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Cork University Hospital

I was an inpatient in Cork University Hospital (CUH) for a week in August 2016. I recovered fully thanks to the excellent medical care received. This post is as a result of the poor facilities in the bathroom attached to the ward in which I was resident. It is a critique on bad planning and design and poor feedback. I wrote to the relevant authorities on August 22nd detailing my concerns and received a prompt reply informing me that the matter would be investigated and I would receive written details of the investigation early in October.

As I write this, on December 4th, I have not received the promised written details of the investigation despite writing again in November. I have received a number of telephone calls, which were actually return calls, detailing what action is proposed and promises of the letter. The proposed action is what concerns me and what finally prompted me to pen this post.

The photographs below describe my concerns;

the emergency call button at the toilet section was approximately 4 feet off the floor and there was no drop rail; there was no emergency pull cord in the shower area nor were there any vertical grab rails; the mirror is wrongly placed to facilitate shaving while sitting in a wheelchair. I have been told that when the refurbishment is complete the emergency button is to remain in the same location which is absolutely ridiculous. There was also a discussion as to where a cord/button could be placed; near the bowl or the sink? Falls can happen anywhere and the alarms should be in the most likely places.

Below are a number of areas with emergency alarms close to the ground and also at a higher level. It can be done. Where there is a will there is a way and patient safety should be of paramount importance.

Design and safety is not a new and should require little discussion particularly in a large organisation with numerous examples but it may be a good idea to ask service users for an opinion, dare I say advice.

What do you think?

 

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Bellagio Coffee House, Mallow – Accessibile

Bellagio Coffee House

Bellagio Coffee House

We have just back home from a visit to Mallow and we had a cuppa in Bellagio Coffee House on Market Square. We didn’t have anything to eat but everything looked delicious. The café is not large but I was able to move around without rolling over anyone’s toes. Jack gave it his seal of approval as his buggy and my wheelchair were parked together. We (not Jack) had coffee and green tea and a well earned break from a hectic Sunday schedule of doing absolutely nothing.

The accessible toilet was clean and tidy with the appropriate rails but alas no emergency pull cord.

Accessible loo n Bellagio

Accessible loo in Bellagio

There is on-street parking nearby.

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Starbucks – Blackpool S.C.

Starbucks seem to be opening everywhere and Blackpool Shopping Center is the most recent I have seen. For those of you familiar with B.S.C. Starbucks is located in the unit vacated by Xtravision some time ago. The entire area is wheelchair and buggy accessible (ask Jack) and has ample circulation space. Jack came with me to check it out.

Jack my assistant

Jack my assistant

The Accessible Toilet is exactly that, accessible, as it should be for a facility that has just opened. It is spacious and clean and has all the appropriate bars in the appropriate places. I was disappointed to see that the emergency pull cord was secured about 2 meters off the ground. I did speak with Tommy about the matter and he assured me that he will raise it with his immediate supervisor. I will return shortly to check it out.

Parking is readily available with a number of Designated Disabled Spaces in the immediate vicinity.

Feel free to leave a comment.

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The Flying Enterprise

We were at the Flying Enterprise on Friday evening for a meal and a chat and maybe even a drink or two. Who are ‘we’ you might ask and I will answer that later.

Group Photo

The Flying Enterprise (Click Here) is very accessible, tiled floor and no awkward thresholds, and the staff are friendly and accommodating. 11 of us had a meal and drinks but mostly we chatted among ourselves. The food and the service were both excellent. I have no hesitation in recommending it. The accessible toilet was exactly that, accessible and clean and neat and tidy. An extra few people joined into the group after the meal was finished. A limited amount of on street parking is available nearby.

Accessible Toilet

Accessible Toilet

Now back to the question of “Who are we?” We are a small group of people living with MS in and around the greater Cork area. This is a group of individuals who happen have Multiple Sclerosis as a common denominator. It is not about comparing notes and signs and symptoms but neither is it about ignoring the reality of MS. It is a social group that was started about 2 years ago and was originally a group for the newly diagnosed but has gone from strength to strength since its inception.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

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A night out and the morning after

I’m not sure why I wrote this but it was weird this morning, not freaky, just different and since I haven’t posted a lot recently I decided that this would be a reintroduction of myself. I wanted to share some of WWW.MS.DG (Weird Wonderful World. Multiple Sclerosis. Declan Groeger)

My internal clock has 07.00 indelibly etched after a number of years taking a pill at that time every morning, a time of my choosing, and which must be repeated around 12 hours later. It really is not a hardship as I have my best hours in the morning; my energy levels slip a bit in the afternoons and evenings. Sometimes, like this morning I want a lie-in but my internal clock insists on telling me it is 7 o’clock and time to get moving.

You see last night we went for a meal and a movie with 2 of my brothers and their wives; Martin & Mary, Kerrie & Bríd and Jean & Declan. Let me set the scene; the movie was produced by my nephew Fionn and it was being shown at the Indie Cork Film Festival so it was a must see for us and a yellow rain warning was in operation for Cork. We arranged to meet in Luigi Malones for a bite to eat before the show. It was raining pretty heavily by the time we parked the car and we got our first wetting getting from the car to the restaurant. The food was up to Luigi Malones usual high standard but the accessible toilet was a major let down. It is tired looking but it is roomy and functional. It really needs a makeover. Our second wetting came while returning to the car and our third and final wetting came while we were moving from the car to the cinema by which time the rain was absolutely torrential. The film “Twice Shy” was directed by Tom Ryan and produced by Fionn Greger; it is topical and well worth watching if you get the chance. The rain had stopped by the time the film was over and it was well past my regular bedtime by the time we got home. The Gate cinema is wheelchair accessible with an elevator to the upper floors with 3 designated parking spaces adjacent.

I, and others living with MS, find that having a regular bedtime helps in getting a good night’s sleep and since I was late going to bed I decided to have lie-in in the morning. My alarm shrilled at about 07.00 and I turned over and took the pill and rolled back again. I slept but not a deep sleep and at 08.30 I was lying there thinking that I should get up, I will get up, I must get up, I want to get up. I wiggled my toes and did a mental check that everything was working and when I discovered that everything was fine I said I must get up, I should get up, I can get up but I didn’t get up and I don’t know why; I just lay there thinking about getting up but refused to act. This was MS brain at work. I wasn’t tired or cold, I was warm and rested but I just lay there and then at 08.45, without any warning my legs swung out of the bed and I found myself standing upright and ready to take on the world.

Is there a point to this story? Not really. I’m just saying that after a not very late night my head was in a different place when I awoke. I am now back to being supercalifragilisticexpialidicious sitting inside with beautiful sunlight shining in the window writing this.

Please don’t stop asking me to partake in different events. I may not be able to do them all but please let it be my decision. Borrowing Spoons has never been a problem for me and once I keep the number low pay back is not too difficult.

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McGettigans, Cork

We visited Mc Gettigans Cookhouse & Bar (Click Here) recently. The hostelry is located within the Ambassador Hotel, Cork and you would never imagine that what is now a beautiful hotel was once a nursing home. The hotel is snugly nestled on Military Hill which is the approach road to Collin’s Barracks, Cork’s only remaining working military barrack.

Mc Gettigans is a modern eatery, is beautifully decorated and the food delicious. Jean and I were joined for lunch by Elaine and Mairéad and the newest addition to the family our grandson Jack. We gave the menu a fair workout and all plates were cleared. Desserts followed with me declaring the Strawberry Pavlova the best ever.

Disappointingly there is only one designated disabled parking space adjacent to the front door which is serviced by a very gentle and user friendly ramp to a tiled and easily traversed reception area. Access to McGettigans would be difficult from other parking areas due to the hilly nature of the site. The dining area of McGettigans is accessible with a fully accessible washroom nearby.

All in all a great lunch in a great venue.

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A day trip to Rosslare etc.

Saturday morning dawned dull and dreary with dark grey clouds hanging low over the city; a heavy mist covered everything like a bad smell. Jean and I were heading to Rosslare, Co. Wexford, a round trip of approximately 400Km. We were going to Rosslare to collect our youngest daughter Mairéad from the ferry; she was coming home for some much needed ‘mum pampering’ after 7 weeks in hospital in London.

The weather varied between mist to light rain to quite heavy rain until we approached Dungarvan where it was dry and really we had expected nothing less in the Sunny South East. We stopped off in the Park Hotel (Click Here)  for a break and refreshments. The scones were lovely and you really can’t do a lot wrong with a pot of green tea. There are 2 designated parking spaces adjacent to the main entrance which is well ramped and the foyer and bar were easily traversed in the absence of carpet.

Park Hotel Dungarvan

Park Hotel Dungarvan

The wheelchair toilet was clean, tidy and accessible without having an excess of space. Unfortunately there was neither a hand dryer nor paper towels.

We called in to St Helens Village for lunch with my sister Anita and her husband Jim before heading for the ferry port in Rosslare.

There are plenty of designated parking spaces (Pay & Display) adjacent to the entrance. The entrance to the terminal building is ramped and internally the building is ramped between the ground floor and 1st floor but I think the ramps are more to facilitate wheeled luggage and passengers. I don’t think wheelchair users were considered when designing the building as you can see below the viewing deck is ramped on the inside but not on the outside.

The wheelchair accessible toilet was in the men’s toilet area and whilst spacious and functional it lacked basic cleanliness standards. Ferry Terminal 1The cubicle whilst having a sink lacked a dryer or towels.

Having collected our precious cargo we headed for home with one short stop at Mairéad’s friends house. Kate & Philip made us a cuppa and we continued on our merry way.

As the day drew to a close and dusk was falling there were some beautiful patches of red sky which we hoped were a portent for better weather tomorrow; ‘a red sky at night is the shepherds delight, a red sky in the morning is the shepherds warning.

Categories: Cork, Waterford, Wexford | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Accessibility Stars – Cork International Airport Hotel

 

Jean and I recently stayed at the Cork International Airport Hotel (Click Here). We were on our way to Spain to get a natural top-up of my Vitamin D levels and we had an early flight to catch the following morning. We parked up and left the car there for the duration of our absence. The hotel provides a mini-bus service to and from the airport. There are ample designated disabled parking spaces to the rear of the hotel and whilst it is to the rear of the hotel it really is not the back door. We had a beautiful meal in the hotel restaurant, The New Yorker, to get our holiday off to a good start. Jean had Paté and I had Caesar Salad and we both followed with a succulent Belly of Pork

The entrance foyer is part carpeted and the reception desk caters for wheelchair users. There is also a wheelchair accessible toilet in the foyer.

Our room was spacious and perfectly accessible with a full ‘wet room’. This selection of photographs describes our accommodation better than any of my words.

We had visited the hotel previously were disappointed on a number of fronts but this time we had no complaints. We had an early night followed by an early start and the following morning we headed for Spain to make our contribution to the recovering Spanish economy.

Don’t forget to use the contact form if you want to get in touch privately. All comments are appreciated and will be acknowledged.

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For Better or for Worse

This the link to my latest Living Like You blog

It is an interview with Jean about the affect MS has had on her life,

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Hanleys of Cork Seasonal Shop

It’s not far away you know! What says you? Christmas says I.

It comes around at the same time each year and each year we get rid of some older decorations and add some new ones. This is our first year in our new home so we decided to treat ourselves to a little extra. With that in mind we visited Hanley’s of Cork Seasonal Shop.

In terms of accessibility the shop is excellent. There are 2 designated parking spaces in a more than adequate car park. The shop is really accessible and even though gloriously stocked with all you might want in Christmas decorations it is navigable in a wheelchair.56 4 3 2 1

Hanley’s is also a Garden Centre which is totally accessible. There is a beautiful cafe on site. There are steps and a ramp connecting the Seasonal Shop and the Garden Centre but this is not doable without assistance.

I can thoroughly recommend a visit whether you are mobility impaired or not.

Christmas Rating 5 Stars. Accessibility Rating 5 Stars

Feel free to leave a comment or use the contact form for a private message

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Jacobs on the Mall – 5 Accessibility Stars

We went for a meal last night to ‘Jacobs on the Mall’ (Click here for details) which is one of the more expensive restaurants in Cork but last night was a special occasion. We were celebrating Jean’s retirement after 40 years with the same company. She started training there in 1974 and finally decided to call time and enjoy life a bit more. My brother Martin and his wife Mary were also part of the celebration as Mary also opted for an early retirement package.

The restaurant is on the site of the ‘The Turkish Baths’ which ceased to function many moons ago. There is a small step at the entrance door and the restaurant is accessed by 3 more steps but there is a platform lift to the side of the steps for ease of access for those of us with any mobility impairment. There is ample circulation space in the dining area and the accessible toilet was perfect. Accessibility rating 5 stars.

We opted for the ‘set menu’ which offered a number of choices in starter, main and dessert which was priced at a pleasing €29.95. There was an option of 2 courses for €26.95. Some of the main courses were priced at €30 which we felt was a bit excessive even for a special occasion. We washed the food down with couple of bottles of Pinot Grigio.

There are a number of designated parking spaces in the immediate vicinity.

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RWC 2015 more than a dream come true.

Declan & ElaineI can’t say that this was a lifelong dream fulfilled because I had never dreamed of attending a Rugby World Cup match. It just wasn’t on any radar in my life.Rugby World Cup

It all started with an email I received on Monday 28/09/2015, from Multiple Sclerosis Ireland, offering the winner of a competition 2 tickets to Ireland v Italy in the group stages of the Rugby World Cup in Olympic Park, London. The competition involved a question concerning none other than Brian O’Driscoll and his record number of World Cup tries (Keith Earls broke that record on Sunday). I replied with the relevant information and much to my surprise and incredulity I won. It was then that the mad scramble began in earnest; airline tickets, accommodation, an appropriate green jersey and most importantly someone to accompany me. Travel = Ryanair to Gatwick – sorted, Accommodation = Jurys Inn Croydon – sorted, Green Jersey = Lifestyle Sports – sorted, Elaine Sheehan = Travelling Companion – sorted.

Since this is a blog site mostly about accessibility let me say that all sections of our journey were accessible. Olympic park was constructed with accessibility a major consideration. The tube was accessible without help and the over ground railway was accessible with a bit of help but that help was always close by. Jurys Inn was also accessible but we didn’t have time to do a full look around.

Excitement had been building for a few days and when Sunday morning eventually crept over the horizon at last it was time to head to the Cork Airport for the first leg of our journey. I was like a child fidgeting with excitement – are we there yet, are we there yet? We landed in Gatwick Airport and transferred to a train to Croydon and on to our hotel. Back to the station to discover that the elevator to Platform 4 was not working. Momentary feeling of dismay. An alternative way down was via another elevator to Platform 1 then a push up a big ramp and back down the other side to Platform 4. Elaine was brilliant. On we went to London Bridge where we transferred to the Tube. We were seriously pleased that the elevator was operating. Wow it’s a long way down to the Tube platform. We carried on to Stratford Station where the pre-match excitement was really palpable. We were making our way to the exit when an English gentleman, a very perceptive gentleman, approached us and asked whether we were going to the match and if we were would we like a spin? There was a fleet of custom fitted mini buses operating between the station and the stadium which was operated by volunteers and it was free. We loaded up for the short trip to Olympic Park.

 

Arcelormittal Orbit 80m High

Arcelormittal Orbit 80 meters high

 

Unfortunately The Orbit had closed by the time we got there but I would have loved to get a ‘Bird’s Eye’ view from the top. A return visit has gone onto the bucket list.

 

 

 

The Fan-Zone was accessible albeit with a bit of hard work on the grass. The area was a mass of green jerseys and food and drink was plentiful. The atmosphere was building up and we watched some of the Argentina v Tonga match on a huge screen while we had a liquid and solid lunch. Then we headed for the stadium.DSCN5291 DSCN5290 DSCN5288

 

DSCN5292

There were  absolutely no accessibility issues getting into or around the stadium, as I said accessibility was a major consideration when the Olympic Park  was being planned and built. Henry told me that there are over 300 wheelchair points and all have uninterrupted views of the pitch. Accessible toilets are in a number of locations around the stadium.

DSCN5339 DSCN5344

 

DSCN5316

DSCN5343 DSCN5304

 

 

 

 

After the match was over, WE WON, we headed back to the shuttle buses for our return journey to Stratford Station and back to Croydon. The tube from Stratford was absolutely packed but Elaine managed to find a spot for us.

And so our truly memorable weekend was coming to an end. More food and drink in Jurys Inn but with the added company of Mairéad and Rowan. Monday morning we headed back to Gatwick Airport and then on home.

DSCN5364

Categories: Cork, England, London | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wheelchair Virgins

Friday 14th August Jean and I headed to the picturesque West Cork  village of Glengarriff for the wedding of my nephew Sean Groeger to Heidi Monahan. It was a lovely ceremony performed by Fr. Pádraig Kennelly in the Church of Sacred Heart which is totally wheelchair accessible.

Bride & Groom

Bride & Groom

We then had a 45 minute cross-country jaunt to Liss Ard Estate on the outskirts of Skibbereen (Click Here For Details).

This blog is not about the fantastic wedding, or the brilliant company or the first class food, it is about the hotel and its accessibility, or in this case, the lack thereof. The hotel has never had a wheelchair user as an overnight guest hence the title.

It is a beautiful house built around 1850 so it is no real surprise that the house was not constructed with accessibility in mind. Further accommodation was added with the conversion of the stables and that is only marginally more accessible. Accessibility is about more than just getting into and out from a building; it is about getting into a building and then being able to get around and use the facilities without being totally reliant on the kindness of others. It is about independence. There was no shortage of willing helpers at Liss Ard both from my family and hotel staff but having willing and able helpers is no substitute for independence.

Our ground-floor bedroom was spacious with plenty circulation space but that was as good as it good as it got. The toilet cubicle was so small that it was difficult to close the inward opening door once inside, even for a non-wheelchair user. There was a small step into the shower/bath area. The shower and bath both had a small hand rail fitted. These were fitted in preparation for my visit.

Shower Cubicle

Shower Cubicle

Door to toilet cubicle

Door to toilet cubicle

3

Our Bedroom

There were a number of steps up to the reception area and two portable ramps were purchased to address the accessibility issue. Accessibility was further complicated by more steps up to three reception rooms and the toilet. Access to this area was accomplished by joining one of the external ramps to another movable ramp.

Main Entrance to Reception

Main Entrance to Reception

The dining room was down stairs and there was neither an elevator nor ramp available. See the attached photographs as to how I accessed the dining room. On a positive note the accessible toilet was properly fitted out with the sink at the right level. There was no mirror over the sink and the emergency call button was three feet off the ground.

Going to Breakfast

Going to Breakfast

Steps to Dining Room

Steps to Dining Room

 

 

 

 

 

I spoke with the manager Timo Stern before I left and made a few suggestions and said that I would welcome a call when the work is complete to have a look at it

Overall star rating – 0

Full marks to the staff for effort but on this issue actions speak louder than words.

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Well Done Fishy Fishy, Kinsale – – – – 5 Star Rating 0 Stars for Quinlan’s, Cork – a newly opened restaurant without disabled access or toilet facilities.

This report is sent by Mary Groeger

Last Friday night I went to Fishy Fishy in Kinsale and had a delicious meal. As I usually do I checked out the facilities on my brother-in-law Declan’s behalf, checking out could he and his wife Jean join us there for a meal. The wheelchair toilet was one of the best I have seen in a long time. Perfect with the door opening out. Access to the restaurant was also spot on with a ramp with suitable gradient. Congratulations to the owners for having such good access. (Click HERE)

The following night I went to Quinlan’s Sea Food Bar newly opened in Princess Street in Cork City Centre. There was a step to go in the front door no ramp! We did have a delicious meal and service was excellent with a very friendly staff. I went to the facilities which were up 1 flight of stairs. When I came back down I enquired where the wheelchair accessible toilet was only to be told they did not have one. So Declan unfortunately you or any other wheelchair user will not be able to enjoy a meal there. I actually thought that by law all new public premises had to have a wheelchair accessible toilet before they could open to the public. I hope that Quinlan’s will rectify the situation to allow all citizens to eat in their lovely new restaurant.

(My note to Quinlan’s – this is extremely disappointing as I raised the issue of the step when work was ongoing and I was told it would be looked after. I suppose that there was no point in making the restaurant wheelchair accessible if you can afford to exclude that section of the market. It is estimated that 15% – 17.5% of the population have some disability and remember not all disabilities are visible.)

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Cork – Beautiful City

“Beautiful city, charming and pretty

Beautiful city my home by the Lee”

Shandon Steeple

Shandon Steeple

These are a few lines from the anthem of my beloved home city of Cork. The attached video is just a few minutes showing parts of the city centre which is fantastic accessibility. Some of the streets are permanently pedestrianised, others are pedestrianised at specific times but all streets in the central shopping area are disabled friendly. Most of the shops are accessible but a small number are not. Cork city was built on the River Lee, with one area still known as ’The Marsh’. Some of the shops were raised above the footpath level to reduce the damage caused by flooding. There are a number of blogs detailing with fantastic things to see and do around Cork

There is a section on Cork  at the home page

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Well Done Market Lane

When I visited Market Lane about 7 months ago I bemoaned the fact that the requisite drop rail and grab rail, which had been promised on a previous visit, had not been fitted. The food, staff and ambiance are excellent in the restaurant and we visited again last evening to celebrate Jean’s retirement. Jean commenced nurse training in Cope Foundation in 1974 so when the option of retiring early landed she jumped at it and grabbed it with both hands.

Mairead, Jean, Elaine & Declan

Mairead, Jean, Elaine & Declan

Henry & Rowan

Henry & Rowan

6 of us partied in Market Lane to help Jean celebrate such a momentous occasion. The food as usual was excellent from start to finish and our server was also brilliant. We were allowed bring our special cake for Jean.

The retirement cake

The retirement cake

The need to use the facilities arose towards the end of the evening and I was pleased to find that the rails had been fitted in the wheelchair accessible toilet. Well done Market Lane

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Hotel Barceló Aran Mantegna, Rome

Hotel Barceló Aran Mantegna, Rome.

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Planet Health Club is good for me and you

Planet Health Club is good for me and you.

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Planet Health Club is good for me and you

I joined Planet Health Club in Cork when it opened about 10 years ago. Every year when my renewal date approaches I have to do a cost/benefit analysis and each year I realise that the benefits far outweigh the cost.

For those of you who don’t know me I have been living with Multiple Sclerosis since 1988. MS is a neurodegenerative disease whose progression is usually slow. I am a case in point and 27 years later I’m still getting around, albeit more slowly. Planet Health Club has been an important part of my life for the last 10 years. The club is well populated with endurance and resistance training equipment and some of the equipment is wheelchair accessible. There is also a separate free-weights area. The pool is not large but is easily accessible by steps and not those dreaded ladders. I feel it is important to mention the pool accessibility because sometimes pool exercising is the only option open to people with disabilities.

This article is to say thanks to all the staff in the gym for putting up with me for the last 10 years; but a very special thank you goes to Chris Price for designing a plan to improve my upper body strength. I wanted help to improve my independence in my wheelchair and not be relying on Jean for the longer trips. Chris’ program was a resounding success and recently on a holiday in Spain I wheeled myself to our favourite coffee shop (Miel, Sabinillas) and back again without Jean having to lay a hand on the wheelchair. The distance is about 1 ½ Km each way and the feeling of such an achievement was epic. Thanks a million Chris.

This blog is about more than Planet Health Club. It is clarion call to all of you who don’t use a gym or retain their fitness in some other way. If I could offer you one bit of advice for the future it would be to retain a level of fitness and mobility commensurate with your ability. Use it or lose it. Improvements won’t be visible immediately. It will take time but the effort will be worth it. This is one area where the return is greater than the investment; you get out more than you put in and commitment is the only essential ingredient.

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My latest post on MS & Me

Click HERE

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