I had always been very keen bike rider.....
With Sabine I cycled round the South Island of New Zealand and the North Island of Japan (Hokkaido). Since having our beautiful three children the only big trip I made was to join the Tour d’Afrique, cycling from Nairobi in Kenya through northern Tanzania and along Lake Malawi – a trip of some 2500 kilometres over 18 riding days.
And of course I rode to work every day, a round trip of 40 km. And then every cyclist’s nightmare came to pass: I was hit by a car. Unfortunately, I didn't just break a few bones; instead, I damaged my spinal cord and have been left a quadriplegic.
Apart from a brain injury, I suspect this is one of the worst injuries one can sustain since paralysis is only the most obvious symptom, others being loss of control of bowel and bladder functions as well as the ability to regulate one's own body heat. However, in some ways I have been lucky in that the lesion to my spinal cord was incomplete, meaning that I do have movement below the level of my injury. Indeed, all my muscle groups are working, although imperfectly, and over the last eight months I have learned to walk again, albeit with the aid of a walking frame and only over short distances. The staff at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre are fantastic – this is certainly one of the top spinal rehabilitation centres in the country.
However, there is only so much they can do given that this facility is funded by the government and patients receive only one hour physio and one hour occupational therapy per day.
There is a new program starting in Melbourne in January 2012 called WALK ON. It has intensive exercise therapy.
I'm told that the first two years post injury is when the best chance of recovery is gained, as I am coming up to my 1 year anniversary time is critical.
Of course, such therapy doesn't come cheap. There is also the additional cost of care, since I am unable to toilet, wash or dress myself, let alone prepare myself meals or even drinks.
I am inspired by the “Step of Hope” movement that has started in response to my situation. It has been driven by friends and even people who have never met me but who can identify with how easily this could have happened to any one of us. A year ago I was another busy dad and husband with small kids, a career and a love of cycling – today I struggle to do the most basic of life’s tasks.
If Step of Hope can raise enough money to subsidise my entry into Project Walk, then there is a real chance that I can develop myself back into some form of normal life for myself and my family. Any support offered is greatly appreciated.