Mark is a generous supporter of the NZST and has been since his experience with SCI. Mark never needed our services, but he chooses to support NZST financially because he knows he was lucky. Here’s his story, in his own words …
I am a lucky one. I can run, ride, ski, fly and enjoy a normal life.
However I have escaped permanent disability, not once, but twice.
The first time I was hit by a car while biking to work. My neck was broken with a “hangman’s fracture” and my knee was crushed. The hangman’s fracture typically causes damage to the spinal cord which leads to paralysis and most often death. Great care from St John’s and the team in Christchurch Public Hospital saw me recover completely. As I walked out of the ICU ward, wearing my Aspen brace, I was described as a “reject”. Most people who go through that ward with the injury I had go on to spend the rest of their life living with a disability.
I focused on my recovery, determined not to let anything hold me back. Four months later I had fully recovered. I could enjoy and support my family, who had supported me through this experience. I could get back on the bike and enjoy cycling with my brothers and friends.
Over the following year a new pain developed and grew progressively worse.
Standing, sitting, lying down – no position would alleviate the pain. Living with constant and severe pain is not something I would wish on anyone.
After 6 months of searching for the cause I was diagnosed as having a spinal cord tumour. The choice was simple, operate or become a paraplegic within months. Again our medical profession worked wonders and two weeks after the operation the pain was gone and my life returned to normal – flying high in the Southern Alps.
Through these experiences I have had to ask myself, what would life be like if I didn’t recover. How would I manage? How do others manage? What would life be like if I couldn’t pick up a grandchild? How would it be giving up so many pastimes I enjoy? What would I do next? What about my career? But I have been lucky and my life has returned to my normal.
Through these experiences I found the NZ Spinal Trust. As I learnt more about the Trust and what it does, I found that it is an organisation whose values are highly aligned with my own. It helps people to help themselves – to get back into an enjoyable, be it different, and meaningful life, through providing all sorts of support. So I share some of my luck by giving regularly to the NZ Spinal Trust, thankful that I didn’t need their services, but appreciating what they do for those that do need that support.
We know that the difference between life in a wheelchair and being a “reject” can be a matter of split-second timing, or a sprinkling of pure luck.
We are so appreciative that Mark has chosen to take his life experience, his winning at life! experiences, and pay them forward in a way that supports positive futures for those whose SCIs have had a profound influence on their lives.
Thank you Mark for sharing your story … and your luck 😊