A handful of independence!

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Holly, creator of the 1-UP, in her hair tie workshop

Holly, creator of the 1-UP, in her hair tie workshop

My name is Holly. I’m just your average girl next door; working, playing, travelling the world and enjoying life as much as possible.

I’m appreciating life more than ever since I became an amputee. I’m the get on with it type person, I’ve got the will and I do my best to find a way. Pity is not allowed and please don’t mistake me for being disabled – I’m only inconvenienced.

After a long battle with complications of multiple operations and arterial venus malformation (AVM) in my left forearm, I became an upper limb amputee in July 2005. Since then, like many others, I’ve taken on the challenge of living a regular life with one hand.

Becoming an amputee at age 29 was a bit of a shock. I was aware that it would be a possibility, but not that soon. I was in a lot of pain and highly medicated for months prior to the amputation. As soon as I woke up from the operation, it all stopped. I returned to my normal self pretty quickly. Since age 7 onwards I’ve had operations on my left arm, so I was slightly ahead of the game when it came to rehabilitation. I was doing my own dressings/bandages and making my hospital bed (due to sheer boredom) 2 days after the amputation.

Surf lesson with Garry from Surf Easy. Love working with adaptive people.I went down the whole cosmetic false arm path, until I realised I was wearing it for others. It was as useful as a block of wood. When I first got it and was “wearing it in” it was a great source of amusement for friends and co workers as they used it for fun and scare tactics. It was also a bit of a shock to some people, especially when I didn’t wear enough stump socks and it would fall off. Just imagine a life like limb falling to the ground on the streets of London and you can imagine the looks.

I’ve lived the last few years prosthetic free, until Christmas 2007 where I nearly lost The Christmas Roast and trimmings to the kitchen floor. I realised there are a few advantages to having an aide. I’ve now got a handy multi tool prosthetic. I only wear it when I’m making things, especially roast dinners. Most of the time, all the adventures and travel I do, I do it prosthetic free. (It’s also great for Halloween!)

In the last few years I’ve bungee jumped, white water rafted, quad biked around an island and across a desert plain, learned the basics of snowboarding, swam with sharks, canoed a river, sailed a yacht and passed the Red Cross first aid course – so I can look after myself when I pass out from the exhaustion of it all. And in June 2010 I became a PADI Scuba Diver Instructor.

ms hook, scuba diving, malaysia, scuba junkie, holly franklin, semporna, mabul island

I’ve found ways around many problems that no “healthy” person thinks twice of – putting toothpaste on my toothbrush, peeling a banana, tie my laces.. blah blah blah. I just get on with it.

The only thing, other than rock wall climbing, that I couldn’t do was put my hair up quickly and easily. It bugged me for ages, I tried clips and head bands, but just a simple pony tail eluded me. I searched the internet for ages and I could only find “how to” instructions for pony tails that involved door knobs, laying backwards on a couch and other methods that didn’t work for me. Not finding any solutions that didn’t require a degree in contortion, I kept my hair short for a few years – yuck!

Over a few months and with various sources of inspiration (Thank you Rebecca and Angela), I finally have a design that works. I got to thinking; there must be many hundreds of girls, women and a few guys out there who are keeping their hair short because they don’t have an easier solution. So I wanted to spread the word – there is now one less challenge in your daily life!

The 1-UP© hair tie is not only for amputees, others who are living with congenital conditions, paralysis, arthritis and others with limited mobility are now making use of the 1-UP© Hair Tie.

Based on my experience as an amputee, I’m experimenting with designs to create a line of products, (including the hair tie), that will either give people an extra handful of independence or give us the confidence to strut the streets with a bit of bling and beauty.

Click here for 1-UP© Press Release