Friday, 29 June 2012

One year on - photos and videos

Here are the photos and videos I said I'd publish in my post earlier today.

A few weeks ago, I went back to the scene of my accident for the first time. I drive past this place pretty much every day, but this was the first time I'd got out to take a closer look. I don't know for certain but am pretty sure that this is the hole that my tyre went down. My head  landed on the kerb. 

The kids have started doing the Hash House Horrors runs on Sunday afternoons. Recently, I joined them to walk one of routes - and found myself on the marathon course!!!

Here are a few videos from recent training sessions with Swee Kheng. You can see the issues I still have, mainly with my right leg/ foot, and with tone when I start to move faster. But you can also see the progress, I hope.

Here's one from last week - when I seemed to find my running legs again - first time for a little while!! I was very happy with this.

One year on

Today is the first anniversary of my accident  - the day that changed my life and the lives of my family forever. As you can imagine, there's a lot going through my head and today is a day of very high emotion. There's a lot I would like to say and do, but above all I want to celebrate and say thank you.

On 29th June 2011, a cycling accident left me with a spinal cord injury, unable to move and with almost no sensation, from the shoulders down. In the days that followed, Ali and I started to learn about the potentially devastating, traumatic impact of this injury -  possible permanent paralysis, incontinence, breathing complications, infections, a lifetime of dependence on care, and so on. Fortunately, I showed signs of some functional recovery fairly quickly, which was encouraging. But the medics made it clear that it was impossible to predict how much I would recover and to what extent I would be left disabled. A few weeks after my accident I was told that, given the level and nature of my accident, at the date of injury I had a less than 10% chance of ever walking again.

Today, my biggest physical challenge is muscle tone, spasticity and tightness. That's caused by the damage to my neurological system. The tone and tightness is compounded by physical, emotional and other stresses. Over the last couple of months, I've ramped up at work and pressed on with my physical rehab whilst trying to manage through the huge uncertainties and emotional issues the family still faces. I've taken medication since the accident, but the way the drugs work is by suppressing the nervous system, which seems to me (and others) to work against the healing process, so I recently tried to reduce the dosage. The net result has been an increase in tightness these last few weeks. But I know that it will improve eventually. And I know that when it does I will be in a really good position to make even more progress at an even faster rate. 

As things stand, one year later, I can walk (and do so without walking aids). I'm learning to gallop, skip, hop and run. I can ride a bike and swim. I can play games with my kids, kick a football, hit, throw and catch a ball. I drive, without any modification. I can type and write. I'm back at work and beating the targets I set for my first 3 months back. I'm fully functional and completely independent. My motor control, sensation, muscle strength and function all continue to improve. 

I don't know why it is that I've been able to recover this far. I think there are many reasons and I think they include the specific extent of the damage to my spinal cord; the medical care and drugs I received in the ICU; the success of my surgery; the great nursing care that followed; my extensive and intensive rehab program (physio, OT, cranio sacral therapy, meridian resistive stretching, massage, acupuncture, Qi Gong, counseling, coaching etc); my ability to finance all of that, including my six weeks at Project Walk; the energy I've drawn from the thoughts, prayers, encouragement and support of my family, friends and colleagues; the rock solid support from my employer; the inspiration I've drawn from the amazing people I've met and stories I've heard along the way; the make up of my body, spirit and mind - my level of fitness and health before the accident and the way I found myself able to choose hope over fear, believe in my recovery and keep focussed and determined to stay the course. 

I'm learning and understanding more as each day of this journey goes by, but I expect I'll never really know what it is that's got me here. But I do know that things could have been so much worse for me. I know that many other SCI victims face far bigger challenges than I do. I know that many of them would love to be able to do what I can do now, and I've met many who are working extremely hard to get there. I know that I am fortunate. I'm very grateful for the fact that I am where I am today, and that I have the potential to go even further tomorrow.

I also know, for sure, that I could not have done this without all of you. My medics, nurses, therapists, trainers, family, friends and colleagues. You have energised, motivated and inspired me. I will always be grateful. 

My injury has caused a huge amount of trauma, grief and upheaval for Ali, Max and Amy. Its very painful still for Ali, who saw our dreams, plans and securities torn to pieces. Whilst the kids have found new ways of being with me, I know they'd love to have me able to do the things I used to do. They are the victims of this too. But they brought me through the worst and have stuck by me. I'll find a way of marking today with them, saying thank you and letting them know how much I love them.

Today, wherever you are, please have a little celebration!!