With that and the help of a couple of very large bars of chocolate, I feel like I can handle anything!
From the first time I saw 'them' skate, I've been absolutely desperate to try. I can close my eyes and see myself drifting across a vast ice rink. It always seems so real.
Before I went into hospital in early, actually, mid 1995, my family took me to Nottingham ice rink, where Jayne and Chris met. I was happy being there but, as I looked at the rink, I got knots in my stomach, 'why can't I..?' What got me most is that I wasn't even allowed to try!
I'd ask my Physio time and time again, 'Can I go...please?' I never really got a proper answer. I got the same vagueness from her as I did from everyone else I asked. It was always, "Oh well, you know it's not good for you...." So again, I was left to dream. I only wanted to try! I didn't expect miracles....okay, so maybe I did, but it wasn't going to happen. How could it if no one gave me the chance to try?
Everyone was worried that I wouldn't be able to pick myself up and say "Oh well...never mind." Maybe I would be upset and frustrated, but I needed to know.
When the chance to go with school came in the March of 1996, I once again asked my Physio, and she, knowing how much I wanted to do it, needed to do it, to my surprise, gave in! I was ecstatic! A lot higher than cloud nine!
A month later, the trip was cancelled! Not enough people wanted to go! I was gutted! All that waiting and all that hoping, I wasn't angry, I was numb.
Then just after Christmas 1996, my Dad told me we could go when he started his new job. I waited.
I climbed in the car wearing my 'Torvill and Dean' T- shirt. I was as high as a kite!
We got to the rink in Swindon about ten. Jill (my Stepmum) and her children Kate and Nick, with my sister Alison, joined the queue for 'skate hire' leaving me apprehensively squeezing my dad's hand.
"Nervous?" he said,
"Yes" I replied, close to tears.
This was my chance! After so much waiting, I was finally going to do it, and, what's more, there was nothing anybody could do to stop me! I was finally going to break my barriers and answer a question that had been nagging at me for a very long time, 'Can I or can't I?'
When they came back with the skates, my dad spent ten minutes trying to get the skates on over the splints that keep my knees back. "We can't do it" he said. I began to cry, "I'm going on that ice!" I replied through tears.
So, Dad took my splints off and after five very long minutes, we got the skates on!
I couldn't get used to the strange feeling around my ankles and I knew going on the ice without my splints would be a big disadvantage. I can't walk without them, let alone skate!
Dad hauled me up, and I fell straight back down again. Balancing on the blade is hard enough when you've got balance, never mind when you haven't.
Then two ice stewards came over, "okay..." They said, "we're going to give you a hand". One of them was drop dead gorgeous, so I didn't mind! I was shaking!
I took a step on to the ice and my knees gave way beneath me. It was impossible to keep my weight forward because I didn't have my splints on. I tried again, but my efforts were in vain.
Feeling disappointed, I gave up. There was no point in prolonging the agony. I had a rest, planning to go back on later.
I sat and drank an orange slush puppy, feeling a bit disillusioned, and very sad.
Suddenly, the ice stewards came back with a wheelchair! "Come on" they said, "we'll take you on in this!". I wasn't sure to start with. It would be too much like giving in, but at least I could enjoy it without having to worry about my balance!
It was incredible out there! It is, to me, like being in another world! They were playing 'Where do you go?' by 'No Mercy'. I cried.
I had this really light feeling in my stomach, because I had finally done what I set out to do.
The dream that I'd had for six years had finally been realised, and doing it has given me a new kind of confidence. Now that I have at least tried, I can set my sights on actually standing up next time!
Jayne and Chris (Image: Google)