A WHEELCHAIR user from Bournemouth has set herself the challenge of swimming 11 miles in 12 weeks to raise money for Diabetes UK.

Hayley Oborn, from Ensbury Park, can only swim with her arms after being partially paralysed due to a shattered spine, caused by Steroid Induced Osteoporosis from being on long term steroids for her asthma.

The condition has left the 45-year-old with extensive fractures in her legs, pelvis and hip, causing her constant pain and to lose all feeling in both legs and feet as a result.

She said: “I suffer from brittle asthma and to help with it, I have been on long term steroid tablets for the last six or seven years.

“So, four years ago, I started getting extreme back pain and after I went to hospital and had some scans, they found that my spine was basically smashed to bits.

“The paralysis is that I have no feeling in my right foot and my left foot is slowly getting there.”

Having been in intensive care and hooked up to a ventilator two years ago, Hayley is now attempting to swim 11 miles – half the distance of the English Channel.

Bournemouth Echo: Hayley Oborn, from Ensbury Park, hjas been left partially paralysed due to a shattered spine, caused by Steroid Induced Osteoporosis from being on long term steroids for her asthma

As well as raising money for Diabetes UK, Hayley aims to raise awareness of drug induced diabetes, a condition she could get through the consumption of her steroid tablets.

“I do not have diabetes but people who are on high levels of steroid tablets can get diabetes from it,” said Hayley.

“I have been on steroids my whole life; I have been taking them every day. Depending on how much you are on, it does increase your blood sugar levels.

“So, doing this challenge was more about pushing myself rather than diabetes but I know that there is always a possibility I could get it.”

After she voluntarily resigned from her job as an IT technician at a local school due to her condition, Hayley said she went through some “really hard times.”

Due to her respiratory condition, Hayley was forced to shield during the national lockdowns.

As it meant that she couldn’t see any of her friends and family in person for almost a year, Hayley insists that the lockdown period was a “turning point” for her.

She said: “I don’t work now as I had to give up a job I loved because I started to lose feeling in my legs. I was made homeless twice, it took me a long time to get to where I am now.

“I am considered high risk because of my asthma, so I shielded and didn’t see anyone in person for around 10 months.

“But, weirdly enough, lockdown has helped me a lot. Because I was on my own and couldn’t do anything else, I just had to get on with it.”

Now she is able to go to the leisure centre again, Hayley says her biggest incentive for the challenge is to prove to herself that she is up to the challenge.

Bournemouth Echo: Hayley Oborn before one of her swims at the BH Live Active leisure centre in Kinson

Hayley is taking on her challenge at BH Live Active leisure centre in Kinson and, although the challenge doesn’t officially start until July 22, she has already started, and swan close to two miles in two weeks.

“From a swimming point of view, I want to prove that a disability should not stop you from swimming or taking part in any other type of exercise,” she said.

“I am finding that the swimming is actually helping with the pain. I was getting pain in my left hip just before I started the swimming challenge and when I am in the water, it is fine.

“When I am in the water, it is such a weird feeling, but I can stand up easing because of the water resistance. It is a kind of freedom.”

To donate to Hayley's fundraiser, visit https://swim22.diabetes.org.uk/fundraising/hayley132.