How an idea ‘evolved’…
My appreciation for anyone trying to overcome a disability began way back in 1981 when I broke my neck whilst playing U16 Sussex County rugby. I knew nothing of correct diet or recovery and I was over-training. All the warning signs were there but I ignored them. Luckily I had only temporary paralysis but needed surgery to re-attach my head to my neck.
A Mr Brian Elliott, consultant orthopaedic surgeon performed the Cloward procedure (surgery pioneered by a Dr Ralph Cloward at Pearl Harbour) and fused my C6/C7 cervical vertebrae. This brought an end to my rugby days.
I started reading books on exercise and physical therapy and rehabilitating myself in the coming weeks, months and years. I was not an academic before the injury but had to become one now that sports were out, for a while anyway. I built my own home gym in my mothers back garden and set about turning my life around.
At first, my choice of college subjects was selfish. I chose topics such as human biology, psychology and Physical Education purely to help myself get back to some level of health, fitness and confidence.
I thought at first that I would become a sports coach and so started a BA (Hons) Degree in Sports Studies/Science, but later realised I wanted to help others to help themselves more. I chose to work as a sports activities instructor, with adults with learning disabilities, Down’s, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, etc.I completed a course with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and became a Certified Health and Fitness Instructor in Preventive and Rehabilitative Exercise Programming working in a Sports Centre.
Then I discovered by chance the work of Cardiac Technicians as they were then called within the NHS. I needed more regular working hours and so started to write to every hospital in the country, this was during a recession so there were very few vacancies. I was kindly offered a place as a trainee at Conquest Hospital, Hastings.
One day I overheard two junior doctors discussing a patient they referred to as a “Cardiac Cripple”
I had a greater respect and appreciation for anyone trying to overcome an illness or disability. I didn’t share these doctors belief that some people are just hopeless cases…
…and just for the fun of it I started to ask myself… what would be the exact polar-opposite of a ‘Cardiac Cripple‘?
Wouldn’t it be a: