Back in 2011 I started writing”Cheetahs in my Shoes” based entirely on the stories of The Cheetah Keeper who, in order to make sense of the chaos that is life and his assorted medical problems, all of a sudden, discovered a pair of (imaginary) cheetahs living in his trainers. Those cheetahs have subsequently bred, travelled, invited friends to stay and found gainful employment, persued their sporting dreams and invented a large variety of gadgets that are going to save the world. They’re still about but travel frequently and are there when their Keeper needs them rather than being full time companions.
I’m a mummy, not a medical expert in anyway, so what I write about our medical conditions is how I understand them and how they affect us. They are by no means meant as a source of fact – but I hope what I write may help others in the same boat. I’m becoming more and more interested in how children in long term pain or discomfort or under long term stress use imaginary play and imaginary friends to help them cope – so let me know if you have any ideas, clues or thoughts on the matter… please.
Blogging has introduced me to the wonders of photography and the blog has transformed over the years into a mixture of health, family life, photography and opinions – in essence about getting out there and getting on with things whatever your circumstances.
So to introduce usThe Cheetah Keeper (born May 2007) The keeper of the Cheetahs, Dinos and Banana People – Mr Imagination! Funny, cuddly and generally has his beloved giraffe Tesco (That’s what it said on his label!) tucked firmly under one arm whilst being about 2 paces behind the rest of the world, deeply suspicious of new experiences, changes in terrain and having files at most hospitals within a 20 miles radius of us here in sunny St Albans. He is hypermobile (with the diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III expected when he’s a little older), suffers from reflux and has a platelet function defect which means when he bleeds his blood doesn’t clot properly. He has lots of nosebleeds, needs insoles in his shoes to try and correct his turned out foot and when poorly, does it in style. He also has problems with social communication which presents itself in autistic like traits and behaviours – he finds new experiences challenging, make decisions hard and can be quite overwhelmed by sensory experiences. When well, he loves his football, the zoo, playing on the Wii, street dance and taking part in accessible sports. He’s also turning out to be a rather good photographer and is saving up for his own bridge camera.
The Cheetah Keeper’s Sister (born April 2005) An extra tall adrenaline junkie mermaid who likes nothing better than throwing herself into water with little or no regard for the temperature or distance she needs to travel. Known as ‘the Sealion Keeper’ on the blog until late 2015 she has asked to be referred to as “Tube Geek” now as she is utterly fascinated with everything involving the London Underground and the surrounding transport networks! She’s an active member of our Guide unit, seems magnetically attracted to mud and is an avid supporter of the GirlGuiding #girlscan campaign.
She also has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III which has affected her speech and fine motor skills but didn’t really affect her gross motor skills until she had a nasty bout of Scarlet Fever in January 2010. After intensive therapy in Great Ormond Street Hospital in August 2010 she made an amazing recovery and although has a tendency to over do things (and subsequently end up really tired) generally is out there, trying everything, taking it all in and making the most of it. Me – Jenny Mummy (and hospital co-ordinator) to the Cheetah Keeper and his sister and married to M. I too have Ehlers Danlos Type III but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 31 despite years of joint problems, lots of operations and a frequent flyer pass at the GP.
I run my own business, DigitalJen, and design websites, write copy, take photographs, provide sales and marketing consulting and generally help small businesses get to where they want to be. I also teach adults how to use Social Media effectively and speak on business ethics and working with integrity. I run my own Guide unit locally and in my “spare” time can be found behind the camera, editing pictures, crocheting, baking or volunteering for something else. Dad… Prefers to remain anonymous