Introducing Tabi Fung
My name is Tabi Fung, I’m 38 and from the West Midlands. I’m a keen tennis player, disability advocate and owner of a slightly mad tuxedo cat named Sylvester! I’m also a full -time wheelchair user. Liz asked me to write this guest blog post for her as I’ve been a loyal FreshWipes customer since the company started and she has followed my story with interest and thought that many other customers would be able to relate to my experiences.
You may or may not have seen my name crop up in various places over the past few years. I've been involved in various news articles, campaigns and wheelchair tennis. I wanted to write this post giving you a brief glimpse of my story as a wheelchair user.
I have been a wheelchair user now for just over 7 years. I was completely able-bodied until one day when I woke up with no movement and very limited feeling from the waist down. That was it! It’s a shocking tale and hard to believe, until it happened to me..
So the biggest questions at the time were: Why? How? What's going on?
Despite spending an extended period in hospital, and numerous medical tests, we have still been unable to find out what has happened and what is going on with my body. Seven years on I have various muscles that are now dystonic, the most obvious of this is my wonky left foot, and my inability to use the two little fingers on my right hand. Having grown up as a pianist and flutist, the most devastating was being unable to use all of the fingers on my right hand as I am now unable to play the music that I once escaped to.
As I began rebuilding my life, (which in itself was no mean feat), I began having very low moods. Sometimes things could just get overwhelming. I gave myself a very stern talking to and gave myself two options: I could either cry about what I could no longer do; or I could decide to embrace my new life and live the best life I can. I chose the latter in case you were in any doubt.
During that initial shock period, I was still incredibly poorly in hospital when I was informed that I was going to be made redundant from the job I had loved and grown in for the past 4 years. So, I had now not only lost the use of my legs, I also lost my job and to top it off I would lose my car as it was a manual car with pedals. Thank goodness for Motability who were able to provide me with an adapted car (not for free - I hasten to add) so I could begin to rediscover my independence. Over the following 9 to 12 months I travelled alone to Turkey for a holiday, something I would never have done when I could walk. I remember the night before I left thinking how much of an idiot I was thinking I could go away on holiday, on my own in a wheelchair. As it happened, it was time I needed to just reflect, and take some time out to evaluate my life. I also found a new job working in an admin role in the NHS. My 4 years management experience and law degree didn't seem to count for anything when it came to applying for jobs, everything seemed to focus on my wheelchair and disability.
I began going to an accessible gym and another wheelchair user there was trying to persuade me to try wheelchair tennis. Now, just to make this clear - I've never ever, EVER been sporty! I told them straight that I hated sport, I didn't like tennis, heck, I didn't even watch Wimbledon. I just knew I'd hate it, and it wasn't something I would be interested in.
Anyway a few months passed and there was a taster session at a local park. I finally gave in and agreed to try the session for no other reason than to shut the person up who was doing the persuading.
Long story short, 6 years on, I received a career high of 160 ranked ladies wheelchair tennis player in the world. I also admin a Facebook group called Wheely Brits, which I set up for UK wheelchair users and their carers’. When I set it up a few years ago, it was the first group of its kind in the UK.
I still don't know what's going on with my body, but as long as I can, I will continue to embrace the challenges life throws at me and hope that other people will find the confidence to try things. You never know what you will enjoy unless you try!
Tell me in the comments below about the things you have tried in the last few years. Have you tried anything new and did you enjoy it?