RFD Question Time with Gemma Orton from Wheelescapades

This month I’ve launched a new blog series called “RFD Question Time with…”, in which I will interview people within the disability community and/or blogosphere.Today I’d like to welcome disability and lifestyle blogger Gemma Orton who runs the blog Wheelescapades: 

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

Id been thinking about it for a little while. When out with friends access issues or ignorant people would get us into some funny or shocking situations. We would laugh through it (because thats the only way) and say how I should write a book or start a blog to note my adventures and discuss what an inaccessible world it can be sometimes.

Not just steps and poorly designed bathrooms (although theyre frustrating too), but peoples attitudes and assumptions when they meet a person with a disability. The head pats, slow shouty speech and gloomy looks happen more than youd expect. So one day, I just did it. Wrote my first blog post.

2. What advice would you give to other bloggers starting out?

Just do your thing. To have even considered startling a blog you must have a passion and stuff to say. Deep down theres a desire to get your thoughts out, share your ideas, discuss them and open them up to others.

As Oscar Wilde said – Be yourself, everyone else is already taken

 Dont worry if youll get followers, or reach certain statistics. Youll find your people.

3. What is your disability and how does it affect you on a daily basis?

I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type2, a neuromuscular condition that basically means my muscles are progressively weakening.

I am a full time power wheelchair user and need assistance, physically, with all daily life stuffs.

Breathing is one of the things I struggle most with (along with inaccessibility). I use a BiPaP non-invasive ventilator at night. The common cold can become life threatening.

SMA affects me in every way, and in no way at all. Simultaneously.

4. What do you love about being disabled?

The community. The people Ive had the privilege of meeting, in real life and internet life.

Oh and queue jumping.

5. If you were given a pill to cure your disability, would you take it and why?

Ooooh, this is a controversial one. For somebody thats aim is to educate and raise awareness of disability, Im meant to say no.

But I cant say I dont ever wonder what life would have been were I not to be born with SMA. That doesnt mean to say it would be any better. It would be different though, that cant be denied.

Right now, in this moment Id say no. I wouldnt be the person I am or know the people I do.

Id like to take an alternate universe pill if you have any of those? Where I can see and feel what it would be like to live a fully independent life.

A life where I wouldnt have to ask somebody to help every time I needed a drink, wanted to leave my house, was bursting for a pee.

Id like to take a fully deep breath and not feel breathless when I talk to much. Id even give the washing up a go – Just to know.

6. What has been your favourite concert or festival youve attended?

Live entertainment has always been a big part of my life. (I’ve struggled with the lack of it this year).

One of my highlights performance wise was when Muse headlined Reading Festival and Elbow played right before them. My two favourite bands, and have been now for many years. It was the dream.

My happy place though is Latitude Festival. Its a festival with everything. Music, comedy, theatre, poetry, dance, art and installations. Its eclectic and magical. I would go every year, no matter the line up. So when Elbow headlined I was in my element. 

7. If you were organising a music festival, which three acts would you book as your headliners?

Note previous question for the real thing but…

This is a fictitious festival right? So I can have anyone I want.

Queen, Nirvana and David Bowie. With Kate Bush and Bjork for the midday chill out sessions.

8. If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Ive always had a thing for Italy. Florence is my dream. The culture, art, food and weather all appeal.

India also fascinates me. Meandering around street markets and sipping on chai.

The inaccessibility of flying, and my growing disability means that Ill likely never visit either.

9. If you got stranded on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?

Id need some crafting materials of some kind, maybe a stash of yarn and a crochet hook. Im sure I could always makes yarns of some kind if I run out.

I have to keep a busy mind and fingers.

Is this a sunny island? If so Id need sun protection, because I was meant to be a vampire. As much as I love the warmth, the sun hates my skin.

Oh and hummus. Because it goes with everything.

10. What is your favourite film and why?

Im no good at having favourites of anything. Everything depends on the day and my mood.

But I do love Edward Scissorhands.

11. Who would you like to play you in a movie of your life?

I dont think my life is worthy of a movie, but if so then someone with the same disability as me.

12. What is your favourite book and why?

Again, Im not good at favourites. I enjoy a good suspense, something that gets me turning every page. I also like a life drama novel with all the feels.

13. If you were to write an autobiography, what would you call it?

Wheelescapades. Im not very inventive when it comes to titles and it took all my brainpower to come up with that for my blog.

14. If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I want to go to all the times.

I want to be in the 20s and have luncheon with Lady Mary (I know Downton Abbey is fiction) and cocktails with Gatsby (fiction too).


15. If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?

I have four cats and I want to be one of them. They are wise, intuitive, chilled, and content. Life happens on their terms. They can find the most comfy looking spots and enjoy a daily head rub. Oh what it would be…

16. What is your worst habit?

I am extremely indecisive and a great procrastinator.

17. Are you an early bird or night owl?

Im not really either.

I get up early, but Im not very productive in the mornings. I need at least two cups of tea before I can do anything, even talk coherently.

I feel my body exhausting by 10pm but Im actually more likely to to get in the zone and be creative with crafts or writing. So I guess night owl in a way. If 10pm is night.

18. Which is your favourite season and why?

Summer. This is something that is impacted more by my disability than youd expect.

I can move when there is heat. By move I mean my fingers dont seize up and I can use them a bit. I have more grip and less aches.

When Im cold I find it extremely difficult to function. In every way really. Im stiff, I get pains, I struggle more to do everyday tasks like like lift my fork or drink, I cant craft or work my phone properly. I get frustrated and therefor cant focus either.

I enjoy autumn and its colours. The leaves, skies and knitwear. But my SMA doesnt.

19. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ive always wanted to do something creative. When I was really young, around 9, I would draw pictures and sell them to friends and family for 10p, 20p, ha. I guess the dream was that it would be the start of a career as an artist.

This did come true for a while, during and just after Art School. I put on a few exhibitions with friends, was commissioned to work on a local project, and also collaborated with a writer on a book. My job was illustrating.

The problem with that kind of world is keeping it flowing.

20. What is your dream job?

As above. Id also like to take the writing further and do some journalism.

To find out more about Gemma Orton, visit her blog Wheelescapades and follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram 


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