Interview with Hannah Lawrence (Guest Blog Post #11)

Hi Everyone, this month I got the pleasure of interviewing my friend Hannah. Hannah is very active on Twitter. Please be sure to give her a follow as she tweets out interesting content. Many thanks to Hannah for being a guest. 🙂

  1. What is your name?

Hannah Lawrence

2. Age? 28

3. Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging?

In my life, there are  so many inspirational people, but above all I’d have to say my granddad. He was born with extreme curvature of the spine, but never let it limit him. Even though it stopped him being eligible to fight in the war, he served in the home army. He also played cricket. Gosh, he loved that game. By the time I sprouted into his life, his eyesight was bad, he was nearly deaf, he needed oxygen at night because his health wasn’t great. Yet he never missed a moment playing with my brother and me.

He’d be the first chasing us around the ball pit, or taking us down slides, and he learned to swim at the age of 83 so he could take us to the baths.

His spirit was indomitable, and his curiosity, his insatiable desire to understand everything, inspired me as much as his love for life. We’d watch the Christmas lectures every year together, and he’d read to me all about dinosaurs and paleontology as a child, saving his National Geographic magazines to read to us as bed time stories.

He was quietly strong, he never complained, and he inspired me in so many ways to be a better person in the hopes I’d make him proud.

And when I was hospitalized, it was the memory of how well he handled adversity and physical weaknesses which gave me the strength to still smile.

Best man I ever knew.

4. Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love taking really long walks, and I’ve taken up indoor climbing with a friend. I’ve also become addicted to the gym because the cross trainer allows me to run, and I’d forgotten how wonderful that felt.

As well as that I love cooking. My Iranian family are currently teaching me some of the more tricky traditional dishes, although I’ll be honest, I  could live on Tah diq forever, and we branched out to try a tagine the other week. It was lush.

I also do kids work, and while I’ve been too ill to do that for a while, now I’ve had my operation I’m hoping to return and pick up where I left off.

When I can, I also love to do any kind of water sports.

5. Name a bad habit that you have?

I love this question and I’m trying to think of a more interesting answer, but honestly my bad habit is probably just keeping chocolate under my bed and eating it before I go to sleep. I keep telling myself I’ll quit, but then more chocolate just appears 🤷

6. Name your best quality?

Interesting question here. I guess the quality I like most about myself (because it means life is never dull) is how I’m always daydreaming and imagining new things. I’m perfectly happy in my imagined worlds, and this means I’m never bored.

Which is fantastic for me, as it’s like having a cinema system on-tap in my head.

7. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

I’m a sucker for ancient Egypt, so the person I’d probably want to interview (as they just always capture my imagination, and lived through such a fascinating time in Egypt) is Nefertiti’s daughter, Ankhesenpaaten/ Ankhesenamun.

Her parents changed the face of Egypt, rearranged the religion to a monotheistic worship of the sun god, and then they died and everything they did was erased, but Ankhesenamun had to change her whole life to adapt to the traditional Egyptian worldview.

To be able to interview her on her honest opinions, her actual thoughts on her parents and on religion… well, that would be just fascinating.

7. What is your college major/Minor?

My Undergraduate degree was Japanese studies

8. What school (college or university) did you go to?

I went to the University of Sheffield

9. Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I see myself with a book published, working on more to sell, (this is my hope, at least!) in a home I’m not renting, with a pet dog and a cat and a degu.

I also see myself fostering children and fostering other animals. Lots of animals.

10. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

I had spinal surgery, which caused temporary paraplegia. My condition is steadily improving with physio, but so far I’ve been unable to walk unaided for over three years.

 

Picture of Hannah
This is the day I was discharged from the hospital, in my wheelchair. It was a while before I was using crutches, and I found day-to-day life in a wheelchair was extremely difficult to get used to. Things became a lot easier when I was safely mobile on two elbow crutches. Photo provided by Hannah.

11. How does your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) effect you on a daily basis?

Since I cannot walk unaided, I require a walking stick at all times.

From using crutches/a stick for so long, and putting a lot of weight through them, I’ve also developed tendonitis in both my arms.

I’ve had to have the house I live in fitted with grab rails.

And I’ve had to take time out of work and pay for weekly physio, and take time out of work for hospital appointments and tests.

Honestly, I’m used to this now, but when I was first discharged from hospital and my condition was far more severe, the daily effects of my condition weighed a lot more heavily on me.

My condition meant I wasn’t fit for work; I had to have carers in every day to help me with basic thing; for trips out of the house I had to have the wheelchair with me, which limited who I could hang out with as not everyone had a car, and even out of those that did, not many had cars big enough for my wheelchair; I was basically limited in ways I had never been before and it was very difficult.

Things have greatly improved since then, I’m pretty much able to do most things. I’m no longer socially isolated, and can hold down a job. Sometimes, until someone reminds me, I can even forget about the walking stick that is my extra limb.

12. What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

I’ve had various comments. My ex-boyfriend’s friends made some rather horrible comments, and a few people have given me funny looks, although those are the only two negative things. I’ve been extremely lucky. Some people barely even register it now. Some of the youth I volunteer with decorate my stick, and grab it when I’m not using it. They enjoy sitting there and clicking the little notch markers. My cousin’s cat has adopted my walking stick as her family and lies across it whenever I place it down, like a dragon guarding her hoard. The kids I look after love to play with it, one pretends he’s gandalf, another pretends it’s a sword.

My friend’s often ask for progress on how I’m doing with mobility, and are so supportive.

One of my youth pokes the muscles in my legs to see how they’re coming on and it has become our inside joke that she’s my unofficial physiotherapist.

Sometimes it upsets my family that I’m not walking yet. They know how I love being active (I used to adore karate, running, assault courses, mud runs etc) and they want that for me again.

So while I’ve had some bad comments from certain people, I’ve mostly been surrounded by support, curiosity, understanding, and love.

Sometimes, when I’m climbing and I balance my crutch against the wall as I grab onto the hand holds, I get curious questions, and lots of surprise and praise at the thought I’d be able to climb at all (I can only do the easy routes with very generous hand holds) which is kind of them to say, but it feels strange to elicit awe for doing something so basic (routes that require no skill)

I can see that I using a stick points to a physical limitation in such a loud way, so i understand the comments, it’s just sometimes I forget how others see me. And sometimes forgetting is nice.

13. If you had to give one piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) what would it be?

I’m coming from a position of my condition improving over time, so I’m not sure how helpful my insight can be as this isn’t the case for many, but I’d say the one piece of advice is give as it helped me so much is to find things you can do, and see yourself improving with, whether that’s a hobby/skill you already had, or something new you’ve never tried, and pour your energy and frustrations into that. Because there will be frustrations, and when things aren’t improving physically you’ll want something you can do which you feel a sense of achievement with.

For me that was writing. I had been saving up money to travel before I was hospitalised, and saw that I wouldn’t be able to do that in a hurry, so used the money I’d squirreled away to get a Chromebook and I started to write.

Now, three years on, I have something to show for this journey, and through my writing I’ve found a way to thrive, even when life was dark and felt hopeless.

Perhaps for you it could be art, knitting, learning a language, or trying a sport, but I’d say just (if you can) find something to pour your energy into. To excel at. To thrive in.

It helped me get through many dark times, and it’s not a fix-all solution, but it could just bring some light.

Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)

I’m on Twitter if you want to connect @Hannah19168315

If you would like to be featured on my blog feel free to email me at: amanda@amandagene.com

 

Author: Amanda Gene

Hi, welcome to my website. My name is Amanda Gene. I am a disability and mental health freelancer. I would love to work with your company and I provide writing on a variety of topics on disability and mental health. Feel free to contact me via email at: Amanda@amandagene.com

10 thoughts on “Interview with Hannah Lawrence (Guest Blog Post #11)”

  1. I think this is a wonderful way to get to know fellow bloggers. Hannah is so amazing – what an inspiration! And that fact that she has kept her motivation despite adversity is something to be admired!

    – Nyxie

    nyxiesnook.com

  2. I loved this interview I think it’s amazing that no matter what she’s been through she didn’t let it define her or stop her. Seems like a great person ! Thank you for sharing this interview 😊

  3. Great interview – I love that you’re surrounded by not only such love and support, but also by genuine curiosity. Just getting to know a little more can make such a BIG difference!

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