Monthly Archives: January 2015

From my Mum.

Hello darling ,

I took this photo when you held a pen for the first time whilst in Toulon.
It was an exciting as well as a

worrying moment for all of us , watching you struggling to hold the pen let alone write legibly.
We did not know whether you would manage to write at all…if .ever , and here you are, writing an eloquent blog.

It was amazing to watch you overcome the writing difficulty then . You persevered to such a degree that it was tearful for me watching you. And we know that you will ‘overcome ‘ now. We are so proud of you Russ.

Am so pleased that you have new friends ,John and Cindy to help you. Please give them a very big thank you from us .

Hope your urine infection goes away soon. Do you have access to fresh oranges/lemons which should help ?

It won’t be long before Dani and girls are with you. Hang in there darling

All my love , mum xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sent from my iPadimage

A message from Dan White.

Ladies and Gentlemen – Let’s get ready to rumble (again)!!


Yes, we’re going again……….after a magnificent event in March 2014 and an amazing follow up with our December Strictly extravaganza, we are aiming to raise the bar yet higher with our 2nd annual white-collar boxing event. We have 16 new volunteers currently under training for the challenge of their lives – 3 x 2 minute rounds of boxing, in front of a baying crowd (if last year was anything to go by.) We are aiming to surpass the 1200 tickets we sold last year and raise some significant funds for our Charity to help Russ and other victims of spinal injuries. Russell is currently in the USA on a 5 month clinical trial, which investigates the effect of electrical current stimulation on paralysed parts of the body, which sounds about as much fun as being water-boarded, but he will be flying back to be with us on the night. For more information on Russ and the Charity:
This year I will not be fighting, so you won’t have to put up with that, but I can promise you some great fights including KGPS Dad, Martyn “kid” Berg at 85kg and Sam “Anton du Bek” Devito at 70kg. Not against each other, of course. That wouldn’t be fair. On Martyn.
Those of you who came last year shouldn’t need much encouragement to buy tickets, but for the benefit of those that didn’t here’s a bit about the night – it’s £30 a ticket + booking fee, for that you get to sit at a pre-allocated table of ten, although I should point out, that last year pretty much everyone was on their feet all night, food can be purchased from our award-winning Street Food vendors and alcohol from numerous bars around the dome. There’s no need to dress up much, unless you want to. Last year we had George Groves, Jonny Nelson, Adrian Chiles and James Cracknell in attendance. It’s an a brilliant night and if you don’t believe me watch this:
It’s very easy to book tickets, just click on this link and follow the instructions:–2
Even I could understand it. If you just want a ticket or two, book as an individual or, maybe, set up a table of ten? You can password protect your table so people you don’t like or are of the wrong type, can’t join you! How cool is that? Unfortunately, no-one remains at their table, so that doesn’t help much. In fact, personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about what table you’re on as it only serves as somewhere to leave your coat, but some of you will worry won’t you?
As last year, you won’t be hassled with an auction or a raffle, just watching good old-fashioned, semi-controlled violence for your entertainment. And for a good cause.
If you’re supporting a particular fighter, you can join one of his tables or make your own one up, for example, if you are supporting Martyn “Kid” Berg, an unlikely event I will admit, click join a Group and search for Berg. If, more likely, you’re supporting his opponent, click “Bruno”.
Incidentally, for the avoidance of doubt, I spoke to Tasha, Martyn’s wife yesterday and she asked “are they allowed to punch to the face”, to which the answer is yes. And maybe you should speak to Martyn……



Jan 29th 2015.

My legs are keeping me awake.
Another short sleep then.

So what’s it like here?

Well, at the research facility,what is striking is the positivity of those that work there.
They’re very enthusiastic and extremely nice people. Nothing is too much trouble, any of the time. Lots of smiling and eye contact – key to ‘good customer service’.

Lots of unfortunates in wheelchairs around the place. At first I was again struck by how upbeat the riders seemed.
A few days in and I’ve spotted something more recognisable – the sad expressions, the hollowness behind the eyes.

One, Ben, told me how he became paralysed.
A good college swimmer, he’d dived into his pool at home ( common in the USA , and SO many spinal breaks from diving ) but rather than hitting the bottom of the pool and breaking his neck ( usual story ) his swim training meant that he glided the width of the pool under water and hit his head the other side… Instant paralysis.
His sister realised he was drowning and pulled him out.

Ten years ago he was told it would be ten years before a cure.
The ten years is up.
He goes to the adapted gym and does what he can – like all of us. Some can walk a bit, some can only use one arm and that’s it.
Some smile, some are totally devoid of expression.
Some are in self pushing chairs, lots are in powered chairs. It depends on your injury what you can use.

People seem a little surprised to hear a British voice. I think they’re scarce around here.

I’ve been adopted – not my word, theirs – by John and Cindy, who will do their utmost to make this easier for me.
Getting a phone that works here is a priority. If I come a cropper in my chair outside I need a phone that actually works so I could call for help.
Note to self : learn the street names so I can tell someone where I am.
Remembering street names at home has never been my strength, so post injury brain fuzz I doubt it’ll be any easier.

I should get the results of my urine test today. An infection implies I’m resistant to the low dose antibiotic I’m already on.
I’m already resistant to a few, so that would be bad news.

As in yet more bad news.

I’m a happy soul, aren’t I.

Oh, forgot.. It’s going to be minus 12 all next week.
Knew I should have brought a sweater.

Things are getting better.

I’m in a different room, there’s a ‘roll in ‘ shower, with a bench that ( with help ) I can transfer myself onto.
‘Transfer’ is the word we paralysed people use instead of ‘get onto’, by the way.

I have a great girl to help me. She’s done this sort of thing before, and is very sweet.
It does take a special person to be a ‘carer’ – as in to do the job with genuine care, empathy and compassion.
To realise how crap it is for the ‘patient ‘ to have to need the help at all, Is a big part of the job.

The wheel to the Research hospital is doable too.

I’m Eating enough and I have a TV, my ipad and phone, so it’s not as though I’m totally isolated!

Thank you so much to all my friends that have sent me messages of encouragement and love – I can’t tell you how much all that helps.

Dani and my girls are coming to see me in 2 weeks, so there is a bright light to focus on.

It’s Super Bowl on Sunday and I’ve sort of been invited out by friends, Cindy and John, so I might just turn all American and become a Patriots Fan?

On the TV there is a programme about a camp in America, Camp Erin, where kids whose parent/s have died go.
It’s heartbreaking to watch, the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. Most of the children didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to their mum or dad.
Bloody hell I’m now in floods of tears thinking about how close it was for my daughters.

Although life for me now isn’t ideal, I can see how much worse for them it could have been.

It’s hard to put into words just how upsetting the day before yesterday was.

The arrival at the hotel, the grim long corridor to my ‘suitable ‘ room, the interminable unpacking of 5 months of pills, catheters, medical appliances..
None of which a normal person would require.

We organised my stuff, so as to make it easier for me to use.

Dani cried so much, far more than I think ever before, at the prospect of leaving me here.

It was, frankly, pretty unbearable.

We discussed just leaving, going back to London, together.

We practiced the push to the hospital, without her helping me, as would be the case for 5 long months.

Yesterday was better. A few groceries were delivered and lots of lovely people sent messages of encouragement, which really helped.

Last night we went out for dinner to a local, Very American eatery and talked a lot, about how if it proved too difficult, I had the option to leave.

Today we established that my bathroom was absolutely not fit for purpose, and they have now found me another room, making the impossible less impossible.

Dani leaving today added to my sense of isolation.
More tears.

I have spent the last hour trying to repack one of my 3 cases, not easy from a chair, but theyll come and help me tomorrow.

I also met a friend of friends, who lives locally. I think Cindy will be a huge help to me during my stay here. Thanks to Caroline and Chris for the introduction.

Tomorrow I’ll attempt the wheelchair friendly gym and get some desperately needed endorphins flowing through my broken body.

They had me walking, artificially, in a huge sling today, wired to 20 odd sensors, to see which muscles fired and which didn’t.
To see myself ‘walking’ after so long, with my emaciated legs, wasn’t pretty.

I longed for the faintest glimmer of hope that I’d one day I’ll once more do it for real.
After all, that’s why I’m here.

I think I’m as low as its possible to be.

Reality has dawned.

Dani goes back to the UK in a few hours.
The room facilities are fairly hopeless.
I cannot use the shower at all.
I can get onto the loo, but getting off it is very hard, and could so easily end up with me on the floor, and then stuck in a hotel room at the end of a corridor.

I’m Scared of the wheel to the research centre- there are a lot of crossings and the pavements are tricky.

Have I made a terrible mistake?

Surprise, surprise …

So I’m invited out for a goodbye beer last, to The Roebuck in Chiswick, and to my total amazement it’s not just myself, Larry, Charlie, Richard, Mark and Roy, but Jeremy, Sam, Toby, Glenn, Dickon, Frank and Neil too – a significant number of the ‘Toulon 13’who came back as ‘Toulon 12’ nineteen months ago.

Thanks to all the lads for being there, for me.

I was more than touched.

From an old friend who just ‘found out’.

Hello Russ,

I have been away and just caught up with my emails and have just read most of your blog – I had a bit to read and catch up on as it’s been awhile sorry for my slack keeping in touch.

I am so sorry to hear about your accident, going in-between tears then laughter at the humour and banter of the good old days and feeling proud of all the achievement’s you have had so far with your long hard journey ahead of you!! I thought your latest video of you sit skiing looked pretty amazing and you were pretty quick I might add!! Sad also to hear about your colleague – Life has certainly dealt you both a terrible blow !!

My heart goes out to you and your family and friends. I know I couldn’t ever imagine how you feel, but it’s wonderful to know you have a fabulous group of people around you and a wonderful family that would go to the ends of the earth for you and love and care so unconditionally to help you through all the hard times to pick you up. ( Literally sometimes) !!

Your shear resilience and determination with dealing with all the horrific situations stowed apon you and all Your courage to deal with all the dark thoughts of inadequacies’ just shows you are a strong willed person who will succeed.

Russ, as you say this is your new life, you have that character to fulfil new goals and aim to do what you can even in a wheel chair, you can’t change that drive it will always be in you as a competitive athlete with big challenges ahead and by the looks your mates and your family are there for you.
yes it’s a long hard climb but you’re already out there doing it, skiing, arm cycling, gym, going back to work it’s so great to read that. 🙂

Thankyou for keeping in touch I am totally in Awe of YOU. Your dahm amazing and I will look forward to hearing and reading your updates on the highs and a few lows, but the Russ I know ( all of 10 days – lol – you can learn a lot about someone in that short time in confined spaces ) you’re not a quitter you’re a doer and always will be no matter how hard things get. You have already achieved so much already. Keep it up !!

Take care, will read and keep up to date with your blog and a big hug to you and your family – keep on keeping on.
Will keep in touch and fill you in on stories from NZ for a change of scenery for you. Or simply just to bore you maybe !!

Arohanui – That’s Lots of Love
Shelene x

Yesterday I drove to Windsor ( helped by Pia ) to see my partner Selcuk , to wish him luck for his forthcoming brain surgery.
As expected, he’s a worried man.

He’s not far from my thoughts, most of the time.

Today, as part of what has sort of become my ‘goodbye week’, I saw some of the world’s nicest people, in Cressida Strauss, Marta Barden, Kev Nielsen, Mark Pritchard, Chris Haynes and Mike and Alison Jenkins ( who drove down from Wales to see me ).
I also got to talk to Olly Smallman, Mike Cook, Terry Rodham, Joanne Harris , Ian Chaffey, Dan White and James Cracknell.
When I’m with people like that, I do forget my ‘situation’ for a while.

On the weekend I was lucky enough to see Neal and Debs Watson, Larry and Sazza Frankum, Pia H- Jones and Cliff Hall, as well as my brother Stu and my Sister in Law , Mandy as well as my nephew, Ben ( also making the drive from Wales..! )

Brett and Chrissy Marty and their girls also spent hours with me on Sunday, and on Friday, Alan and Wendy Kingdon.

I am truly blessed to know so many lovely people, who are behind me all the way.