Monthly Archives: October 2015


I used my sense of invention in desperation to find a way to get the bloody catheters in, and avoided a stay in Portuguese A&E.

A&E in a foreign country is no place for someone with my potential complications – it was frankly hopeless in a large London hospital a year ago when I had an extreme allergic reaction. It’s absolutely not that I fear a terminal outcome, more that I really don’t want it to be in a hospital corridor at 3 am in Faro.

On that subject I thought quite a lot when I spent 5 months in America about the possibility of being held up at gunpoint, either on the way to or from the hospital, or whilst in my less than desirable ‘hotel’. Over and over in my head the same scenario played out – spaced out gunman holding a gun against my forehead, asking for the money, or he’d pull the trigger, and me smiling and saying no, do whatever you want with that gun.

But I was never in the right place at the right time, it turned out, to enact it for real and see what happened next.


Lily and her lovely friend Ella definitely enjoyed our short half term trip to the sun.
Ella’s lovely mum, Cress, helped me with lots of stuff, making it all possible ( for me )
My state of mind doesn’t lift, as I’ve previously said ‘ on holiday ‘ as I’m not, in the former sense of the word.
The challenges of being in situations not suitable for myself unnerve me, the opposite of the reaction I’d get pre injury.


This week I had an assortment of unpleasant issues ( any one of which would completely ruin a trip for a healthy person ) but that now are the new normal for me. I get through them as usual, but despise them nonetheless. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where they don’t matter to me. At the moment I’m on the flight back, after being semi carried onto the plane. My legs are twitching, my stomach is bloated, yet I can do nothing about it.

Nothing at all, except accept it, accept that it’s how it’ll always be, so crap compared to before, when it was just sitting down in a cheap and small seat on an economy flight.
Before I was totally indifferent to cramped airplane seats; now I’d do anything to feel the ‘normal’ joy of an Easyjet flight.

Nobody looking at me would realise that there was anything wrong at all, except maybe that I was moving my legs somewhat erratically.. unaware of my complete lack of control over them, or my total inability to move from this row of seats by myself.

Lots of people carry on with the attitude that ‘at least I’m alive’. Do I feel that way? I can’t say that I do. I don’t feel alive. I have the misfortune of knowing exactly how that feels, and it’s not this.

I tried no alcohol for a whole week ( not difficult to do ) as I was curious to test the effect on my mental and physical state.
Verdict : no benefit in abstaining. None at all. I had more problems than usual, actually, to my surprise.

It won’t hold water as a clinical trial, but on the basis that it doesn’t help ( me ) to not drink, I’ll continue to exercise that option whenever I get the urge.

Dani had recommended that I read my own blog, from the start, saying that it would benefit me ( she read it all, recently ). I resisted for quite a long time ( just based on instinct ) then caved in and started at the start.
I read as far as the second week of August 2013, only 7 weeks into my new ‘life’. It took me back to an awful time, of near death and coma for me, of other people’s guarded optimism/ of the use of humour to disguise the awfulness of the situation / of the evident stoicism by some, including Dani. I didn’t read the word ‘paralysed’ once, it’s obvious use having been avoided ( optimistically ? ) completely.

I’d got to the bit where I was writing the blog myself, clearly in some hope that all was not lost, that some hope remained. The medics didn’t ever say to me that I had zero chance, even though I think it was pretty obvious to them.

I was reminded of just how many people came to see me in Toulon. Some of them would have thought they were probably paying their last respects, that being the medical likelihood for a while; some would have been realistic inside yet optimistic outside, and some for sure just certain that I’d make a full recovery ( I got quite a few cards saying ‘get well soon’ ).
There were countless emails expressing concern from an awful lot of people, offering whatever help that could be given. In some cases that was the last time that they got in touch.

I didn’t smile at the images, the positive faces, the amount of effort that had been made for me, rather I wished desperately that I hadn’t put so many people to so much trouble and pain.

I’m sure my story and the way it’s been told can and will help other people to understand this ‘process’ but for me to relive it at the moment is too painful.

I’m in portugal for a few days.

Its not a holiday – not for me – just paralysed in warmer weather.

I can’t get my catheters in (so can’t pee ). There’s blood etc. Legs are jerking non stop, really hard, so there’s no chance of sleep

What little sensation I have around my middle is at the moment unpleasant.

If I can’t get the next catheter in, I’ll have to go to hospital.

Is there no end to this?


imageDani has taken Amber away to learn to scuba dive.

Amber’s character is so much like my own at that age ( except she is far cleverer )  She shares my childhood fascination with nature and the sea.

I wish I could have been able to take her, and dive with her, and been there in case she got into difficulty. It’s a dad’s instinct to want that, and my accident has deprived me of that.

I know I can still dive, but am likely to be more of a liability than I am a life saver.

There isn’t much chance of a scuba mishap, but you never know.

There’s a whole variety of things I’d hoped I could partner my daughters at, but the list has pretty much been wiped by my crash.

A lot of female friends have said that the most important thing that I can do is to still be here to talk to them.

So that I can do, and better than before, I know.

I have to concede that Lisa (my friend from junior school that I’ve not seen for 35 years) makes a point very well.

My logic for you not topping yourself is not that it would be cowardly (look at what was written after Robin Williams killed himself), but that the world is a better place for having you in it – and specifically the new, improved you.
Yes, improved.
You contribute to the world now in ways you didn’t before. You raise awareness of depression, brain injury, disability, access, sport and perseverance, and you bring that awareness to hundreds, if not thousands, of people who probably need to understand these things better.
Just this week I scolded a man in Sainsbury’s for parking across two disabled spaces because he wanted to get to the cashpoint. I was thinking of you when I told him he was lucky to be able to get out of his car so easily and walk to the cashpoint and he should have respect for people who can’t do that.
So you’re making an impact on the world. And on at least one jerk in Sainsbury’s.


You kind of hope, after the couple of years I’ve had, that things would slowly improve.

One wheel ( no, I’m refusing to write ‘step’ ) forward, and 3 wheels back, is how it often is.

I get fairly good times occasionally, but invariably something happens to put me back on my paralysed arse.

Friends continue to help me move forward, trying their utmost ( thanks to Marky P, Larry, Jeremy Day and Neil ) but the Russ Mark 2 is entwined with the Russ Mark 1 and that doesn’t always help the new version.

The old me was in general a good person, but the new me is definitely better. People who have an axe to grind can be very unforgiving, and can’t leave the past in the past.

For some reason I didn’t die on the road in June 2013 – divine intervention or medical expertise saved me. Either way I was given a second chance.

Since my injury stops me from doing the things I used to enjoy, now I get far more pleasure from giving to other people, whether it be material things, or by talking and giving my take on a situation.  I look at the world through different eyes now and have different opinions from before. Indeed I wasn’t a very deep thinker before!  Having a brain trauma often changes people, whether that’s because as the brain heals, it gets rewired differently, I don’t know, but I’m definitely not the same person I was.

I have an opportunity contribute in a different way, but my efforts are being thwarted by some, which makes it far harder.

I do often consider giving up and taking the Out Option. People tell me I can’t do that, and it’s cowardly.  I don’t think that’s a fair reflection. Unless you’ve been in the situation, you have no idea what it’s like to be there – I didn’t, that’s for sure.   Exiting of course leaves a hole in people’s lives, but it’s very easy to justify your actions by telling yourself that you won’t be missed, and that the world is a better place without you.

My counsellor tells me that I need serious help – part of the problem is that I m unable to convince myself that I’m worth the effort, so I don’t make the effort to seek help.

I have to help myself, I’m told. I’ve tried very hard for 2 years, but I keep coming back to the same place – that there isn’t much point – there has to be better use of people’s resources than to waste it on a hopeless case.

I wrote a Will the other night – get your affairs in order and all that.  In the modern way I wrote it in Notes, on my iPhone- not exactly a feather quill and parchment paper. I sent it to Dani. It was pretty short, most stuff to her, some to my girls, a few other things to important people so they’d remember me, a few details about my funeral, no flowers etc

Everyone should have a Will, right? Otherwise it creates an admin nightmare for somebody to sort out.

I asked for my ashes to be tipped down a drain, summing up my value of myself .


The mental requirement to suppress the feeling that I’m an inconvenience is sometimes overwhelming, despite those assisting me giving no outward sign of frustration.


I I want to say sorry  all f the time.

How about this?

Hi Russ,

Maybe you should send this link to the select few that seemed to have a problem talking to you at the weekend.

Might give them a wake up call. They patently need one!

More positive.

The canoeing try -out went well, I think.

Dan, who I learnt was a former World and European paracanoe champion, after his own injury, along with John and Phil (coaches ) were all great guys, and so patient and helpful

I asked John afterwards if he thought I had potential. To my shock he said he thought there was a ‘place in the GB team waiting for me’.

That was complimentary but I’m sure not the truth!


Thank you so very much to Irum, my former student who took a day off to help me and keep me company ( I still really don’t like being alone with my thoughts ).

We’d met  quite a few years ago. She was ( I’d say ) going through a bad time in her life, and not working. I think it’s fair to say that I saw  the fantastic girl behind the mask, and employed her, for my gamble to very much pay off ( for both of us ).

She hadn’t read this blog, and I said that she might be interested

She sent me a text this morning:

Just reading ur blog… Ah I have anxiety now! I hope I’m not one of ur insensitive “colleagues”. U r anything but a burden. Trust me I know. I am one?. Also, I think ppl get conflicting advice/ opinions on how they should act around people with disabilities and that can overshadow the natural human instinct which is to be caring and considerate, making a situation unnecessarily awkward. Tbh to me ur still the charming, impressive Russ and I genuinely enjoy ur company. Obv I’m shite at lifting etc.. well a bit hopeless at life in general but hopefully not too bad to cope with for a few hours?! But if I have come across unsympathetic or thoughtless in the past that is truly not how I feel. I have always had a huge amount of respect and admiration for u. Which has only increased since the accident. U were impossible to ignore then … and now! U have amazing presence. Ur great at giving advice and so easy to talk to… about anything. Me, Farah and Alty can vouch for that! Yep, ur a sterling dude. Im shocked that the thought that no1 would miss u can cross ur mind. I barely see u but I speak of u highly to everyone I know. And not just now. Always have. And I cried (literally broke down) when I told my mum about ur accident. And when I spoke about u to that paralysed px I mentioned (must’ve been hella awks for him tho)! Even my mum speaks of u so fondly to her friends. Russ, ppl do care about u. More than u think. If only u knew. Ur priceless.
On a side note: wow ur wife is 50!!… seriously wow!!! Love u Boss! But u already know… X


Well, well, there’s a situation.

I write a post about the reaction of a person that I barely knew, then that person writes an apologetic comment, owning up his his deed.

Do I forgive him?

Of course I do, it takes a big man to say sorry, and he has.

Does it change my general opinion of my so called colleagues?

No, that still stands. Far too many pretended not to see me, or made a pretty poor attempt at saying hello.

Given we are collectively classed as Healthcare Professionals, I am sadly more  than justified in removing the second syllable of the first word.

Obviously they weren’t to know that I feel particularly low today. I don’t show it, being polite to everyone despite the dark thoughts inside my head again.

Last night was actually okay, where I did go to the bar and some lovely ex employees of mine came to find me. They don’t realise however how much I’m affected when they wave goodbye to go on to another venue that rules me out. Well I can’t expect people to base their night around me, can I?

I met a guy who for 4 hours didn’t walk over to say hello, then eventually did; a guy who I’ve scuba dived in World War 2 wrecks with, in extreme situations where we had to trust eachother to save the other’s life if things went badly wrong.

He could do that, yet not cross a bar for 4 hours.

Again I don’t hold a grudge – not at all – I talked to him about how his behaviour affected me, and he fully accepted and agreed with my point of view.

It was good to see him, and he pledged that we’d dive again together in the future ( something that is possible as a paraplegic )

I had 3 current employees here too. They did the ‘ where have you been all weekend?! ‘ line, when I saw them 24 hours after my arrival. Perhaps just a text asking if I needed anything, a day earlier, would have been better…


My dark thoughts don’t go away though. I’m in a hotel room for a further night. It’s lonely. Tomorrow I’ve planned to go again to try proper adapted canoeing, an hour’s drive from here.

If they don’t do room service I won’t eat tonight – I have no enthusiasm for self preservation at the moment – probably not good, given the inherent risks of boats and water combined with my bad luck tendency.