Winning at life! – Raymond’s Story …

May 2019 found Raymond Dufton upside down in a farmer’s paddock waiting for a rescue helicopter.  He was co-driver in a Toyota 86, in the Targa Hawkes Bay rally event, when it lost control.  He sustained a dislocation of the C4/5 cervical vertebrae, resulting in complete tetraplegia.

While in the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit he admits he had some dark thoughts, and then it hit him … he could see all manner of people and injuries around him – some were new to this journey like him, and struggling.  Others had been on it longer and were doing more.  His first “I got this moment” was probably when he realised – “There are some things I just can’t do, and there are some I’ll have to do differently or find a different way but I’ve still got my brain!” … And he set about finding different ways.  Like when he was having problems with the nurse call button (which required pressing but since he had no use from limbs below his shoulders he had to try and activate it by moving his head).  They’d placed a device on his bed pillow near his head to activate the call button – so he could move his head to call the nurse.  Except he’d move his head in his sleep … and accidentally called the nurse three times in an hour!  He and his mate Steve got creative and worked out a way to use “Alexa” to activate a device Steve built, which signalled the hospital call button – when actually needed 😊

There’s been no single ‘magic’ moment – it’s been a series of “I’ve got this” moments …

When he first took his off-road powerchair for a spin on his local beach and bush tracks and realised outdoor activities were definitely something he could still do and enjoy.  (Raymond’s been actively involved in a range of outdoor activities all his life, ranging from mountain biking, adventure riding on his KTM 1190R dirt bike riding/racing, snow boarding, scuba diving, fishing and boating throughout NZ and overseas.)

Or when he realised he could use Siri to ‘jot’ down notes in the middle of the night … prior to his accident he’d kept a pad and pen next to the bed to off-load crazy creative ideas that wouldn’t let him sleep.

He’s scouting out new innovations all the time … all sorts of things around his home are controlled through voice technology (lights, heating, curtains, etc) – he’s even spotted a kettle he might be able to use.  Voice control via Siri allows him to use email, text, WhatsApp, Messenger, telephone, etc.

He’s got a 4×4 power chair arriving in a few weeks and he’s checking out a new Argo (8×8) this month that he thinks he can have converted to chin operation … and that’s winning at life Raymond-style.

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Su Marshall

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