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Hannah: Moving On
Hannah: Moving On
Hannah: Moving On
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Hannah: Moving On

Автор David Mitchell

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'At the end, the teacher asked for some feedback. I had obviously made an impression on a boy called Ben. ‘I’m glad you’ve come in today because people think that I can’t do anything in a wheelchair. After listening to you I know that I can.’

At the age of 15, Hannah Rose had to come to terms with a life-changing event when a virus paralysed her from the neck down. Her story was featured in ‘Hannah, Same Both Ways’, a book which had a huge impact on many readers. In this follow-up, Hannah’s remarkable story continues. ‘Hannah: Moving On’ is full of amazing developments, unexpected surprises and hilarious anecdotes. From beginning to end, Hannah never fails to inspire.

ИздательLegend Press
Дата выпуска20 нояб. 2017 г.
Hannah: Moving On
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Читать больше произведений David Mitchell

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    Hannah - David Mitchell



    ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’ is published

    ‘It was good to have some familiar faces supporting me for what was an unusual experience.’

    The green light came on and the studio went silent as presenter Sally Naden indicated with a brief hand gesture that the programme was about to start. I was slightly nervous but really excited at the same time. It was Monday, 29th April 2013 which was the day of the official release of my first book, ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’. What better way to start promoting it than an appearance on BBC Radio Lancashire’s lunchtime show direct from their studio in Blackburn.

    There were three of us sitting around the table next to Sally. To my right was Dave Mitchell who had collaborated with me on ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’, along with his wife Sue. She was sitting just a few yards away from me next to her lovely mum, Audrey, and two of my personal assistants, Natalie and Nicola. It was good to have some familiar faces supporting me for what was an unusual experience. Over the next couple of hours, Dave and I would have plenty of opportunity to talk about my life and the release of the book. Having him there beside me was reassuring. The other person who was featured on the programme promised to be interesting as well. He sat beyond Dave and was a guy who specialised in finding locations for films and television. A Film and TV Studies course had formed part of my degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. Studying for a degree and eventually receiving it had been an important milestone in my journey after becoming ill. The practical issues had made university life less straightforward than I would have expected but you will no doubt recall how I managed to cope if you have read ‘Hannah Same Both Ways.’

    Sally Naden was lovely and really put me at my ease. She split the show up with news, weather and traffic updates and also gave the three of us plenty of chance to talk to the audience around Lancashire and beyond online. All this meant that I wasn’t talking constantly and had plenty of time to prepare answers in my mind.

    Dave had given me bits of advice beforehand, including mentioning the book as much as possible! I really enjoyed the experience and two hours passed by in a flash. Sally had asked us to choose a favourite song for her to play. I went for ‘Strong’ by Robbie Williams because it reminded me of being in high school and Robbie had always been my favourite. My friend Anna heard the broadcast in Australia and told me some time later, ’I just knew you would pick Robbie!’

    We had another chat off-air after the show and I thanked Sally for giving us the chance to feature my story. We were all getting peckish by this stage so headed out looking for lunch. The BBC studio is very close to a massive shopping centre in Blackburn and my eyes lit up as I guided my wheelchair up the slope into the building. Readers of ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’ will know how much I love shopping and I just could not resist having a look round! After lunch in Debenhams with Dave, Sue and Audrey we split up and I took Natalie and Nicola off at a cracking pace on a trip round the clothes shops. They struggled to keep up with me as my wheelchair moved full pelt down the wide spaces between shops. I can’t remember buying anything but I probably did!

    The first day of the book’s life could not have gone better. An appearance on BBC Lancashire kick-started the process of bringing my story to as many people as possible. Over the coming days, weeks and months so many lovely things happened connected with the book. I can’t wait to tell you all about them!


    Grandpa Lou

    ‘He was so proud of what I had achieved after my illness took hold, that I had a job and had done a book.’

    Grandpa Lou had listened to the broadcast in Manchester and enjoyed it. He sat alone in the house he knew so well and took in every word. That meant a lot to me because Grandpa had constantly encouraged me to make a note of things in my life and put a story together. It was a big moment for me when I was able to present him with a copy of ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’. I couldn’t wait for that to happen and had the book wrapped up on Easter Sunday 2013 but about two hours after he received it we got a call from the nursing home to say that Grandma Ruth had taken a turn for the worse. Ruth had not enjoyed the best of health in recent years and was not really aware of what was happening around her, including the writing of my book. She passed away a few days later but I think that the publication of the book and getting it in his hands made a difficult situation a bit more bearable for Grandpa. Theirs had been a long and happy marriage and it had produced my dad! I was pleased that Grandpa had the book for that short period before we’d heard that Grandma was on the decline. He had been able to flick through the pages and look at all the lovely family photographs in the middle. He featured on two of them, one from my graduation in 2006 when he, Grandma Ruth and Grandma Frances were all photographed with me and a second six years later. In this one he was pictured standing proudly by my side, leaning slightly towards me, smart in suit and tie. His expression was, as ever, warm and kind. Over time I was able to tell that Grandpa was really, really proud of the book. He wasn’t a demonstrative and outgoing sort but I knew that in his own quiet way he approved.

    How I wish that Grandma Ruth could have seen the book and been able to understand what it meant to me because I think that she would have loved it. Grandma had been through some difficult times in her life and her arrival in England as a young girl escaping from the persecution of life in Germany in 1938 has always acted as an inspiration to me. All the visas had come through for her brothers and sisters but not hers. Her siblings headed for America while she made her way to England on a visa that belonged to her sister. Ruth was seventeen and unable to speak English. She showed remarkable qualities to make something of her life and she enjoyed a long marriage to Grandpa. On arrival in England, Grandma Ruth had to overcome prejudice in a situation completely alien to her and so did I some sixty years later as I slowly adapted to life from the perspective of a person with a disability. That is something that has always touched me and made me feel just that little bit closer to her. There’s no doubt that my illness gave me a greater understanding of my lovely Grandma’s courage and resilience all those years ago. She came through to forge a new life for herself and so would I.

    After overcoming all the adversity in her younger life, Grandma certainly didn’t deserve the treatment that she got a few weeks before she died. Fortunately, she was not alert enough to take in what had happened. She had some rings stolen from the home where she was a resident and it was very upsetting for all of us. Mum and Grandpa were there that day and Mum had looked across to Grandpa when she noticed the rings missing. Grandpa told Grandma that her rings had gone and she hadn’t been aware. Panic followed. Sadly, they were never found. The ‘Manchester Evening News’ were really helpful and featured the theft in an article. The police were brilliant as well. It was really sad because one was her mother’s ring, another was her engagement ring and she had had them all her life with Grandpa. It was clearly a deliberate act because an extra ring which was used to keep the others on her finger had been taken off and put back on again.

    Grandpa took some copies of ‘Hannah, Same Both Ways’ from me and proudly gave them out to district nurses and other professionals he came across. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to see this follow-up published because he also passed away, in June 2014, at the age of 92. He had been unwell for some time but the news still hit me hard. As you will read later it was the start of another very difficult period in my life. Grandpa Lou was a remarkable man and I will never forget the encouragement he gave me to put my story into print.

    Mum was talking to Grandpa’s close friend Bernard and he told her how much Grandpa used to go on about me. He was so proud of what I had achieved after my illness took hold, that I had a job and had done a book. When Dad was emptying Grandpa’s house he found loads of stuff about the family. There were lots of cuttings and pictures about what I’d done since I got ill and cards that Jessica, Naomi and I had made him and Grandma Ruth when we were children. There were literally stacks of photographs. Particularly touching were letters that Grandpa and Grandma had written to each other over the years. We are getting to know our lovely grandparents even more through all this. It’s been hard for Dad to go through it all though. He was an only child and visited Grandpa regularly as well as bringing him to our house every Sunday for a meal. We have a house full of Grandpa and Grandma’s stuff now. It has been a massive job, for Dad in particular. Anyway, more about Grandpa Lou later in the book.


    Launching the Book

    ‘The room was full of people who had supported and helped me come to terms with my life following the illness.’

    ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’ had taken just over a year to complete. The story had come about from the most unlikely setting. Just a few days after visiting the local GP with a pain in my back, I was paralysed from the neck down and life would never be the same again. The devotion of my family and friends helped me to come to terms with this life-changing situation and their support is as important today as it has ever been. Mum, Dad, Jessica and Naomi all feature prominently in ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’ as do my wonderful friends who have been so loyal to me and you are going to hear more about them this time round!

    I will never forget the moment when Dave finally cut open the box containing the first batch of books. He told me that he and Sue had received the parcel the day before but had decided not to open it until they were with me. I don’t think that I could have waited that long! Dave slit the box open on the carpet in our living room. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Out came a beautiful, shiny book with pictures of me on the front and my name in large letters! One picture was from my adult life, the other from the carefree days before my body was consumed. The cover design had been put together by Dave and Sue’s youngest daughter, Gillian, and it looked fantastic. Sue picked another copy out of the box and rubbed it against my cheek so that I could feel the lovely smooth cover on my skin. It was a very special moment. We talked excitedly about what was going to happen next and one thing that came up was how we were going to get round me not being able to sign it like other authors could.

    We came up with a brilliant idea. I would ‘kiss’ the page and leave an imprint of my lips in lipstick! I remember practising that quite a few times before I was confident enough to transfer it to a book. It was a really fun thing to do and it was to attract a lot of lovely comments from people. Soon after the first books were delivered, I went to choir with three wrapped up for my friends Lizzy, Sarah and Jenny. ‘Is this the book!?’ they said, excitedly. At around half past twelve to one o’clock that night, I got text messages from all three, at about the same time. They were all saying that they had just finished the book and it was amazing!

    Family friend, Chris Hynes, bought one of the first books at my house and I kissed it for him. When he found that I was kissing them all he was sad because his was no longer an original! Chris had already played his part in my recuperation because it was he who introduced me to a system of natural healing called Reiki. This was developed nearly a hundred years ago by a Japanese Buddhist, Mikao Usui, and I talked about its benefits in ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’. Chris kindly took time out to ensure that we had regular weekly sessions and there is no doubt that its calming effect helped me. The Hynes family have always been very supportive and they will feature again in this book as I describe one of those amusingly chaotic incidents involving my wheelchair!

    The kissing technique was used over and over again on the evening of the book launch which was held a couple of weeks after the book came out. What an occasion that was! We had done lots of thinking about the date, venue and organisation. I remember worrying in the days leading up to it that not many would turn up at the event so was absolutely staggered when the Hartford Golf Club near my house in Cheshire filled with about two hundred people! I made Nicola, one of my personal assistants, curl my hair beforehand then changed my mind which took up an extra hour! Grandpa Lou was sitting in the chair near me at home and watching me getting stressed about it. As ever, he remained calm and impassive. There was no way that he was missing my special evening. I think that it meant more to him than it did to me.

    After all my worrying, the launch of ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’ couldn’t have gone more perfectly. It was such a good night. One of the highlights was a lovely cake but the real joy was to see so many familiar faces and lots of the key people from the book were able to make it. Grandma Frances, Mum’s mum, joined Grandpa Lou to represent the older generation. Dad’s cousins were there as well as some of my teachers from Hartford County Primary School and St. Nicholas High School. One example from a long way back was Mrs. Woods from Hartford Primary and, funnily enough, I’ve seen her out and about loads of times since. My lovely friends from work were well-represented. Karen Watkins was there from the Cheshire Police headquarters which was nice because I owe so much to her. She gave me my chance of doing a research project there and one thing led to another. I also saw some staff from Walton Hospital in Liverpool, an Occupational Therapist and one of the eye specialists.

    The room was full of people who had supported and helped me come to terms with my life following the illness. It was really good to see Jane Copeman although her daughter was going into labour and she had to dash off. Jane was my German tutor at GCSE. I noticed certain eccentricities about Jane in those early days, her grey hair in a bun on the top of her head and the largest green glasses I have ever seen! As I got to know her she became a big friend and one of the loveliest women I have ever met. Her appearing at my launch, despite her daughter’s condition, meant so much to me. I wouldn’t have met and kept Jane as a friend had it not been for the illness and, I suppose, that is the sort of bonus that you can cling on to and appreciate out of adversity.

    Cynthia was there. She had taught me Law at Mid-Cheshire College after I restarted my education and she is so lovely and, like Jane, has become a good friend. Sadly, another important person in my story, Dr. Andrew Selby from Alder Hey, couldn’t make it because of other commitments. I was so looking forward to seeing him but I knew how busy he was. Andrew Selby has been so brilliant in my recovery. He was the consultant in charge of ventilation at Alder Hey Hospital and we kept in touch after I left. In fact, he came to my 21st birthday party.

    Dave and I got together at the launch to satisfy a long line of people wanting to buy a book and, of course, have it signed! He signed his name alongside my ‘lips’ and was concerned that we might run out of books with there being so many people in the room! We had devised a presentation which involved both of us talking in turn followed by a question and answer session. Dave spoke about how the project had developed and I talked about my story. We spent a little bit of time planning beforehand and it went really well. Typical of me, I was nervous about doing it, particularly because I knew the audience so well. Once I got going my confidence grew and I relaxed. The sound of laughter ringing round the room gave me a brilliant feeling!

    I thanked Mum and Dad as part of my speech but, unfortunately, Mum wasn’t there when I mentioned her. She had gone out to the car to get a surprise gift. I saw her leave the room and wondered why she had to go just at that moment! She didn’t, of course, know what I was going to say or she would no doubt have waited! Anyway, everyone thought it was hilarious!

    Grandpa had a wonderful time. I know that for certain because he rang me up the next night. I’ve never known him do that ever. It was always me who rang him. He was asking me if I’d got over the night yet. He was really shocked by how good it was. I couldn’t believe how enthusiastic he sounded. Grandpa was never like that! I don’t think he could really believe it all. For a man in his nineties, it had been a great effort to attend the evening and I was so glad that he was there. It made it that little bit more special. At the time it seemed the most amazing night ever but now it’s all a blur and I wish I could relive it.

    Dave: Well, you are going to be able to, Hannah, now that the second volume is out!

    I know, Dave! Addressing the audience at the launch undoubtedly gave me an appetite for speaking in public. I’ve always been confident in and around people socially, both before and after my illness, but I was really pleased with the way my speech went and definitely wanted to do that type of thing again.



    ‘One lady was in tears because she was so inspired by me going to university and getting a job.’

    The book launch had been a brilliant opportunity to get a lot of people together, all of whom would be interested in buying a copy. They were, after all, the people closest to the story. Getting the message out further was going to be quite a different challenge and the summer months were particularly busy with opportunities to publicise ‘Hannah Same Both Ways’. Even before the release date, Sue and Dave had been to the London Book Fair at Earls Court where the publishers had a stall featuring it! There was a chance for them to meet some of the staff, particularly the marketing man who would be key in helping to publicise my story. His job was to get round as many journals, magazines and websites as he could think of and persuade them to give me and my book some coverage. His message would be along the lines of how ‘I went from being your average teenager to suddenly losing the ability to walk overnight’ and ‘the subsequent challenges I had to face.’

    I have always been active on Facebook and was to get loads of reactions from there which was brilliant. The ‘Manchester Evening News’, who were so supportive when Grandma Ruth had her rings stolen, carried an article and there was another in the ‘Northwich Guardian’, the local paper around Hartford where I live. One of their reporters, Emma Rigby, came to the house and did a lovely piece about me. Gina Bebbington, their Chief Reporter, said that it was deserved because my story ‘is so incredible’! Emma’s piece also featured on the Spinal Cord Injury Zone website. Here is what she wrote:

    ‘When Hannah Rose was left paralysed in 1999 after a virus damaged her spine, she knew life would never be the same. But now the 29 year-old has proved an inspiration with the release of her tell-all memoirs – Hannah Same Both Ways.’

    I started writing the book two years ago, explained the Chester Road resident. My Grandpa Lou had been telling me to do it for ages and I decided I really wanted to write everything down.

    Hannah was able to write the book with the help of her close friends David and Susan Mitchell. I would never have been able to do it without them, said Hannah. They have made it possible for me to write it all down.

    In 1999, doctors diagnosed Hannah’s condition as an auto-immune disease that affects just one in a million people, after she complained of a pain in her back. Just days later she was paralysed and on a ventilator in intensive care at Alder Hey Hospital, where she stayed for five months. Despite the struggles she faced, the remarkable young woman was able to complete her GCSE’s and A Levels, before heading to university to earn a 2:1 joint honours degree in crime studies and film and television studies.

    With the help and support of her family, Hannah was able to put her studies to good use, landing herself a job with Cheshire Police where she now spends three days a week working as a vetting officer. Hannah added, I have a great group of personal assistants at work and wonderful friends and family - they’re amazing. None of this would have been possible without them.

    Hannah hopes her book will help others to come to terms with life-changing events like her own. She said, Writing the book has really helped me and I’ve learnt quite a lot from it and it has made me realise how far we have come as a family. I hope it will make people realise that although there are a lot of things you can’t do, there are still a lot of things you can do.

    "People say I’ve done so much

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