Belle Sherratt Holman
Age: 30 years old
Job: Volunteer prop maker and model
Condition: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome with hyper-mobility. My chronic pelvis pain syndrome means I use wheelchair over distances 10 meters
I would describe myself as quite a colourful individual – and not just in hair colour! I live in Liverpool, love to swim and when I can I love to take my beautiful huskies for walks. At the moment, I am actually taking part in the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge! Basically, I am aiming to swim the length of the channel and back (44 miles) over 12 weeks. I’ve done 10 so far… 34 to go!
I particularly like to swim outdoors in the cold water as it helps to keep me cool and relaxed. Most likely because of my Ehlers-Danlos, I have a lot of trouble with overheating. Sometimes my whole body overheats, and sometimes I get what I call “hot head.” This makes me confused, tired, angry and frustrated and makes life feel distorted and overwhelming. It means I can’t get out to do everything I want to do and I struggle with household tasks, like cooking or cleaning. I have often collapsed due to how dizzy I can get from overheating. Trying to cool myself down is a challenge as often I just end up with a cold body and my head is still hot. Ultimately it affects my mental health and puts me at risk of hypothermia, I’ve had worried members of the public try take care of me as I wheeled about in below zero temperatures in a t-shirt with wet hair. Most of the solutions to overheating I have found so far have not been portable, which is limiting (fans, air con).
My WheelAir cooling backrest cushion is the opposite – it’s air conditioning on the go and is helping me manage my overheating. Even though it just blows on my back, it actually cools my whole core and helps with my “hot head”. Even this September, when I’ve been out walking the dogs and the temperature has been only 10°C… the WheelAir has prevented flare ups and helped me stay alert. It feels like a nice cool breeze up my spine.
I’ve also found that it is really helping when I’m going to clinic appointments. Sometimes finding the right room is quite tricky and you need to put in a fair bit of effort wheeling through the corridors. It’s stressful, both mentally and physically! Also, hospitals are very hot at times. With WheelAir, trips to the clinic are much calmer and in control.
The time I’ve been most thankful for WheelAir was when I was travelling in London on the Underground. It was like an inferno on that tube! It was probably well over 35°C. Everything was so hot… but my back felt like it was nice valley in Switzerland!
It was a very intense 10-minute tube ride that would have been so much worse if I hadn’t had the WheelAir. It really does help ease stressful situations.
Overall, it’s significantly improved my comfort and quality of life when using my wheelchair.