Oh where do I start?, Well life was happily busy and all was going well for myself,my family and business. Like most people I was very much ignorant to how life was taken for granted when you have your health both mentally and physically. That all change on Friday the 26th October 2018.
On that non eventful day I decide to start cleaning our work yard and moving some heavy equipment around before I headed off to Belfast with a coach load of Monivea Rugby Players. Just as i was to get into the coach i decided to move one more unit from the yard. It was a metal shelf that 2 of us picked up together. I took one step and felt a sharp pain and dropped the shelf, but me being thick, determent and stubborn i lifted it again. Suddenly there was a MASSIVE BANG like if a shotgun had been put to to the middle of my back and fired. I felt a massive explosion in the middle of my back and then I was on the ground and could not figure out where my legs or even my waist where. Then I got this all merciful burning sensation around my belly and groin that was relentless. I later discovered that it probably was my nerve ending dying all together.
People always ask me what must of been going through my mind at that time and I can honestly say, firstly I knew it was extremely serious but secondly I was thinking of getting all the jobs that I was meant to do that weekend covered. From that moment on the 26th October meeting the ambulance paramedics all the way true to my specialist physio Sorcha in the National Rehabilitation Hospital each and every person was amazing.I cannot thank them enough
I was diagnosed as having ruptured my T9,T10 and T11 spinal discs in the middle of the back and one of the ruptured disc's leaked into my spinal cord and nearly shredded it right through. Thankfully there was still some of the spinal cord attached. After my operation in the National Spinal Unit in the Mater Hospital I asked one of the surgeons as I looked at my motionless feet if this is how I will be? He calmly put his hand on my shoulder and just said that I had been extremely unlucky. It was the first time that I kinda said to myself" Oh shit I am in trouble here" but it was the only time. After that with my family and friends support I held my head high and always remained positive. I said to myself"whatever happens it won't be from the lack of trying". Thankfully for probably the first time in my life my stubbornness, thickness and determination just would not let my mind or body believe what I was being told.
I am not going to tell the whole story right now as it would take far to long to thank everybody who helped me. Just to say against the odds I have managed to get back on my feet and live an almost normal life. I have made life long friends with other patients in the NRH and I am grateful for that.
Why I want to fund raise €250,000 for the NRH is for two main reasons. One is to provide the physio department with specialist physio equipment and robotic technology which is badly needed at the moment. The specialist physio equipment and robotic technology is the future for spinal cord injuries and will enable more and more patients to get back onto the feet and possibly walk. I believe the marvellous team of dedicated physio's deserve to have the specialist physio equipment and robotic technology to help them to help the most deserving patients in the National Rehabilitation Hospital. The specialist physio equipment and robotic technology will change more and more lives and improve families no end.
Secondly there is a massive void for the majority of NRH patients when we are finished our programmes. I have spoken to many ex patients who are close friends and some who I have never known before. We have all had the same mental health problems of trying to deal with the real world once we leave the NRH. When in the NRH we are in the hands of amazing people 24/7 and we are always making progress. This gives most of us a very positive mindset. However when we get out into the real world we discover very quickly that yes we are disabled and yes the world is not designed for us and having to really on other for almost everything can be soul destroying. Depression, loneliness and negative thoughts soon set in and many feel suicidal including myself.
I know first hand that the gap between leaving the NRH and the time social and community services start liaising with people with severe disabilities is far too great. This is down to the lack of resources within the organisations. As ex patients we have all talked about this gap and how devastating it is. As one of the lucky patients who got back on his feet I am determent to try and create an programme that ensures we are not felt abandoned and left alone once we leave the NRH. After the highs of walking out of the NRH to the lows of signing myself into a psychiatric ward for over a week due to depression and suicidal efforts, I know personal what patients go through. This has to stop and we must look after our most vulnerable people.