Monthly Archives: April 2014

Self esteem.

One of the recognised psychological side effects of finding yourself paralysed and wheelchair dependant, and consequently entirely dependent on others for help with even the most basic of tasks, is the feeling of worthlessness and uselessness, combined with the feeling that you are somehow regressed to childhood and your opinions are almost invalid to other ‘grown up’s’.
It feels like everybody suddenly knows what’s best for you, everyone other than yourself.

And you sort of get used to accepting that, at the same time as despairing of the situation.

I went to work yesterday, and for the first time in a long time, realised that people were not only listening to me, but that they thought that I actually knew best.
And of course the best part was that they were right – I did know best ( having done this particular job for 26 years ).

The effect on my self esteem was quite profound. Not feeling like a parasite for nearly a whole day was incredible.
If not exactly hanging on my every word, my junior colleagues and members of the public that I advised on matters of the eye, listened attentively and heeded my offerings and explanations, maintaining eye contact throughout ( always a good sign, that one ).

In short I felt important again.

My staff and colleagues were so very genuinely pleased to see me actually at work, rather than just in work, if you get me.

I got great feedback later on from Scott, Helen, Med and Jaskiran about me being there – ‘as though I’d never been away’ was a term used.

I could only speak to people, not actually perform my ‘job’, as my equipment has not been adapted as yet, but my voice was heard once more in ( my ) practice ..and it felt great.

I explained my situation briefly to those members of the public that I talked with, and was touched by the compassionate reactions of all of them.
Several long term customers/patients came and found me to tell me how good it was to see me back, and it was all I could do not to cry on one occasion.

You could say that I felt loved.

Roll on my next visit, next week.

I have to thank Pia, for insisting she drive her car all the way from Chiswick, where i live, to Staines, at 10 am, then coming again at 6.30 to get me into my car, and follow me home all the way, then get me out the other end…. Is she going to do that for the next 20 years, I wonder?

She is good looking, so I don’t mind, now I think about it.

Today I go to my workplace for the first time in a ‘work’ capacity, during opening hours, since my crash.

I am very nervous about it. I left there in June a tall, strong, confident man, and go back shrunken, twisted and uncertain of my myself in many ways.

I’ve seen an awful lot of friendly faces these last 10 months, in my ‘bubble’, but today I won’t really have that blanket around me.
I’m going to meet my business partners and do some observation of colleagues, something we do from time to time, to share ideas and techniques.
As I can’t actually DO anything physical now in my consulting room, as I can’t reach anything, my input can currently only be verbal.
So be it, I can still contribute.

We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I’ll come away feeling I’ve helped.

Thank you

Thank you to Alison Evans and Terry Rodham for helping me in my hour of need today ( well, more like an hour and a half ).

And to the fabulous Cressida for being there too, to make me feel better.

Wheelchairs and cars.

The lovely Julie took me to my wheelchair provider, the other day.

It’s really quite sobering to see a warehouse on an industrial estate FULL of wheelchairs.
All types were there, including lots for children.

It’s sad for me being in this chair, but, God, at least my children and those of my friends and family are fit and able, no accidents having befallen them.

And I pray it stays that way.

Julie is also helping me with a choice of car, and that’s not easy.
We think a Honda, but the whole Motability Scheme for the disabled is in a state of flux.
The Government, in response to a national paper’s exposee on the scheme’s ‘abuse’ by the ‘not very disabled ‘ decided to limit the cars available, and the ‘spec’ too.
So, I can’t get a Honda that has electric adjustment seats or SatNav.
When you’ve not got a free hand ( because one hand is steering and the other controls the brake plus the accelerator and you are lost, the Satnav is a pretty useful thing….

When you want the seat forward or back and you’ve no legs or abdominals or lower back muscles, how are you supposed to do it?
It is possible, but it’s far from easy.

Bit like everything else now.

Richmond Canoe Club.

Today a crowd of mainly first time canoeists descended upon Richmond Canoe Club for their Thames baptism ( literally in the case of 2 paddlers ).

The plan is that most of the lads that were on my ill fated bike trip are going to undertake a Devizes to Westminster challenge in late September to raise money for my charity, it being a journey trodden by me quite a few times before.
The guys will canoe/cycle/run/row/stand up paddle the 125 miles over 3 days, and I’ll do what I can too..

It’s a plan hatched by Roy Merritt, organiser supreme, and fully supported by the others.
Toby, Neil , Dickon, Nick, Ian, Sam, Alistair and John were all canoeing yesterday, expertly coached by Piran, Rob, Chris and Rich.

Given the lack of experience, the fellas did bloody well, in tough conditions. The river was at high water and flowing fast, hardly ideal for novices in unstable boats, but the boys braved the water and came out unscathed ( well, except for Chris, who later got 10 stitches in his foot – after stepping on something nasty, mid rescue ). Thanks, Chris for carrying on and not complaining at all.

The plan now is for all the crew to canoe regularly and become adept enough to canoe 40 miles a day for 3 consecutive days – no mean feat.

A couple of the lads did ask me, after their hour on the water, how the hell I could have canoed a 1000 miles in 6 days?
Yes, that was a bit tough now you mention it.

I was very proud of them all and so wished I was able to get into a boat still, but I guess I’ve had my fair share already.

More good news.

More good news.
So I’ve been for an X-ray on my very painful left hand, and my thumb ( the reason I crashed, probably ) now has osteoarthritis.
So for the next 30 odd years I’ll be stuck in a wheelchair that I can’t push very well, as it’s too painful.


Sorry for not blogging much.

So I’m trying to turn back to my old routines, to a degree.
Today I woke up at 6.45, had a cup of (fruit) tea, then did 45 minutes on the arm bike that’s sat in our kitchen.
Then I had a fruit only breakfast.
Before my injury, for years this was what I’d do ( substitute kayaking or cycling for arm biking ). It’s the absolute key to not being fat – train ‘on empty’ – you don’t need to eat breakfast before you exercise ! – for an hour or so, then eat lots of fruit to rehydrate and give you some natural sugars and carbs.
I was about as lean as a fella could be, following this simple routine.
I reckon most people who need to lose weight just couldn’t do it, too tempted by food first thing in the morning, but losing and burning fat is so easy if you actually want to badly enough.

Saw 3 Richmond Canoeists on Monday.
Kenlea flew in from Dubai, and Brett and Alex from Amsterdam , to convene in my garden at 11am.
Ken’s been a constant in my email inbox since my crash, despite not knowing him that well, and him living thousands of miles away ( as has Sandra K, living even further away, in Australia )

We talked about kayak racing and all sorts of largely inappropriate stuff for a couple of hours and drank coffee in the sun.
The wheelchair came in and out of conversation, but largely it was just 3 blokes having a laugh sat in the sun.
It’s at times like this that I forget my injury temporarily, and the weight gets lifted off ( it happened again later that day when we had lunch with our brilliant friends, Lisa and Andrew ).

It’s a good sign I think.

But guys, thanks so much for coming, it means a lot to me.

Thank you

Thank you.

I’d like to thank Graham, Daisy and John, from Active Q gym in Quinta do Lago, for their help and flexibility helping me, in my wheelchair, to have a few decent training sessions.
Lateral thinking – totally necessary!



A response. A good one too.

I just read the blog. Do you want to do the race again? I think you need to really ask yourself not if it is possible- that is a different question- but if you would really like to do it again. We do extreme things- that’s what we do. Why? Push the boundaries, push ourselves, bragging rights, sanity. You can’t tell me and I would never accept a statement that something, anything is impossible. Nothing is impossible. We are only constrained by the barriers we decide exist. Cut it out. Consider this one year in many when you’re not pissing Dani off!

If the same thing happened to Dani or your girls you would do the same for them. Shit you are not a vegetable. You are far less dependent in them now than 9 mos ago.

It’s OK to be disappointed but don’t be discouraged. It was your mind and determination that put you in every one of these extreme pursuits. You’re in the most extreme pursuit ever attempted right at this very moment. It’s at these most trying times of any race or pursuit when you have to ask yourself the question and dig really really deep.

Easter weekend.

Nearly every Good Friday since 1999 has been spent by me in a preparation frenzy for competing in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.
125 miles long, non stop, through the night, it’s been called ‘the Everest of canoe races ‘ ( and I thought it was til I did The Yukon 1000 mile Race in 2009 ), and is very, very hard.
Eleven times I’ve been in it and managed 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th places, as well as winning the Mixed Doubles one year with Roxanne.
I’d like to thank Henry, Piran, Rox, John, Randall and Stu for partnering me.
Three times I’ve not finished it, the most notable being the time I went virtually blind in my left eye two thirds of the way through, and felt compelled to stop, fearing for my eyesight ( which did recover 12 hours later ).
I’m one of a small group to be in the 1000 miles Club, by virtue of 8 finishes.
Yes, the Race was an obsession for me in some ways, and this is the first year in many that I’ve had no input into it at all.
I’m guessing that it’s now impossible for me to partake in,given you’re not allowed ‘assistance’. There are 77 portages, where you jump out and run with the boat around locks/ over islands, before putting the boat back in and jumping in it again.
It’s usually very cold at night , and falling in the river Thames is an omnipresent danger ( though in the 1200 miles of it I’ve canoed, I only fell in twice I think ), once I recall after a light was shone in my eyes, dazzling me, after which I stepped straight off the tow path into the deep river at 3am. I remember it taking 3 hours of canoeing before I stopped shivering.
Good luck to the 200 plus canoeists who are
doing it this year, at least it’ll be a ‘warm’ one, being a late Easter. Most of my former partners will be involved in either competing or supporting other crews.
One things’s for sure, if rather be suffering in a boat this weekend than being trapped in this wheelchair
My annual obsession with the race is something that drove Dani to her wit’s end, me invariably training most days at 5.30 am for the 3 months before Easter.
Again, she’d far rather me be doing that than havin the daily grind of looking after me, post accident.
Either way, I’ve not really made it easy for her, have I ?