L on earth

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Milestones. Milestones. They drift past, and what do they tell us? How far we have come, or how far we have yet to go?

Last week we had a party to celebrate two milestones: I turned fifty, and we've been married for twenty years. The latter a reminder of the best thing that ever happened to me, the former a reminder (among other things) that I very nearly didn't make it past 36.

The weekend fair blew me away. I was overwhelmed by the love in the room, as people came to join us from around the globe, many of whom were at our wedding back in London, and lots of new faces who have become good friends since we moved to Australia in 2013.

The party also presented me with the opportunity to indulge my more theatrical urges, as I hatched a plot which could not have been more satisfying.

For some time now, I have been looking at various 'standing chairs'. These are wheelchairs that provide a mechanism which supports the user into a near upright position, through the provision of support below the knees and a chest strap. There are a few on the market, but I have always been most interested in a fully manual chair, as batteries are heavy and need to be charged.

 There are numerous reasons why standing is a good thing if you have a spinal cord injury:
By putting weight through the legs, it may be possible to aintain bone density and reduce the risks of osteoporosis and bladder and kidney stones, which can be caused by the body re-absorbing calcium from the bones (a risk to astronauts too, I believe).

Then there are benefits for bladder and bowl function that come from stretching the body out and stacking stuff up the way we are built to be stacked.

And, of course, it's good for the circulation, providing the vascular system with a less obstructed root to the lower limbs, while also demanding more work to get the blood back up again.

But as well as the health benefits, there is something else that motivates me. I'm pretty tall (around 6'3'"), and I'm still not used to looking up people's noses, even after thirteen years.
I also like to provide my kids with a reminder of just how tall I am. I'm not sure why, it just feels good.

Instead of gifts for my birthday, we decided to set up a crowd funding page to allow people to contribute to the cost of the chair, and I have been moved by the generosity our friends have shown us. It was this that made me hatch the aforementioned plan.

For our party, we were fortunate to have been loaned an LSA Helium Lifestand wheelchair, by the good people at Permobil.  But this in itself was not theatrical enough. The special magic was provided by local band, Salty, who provided the live music, and who generously allowed me to join them for a couple of songs.

Backing band in place (sorry, boys), I managed to swap wheelchairs and make my way through the (by now well-oiled) crowd, and rise up in front of the audience, whereupon I was handed a guitar and proceeded to murder London Calling, by The Clash.

Mid-life crisis? You betcha. But, my, was it fun...

Thank you to everyone who helped to make it happen, and apologies to any Clash fans who may have been offended, but in the words of Joe Strummer, "After all this, won't you give me a smile?"