted in a pretty horrific burn on my lower back. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, and why I ignored the dull achey pain I felt (I’m very used to lower back pain when I’m sitting in my wheelchair), but anyway, it was my mum that noticed it, and as it was about 5.30pm on a Friday evening, off to A&E we went to get it checked out.

I was told that the burn was pretty bad, but it would heal, so I had it dressed, then re-dressed the next day, then again pretty much every couple of days for the next two weeks. Anyway, it basically wasn’t healing, or was healing too slowly for the nurse’s liking. So a photo of it was sent to the specialist burns unit, and I was summoned for a consultation. And they decided that I needed a skin graft…oh joy! As the burn is located on the skin very close to the metalwork in my spine, there was concern that the slow healing could lead to an infection, and if the metalwork gets infected then it’s seriously bad news!

Two days later, I was in hospital awaiting my skin graft. We (being me and the surgeon) had decided that a local anaesthetic would be sufficient as it meant that I would be able to leave hospital sooner and wouldn’t need an overnight stay. And as I can’t particularly feel that part of my back I thought it would be a breeze. Huh!! I was so wrong!

I have had quite a few surgeries of the last few years, and people who know me well know that I love a general anaesthetic! I love the feeling of slowly drifting off into a relaxing sleep and waking up when it’s all over. I even usually ask the anaesthetist to inject it slowly that I can drift away for longer… sounds pretty weird I know, but I’ve gotta embrace the small pleasures in life these days! But I hate being in hospital even more than I love anaesthetics, so I found myself lying in the operating theatre wide awake, while lots of people were prepping stuff around me. And I was absolutely terrified!

Unfortunately, it turns out that I can feel a lot more in my lower back than I anticipated. Although I cannot feel skin touch, I can feel any amount of pressure…so for a normal person, it would be like having the skin numbed by ice, so you can’t feel the exact sensation on the skin, but you’re very aware of every little prod and poke. That combined with hearing the surgeon asking for various tools and stating what she was about to do set my imagination running wild with what exactly was happening, and I felt very queasy indeed!

She took skin from a ‘donor site’ also on my lower back, just to the left of my burn, to reduce the amount of dressings I would need and to make the whole thing a bit easier for me recovery wise. And the skin she harvested was stapled on to the burn once she had scraped out all of the dead tissue. If you’re starting to feel a bit ill reading this then I apologise… but I can assure you that being awake while it is happening is 100 times worse!

Anyway…it was eventually all over, and all of the nurses etc were so sweet to me and I was looked after amazingly. I was discharged a couple of hours later on strict instructions to avoid putting pressure on the area. Pretty difficult for someone who relies on a wheelchair and leans back on absolutely everything. But I have been focused on healing in time for my upcoming family holiday to France, and determined that I will not miss out, so that means spending almost all day and night lying on my tummy or my side (but not the donor site side.)

My family have been incredible at looking after me. I have been staying with my parents so that I can be properly looked after, and they have done such an amazing job putting up with me. I had the staples removed on Wednesday this week, and thankfully, the skin graft seems to have taken, and I think I am finally on the road to recovery. I’m going back again tomorrow for another dressing change, but I’m hoping that they will be happy enough with the progress that I will be fine to go away for a few days on Tuesday with my family.

So the last four weeks have, on the whole, been pretty shitty! I am forever going to be so so careful with hot water bottles, and I also highly recommend anyone getting a skin graft to opt for the general anaesthetic, no matter how brave you are feeling. I am hoping that this inconvenient injury will not completely ruin my summer. I was planning to take part in a triathlon in August, but unfortunately the surgeon has told me that it would be ‘asking for trouble’. I am so gutted about that, but I am trying to find something that I can focus on to help me motivate myself through this recovery. Any bright ideas are welcome… I enjoy a good challenge!

Below is a picture of the attractive dressing I have been sporting for the last 10 days… and below that is a picture of the burn and the donor site a few days ago when I had the staples taken out. I warn you, the second picture is not very pleasant to look at, so do not scroll down unless you are prepared. And click away now if you would rather not see it.









Last chance to look away… I have warned you…





Taking back control

I have sort of been off the radar for the last few months blog-wise. It was sort of an unintentional break. I last wrote about all the things I wanted to do in the lead up til Christmas (wow, Christmas seems so long ago now!) Well these plans were sort of cut short by the birth of my beautiful niece 9 days early on 16th December. She is absolutely beautiful and so perfect, and I can’t even express how happy I am that she is here. My sister and brother in law are the most incredibly natural parents.. I have no idea how they know what they are doing, but they are literally amazing and little Lexi is just scrumptious!

Meeting Lexi at one-day old


Me and Lexi a couple of weeks ago :)

Me and Lexi a couple of weeks ago 🙂

On the suject of babies, my trainer Jo had her baby on 4th January and her baby is just as perfect as well! I love that I have these two beautiful little girls in my life now, and I’m not sure what I did pre-baby, because it seems so normal to have a tiny little human around now.

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From beautiful bumps to beautiful babies (and yummy mummies!!)

From beautiful bumps to beautiful babies (and yummy mummies!!)

So anyway, that made for an eventful end of 2014/start of 2015, and things were all going quite well. And then for some reason I started to head in a slight downward direction emotionally, and to be honest, the last few months haven’t been great.

I don’t know if I just lost my way since I came back from China, or whether I just let everything get on top of me, but I just completely lost my focus and my motivation. And once I start heading down that road, I find it pretty hard to back track. I got so mad and frustrated about my accident and I started really feeling sorry for myself. It’s very easy to dwell on the unfortunate circumstances of my accident and to feel like a victim. And it is only now that I am coming through this the other side that I can see that there isn’t any good that can come from feeling sorry for myself.

I obviously wasn’t seeing that point of view at the time, and was just busy being angry and sad and frustrated about the past. I went to a few therapy sessions, and then contacted a hypnotherapist who I worked with a couple of times. He gave me some really great insight into the way I feel about myself. We worked on a few techniques (I won’t go into details as it’s quite hard to explain), but I basically created a version of myself that I want to become and I now focus on that.

I can’t change what has happened in the past, but I don’t want to look back in 20 years and regret how I chose to live my life after my accident. I want to make the most of what I still have, as I really do have a lot to be thankful for. Yes I had something major taken away from me, but it is my decision whether I let that ruin my life. I don’t want my life to be dictated by my accident, and I am determined to take back control of my life and achieve things that I want to achieve. There will always be obstacles in my way, but how I tackle them is completely up to me, and I don’t have to let them get me down.

Obviously I won’t be able to remain this positive and upbeat every moment of every day, but I definitely feel in the last few weeks that my outlook has changed. My sister (Pip) also said something to me which sticks in my mind. She said that no one gets success without a whole load of hard work, and I think that it’s so true. No one is handed an easy and successful life, so if I want to achieve then I have to get off my ass and do it! I can’t use my accident as an excuse, and I think on some level I probably have been over the last four years. But I don’t want to anymore, and I have a fresh load of determination and optimism.

So for anyone that has been around the slightly more depressed and negative Suzanne over the last few month, I apologise. I honestly don’t know how my family deal so well with me sometimes, but they are all superstars and they are all always there for me no matter what. I can’t guarantee that I am completely ‘sorted’ now, but I definitely feel a million miles from how I felt a couple of months ago.

And this has all happened in time for my birthday tomorrow, when I will become ANOTHER year older, but thankfully that means another year wiser too!

Family selfie (minus dad and Sam) from this week.

Family selfie (minus dad and Sam) from this week.

Regent Street Christmas Lights

I have decided to fully embrace Christmas this year, as it is my my favourite time of the year, and I missed all of the excitement in the build up to it last year. I get so excited each year as soon as it’s December and always want to squeeze in as many festive activities as possible. One of my most favourite things about Christmas are the Marks and Spencer Christmas sandwiches.. the ones with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and all sorts of other Christmassy fillings all crammed into one sandwich. Last year I flew into Heathrow on Christmas Eve, went straight to the M&S in the airport, but they didn’t have any in stock and I was gutted! I haven’t been out to the shops recently, but if they’re not already out, I’m sure it won’t be long before I can get my Christmas sandwich fix 🙂

Anyway, enough about the food! This year my Christmas activities have already begun as I went up to the switching on of the Regent Street Christmas lights at the weekend. I have pretty much given my sister Pip a wishlist of some of the things I want to try and do, and this was first on it. She very kindly made all the arrangements and so on Sunday morning I set off up to London in my new car (thank you Motability!)

We started off having lunch at the newish Burger and Lobster in Little Portland Street near Oxford Circus. They don’t really take bookings, but had allowed us to book a table, and they even put it thoughtfully near the disabled loos so that I didn’t have to dodge my way through the tables of other customers to get there. This is the first time in my experience that the person doing the table reservations has used their initiative and actually thought about there being a wheelchair in the party. They also had their own ramp that they quickly and easily set up for me to enter the restaurant (there is a pretty large step to get in). I was very appreciative of these two little things, and it made me feel extremely relaxed and content for our meal. I had been pretty nervous about the whole day as I’m not great with busy, crowded places, but the lunch was so much fun, and so tasty.



After lunch we moved on to Aqua on Regent Street, where my sister had arranged for us to sit on their roof terrace. Aqua is absolutely enormous, and so beautiful inside. They have a Japanese restaurant (Aqua Kyoto), a Spanish restaurant (Aqua Nueva), and a cocktail bar (Aqua Spirit). I look forward to returning there for some food and cocktails some other time, but on Sunday we were just there for a couple of drinks on the terrace of Aqua Kyoto.

Aqua Kyoto Restaurant

Aqua Kyoto Restaurant

Pip and George helped to get me up on one of their bar stool type chairs on the terrace and we enjoyed a glass of prosecco whilst listening to the amazing choir performing on the street below. We were on the same side of the road as the stage, so our view was a bit limited, but we could hear the choir perfectly, and it made such a lovely atmosphere.

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The lights were switched on at 5pm, and then there were some fireworks. I think we must have been down the end of Regent Street that didn’t have the various celebrities and bands performing, as we had some different choirs singing. But I actually much preferred the singing and the more relaxed vibe (although it did mean that we heard the song from Frozen performed by 3 different choirs!!) Somehow it had stayed dry for most of the afternoon, but it then started to rain, so we headed back to the car, and I headed home.


I had such a fabulous day, and it was so nice to be way above all of the crowds down on Oxford Street and Regent Street. I felt like I was part of all of the action, without the stress of weaving in and out of all the people. The whole day was an excellent start to my festive activities. A couple of other things on my list are Winter Wonderland, the ski lodge experience at The Montague on the Gardens, and of course, my beloved Marks and Spencer Christmas sandwich.

Marks & Spencer Christmas sandwich

I’m baaaaack!

Apologies to any regular readers who have noticed my absence from the blogging world recently. Time has literally flown by, and I have only realised now that it has been almost 3 months since my last post. I was extremely busy when I was back out in China, and I honestly didn’t have much to write about. And then I started to question whether I should just stop writing my blog altogether, but after a few people mentioned to me that they missed it, I thought I would start writing again. I have always enjoyed blogging as my own form of therapy, and have said that even if there is only one person that enjoys reading it then it is worthwhile to keep it going. So I’m back again for now 🙂

Sooo a quick summary of the last few months is in order then I guess. I’ll pick up where I left off and start with China. I flew back out after two of my sisters got married over the summer, and I had an end goal in sight of mid-October. It would be a final three months on the Kunming Walking Programme, and would make my adventure out there a year long in total (minus the couple of trips back to the UK). I really struggled being back out there to start with. I couldn’t motivate myself, and I knew that my progress was never going to result in ‘useful’ walking function; that is, I would never be able to walk instead of using the wheelchair. I can, and still do, use walking as a form of exercise as it is a really good weight bearing cardiovascular workout for me. But until science has progressed a bit further with a ‘cure’, I will not be able to make any more progress.

I don’t think this was much of a revelation for me while I was in China, and I definitely didn’t find it affected my motivation, but it has been something that has been on my mind for a while and I can finally say out loud. I used to be ashamed of myself that I couldn’t heal myself, as I hate to settle for anything less that perfect. I am always striving to be the best and am very competitive with myself. I saw being paralysed as a bit of a failure on my part, but I can clearly see now that it is quite difficult to beat science and medicine sometimes. Yes there are miracle stories out there, but mine isn’t one of them, and that isn’t my fault.

Anyway, back to China… I shifted my focus quite dramatically in August, and started to focus a lot more on what I’ve been studying for a while now, and that has been my main motivation since then. After meeting Ali in China when I first went out in 2013, I was very impressed that she is a successful financial trader, and was happy to guide me down a similar route. Trading is something that I have always been interested in, as my dad does it, and I have always been a numbers kind of person. Ali, her father and my whole family have been incredibly supportive of my studies, and I am very excited about what this opportunity may bring me. It feels amazing to be using my brain again and to have a potential career.

So along with wanting to spend more time studying and having a shoulder injury in China, I started doing half days in the gym. I went to the gym in the mornings, but then went home for lunch, and spent the rest of the day and evening studying. This worked out perfectly for me, and allowed me to be much happier about being in China for my last few months. The time went by pretty fast, and suddenly it was time to come home and say goodbye to an incredible year across the other side of the world.

Leaving Kunming was hard, mainly because I met some incredible people out there. There are many things I won’t miss, but I made some amazing friends, and felt extremely cared for by the staff in the gym. My personal physio out there became like a second mum to me when I was on my own, and is by far, one of the most generous and caring people I have ever met in my life. It was so difficult saying goodbye to her, and I really hope that I will see her again some time. I also really miss my three girls, Ali, Jenny and Emma. I never would have made it through the year without them and cannot wait until I see them again.

Me, Jenny and Ali

Me, Jenny and Ali

I left China feeling positive, healthy and for the first time since my accident, excited about the future. I’ve been back home for a few weeks now, and on the whole I feel I have implemented the positive changes that I wanted to in my life. I am currently trying to find a good balance between trading and working out, while still socialising and having fun. I think I’m starting to get there now… but it is much harder being in England where there are so many distractions compared to China. But one thing I definitely notice is that I am much more relaxed about the little things that used to bother me. No one is perfect, and no one has the perfect life. I appreciate small things so much more now than I used to, and I really value spending time with my friends and family having been away from them for a year.

I have a lot to look forward to in the near future…the main thing being…..

Two beautiful bumps

Two beautiful bumps

…. my sister (on the left), and my personal trainer and very good friend Jo (on the right) have synchronised their pregnancies perfectly. They are due three days apart (right around Christmas Day), and I am SOOOO excited about the new arrivals.

I think I’ve blabbed on enough for now.. don’t want you all to get bored already! I am making a point of going to new places and trying new things, so I will hopefully have lots to write about. Any suggestions for activities or adventures will be much appreciated 🙂

An Apology from Betty

I thought I would just write a quick post to update you on ‘The Undateables’ situation. I wasn’t aware that it would cause the stir that it did… and I wanted to thank everyone who messaged or tweeted me. The messages were all so kind and reassuring; sometimes I think that I was just being pathetic, but the reaction confirms in my mind that perhaps the production company were quite insensitive in the way they approached me.

Anyway, I received an apology email from them this week after my brother-in-law went to meet with the head producer of the show on Monday. They have apologised for any offence they caused and have also admitted that associating me with a completely unrelated charity to spinal injuries was a case of ‘genuine human error’.

I am appreciative that they have taken the time to personally apologise to me, but I can’t help thinking that this wouldn’t have been the case if my brother-in-law had not have spoken to them, and I just hope that there aren’t many more people that they have offended and upset with their recruitment process.

The whole situation can now be put to bed as far as I’m concerned… I will probably get a slight shudder when the new season of the show starts and it will remind me of this time when my confidence took a bit of a knock. But I am quite resilient these days… and when I make the decision to date again it will most definitely not be in front of any TV cameras!!



This is a blog post that I’m not entirely convinced I should be writing, as I’m not really sure where my mind is with the whole thing. I was going to just brush the whole thing under the carpet and pretend it had never happened, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about it, and I figure writing about it will help me move on.

So here it is… On Friday morning I woke up to an email from the TV company Betty, who make the show ‘The Undateables’ on Channel 4. One of the casting assistant producers was basically asking whether I, or anyone I knew would be interested in appearing in the new series of the show. The email was fairly polite, and cleverly written in that it was obviously trying to not insult me… but I’m afraid that it failed pretty miserably with that.

The first thing that I was completely insulted by was the fact that she (I will not name the person who sent the email) claimed to have read my blog and had found it ‘really interesting’. However, a couple of paragraphs later she asked if I could help put them in contact with people through my charity work with Reach. Well Reach is the Association for Children with Upper Limb Deficiency, which I’m sorry to say I hadn’t even heard of, let alone worked with, until she mentioned them. So I’m guessing that she was using some sort of standard template email and forgot to change the charity name to one slightly more relevant to a spinal injury.

If this is the case that there is a standard email that the company is using to ‘recruit’ undateable people then I find that pretty appalling to be honest. To approach people specifically with a programme title of The Undateables is quite a bold move, and I think even the most thick skinned people would take some offence to that. It is one thing to advertise online somewhere that you are looking for people to appear on the new series, but to target individuals is pretty harsh.

Now I haven’t actually watched the show, but from what I hear from my family and friends is that it is quite a sweet show. It’s main focus seems to be matching up people with learning disabilities, or other mental/physical disabilities that people have had their whole lives. That doesn’t mean that they are happy about being different or that they enjoy not being ‘normal’, but it does mean that they don’t know any other way. In my case, I was ‘normal’ for the first 23 years of my life. And then I had a pretty horrendous accident that I still find extremely hard to come to terms with. In my mind I still try to be the person I was before my accident and I try so incredibly hard to not let the wheelchair hold me back. I tell everyone that I’m just the same person I was before, except I’m sitting down all the time now. So reading that email was pretty much a slap in the face if I’m honest.

I have also made no secret of the fact that I don’t really think I will ever meet anyone and have my happy fairytale ending that I used to believe I would have. I find it hard to believe that someone will be able to look past the wheelchair, beyond the paralysis and see the real me. I know this sounds really negative and cynical and sooo many people have told me that they are sure I would meet someone if I just put myself ‘out there’. Well I’m not ready to do that yet; confidence since my accident has been a real issue for me. I still don’t really like going out in public and don’t like that I can’t blend in anymore. But I have got much better at it over the last year, and I’ve actually started to have a bit more fun and feel more like my old self at times. Being labelled as Undateable knocks me right back down again and just reminds me that actually I’m not the same as everyone else and that I was right to think that I will probably never find anyone.

My family have been completely outraged by this email. They think it is completely unacceptable, and my brother-in-law is actually going to meet with the head producer next week to discuss it further. I, as usual, am putting on a brave face and saying it doesn’t bother me…I have learned over the past 3 years that this is the easiest way. I have grown a pretty tough outer shell, but underneath it all I am unfortunately still a little ball of slightly screwed up emotions. My future love life, and probable lack of marriage and kids, has always been the thing that I am most sensitive about. And somehow a complete stranger from Betty TV company has managed to hit me right where it hurts.