The giving is relentless, at times.
We give so much.
Sometimes it seems endless,
and simply to get to the next day.
Who takes it though?
You breathe in and exhale,
you are alive!
How complex we have become,
with chemical reactions we hardly recognise or
We bubble away behind the scenes
and no-one knows, no-one ever knows.
It’s all about angles, this life,
a degree out means strife
feels like being stabbed with a knife.
I wrote this little poem earlier this year, I never posted it because even I didn’t get it. I’m not sure I get it now but I think it shows some of the inner turmoil I was experiencing through training so hard and going through so much pain to be able to throw a stick far enough to be competitive at the Paralympics. I guess we all endure hardships to get what we want in life, that’s what keeps the world and modern society going. I wouldn’t describe the London Paralympics as a hardship, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I believe I was part of an historic event that will transform Paralympic sport. However the year or so up to the Paralympic games was a hardship both physically and mentally, but in a way it’s quite liberating to think I came through it and stayed true to my goals and aspirations, when it would’ve been quite acceptable for me to quit at many points along the way.
I’m now 5 weeks post op following my much needed hip replacement surgery on the 4th October at the BMI Meriden Hospital in Coventry, and the hardest part of my rehab so far has been getting used to having no pain when I move – its weird.
I had a crack team of surgeons, my consultant Professor Damian Griffin is quite a celebrity in medical terms and has operated on Geordie legend Shola Ameobi in the past; Pedro Feget who is a Barcelona fan is building his own impressive reputation and he carried out the hip replacement. Last but not least, Stephen Cooke who is doing wonders in operating on young people with cerebral palsy, carried out muscle and tendon releases on my upper left leg, and also made my removable double-leg brace complete with broom handle to keep my legs apart – arguably this was harder work for Stephen than doing the operation.
The surgery went very well, all 3 surgeons said everything they tried worked first time. I was told the operation could last 9 hours, but it ended up being about 6 hours, which is a good job because I lost a quarter of my blood. So I wasn’t too clever when I returned to the ward and looked like death warmed up understandably. Unfortunately for my brother he’d driven down from Newcastle after work and arrived just as I got back from theatre – he then fainted and hit the deck as Damian was explaining what they’d done to me.
My hip was a lot worse than the surgeons expected, they said for my age it was one of the worst they’d seen, more like a 70 year old’s hip. I had asked if I could keep the ball because I though it might make a good paperweight or something, but they chucked it away as it was covered in cysts, it was also shaped like a kidney bean. One of the most remarkable things they discovered was that my psoas muscle (hip flexor) had become so tight it had dug an inch groove into my hip bone. The surgeons didn’t know how I threw at all with my hip in that state – I could say here that I barely did throw in London – yes, I think I will say that here. At least I can have a slight excuse for throwing rubbish.
I’m well into my rehab now, I was cycling just 5 days after my operation which amazed me as much as anyone else. I haven’t been able to cycle for over 3 years and it feels so good to be able to do it again. The main objective of this operation was to stop the pain and anything else was a bonus – since the operation Pedro has given me a gold medal objective to get back walking again. Anyone who knows me knows I need goals to function, and just having this goal is an achievement in itself. I can’t thank the staff at the hospital enough for their fantastic care, and I now have a very really chance of continuing my career and getting back to the distances I was throwing before my hip problems started in 2006. Which was always Professor Griffin’s intention, I have to take it slow and do it properly though, it will be 6 months to get my hip in shape to throw, but I don’t throw in the winter so that’s no big deal.
I have to thank UK Athletics, UK Sport and the BOA for funding my surgery and enabling me to have the best team to do it. I have been supported through the National Lottery for 12 years and I know how lucky and privileged I’ve been, unfortunately UK Athletics have decided not to continue my funding after this year. Usually when athletes are injured they are excused a bad performance and given another year of funding to get over their injury, however I’ve not been so lucky. I have to move on, it’s disappointing and nobody has a divine right to be on the World Class Performance Programme, I still believe I have a future in sport, so I am now looking for sponsors to help me continue to train to the same level and get back to winning medals for Great Britain. Anyone interested in working with me and helping me on the road to Rio please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thank you please.