Friday, 27 October 2017

Me, myself and I

I was thinking that this blog can be of interest for other different able people, so I will try to explain a bit of how my body works.

In 2003 I had an motorcycle accident and got a spinal cord injury. The injury is incomplete and at level Th3. I can stand on my feet, not for a long time, but enough that it is helpful in many situations. I need to hold on to something because my balance is not so good. My body has also big difference between my right and left side. My left side is the strongest for movement and my right side is best for sensibility. I can actually lift my left foot so I can walk stairs, one step at a time.

For the daily life I use a manually wheelchair from Panthera U3 light with a SmartDrive and a FreeWheel. This equipment is perfectly for an active life in wheelchair.

My car, a WV Caravelle from 2015, is fully equipped with an elevator in the back, and two electrical side doors. As I can stand I can also use the side doors for lifting my wheelchair inside and then go up the extra mounted step to get inside my car. I use a handle for managing the gas and brake pedals. And I have an adaptive cruise control! That is the best invention ever! It works perfectly so I can keep my patient even when I meet not so good drivers on my way, haha!

Other things to know? I am working in a hospital laboratory as a bioengineer, well, now I have permission from work for a year, but I plan to come back to my great colleges in November 2018. Until then I will stay in Italy for training my body to get stronger so I can manage to do my work even better.

The road to Italy

Google maps says there are 2 825 km from my home in Trondheim, Norway until my Italian home in Muggia, Trieste... a long way of driving. I had some stop outside the route that made the trip a bit longer, but in all, a really long time on the road.

Luckily I love to drive my car, a VW Caravelle from 2015, fully equipped for a wheelchair user, and a bit more. For a long trip like this I feel it is necessary to have an adaptive cruise control to help release some of the tension of holding to the driving stick. And of course a German car is really perfect for the German Autobahn!

I used the trip to combine it with a seminar for a project I am leading - #hjulbeintkampsport. We held our first meeting in Gardermoen, Oslo, so we were four people together with a lot of luggage - A LOT! driving from Trondheim to Gardermoen. Staying a year in a new home I actually did not bring so much, but my big car was so full I could not use the elevator. Luckily I had really good help from my passengers. And for the trip from Oslo we where also two people, so we managed quite well - I drove and my passenger put fuel into the car, did some shopping for coffee and helped with my wheelchair. He even should help with the driving but as I told you, I love to drive.

The first day I drove all the way to Hotel Gremersdorf. We found the hotel at, right by the main road from Puttgarden. The hotel was good, and it has both parking and a restaurant. I got a room equipped for wheelchair and it suited me perfectly. You can read a bit of my function in a new post coming up soon.

The next day we drove all the way to Abano Terme, Italy. We were lucky there was not much traffic and the weather was nice. The second day was really tough, and I would probably had taken one more night if I was alone. I stayed with my friends in Abano Terme for two days, and I was so lucky to have a family dinner! I even learned to do gnocchi! Really wonderful even though my Italian are not good yet.

After fulfilling my heart with a lot of warmth I went to pick up my sister and her wife at the airport in Venice. Together we drove to my new Italian home, where a new story begins...

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A beginning of an idea

Since I have been a young girl I have always been fascinated of people who do some kind of martial art. I tried Judo a few times in my youth, but never continued to do anything other training than football and handball. After my accident in 2003 and I became a wheelchair user, it took me a long time until I accepted that I needed to find an activity in wheelchair and that I could not wait until my body can walk again. I have done a lot of training because I needed to, not because I wanted to. You can say I am a bit lazy...

In September 2012 Trondheim Karateklubb held a course for wheelchair users - Introduction to self defense. Eight weeks of fun! In February 2013 the club opened up for training karate for a group of wheelchair users. After one semester we started to train with the rest of the members, not as a separate group but as regular member, training with people with the same colour on the belt, independent if you did walk or sat in a wheelchair. Some adjustment needed to be done, after all as a wheelchair user you do not kick very well. but in all I felt as an equal to the rest of the members. Finally I did training because I found it fun, not because I needed to! I actually looked forward to train.

In the years from then until now I have had a lot of fun, great training and gained a lot of new friends! I have also had some struggles with my body, and some days have been really bad, but in February and March 2017 I spend some weeks with my master in Makotokai Wheelchair System at Jin Dojo in Padua, Italy. In that short periode of time I felt how martial art made my body and mind stronger, and even my friends and coworkers saw the difference in my body. My posture was straight and proud, I had gained a lot of strength in my core and my chest was more open and I felt I breathed better. I even could contract some muscles in my abdominal that I did not knew I had contact with! 

Sadly it did not last for long, as I went back to work and did less training again. Many of you know the daily life catch up with you, and the time passes with the things you need to do, and suddenly you no longer priority what is good for your body. I just lacked enough energy to do everything I wanted to do, and of course needed to do, for my body. I went through my exams for 1st dan in Makotokai Wheelchair System in July 2017, with inflammation in both of my arms and not enough training, but my will and spirit kept me going, and I finally got to be a black belt! I am so proud of my achievement! Of course, I could not have done this without my masters and friends, after all they are the ones giving me the spirit to do my best! 

I am humble to get to be a black belt, and now I feel like I really want to give back to others all I have gained. An idea of a project came in my head. I got funding and permission to leave my work for a year for leading a project to recruit wheelchair users into martial arts together with my dojo and The Norwegian Martial Federation. I want that other wheelchair users also can see and feel all the benefits of doing martial art. I want to give them the same opportunity as I got. My team of great martial artist will make it happen thru the same start as I got - an introduction course in self defense. This project is a Norwegian project called #hjulbeintkampsport and you can follow us in Facebook - Wheelchair Self Defense

What have a Norwegian project to do with a year in Italy, you may think? Nothing! Or everything! Without my masters in Italy I would not have come this far, I would not have had the spirit to give back, and I would for sure not be able to feel like an equal as a human. For sure, I could do this project staying in Norway, but to be near my masters, train in their dojos, follow their courses I know I will get to be stronger and my mind will be more focused. And you know, Italy is a bit nicer for a wheelchair user in the winter than Norway is! So, in a few weeks I will drive to my new home in Porto San Rocco in Muggia, Italy, and I will train martial art while I am leading a project, eating fantastic Italian food and enjoy my time in a wonderful country - my second home. I appreciate if you will follow my adventure!