Monthly Archives: August 2013

My reply to Melissa. It sort of morphed into a blogism. ( that’s a new word. Remember where you saw it first ;) )

Lissy, You continue to overwhelm me with your love and compassion for my situation. They are wise words from Geoff, who is obviously somewhat of an expert in both the physical and mental aspects of where I find myself. There s not much chance of me getting an OBE though, I’m very unlikely to rise to Geoff’s heights of selfless achievement. Bereavement ? I suppose that it is a little like that. I don’t think I’m in denial at all, but I don’t think that I’ve really had the time to feel sorry for myself as yet. I’ve tried to keep that at bay, made so much easier by the positivity of my many many visitors who treat me in the same way as if I were just lying in this bed with a bad cold. When that support inevitably lessens, as it will in time, I think the truth may hit me harder, but I don’t know yet. Obviously the self pity reflex will be countered by the inevitable progress I’ll be making, certainly physically at least. Of course I’m the same person. But I’ve yet to face the world as a paraplegic in a wheelchair. I’ve yet to experience how I will be treated by people I don’t know, who never knew me before. Will they ignore me, not look me in the eye, see me as a nuisance, see me as a lesser person? I won’t know what they’re thinking. Will I want to say ‘ look, I’ve not always been this way, until very recently I was a pretty impressive physical specimen who was used to high achievement in most things’ ? Are people interested in hearing about how things were, is it even relevant any more, I don’t know if people will give a shit? Will people I know talk about me as Russ who ‘used to be….’ Or me as I am now? They’re experiences I’ve not yet had, and I can’t help but feel a little afraid. I don’t want pity, but I do want understanding, or an attempt at it. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be like this, believe me. It’s really not great. Sometimes writing this diary lifts me, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today it doesn’t. I’ve now got to snap out of it and look for the bright side, though occasionally the shadows are there, and are drawing me to them. When I feel down I just want my children with me first and foremost. They don’t read this diary as far as I know, so are not pressured by my words to come to me. I’m pretty sure to them I’m the same, but they don’t really know that my my status is for life. I think they think that I might be the same as before in time, and therefore be able to do the same things with that I could before. I won’t be able to, and feel awful for letting them down. I could have taught them so much as I was before, but fear now that I won’t. A wheelchair will exclude me from so many things, make me unable to join in with the most simple of pleasures My girls have always loved me chasing them up the stairs and jumping out of a hiding place to scare them. Not being able to do that ever again is hard to confront, and fills me with guilt. Those shadows I mentioned are getting darker, so I’ll stop now. Please never ever ever take what you’ve got for granted. Russ

From Melissa, my brilliant sister in law.

Hey my lovely Just read your post tonight. Oh, gosh that must be horrible to dream about your legs but wake up and it not be real. Dani, Sam and I were good friends with a chap called Geoff Holt when we were growing up. When Geoff was 18 he took a year out and being a sailing type, sailed for a year. He was in the Caribbean and one night he dived from his yacht and hit rocks….he broke his back very high up and is paraplegic but with very limited use of his arms as it was such a high break. In the subsequent years he has started a business helping wheelchair kids and adults go to sea and has a boat called ‘wet wheels’. He has an OBE from the queen for his efforts! When you first had your accident I emailed Geoff to try to get a view point as to how you might react. His email is below: Always makes me shudder to think someone else has had a spinal injury. If I could give you 2 lessons I’ve learned. This is really, really, early days – it can take weeks, months, even years to stabilise to a point you know what muscles come back and what feeling will come back. That will take time and only months in hospital in rehab will decide that. Right now, he just needs the love of you all – he won’t care less about the future, he will be focussing on what he has lost. It’s like a bereavement and he needs to know that he is still the same Russell that you all know. Which brings me onto number 2) He won’t want blubbing – do that in private. The thing that really got me through was Fiona, Sarah, Sean, Justin etc. not giving me any pity, just treating me the same. I feel a bit silly saying this – it is all so early. Where is he being treated? Is he back in the UK? It goes without saying that I am happy to help in any way I can but right now he won’t want to even see someone in a wheelchair – he’ll be in denial, and it will take a long time to come to terms. Give Dani a massive hug and say I’m thinking of you all. Geoff So Russ, your dream might be a little bit of a bereavement but it might also be a foresight into your recovery. I know that there is wonderful equipment out there to help you carry on as ‘normal’, from the paraplegic lady who walked the marathon this year with a specially created suit that had electrodes which made her walk to just simple equipment that can enable you to ‘stand’ at a party. You are such a tiny part through your new journey, there is so much out there that can be done with stem cells and science these days. As you know things could be a whole lot worse in the bereavement stakes. We can consul ourselves with the fact that you are the same chap (albeit a bit more articulate 🙂 ) that we love and respect and hugely admire. From day one of your accident I always had this vision of you being the bloody bloke that whilst I was sat on red at the traffic lights in my 4×4 wizzed past in a bionic bike at 30mph! I don’t think that is far off….legs or no legs. Russ we all love you for you which is your brain and spirit foremost and that is what you still have in abundance. xxxx

Friday 30th of August.

I think I’ve been remiss and not said anything for a bit..

I’m in a new room in the hospital. It’s very, very ‘pukka’. En suite shower, view of the Thames, what more could a bloke want?
I had a dream last night that I could suddenly walk again. In it I went from kneeling to standing and was so surprised I did it again to prove that I could. I was in a room full of people but none of then noticed it. I woke and for a second hoped ( and believed ) it was all true. 
I tried not to let it get me down, but do find myself thinking about it. 
I’m sure pre accident I had dreams about unobtainable things too. 
I continue with the physio with the help of the lovely Sarah and Emma, who’ve been so very dedicated to me. I won’t see them after today but loved their gesture; they bought ME a gift to say goodbye! Is it not supposed to be the other way around?
I’ll be sure to get them, and Yannis, the Occupational Therapist ( and part time movie star! )  round for dinner when I’m finally released back into the real world. 
My rib pain has inconveniently returned making my rehab exercises more difficult again. Ribs take a long time to heal and given i broke the whole lot on my right side I suppose a quick recovery is a little unlikely. 
The amazing Pia has volunteered to help me pack ( I say help me, that means she’ll do it all ) for my next move on Sunday. I can’t thank her enough for her dedication to me. We’ve been friends for a long time. 
Someone once wrote ‘ many people walk in and out of your life, but there are some so special they leave footprints on your heart’… Thanks Pia x

Lakeside, Portugal. (Not the to be confused with Thurrock…)

Lakeside misses you, Russ!

This is the view of the lake from the terrace of our apartment:

But there’s something missing; Russell Dawkins. Ordinarily at this time of year, Russ is in his canoe going round and round and round and round the lake for literally hours. He is generally known around these parts as “Canoe Man”. It certainly feels all wrong for him not to be within our daily vista.

In homage to the big man, we have been taking out our canoes as much as possible – plus Russ’s latest piece of equipment, a paddle board.

The yellow canoe is a bit “tippy” and not all can master it. We usually like to set down the gauntlet to those who haven’t tried it before and can generally look forward to being entertained by the 75% dunk rate :-s

The one canoe we haven’t taken off its rack is the green racing one:

Frankly, there is no point as out of the many, many peeps who have tried, no one (other than, of course, Russ) has ever managed a couple of strokes without falling in. An even better source of entertainment than the yellow canoe….

Aside from the boating equipment, you can’t open a cupboard in the apartment without seeing Russ’s bikes, in line skates, exercise bands and balls plus a ton of Lycra and other sporting clothing. Difficult therefore not to think of Russ every second of the day.

We’ve been coming to this resort for about 20 years and have stayed at the Lakeside complex every year for the last 12 years. As well as generally being accompanied by various friends who rent in the same complex so as to holiday with us, we have made a huge number of friends whom we see down here every year. All lovely people and all very keen to send their love and support to Russ. Its just not Lakeside without Russ!

Whilst Russ might not be able to use some of his sports equipment going forward, I am sure that it will be replaced with new stuff, representing new challenges. Also, I know Russ has already been in touch with the main canoe place in SE England to enquire about adapting some of his current boats so that he can continue to use them going forward.

So, hopefully next year, normality will be restored and Canoe Man will be back on the lake, doing his endless circuits while the rest of us go, instead, for the easier option of a good book and a G&T.

Dani x


Looks like I’m on the move today… Either to a different ward here, or maybe even to The Wellington in St John’s Wood, north London , just next to The Oval cricket ground. 

The Wellington is a proper spinal rehab hospital , so would seriously up the ante in terms of physio attention  which is what I am ready for now. 
I’ll miss the staff on the Intensive Care Ward, who’ve been nothing short of angelic. A huge thank you to all of them here. 
All my visitors seem pretty impressed with the improvement in my appearance so I can assume I’m looking a lot better. 
As the patient , life is sort of in slow motion. I do realise that I am better, but it’s all happening  very slowly. 
Every day is busy from start to end. I spend at least 2 hours a day just trying to respond to all the lovely emails I get from so many people. Some of them are so heartfelt , all of them appreciated. 
I’ve just moved wards in London Bridge. Room with a view over the river, no less!
This must be costing the insurance co a lot?! Best not to think about it, rather just appreciate it…
Turns out I’m off to The Wellington on Sunday instead. 
It’s lunch time. I’m under firm instructions to eat to excess. 
So gotta go. 

Another of Bret’s jokes. Sorry! :)

> A Catholic priest, a Baptist preacher, and a rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of Northern Michigan University in Marquette. They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop. >> One day, someone made the comment that preaching to > People isn’t really all that hard. A real challenge would Be to preach to a bear. One thing led to another, and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it. >> Seven days later, they all came together to discuss their experience. >> Father Flannery, who had his arm in a sling, was on crutches, and had various bandages on his body and limbs, went first. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him, I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother Of God, he became as gentle as a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and Confirmation.’ > Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, had one arm and both legs in casts, and had an IV drip. In his best fire-and-brimstone oratory, he claimed, ‘Well, brothers, you know that we don’t sprinkle! I went out and I found me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God’s Holy Word! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took hold of h im and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, up another and down another until we came to a creek. So I quickly dunked him and baptized his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus.’ >> The priest and the reverend both looked down at the Rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IVs and monitors running in and out of him. He was in really bad shape. >> The Rabbi looked up and said, ‘Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start.’

Since this blog seems to have reached half of the world (!) I’ve signed up to Adsense, which means Adverts may well start to appear! I’m totally new to this, but bear with me! I want to give any revenue to an, as yet unchosen, charity. So now you’ve got to keep reading or they won’t be interested! 😉 Thanks all, sincerely. Russ