The Guest Speaker aka me…..!!!

Ok, so I’d bought the ‘coatigan’, I had my speech ready and I’d even managed to find ‘the dress’ (thank goodness for Joe Browns and internet shopping eh!) so I was ready to go! Three days before, I’d had the conversation with the lovely Josh about all the arrangements for the National Osteoporosis Society Christmas Concert so we knew what was happening and it was time to……

Decide which dress from the 7 that I’d ordered was ‘the one’, which isn’t anywhere near as easy as it used to be, now I’ve got to get P to struggle putting on my tights (trust me, it’s a sight no one should have to endure, there’s huffing, puffing and a whole lot of ouching, sweating and swearing!) then help me stand to see what it looks like, take photos so I can check then do it all over again with 6 others!
Spend the next two days doing absolutely nothing so that I’d be ok for the journey and the concert; I’ve learnt from very painful experience that if I want to be able to do something nice, I have to take it easy and make sure that I don’t do anything to aggravate or increase my pain levels beforehand or I’ll be doubled up on the day so pacing is the word of the day now. The only way to sufficiently ‘pace’ myself is to just let P do everything and for me to just rest, move as little as possible and take all my meds to make sure I’m not getting too much breakthrough pain.

Once those minor details had been sorted, it was time to relax until Friday morning!

Thankfully the day dawned with a good weather forecast (electric power chairs and rain do not a merry mixture make!) so P packed the car, I checked I had all the essential stuff, speech, running order, bottles of water and spare tights just in case…. So with a very packed Clio (can’t wait for the new bigger car) off we went. We were met at the hotel by an extremely cheery lady, we were far too early but we’re told to go into the bar (oh go on then…..) get something to eat and they would call us when the room was ready. After only a short wait, we were shown to a big accessible room with a huge wet room and accessible toilet. In fact, the whole hotel was completely accessible, it even had a small chair lift down to the restaurant area and I didn’t feel there was anywhere I couldn’t get to! Big thumbs up to Travelodge, a really good accessible hotel!

Then followed the usual palava of getting showered, made up and dressed so as usual, I was running a little bit late; I just can’t seem to get my timings right as yet, I’m always rushing and these days due to the pain, rushing is one thing I cannot do! Anyhoo, eventually P finished helping me get ready so thankfully we got to reception just a couple of seconds before the taxi arrived. P and the driver huffed and puffed and managed to get the chair into the car ( where can you get accessible taxis eh?) and off we went to the church to meet the even lovelier in person Josh and do the soundcheck. Now, not being a pop star and it being my first time ever as a guest speaker, a ‘soundcheck’ isn’t something I’m used to but it went ok, however we dispensed with a man trying to get a microphone up and under my chosen frock, that was just way too awkward! ( not that I didn’t quite enjoy the attempt 😉) So we decided to go with a hand held microphone instead, a couple of test runs through my speech and it was all sorted. I then was introduced to the host Diana Moran who for those of you not quite of my age, was famous in the Seventies as the keep fit guru, the Green Goddess. She was lovely and very glamorous, dressed in bright red and vertiginous bright red heels and after saying hello, off we went into Bath to waste an hour or so until the concert started.

Ooooohhh my gawd, what an experience that was! Pitch black side streets, uneven pavements, people parking on the dipped kerbs so I either couldn’t get off the pavement or I couldn’t get on and had to stay on the road. It was Friday evening rush hour and what felt like thousands of people came heading my way and obviously weren’t expecting a woman in a powerchair coming in their direction! I had people bumping into me, people literally falling into my lap, kerbs with cambers so steep I had to hang on to P just to stay upright and a gazillion other tricky bits which made a 300yard journey seem like a bloody marathon!! Once we’d got to the pedestrian bit, we were so stressed, we gave up on tootling around the shops and just went to the nearest accessible coffee shop (as usual, this took a while to find…..) After a warming Costa Black Forest Hot Chocolate (other coffee shops are available folks 😉) we braved the ‘traffic’ to get back to the church, took our place at the front, took a deep breath and waited……

After all the choirs, violinists and singers had finished, it was my turn. I wheeled onto the centre of the stage, took another deep breath and began. My speech was all about living with osteoporosis and its consequences but with a microphone in one hand, my speech notes in the other and a bottle of water balanced on my lap, it all went in a blur. I spoke from my heart, completely forgot about my notes and unsurprisingly to anyone who knows me, gabbled on for far longer that my allotted 5 minutes! But I had a really lovely round of applause which was so nice after such a nervous evening, I was the last ‘act’ so after the last carol, I had loads of people coming up to me saying how much they enjoyed what I had to say and how ‘inspiring’ I was! I was so honoured to have been asked and so proud that I could have helped raise awareness of Osteoporosis especially in younger women so it truly was a wonderful evening. I can’t thank the National Osteoporosis Society enough for inviting me, it was a total pleasure!