For me this is not just about a family devastated by a life-changing lifelong spinal cord injury, but about family, friends, neighbours and even strangers, organising events that pull people together, and most importantly, events that are fun! As I look through the photos of events I see lots of familiar faces and even more faces I don’t recognise at all! All smiles!
I am thousands of miles away from Ireland now and the only reason I have been able to get here is through the generosity of you, the people who show up and take part. I feel I am very lucky to be here in The Guttmann Institute in Barcelona. It has taken the funds you donated to get me out here and for that I am extremely grateful. I can reassure you that it will be money well spent! Every day I see people in much worse condition than me. I count myself lucky that my injury was not any higher in my neck and that my brain was not damaged in the fall. I don’t necessarily want to be here, it’s certainly not a place I would want anybody else to be, and I could think of a thousand other places I’d rather be. But for me, right now it’s where I have to be. It’s the place where I can achieve my goals. I must continue this recovery and achieve as much movement as I can. It will make things much easier in the future.
“I hated ever minute of training. But I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Am I enjoying it? Hardly, but I am making the most of it! I have good days and bad days just like everyone else in all walks of life. The bad ones make you appreciate the good ones, and even drive you to work harder and pull you out of a slump. I have met some fantastic people on this journey. Some have inspired me, some I watched and learned so much from, some who cared for me and some who made me laugh. I have seen new sides to old friends. I have made new friends, people I’m glad I met, but I certainly would never have met them had this not happened. It is when you meet amazing people, spend time with them and get to know them, that it makes this experience unusually worthwhile! I have learned that it doesn’t matter where you are in life as long as you are surrounded by the right people things will work out.
I must thank all the great people working in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin for all the work they did with me, getting me to where I am today. The physiotherapists and the occupational therapists who put in hours and hours of therapy to help me regain and maximise any movement I could. The doctors and nurses who cared for me and spoke reassuringly to my family. But most of all, the lads and ladies in the blue shirts, the ward assistants, the ones who muck out the stables every morning, they feed you when you can’t feed yourself, they cloth you, they wash you, they talk to you, they listen, they are the ones that bring the life back to spinal cord injured patients. They make the jokes, they take the piss out of you, they make you laugh and they help you to see the light! It is impossible for me to thank everyone, but these people I could not speak more highly of, and I know anyone who has been through the NRH would agree with when I say they are the light in the NRH!
I know there will come a time when I will have to stop, look back at what I have achieved and be satisfied. But for now I must continue, aim for the stars and maybe I might hit Mars!
Onwards and upwards my friends!