I wasn’t going to ever share this but I often meet and chat to people from around the world and it’s a ‘surprise’ to them when they see me.
10 years ago on this day my previous life ended and I began a second life. I call it that because when you suffer from a life changing injury, everything changes. Your lifestyle, thoughts, everything changes. Motocross was my entire life. I cannot remember anything else before it. During school, work all I thought about was racing. Show and tell was stories of Foxhill attending the GPs, school project was always Motocross related. I still have a project somewhere I did when I was 11 on Travis Pastrana.
7th June 2009 3:30pm I broke my c3 & c4 vertebrae in my neck racing Motocross, damaging my spinal cord. I spent the next day 8 days in an indused coma, bleeding on the brain and fighting to survive without even knowing what was happening. I woke up thinking I was asleep on the sofa, the date was march 2014 and had forgotten about a lot of random things and thought I was going to events that had already happened. I was told by my parents weeks after waking up that a few consultants and doctors had advised to actually switch the machine off because my brains not reacting and if I was to survive I’ll have no decent lifestyle. Just staring at 4 walls, on a machine, fed through a straw responding to nothing.
I spent just under a year in hospital. Transferring from a few different ones. Being told I’ll never walk again was a massive motivation. I had a habit of trying to prove people wrong growing up. I began with zero feeling from the neck down, unable to breathe on my own, unable to move a single part of my body, unable to speak due to being on a ventilator, fed through a tube. So many tubes I was like an old vhs system, tv & computer altogether. I spent 4 months at bed rest for 4 months, suffered pressure sores. All people with a spinal cord injury suffer and live every day at risk of. A pressure sore can cause amputation to limbs or even kill you.
I was on a ventilator and was unable to speak for 12 weeks, had to learn how to speak. Unable to eat for 15 weeks which began with yogurt and gradually learn how to eat harder food and make sure the body reacts okay. I had a catheter sticking in my stomach which I was able to feel under my skin. The pain was worse than all the broken bones previously. Having it replaced was hell. Bladder & bowels need training again. On the 16th week I was hoisted into a wheelchair for 20 mins a day, gradually building up the time as each day passed. I hadn’t felt fresh air outside until that point nor seen my dog. Honey would wait outside the gate for me until late at night waiting for my return my mum said. My parents brung her to the spinal unit which was the highlight of the time in hospital. We don’t deserve dogs. Nothing shares the same love and affection that they do.
Suffering horrendous vertigo from being led down for so long. It felt like I was falling with something above pushing me down.
Leaving hospital and everything seems smaller, it felt like the world had changed. chinos appeared. KFC were doing these wraps which was torturing me watching being advertised on the tv whilst at bed rest.
Learning I’ll need help being fed, getting dressed, tucked into bed like I’d gone back to being a baby again. Going out in public, being stared at because the public weren’t used to seeing a wheelchair, a hole in the neck or a leg bag.
Having to ask for help constantly. Scratch my head, show me a text I received, reply for me. I remember actually watching how people would pick items up in occupation therapy because I didn’t know how I did it. We rely on muscle memory so much we don’t even realise we are doing it.
Not knowing if I’d ever be in a relationship again. Getting anxiety being seen in public meeting new people. Watching riders you used to beat now winning and feeling “that should be me”
Planning a day out just so there’s toilet facilities, it isn’t bumpy and accessible for a wheelchair.
Trying to move a limb in physio that felt like somebody else’s. If I said, ask somebody to put their arms out in front of you. And somebody is telling you to lift you arms. Try using your brain to move the arms that aren’t attached to you? It’s a very weird feeling.
Hearing people’s ‘relatable stories’ from a time they hurt their arm and couldn’t pick up anything heavy for a few weeks.
Learning new skills. No longer working on a building site or the golf club carrying or running around. The brain is now your tools.
Regular hospital appointments, i finally learnt to use my bladder again 18 months later and got rid of the catheter. It’s then a process of making it stronger and regularly urinating yourself. In the 20s trying not to wet myself in public while others are racing, partying, at the peak of life. Thankfully I’m now in full control of it again.
Everything changes forever. You now begin a new life.
10 years has gone by at a speed faster than I can explain. I’m now able to walk with the aid of a walking stick. However due to the brain injury I have zero gyroscopic balance. I Meaning I can’t find my balance, if it’s dark I collapse to the floor not knowing where I am so you’ll always see someone walk with me in case I fall. The ground must be flat and level too. I only found that out 2 years ago from my consultant. I use a mobility scooter when I watch Motocross events. My right side is weaker than my left which is a common occurrence when you’re recovering from a spinal cord injury. I can’t control my body temperature meaning if it’s cold or too hot my body doesn’t know how to react. The cold weather locks my muscles & limbs stiff. I can go from shaking your hand, having lunch and a drink to being unable to scratch my nose. It’s also painful, the previous injuries in the cold (as we all experience) causes more pain, with pain causes spasms to my muscles, spasms cause stress, stress - anxiety - adrenaline cause me to lock up and locking up causes pain. I call winter my hibernation because it doesn’t agree with my body. I remain to need help on a daily basis but I will continue to fight and live the best life I can.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt though..
We should be taught to have more than just 1 hobby. Motocross was literally my addiction. I would wake up, go to school/work and the only thing on my mind was racing. If I had a bad weekend I’d spend the week frustrated and angry at my self. Each of us need to focus on long term sports, and goals. I’ve searched constantly for sport I can do. It wasn’t until I searched the parasport website and found a list of spirts I can do and came across sailing. I didn’t know anyone who ever did it and had no knowledge that anybody with any disability can do it. There’s no boundaries and it’s one hell of a activity whether it’s just chilling on the water or racing each other. I will say now that there’s nothing on the planet than can give you the buzz and sensation of Motocross. But our competitive obsession is short lived in comparison to other sports. So find an ‘extra’ sooner rather than later.
I can ramble on for days, but for everyone that was there, before, after and those I will meet some day. Bottom of my heart, thank you! Family, friends, the entire NHS, all the nurses, those who have come and gone. Everyone! The rollercoaster of a journey will forever continue and get better and better.