FEW of the inspiring Slimpod stories I get are as unique as the one I just love from Anni Cameron, of Winsford, Cheshire. She’s about to do a fun run to raise money – to get herself a new lightweight wheelchair for her favourite sport of wheelchair basketball. Anni has suffered from a collagen disorder since she was a child and it means she is prone to muscle and tissue damage. With the help of a Slimpod she’s lost loads of weight – you can see for yourself in the pictures how much neater she’s looking.
Anni has also used the amazing MuTu system which I recommend to people, and she’s used it to strengthen her inner core.
Here’s Anni’s delightful story in her own words:
Hi, I’m Anni. I spent the the best part of my life thinking that I was no good at any sport before discovering wheelchair basketball at a 2012 Paralympic Flame event.
At the time I was very overweight, unfit and suffering from unexplained joint pains and falls caused by my knees buckling under me which were dismissed as being as a result of my weight.
At club level, wheelchair basketball is open to able bodied as well as disabled players, so my not having any disability other than a spectacular ability to trip over my own shadow was not a problem. It didn’t take long for me to be completely hooked by the sport.
I wanted to be a better player so I was very motivated to lose weight but struggling to actually do it.
Although my fitness was beginning to improve, I was still suffering with the same joint pains, then a hip dislocation caused by nothing more than turning round too quickly and catching my foot on an uneven surface led to some further investigations.
It was discovered that I had a collagen disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a rare inherited condition which means that much of my connective tissue is poorly formed; it leaves me all baggy at the joints, vulnerable to muscle damage and slow to heal.
However, wheelchair basketball is a phenomenally supportive community and I learnt not only to accept my difficulties but to work around them, getting stronger, which helps to protect my joints and reduce my pain levels, and losing weight.
This gave me a much needed boost to my self esteem and self confidence.
I also felt enabled to buy a basic “day chair” to allow me to do day to day activities more safely and with less pain, opening up a life that had been slowly getting smaller over the years.
The freedom to spend a day going round the zoo with my family was fantastic, being able to wake up the next day and get on with life without reaching for strong opiate pain killers was priceless.
I learned to not focus on a particular skill when listening to the pod but to let my subconscious decide which skill needed work next, it was somewhat surprising to find that my subconscious thinks that my day chair skills also came under the purview of my sports performance but as chair skills courses for adults are few and far between I wasn’t about to complain.
I now play not only in Division 4 matches but also in the women’s league where I train alongside para-Olympians past, present and future!
Currently I am borrowing a basketball chair from my club, it’s good, but not a perfect fit for me and is a heavy steel frame meaning that I cannot play as well or for as long as I could as I waste energy trying to stay stable in the chair that I could better use on my game.
I decided to raise money to buy my own chair, fitted to me and my needs and built from aluminium, almost halving the weight. After a short discussion amongst friends, The Color Run was decided upon as a great event to enter as a sponsored event, pushing myself round the route in my day chair.
The irony of me, who had always claimed that “fun” and “run” had no place in the same sentence as each other, entering a 5km run was not lost on my family. I started training by pushing round the housing estate, just for five minutes at a time and building up to now pushing for over half an hour on a challenging route.
I have been very surprised that I love these fast blasts round the streets, enjoying the freedom of movement denied to me in childhood by my undiagnosed condition and the pain-relieving endorphin rush that comes with it.
On the advice of a friend, I supplemented this outdoor training with a pedaller (quite simply a pair of pedals on a metal frame) which I alternately use with my hands and legs, strengthening my joints without overtaxing them as well as providing a little cardio on rainy days when the thought of being soaked in muddy water spraying up from the wheels just didn’t appeal.
And so here I am, less than two weeks away from my first race, with half the money raised for a basic lightweight chair that would provide the support I need if not the performance that I would love, already planning a 10km race later this year and eyeing up the Manchester half marathon for next summer.
Maybe Fun and Run (well, okay, Wheel) go well together after all!