Monthly Archives: July 2015

Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday to my beautiful  eldest daughter, Lily.


I I think it’s fair to say that she had a lovely day. She certainly smiled the whole day long.

I used to take a lot of pictures – of pretty much any event . Now that I can’t move around freely to capture the moment, from the best angle, I rarely take any pictures.

Hopefully other people have, and can send them to me. Several of we parents had a conversation about teenage drinking. We all had common ground in accepting that alcohol is bad for you, at any age /In excess ( or at all, even ).  Beyond that, the perceived ‘realities’  of life as a teenager in a world where alcohol is easily available, seemed to differ to a quite enormous extent depending on where you lived, where the kids were in school and how old they were.  For sure, some parents may be in for a shock, I think ( my only qualification being my own experience, by the way  ). No matter what a parent’s views are on the topic, it’s pretty certain that your kids won’t have identical ones, and quite possibly deliberately opposite ones.

When I was drinking cheap cans of lager in the park at age 14 in Wales ( and actually hating the taste ) it certainly wasn’t because that was what my parents told me I should do.





I can’t think of a title.

I watched a very touching programme on BBC3 ( on iPlayer ) called Me and my New Brain.

It features a girl who crashed and suffered a brain injury whilst snowboarding 4 years ago.

She survived the injury, and the coma, and now is, at least to the naked eye, pretty ‘normal ‘.

She slurs her words a bit, and struggles with various things, but has bounced back to be a snowboard instructor to people with disabilities.

It took me back to a time that I can’t remember, my lying in a coma in a french hospital, with a low percentage chance of being ‘ mentally normal’ ( never mind a paraplegic – that was obvious from the start ). Her family and friends came to the hospital, sent emails, cards, presents, messages.

She talked about having written over 200 letters to people, thanking them ‘ for their ongoing support’.

The interviewer asked her how many of those 200 people she would be able to write to now, barely 4 years on.

She answered ‘ maybe 10’.

It’s a sad reflection on the fickle nature of people that she was forced to give that answer. I don’t know how many of my ( currently ) amazing list of  friends will still be ‘ doing what they do’ in another 2 years.

This ( beautiful ) young girl has filled the gap a little with new friends, she said, people that ‘understand her’.

A awful lot of people that I’ve met post injury, in wheelchairs, have said that most of their pre injury friends drift away after a while, quietly ( perhaps thinking their absence won’t be noticed )

In my ‘ own world’ I’m acutely aware who has disappeared ( not many ) and who has not. There are some who were never there from the start – and thinking about those people is a guaranteed way for my mood to dip  ( in  a quietly sad way )

You most certainly do ‘ find out who your friends are’ when something happens to you as cataclysmic as paralysis or brain injury rendering you ‘ different’

I like to think that I’ve made great choices in my life, in terms of ‘attracting’ good people. It wasn’t ever a conscious choice, in case of paralysis at a later date, but so far I would still be able to write 200 letters I think.

And the way I feel about those people, post injury, is actually with a much deeper affection/ love than it ever was before my injury.

It’s  impossible not to be altered by an injury like mine, but in at least one way, it’s changed me for the better.



Thank God I’ve only got a cat?

From the paper:

A dog is supposed to be man’s best friend, but you wouldn’t wish this pooch on your worst enemy.
The dog’s owner, a paralyzed man in Trumann, Ark., recently adopted the “small white fluffy” stray in hopes of having a loving animal companion, according to
Instead, the dog had to be euthanized after it bit off one of the man’s testicles while he was asleep on Monday morning.
The man, who told police he has no feeling from the waist down, woke up with a “burning pain” in his mid-section.
He looked down and found his newly adopted dog between his legs, according to
The 39-year-old victim told police he sleeps in the nude and noticed his dog had blood on its feet and muzzle.
That’s when he also realized that the dog had eaten one of his testicles, WMC-TV reported.


Lily is at that age where she has a boyfriend.

Amber is at that age where she sees absolutely nothing wrong in accompanying them everywhere.

As as well as doing most of the talking.



Yesterday I spent half of the day fixing bikes, bikes of mine, that I’ve had for years, and that I feel an attachment to, that I’ve ridden for thousands of miles, and for countless hours.
Because I can’t ever ride them again/ because ultimately cycling lead to my undoing, it doesn’t seem to have lessened my affection for these inanimate objects.
The bikes don’t care about me ( that’s impossible ) but I do care about them.

They will be ridden a little, here in Portugal, as hopefully I can get someone to be my outrider when I’m on my arm bike.
I could ride it alone, but it is without doubt dangerous being lain Flat on a bike, barely 2 feet above the ground, in terms of being visible to drivers – drivers that are perhaps being distracted by a car full of kids, that may have had a lunchtime beer ( on holiday, that’s normal ) that may be already a little confused by being ‘ on the wrong side of the road ‘ or giving way to the ‘wrong side’ at one of the many roundabouts here ( one of which I tipped over at, going round too fast, last time I was here )

In the meantime, I’ve managed to attach my arm bike to a stationary ‘turbo trainer’ that I’d kept here ( it allows you to train without leaving the apartment ) and is therefore a safe option.
I can transfer INTO it ( that’s ‘downhill’ ) but as yet can’t get back into my wheelchair myself FROM it ( ‘uphill’ ).
I’ve been on YouTube for inspiration, watching videos of other paralysed guys that CAN do it. It’s clear that my technique isn’t quite right, as I get stuck in mid air, halfway to the safety of my wheelchair seat ( that I can’t feel with my bum so don’t know when I’m there )

Yesterday after 90 minutes on it, trying to work out the best position ( I have to ask Dani to adjust things I can’t reach, with a spanner – that she’d admit she’s not a natural with, and would most definitely rather be doing something else ) I feel that I’ve gotten somewhere at least.
My brother in law arrives today, who will be more bike tool enthused I’m sure.

My nature on ‘ holiday ‘ has always been to be doing things , I’m not good at doing nothing, and if I can do it now, why would I want to leave it til later …. But on holiday I realise that most people think the opposite way about time, which can be frustrating as I do need to ask people for help now, and really don’t like being a nuisance, yet know that I am ( to some people… A weary sigh, an skyward look, a lack of enthusiasm ).

I’d so love to be totally independent, yet won’t ever be again.
I say please and thank you more often than anyone else in the world , it sometimes feels.
I smile a lot, and feel very genuinely grateful for all help I get.
When it’s apparent that I’m a burden, it makes me feel truly awful, my mind races back to my crash, to Stoke Mandeville darker times, to self criticism, to feeling worthless. These feelings can quickly almost overwhelm me, and knock me off my already very low branch.

There is a change though, in that I don’t stay down for long,well not compared to before.
A smile from someone, a helpful gesture.. picks me up very quickly, which is more in line with how I was pre injury ( not unhappy/ not prone to low moods, ever ).

Today I’ll practise the arm bike dismount again.
I will need to ask for help, I know, and I hope it’s given willingly.

But I can’t make that happen.


Lovely people that have been to visit me/ invited me to things / given me a hand with stuff, since my return to London.

In no particular order, can I thank Cressida, Toby, Marta, Johnny, Glenn and Maggie, Clair, Pia and Cliff, Sarah and Larry, Debs and Neal, Richard K, Adam and Voj, Stu and Mandy, Niki, Cherie, Jerry and Emma, Pia and Cliff, Adam Phone, Adam and Sally, Phil and Penny, The Toulon 12, Kev, Chris Bennfors , Alison, Dan and Saskia, Dr’s Steve and Mike, my Pre – Reg Optom students, Rob Colliver, Bret, Pardeep, Jules and Vaughan, the Roebuck school dads, Ian Roblin, the 50 year six parents who came to the end of year party we hosted ( massive apologies to our lovely neighbours for the noise ) Anna H-J, Marky P and Kate, Illona, and Lisa Collins.
I’m sorry to those I’ve left out.

It was very strange being ‘ home’ for the first 3 weeks, I’d say. I’d made myself forget the comforts and support that I had in Chiswick, in order to get through my 5 months in America. Thinking about what I’d left behind ( by choice, though there wasn’t really a choice – not to me, in the circumstances ) was completely counter productive to my sticking it out chances.

There is no place like home, ultimately.
Dani and the girls make such a difference, just by being within sight of me ( even better when they talk to me….. ). My daughters’ friends are ( every single one ) very nice kids.
I think that’s a reflection on my girls, and the continuing good job that my wife does.

Some of my visitors have come a long way, and for some it’s been many years since I last saw them properly.
I must have said this before, but I value people’s friendship so much. Being a mate doesn’t cost you anything, yet has to be the most valuable thing there is.

London is a great city, with an awful lot of great people in it, and so much going on.
It was so good seeing Paloma Faith playing in Kew Gardens, then The Specials a few nights after.

Who was best?

I think ‘old school’ won by a mile, no offence to the talented Miss Faith.

Despite the seemingly endless social events that accompany my youngest’s leaving primary school, I’ve managed to stay active with ( most ) daily arm bike/ arm machine workouts, so haven’t become fat and comfortable. I do punish myself on the arm crank that I have at home, driving myself to exhaustion. Okay, so my still compromised lungs do limit what I can do, but I do give it my utmost.

I’ve had periods of sadness; I don’t think they’ll ever go away, but they are less frequent. Twice I’ve broken down almost totally, once just out of the blue ( though after too much to drink, admittedly, and thanks to Chrissy for being so kind ). Alcohol definitely eases the pain ( tho chemically negates the effect of the antidepressant I take ) and it’s tempting to drink at any opportunity, but I don’t. I don’t think I would ever become reliant on drink ( though it’s a common post injury thing ) but it’s a good option sometimes.

Thanks to Ilona for taking me out in her Ferrari….. How many good looking chicks who drive Ferrari’s does a bloke meet in a lifetime?
Just the one for me, thus far.
Jeez, those things are fast ( even with the speed limitations of London traffic ).

I do hope to resume work in the near future, once certain obstacles are removed, and look forward to doing so.

First though, we are away in Portugal for a while, and whilst there Dani ‘comes of age’.
It’s a massive tribute to her that an awful lot of friends have opted to take their own holiday in the vicinity to help her celebrate the Big Day.
Being younger than her, I think I’ve managed to keep her from adopting middle aged mannerisms, but she might have an opinion on that.

She does on every other thing, after all.


I’ve been back in the park today, on my handbike, with my Toulon crew, most of us from that fateful day 2 years ago.

I’d had the bike set up tweaked in the hope that it would make pedalling easier. Was it?  No.

So… Then I realised that if I put my chin much closer to my chest ie not so far back, I could breathe much more easily, difficulty breathing being the issue before.

Stuffing various shirts and jerseys behind my head was tried, all with mixed success.

I know this is the start of the solution though, and will design a cure using household objects, no doubt.

Its like that film, Apollo 13 (?) where they have to just use what they’ve got. Well that’s me, find a thing and put it to another purpose, rather than spend money on ‘proper’ kit for  a theoretical solution that doesn’t end up working.

I’ll go again tomorrow, and try out my plan, using an adapted emulsion paint roller and a strap from Poundland…that I think just might do it …