The 4 Year Journey

Normally, the turn of the year promotes a period of pondering and reflection. For me, although I rarely gauge its approach, I guess the 1st of November will always resonate for a number of reasons.

Not only as the single day my physical life changed more than any other, but as the day my psyche and perception of the world altered almost as much.

In my humble opinion, anyone who has been flattened by life or circumstance and therefore crippled emotionally, psychologically and/or materially and has managed to recover, especially through endurance and persistence, will always have a poignant reference point – when things were a whole lot worse. For me, any day to day disgust with a situation I find myself in, due to my injury, is normally quickly quelled with a rapid recollection of my ‘Ground Zero’ if you like, ‘no movement/sensation from my neck down’.

As you can imagine, it tends to remedy rather well.

With all that said, the last 12 months have been, in some respects, more frustrating than the 3 years prior. Partly because my progress has slowed somewhat and my body does not seem to be responding to various therapeutic techniques as well. But also because numerous anti-spasmodic drug trials and potentially invasive operations haven’t provided adequate relief to my biggest challenges. Namely, overpowering spasms and loss of range in my calves.

Quadriplegia is definitely a condition for the problem-solvers among us. Frequently, one could find her/himself working towards a solution for a simple everyday problem as small as retrieving a pencil from the ground. Easy for an able-bodied person, sure. However, bending down from a wheelchair with limited grip strength or dexterity in one’s fingers can be difficult. If you add minimal power in ones core muscles, let alone the inability to climb back into one’s chair if they were to lean too far, then creative thinking is warranted.

I often wish I had a 24-hour GoPro camera in my kitchen to record some of my greatest and most amusing hits:

Sticking chewing gum to the end of my index finger to retrieve a dropped antibiotic capsule from the deck.

Trying to swing a fridge magnet, attached to the lanyard on my phone, under the desk to recover a set of keys.

Attempting to grate a carrot by holding it in my mouth and producing a sawing motion across my face with the grater in two hands.

All in the privacy of my own home of course.

Highlights this year included: conquering ramps for the first time, managing my way (with some support) up a flight of steps and combining the two by walking into the family house and parking myself on the sofa for the first time since I fell.progress-journey-james-gribble

It might not sound much to many, however, for me, these were significant achievements, particularly as I was given almost no hope of any recovery day one.

With my overall progress and growing confidence on my feet, I have very recently endeavoured to manufacture a golf swing of sorts out of this new body of mine. As golf is one of my greatest passions, I am especially excited. This photo should give you a good idea of the new setup. It is quite agricultural as I am sure you will agree.progress-journey-2012

Happy New Year!!