Two types of progress

My discharge date has been asigned, I will be leaving the NRH around the first week of October. If I am not happy with my progress, a few weeks can be added after a meeting with the consultant. Basically, the condition I roll out of here in October will be the finished product from the NRH. Just over three months of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, sports and social activities, they feel I will progress no further. So where does that leave me?

I am very lucky to have the family, neighbours and friends that I have. Without them I don’t think I would have even got this far. With them I have the ability to progress in my recovery. Hours and hours have been endured by my family to establish the next port of call. My brother’s girl-friend, Jenny must have researched every spinal recovery facility in the world, from China to California. With further research and phone calls to patients who have undergone treatment in the various facilities, we have managed to narrow it down to just two spinal centres, either in Thailand or Barcelona. Both facilities have huge costs. This is where my friends and neighbours have swooped in to take over. They set up the trust fund to ensure that all the costs are covered which is a huge worry off our minds.

On Saturday a sports day took place here at the NRH. I watched the table tennis, basketball and shot put, to name a few. I was enlightened by just how able all these disabled people were. Some have adapted to each sport using different techniques and were managing very well. All these people have accepted their injury and were embracing what they can do. For me, I feel like I have been forced into a new world, a world that gets little or no attention from the able-bodied society. These people were happy and enjoying the sport they were engaged in. Laughing even. But it wasn’t just fun, there was a streak of competitiveness. It was clear that a lot of training and adapting had taken place in preparation for the day. But above all, there was an enormous sense of encouragement and well-being.

I am afraid to accept it. If I accept it maybe I will remain here forever! I have accepted that I will be in a chair for a long time before I reach my number one goal. That goal has not changed!
I liked my old life, I had just finished college, I was young and free, employed and I was very optimistic about my future. I was excited! And over-night it has all changed!

Also yesterday I spoke with the Antrim Rose, a beautiful girl from Carrigaline. I used to play basketball with her brother. Anyway, she is a wheel-chair user for nearly ten years now. She spoke about her road trip from Belfast down to Kerry and the success and fun she had with her boy friend, who is also a wheel chair user! That’s in contrast to two out of the four outings I’ve had where I tried to use the toilet and on both occasions the door didn’t close behind me as the toilet wasn’t big enough, once in the cinema and once in a restaurant. In fact the toilet in the restaurant was on a lower level to where I was eating. The stairs lift to carry me down was out of order! I had to go out the front door, down the road, take a left and continue down to the delivery entrance where I could gain access to the toilet. When I got there I didn’t even fit! I think I’m turning into an angry wheel-chair person!! Wheel-chair rage!!!

On a less frustrated and confused note I have progressed with regards adapting to wheel chair life. I have down-sized in wheel chair. I got rid of the throne which was nearly impossible to manoeuvre. Now I have a smaller chair which is more compact and way easier for me to push. I’m going wheeling slowly but it is great to not have to rely on someone to push me every where I want to go.

For me there are two types progress. One is about regaining movement and recovering. The other is about adapting and learning new skills to optimise the movement I do have to make wheel chair life easier. It’s obvious to see which type of progress I want to improve in more, but for the moment I still need to accept and learn the other new skills.

Also the movement that I do have is getting stronger and I have started dressing and learning Spanish on an app my sister downloaded for me, so things are improving!

And just now this evening I was given the go ahead to remove the neck brace that has been stabilising my neck for eleven and half weeks now. So far it is a relief to get it off and my neck has healed well. We shall see how the next few days go with regards strength and range.

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6 thoughts on “Two types of progress

  1. Thats great news Nath one more step on the way to recovery keep up the amazing work xx

  2. Nathan its great to know that you are making progress and having positive thoughts on your road to recovery. You got an amazing supportive family which will be the bedrock for further progress which will come but slowly. It must be very hard for your Mum & Dad to adapt to your condition but they can be thankful that you got your full mental capability and able to communicate as verbal as you always have done.
    A person whom I know and have admired is Brian Crowley MEP who ended up wheelchair confined as a teen and never let it hamper him from choosing his path in life. I would suggest that you call him for a chat and in the position he holds may be able to offer his knowledge in a very positive way…just a thought!
    Looking forward to keeping abreast of your progress and your bright & dark days.

    Keep ‘er lit!

    Tom Coughlan

  3. A true account of courage and determination. Thank you.

  4. Hi Nathan,

    I have been keeping updated on your blog and all I can say is that you enourage me everyday to be a better person. Im a nurse, have been for nearly ten years now and there are many days when I see people who astound me, but your story, and your approach and determination are just amazing and makes me very humbled to be able to follow your story. I hope the neck is feeling better now I am sure that you will be feeling a little scared when moving it and feel that it may ‘drop off at any time’ but im sure you are doing really well, so keep your chin up (literally) and I will be eagerly awaiting your next challenge that you have overcome 😉 Sam !

  5. “new skills to optimise the movement” i like that! all the best to you in optimising your future! keep up a good fight, Nathan!

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