Having both POT’s and ME has meant that for years Emily didn’t have the energy to exercise. By starting to use a wheelchair. she has found the freedom to move more, starting both dance and martial arts classes.


Emily’s Story:

As a child I was sporty, but at the age of 12 I was diagnosed with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My main symptom is fatigue, but I also suffer from headaches, short term memory loss and find it hard to concentrate for long periods. When I got ill my activity levels dropped. Throughout secondary school I had to prioritise what I would do using my limited energy. Schoolwork had to be top of the list, so all my energy was saved up for when I was in school or doing homework.

At 24 I got a second diagnosis. I was told I also have Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). My POTS basically means that it takes me five times the amount of energy to do something whilst standing up.

My conditions mean that it is very easy for me to overdo it when it comes to exercise. I may not realise at the time that I am overdoing it. But the next day I will suffer with a lot of pain and being unable to move.

I had a clear image of wheelchair athletes who were paralysed at the waist and had big strong arms. I didn’t fit that mould.

How using a wheelchair has helped Emily be active:

Recently, I started using my wheelchair more and have found it’s opened up the world to me. I have more energy to use on other things as I am not using it all being stood up. The wheelchair has opened active doors to me too. I joined Liberate dance, a wheelchair dance class, as well as a wheelchair martial arts group. These are activities I wouldn’t have considered before, but using my wheelchair to be active has meant I have a lot more energy for the activity itself.

Being able to be active again has been great. It feels good to be able to physically move through space without feeling dizzy or being in pain.

Going to classes has opened my eyes to what wheelchair sports look like. I have met more people like me, who only use a wheelchair sometimes. We all have different conditions, but we all equally have something we are dealing with. There is a sense of unity. For the first time I wasn’t the only different one. I didn’t stick out.

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