Archive for October, 2020

h1

Years of Practice

October 14, 2020

Before I broke my back and became disabled ‘for real’ I had a previous accident. At the age of twenty I was knocked off a bicycle, left unconscious in the road and then run over by a car. It nearly tore my right foot off, damaged my left knee and my head and body went underneath the car with what must have been the sump hitting me in the side of the head. That’s three quarters of a ton of metal travelling at speed! The driver never stopped.

Being young, and thinking I was invincible, I soldiered on and threw myself back into life thinking it wouldn’t bother me. For two years I did well, at least well in terms of keeping my spirits up. Physically I tended to overdo things and my ankle, especially, would swell up at times and lock solid. I got back to college after only a term off and the following summer I moved to Wales to work for a year as part of the course I was doing. I had a fantastic year, although coming back to London after the wilds of Wales was a little depressing and physically I was starting to struggle. The reality of living with injury was starting to press home.

I finished the year at college and obtained my degree, but it was tough and I had little desire left to get a job in engineering product design that I was trained for. Manufacturing industry had come to symbolise all that I despised about our industrial civilization. Maybe I should thank the accident for ensuring that I don’t now go to work in a suit and tie and have never become another pawn in the machine. As it was I returned to Dorking, my home town, exhausted both physically and mentally. There was work to do to overcome what had happened to me three years previously.

I never lost my thirst for life and my twenties were good years. Motorcycling with a dog that rode pillion, camping, rafting down rivers and a great deal of partying. They were, however, tough years mentally. If I had spoken to a doctor I would easily have been diagnosed with depression. I drunk a lot and rarely went a day without being stoned. My twenty fifth birthday was one of the lowest days of my life. I arrived at a friends house for dinner, late and a little drunk and I remember saying to him that surviving quarter of a century deserved a month off, and that’s how I felt. It was also a turning point.

I didn’t have the month off. I got back to physio, joined a yoga class, took to walking barefoot and dramatically improved my physical condition. I restored an old lorry, had a go at running a business with it and really began to get my head round life. Three years later, though, I sold my lorry and was labouring to try and pay my way having no real idea where life was going and then fate decided for me. I had an accident with a dumper truck, got crushed underneath it and broke my back.

While I was lying in hospital paralysed from the waist down a friend came to see me and said, “That first accident was just preparing you for this one”. In many ways she was right.

h1

Climbing a Mountain

October 8, 2020

I haven’t written a blog post for a whole year. I didn’t feel I had anything new to say. I even sat down in February and got half way through writing a post only to give up. I was just repeating myself. I’d said it all before and was relating what I was saying to yet more small improvements in the head, but that’s just it. What it takes to heal a body, from such a catastrophic injury, is one small improvement after another. Advanced Bio-Mehanical Rehabilitation, as the way of therapy I work with is known, is not a miracle cure, and there are no miracle cures, just steps in the right direction. Each step is nothing more than a tiny incremental change, but if you take enough small steps you can climb a mountain and climbing a mountain is exactly what you have to do to overcome the physical effects of a spinal injury.

Paraplegia is considered a permanent condition and without dedication to a way of healing it will be. I talked in November 2017, in a post entitled ‘Competitive Co-Operative’,about spinal injury being about far more than the loss of muscular function, due to nerve damage, and that there is enormous collateral damage; structural collapse that fails to recover naturally and overtime the changes become ingrained in the body and, if we are not careful, permanent. The cells of our body are constantly replenished and I am led to believe that every seven years we have an entirely new body with every cell being replaced over that period of time. Those changes will be replaced in the same ingrained fashion, unless we encourage the body to return to balance, as it replaces its cells. By delivering repetitive mechanical inputs, into the system of the body, we can encourage that return to balance as the body’s replenishes itself.

By the very nature of the work we are undertaking, it is a long slow process, although I find it incredible that the improvements, however slow, creep up on you so that now and then you suddenly realise how much you have changed and how far you have come. It would be nice to think that those who have known me throughout my rehabilitation notice these changes, bearing in mind that over the last twenty years we have radically altered the structure of my entire body to the point that I barely resemble the paraplegic I once was, and there are some who do. However, there are others who seem to forget just how bad a condition I was once in. I met someone at a funeral earlier this year who asked me if I was still doing the therapy and whether it was working. I looked down at my body and thought, ‘Can’t you see!’.

There’s a guy who drinks in my local pub, whom I haven’t know for long, who on hearing about my therapy work wanted to know more. I gave him the links to my website (www.spinalroots.net), blog (www.spinalroots.blog) and film (www.spinalroots.uk) and on seeing him the following week was impressed with how much he’d looked into it. He realised not only the enormity of the physical improvements, but the extent of the life journey I have undertaken. He’s inspired me to talk more about the psychological aspects of overcoming such an injury, realising that you can’t begin to heal a body without also healing the mind. So maybe it’s time to go back to the beginning and tell the story from a different perspective.