28 September 2008

Sunday is my rest day

Well it has been a while since I have updated readers, therefore as its Sunday my day of rest, what better time than now to tell you what’s been happening of late. I am please to say I have now moved back into a ground floor building, sharing the reception area, although I am not in the main office with the rest of my team I am happy to be back at ground zero and safe in the knowledge that I don’t have to worry about the lift breaking down, which in turn allows me to concentrate fully once again on my work and not whether I am going to have to be lifted out, so it is best all round and I am happy again.

How are other things, well Mum is doing really well and is walking longer distances, not only that but she is able to stand unaided for a couple of seconds, which is fantastic, to her it probably feels a life time but I am so proud of how far she has come in a short space of time. Last week Mum and I went to see my Granddad in the wheelchair accessible taxi, I use the same taxi to go to work and believe me it turns a few heads while its on the road, not only because people seem fascinated when they see a wheelchair coming down the ramps, but more so because it is bright blue with big flowers on it. I know what you might be thinking “why has it got big flowers on it ?” and to answer this its that its to advertise the Smoke Free campaign, the company have nicknamed it the love bus as it just looks like one of those buses from the 60’s. Granddad thought it was great, I think it impressed him that we could travel in our chairs.

This week as been great in terms of my Physiotherapy I have been doing a lot of work in the gym, both on the machines and doing different exercises with some of the smaller equipment, this weeks challenge was to test my sitting balance a step further, to do this I needed to sit on the wobble cushion, this is a task in itself, but anyway this week I was given a dumbbell to try. The ideas being that I had to remain on the cushion and slowly lift the dumbbell straight up till my arm was straight and then bring it down slowly, I managed two sets of 10 and only wobbled once, but it didn’t throw my balance complete which was good. My Physio was really pleased as to how much my balance has improved, even from two weeks ago.

Following this I went into the bars and did some work on side bending, which I find a little hard work, mainly because I have always thought that when you have a metal rod in spine you can’t bend in this way, but I now realise that since my Bowen therapy it is possible to do this. Although I can’t fully bend granted I can bend a certain amount, and that certain amount is enough to be able to carry out the exercise and feel the benefit, and that’s what it’s about.
I then had a walk in the gym on my crutches, and it was like walking on air, I was hardly putting any weight through my crutches and yet it felt like I was running and again my Physio was impressed.

I asked the question that if I am able to walk like this without weight baring with crutches what is stopping me from dropping them and just walking away so to speak, and initially we both aren’t sure but we going to do some research and investigation and see if we can come up with the answer. We then went back into the bars to do some balance work taking one hand off and putting it back, and then the surprise came in that we tested the balance a step further and was asked “if I was to stand and balance holding with one hand which hand would I use,?” I replied that it would be my left hand, “ok then lets try something” “take hold of the bar with your left hand organise your body so you are standing straight and then see if you can walk along just holding with that hand and try and put other hand down beside you”

I did this and walked up the bars and turned and walked back and we were both impressed, so much so that she went into the therapy area to see if my Bowen therapist was available to come and see what a massive improvement was going on, so when he came into the Gym I set off in the bars again and turned and came back to him, he was beaming, I haven’t seen him for a while now but he agreed that something special was starting to occur. I then walked to him on my crutches and the first thing he had noticed was that I wasn’t leaning as far forward compared to when he last saw me walking, which is great. I can’t wait to go back in 2 weeks to see how far I have progressed again.

27 September 2008

Disabled parking made easier

by James Congdon

Navevo has launched what it claims is the first dedicated Blue Badge sat-nav. Dubbed BBNav, the device is designed primarily to aid disabled drivers and those caring for the disabled.

The product has been designed and built to help Blue badge holders to find parking spaces, and areas of interest. BBnav has all of the features you'd normally find within a standard sat-nav, plus other features in order to provide more detail for disabled drivers.

This includes on street disabled parking bays; disabled accessible car parks and local council blue badge concessions.These features include:

Blue Badge and Red Route on street parking bays
Disabled Car parks
Local Council Blue Badge Parking concessions
Over 60,000 Points of Interest (20,000 +Blue badge)
NAVTEQ street level mapping covering the UK and Republic of Ireland
Seven digit post code routing
Safety camera alerts.

The device is claimed to save time looking for disabled parking. The coded and numbered icons are displayed on the mapping while allowing users to search for a car park/parking bay with ease and be navigated directly to it."We have identified areas of the market where standard sat-navs fell short," said Nick Casari CEO at Navevo. "The product has taken us a year to develop in conjunction with Pie Guide."BBNav will be available from this October for £199.99. More details can be found at www.bbnav.co.uk.

Nintendo Wii Provides Not Only Fun and Exercise but Rehabilitation Benefits too

Nintendo Wii, the popular gaming system, not just combines fun and exercise, but also holds rehabilitation benefits for those suffering from cerebral palsy, says a new study.

The UMDNJ case study, namely "Use of a Low-Cost, Commercially Available Gaming Console (Wii) for Rehabilitation of an Adolescent with Cerebral Palsy," focused on use of the Nintendo Wii for rehabilitation of a teen with cerebral palsy.

The case study of the 13-year-old male with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy has shown physical therapy benefits resulting from the use of Wii, a relatively low-cost, commercially available, interactive gaming system.

In a school-based setting, the teen participated in 11 training sessions, over a four-week period, using the Wii while continuing to receive physical and occupational therapy.

The sessions were each between 60 and 90 minutes long and used the Wii sports games software, which offers boxing, tennis, bowling, and golf. He trained in both standing and sitting positions.

"Improvements in visual-perceptual processing, postural control, and functional mobility were measured after training," reported the researchers.

Led by Judith E. Deutsch, PT, Ph.D., professor and director of Research in Virtual Environments and Rehabilitation Sciences (Rivers) Lab in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science at UMDNJ-SHR, the study is the first published report on using the Wii for rehabilitation.

However, there have been many press reports about use of the Wii in clinical settings as well as some scientific articles on the physiological effects of using the Wii.

21 September 2008

Pilates exercises strengthen the spine

According to Statistics Canada, back problems are among the most common chronic conditions in Canada. Four out of five adults will experience at least one episode of back pain at some time in their lives. The cause of back pain, however, is not always apparent. In fact, in approximately 85 to 90 per cent of individuals with back pain, no specific cause can be identified. Contributing factors include poor muscle tone, especially in the back and abdominal muscles, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, poor posture, and in particular, improper or heavy lifting.

You cannot build a house without a strong foundation, and you cannot build a strong body without a strong spine. If you have a bad back and you are not getting relief through other forms of treatment, my professional suggestion would be to start an exercise program called Pilates. The Pilates Method is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates in Germany. Pilates called his method Contrology, because he believed that his method uses the mind to control the muscles. The program focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which are essential to providing support for the spine. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, and aim to strengthen the deep torso muscles. Pilates is a very beginner-friendly fitness method. With the help of a teacher, clients perform strength, flexibility and range of motion exercises on specially designed equipment and/or mat classes. Class prices range from $12.00 per class to $60.00 per class for private instruction.

With over 15 years of experience in personal training and 10 years specializing in Pilates, I have seen countless clients with chronic back pain. With patience, persistence and the right teacher, I have also seen countless clients regain their life back through the practice of Pilates.

For more information, please contact Michelle Barker at pilates@telus.net or The Gym on Bowen. Michelle is a recent resident on Bowen Island and she loves it!

Many patients pay for wheelchairs

People with muscle disease are denied health and social care services because they live in Wales, it is claimed.
The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign said its survey showed no specialist care co-ordinator for the 3,000 people with muscle diseases in Wales.
It also said 40% must pay for their own wheelchairs, while such services are readily available in England.
The Welsh Assembly Government said Health Minister Edwina Hart would "carefully consider" its findings.
The charity is calling for an urgent review of services across Wales.
The survey specifically highlighted the lack of a care co-ordinator in Wales as a major cause for concern.
Elsewhere in the UK, care co-ordinators act as the first point of call for muscle disease patients, giving them advice and guidance to help find specialist support.

"For some families in Wales access to specialist care can be a matter of life or death" Philip Butcher, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign

A third of Welsh patients also have no access to a specialist neuromuscular consultant and 40% of them have no access to a physiotherapist or feel that they do not receive enough physiotherapy.

The 22 local health boards in Wales were also asked to provide information about their services for people with neuromuscular conditions and found that the majority do not support specialist clinics for adults or children.
Muscular Dystrophy Campaign chief executive Philip Butcher said: "For some families in Wales access to specialist care can be a matter of life or death.
"Their plight is made worse by the considerable delays and variations in the provision of essential equipment and barriers to living independently.

'Complex and confusing'
"It is clear that health and social care services are patchy, complex and confusing.

Mother-of-two Shawneena Laker, 46, from Four Crosses, Powys, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy 14 years ago, said: "My condition started to deteriorate about six months and I got to the stage where I was falling over.

"I tried to find out about getting a wheelchair but no-one could help me. I was told to go to the Red Cross and they said they could borrow me one for a while but that was no good.
"In the end we had to go to Argos in Shrewsbury and buy one for £250 but I know for a fact that if I lived down the road in Pant in England I would have got one for free.
"I think it's totally disgusting. I don't expect to be given something for nothing but this is a terminal illness and my body is breaking down in front of me and I need more help.
"I think there's a real stigma attached to muscle disease and there's just no help available here in Wales."

"The report shows that three out of four people in Wales are missing out on the vital help of a care co-ordinator, whose role is to support and guide them through the system.
"We are calling on the local NHS commissioners and local authorities to urgently establish additional posts in Wales.
"I do know that Edwina Hart is taking this matter seriously and she has shown a clear commitment to improving standards of care for families in Wales."
On top of a general lack of health services, the survey also found 75% of families faced financial hardship as a result of muscle disease, with many having to pay for their own wheelchair.

Improve services
The results come three years after the Government's National Service Framework for Long-Term Conditions, which pledged to improve quality of life and independence for people living with chronic conditions.
An assembly government spokersperson said the health minister would consider the survery findings, but added: "However, the independent review of neuroscience services, which Mrs Hart commissioned, will outline proposals on how to improve services across Wales.
"This is along with the ongoing work relating to children and young people's specialist services and the work about to start on neuromuscular diseases.
"She expects that people should see improvements as a result."
Muscle diseases weaken and waste muscles and can be inherited or acquired and affect people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities.
There are currently no cures available to people with these kinds of conditions.

Edwina Hart will meet families affected by muscle disease at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign's conference in Swansea on 13 October.

Muscular Dystrophy Campaign
NHS Wales
Welsh Assembly Government

Mum's plea to help daughter walk

A BRAVE single mother is fighting to give her disabled daughter the chance to walk.
Saira Naseer is appealing to Observer readers to raise £2,000 to buy a special corset for four-year-old Khadijah who has suffered from cerebral palsy since birth which means she currently can not talk, walk or even stand-up by herself.
She also has motor disorder, which further restricts her mobility, and reflux, which means she frequently vomits and has had two operation to stop this. She is on daily anti-sickness medication and has to be fed by a tube through her belly because she is prone to chocking.
But the specially made corset will dramatically change her life as it will help strength Khadijah muscles along her back and improve her head control. And the family believe this will boost her chances of walking.
The 34-year-old of, Langley, said: “To see Khadijah walk by herself would be the greatest gift anyone could give her.
“I was in tears the other day because I don’t want to have to ask for help, I want to be able to provide for my daughter myself. But she is growing bigger everyday and urgently needs the corset now to support herself and play.”
Khadijah is known as ‘a little miracle’ because medics said she had little chance of survival when she was born.
Ms Naseer, who also works part-time in Heathrow, added: “It was a very tough and scary time but I just kept praying she’d make it. I knew her quality of life may not be as good as others but I believed we’d be alright because she’d be with me.
“She catches infections quickly so when there is a change in the weather, she can get very ill. When she was younger we were always in and out of hospital that the nurses all knew her first name. But we’re not a sob story and I don’t view her disability as a negative thing. She has made me stronger.”
To help boost funds Sainsbury’s, Farnham Road, Slough will hold a collection from today (Monday) to October.
It has been organised by Cllr Diana Coad who said: “Khadijah is a real fighter. She proved that when she won a gold medal for bowling at the SADSAD games this weekend. She’s our brave little princess but this corset will make a world of difference so I hope everyone gives generously.”
Readers can also send cheques made payable to Saira Naseer at The Khadijah Fund, 77, Burnham Lane, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 6JY.


GREAT Britain’s gold rush came to a halt as throwers Daniel Greaves and Stephen Miller were unsuccessful in the defence of their Paralympic titles in Beijing. Silver was the order of the day as Miller and swimmers Jim Anderson, Robert Welbourn and Fran Williamson all finished second, while Greaves and Natalie Jones, in the pool, won bronze. Miller had a 12-year unbeaten run ended in his fourth Games when the Gateshead Harrier, who has cerebral palsy, finished second in the men’s F32/51 club throw with a best of 34.37m as Tunisia’s Mourad Idoudi set a world record of 35.77m. Greaves came third in the men’s F44 discus with a best throw of 53.04m, 2.08m behind winner Jeremy Campbell of the United States.

BY GEORGE...things have really changed

STOCKTON has undergone a transformation since its council became a unitary authority, says George Garlick.
And the borough is well placed to continue its progress in the coming few years.
Mr Garlick, 57, is leaving the authority to take over as chief executive of the new unitary council for County Durham. With 500,000 people, it will be the biggest local authority in the North-east and one of the biggest in the country.
Mr Garlick arrived as the chief executive at Stockton Council in 1995.
It was preparing for the major shake-up in local government on Teesside with the scrapping of Cleveland County Council and the setting up of the unitary councils covering each of the boroughs in 1996.
Mr Garlick believes the creation of the unitary councils has been a success for Stockton and for the whole of the Tees Valley.
“The effect of providing the four Teesside unitaries and a unitary council for Darlington to form the Tees Valley has been quite virtuous.
“We have competed with each other to provide the best services and that has raised the standard of service delivery across the whole area.
“Last year all five Tees Valley councils were four-star authorities,” said Mr Garlick.
He said the decision of the councils to set up the Tees Valley Joint Strategy Unit had helped drive forward the agenda on economic, planning and transportation strategy.
Mr Garlick said that in the past 13 years Stockton had gone from an average performing authority - and in some cases such as street cleansing, a poorly performing authority - to being one of the top three performing councils in the country.
He pointed to Stockton’s success in being the overall winner of the city category in the 2007 Britain in Bloom finals as a clear indication of how the appearance of the borough had been transformed.
Examples highlighted by Mr Garlick on the progress the borough had made were:
Stockton schools’ performance at five or more A* to C grades at GCSE or equivalent was 39.5% in 1997. This year the figure was 64.4%.
At the end of Key Stage 2 performance at Level 4 or more was, in English, 59.8% in 1997 and this year it was 84.5%. In Maths, the 1997 figure was 62.3%, this year it was 82.5%.
Satisfaction with the way the council provides services had risen from 45% in 2000 to 54% in 2006.
In 2000 Stockton’s average ranking in the index of multiple deprivation was 75th worst nationally. By 2007 the borough had fallen to 98th.
Housing regeneration work in the borough has seen 1,000 homes demolished and 500 new homes have been provided so far on the regeneration sites. There has also been an £89m investment over five years in improving the council’s housing stock.
Mr Garlick said: “The borough has been transformed in so many ways.
He sees the Tees Barrage and its “creation of an 11-mile lake” as a huge catalyst in the work to regenerate the borough.
And he said the modernisation of the political system in the authority provided a new focus on quick decisions in local government.
“Big changes will happen in the next five years. Thornaby town centre is being rebuilt, Billingham is about to be renewed and in Stockton town centre we have the Southern Gateway project,” said Mr Garlick.
He added that there will be further progress on the Stockton Middlesbrough Initiative.
“The Building Schools for the Future programme in the borough is another wonderful opportunity and another spur to the huge emphasis we have had on education.
“Events such as the Stockton International Festival have gone from strength to strength.
“I have had a fantastic 13 years but it will be good for Stockton to have a change.
“Durham will be a very big unitary council. It is a big job and a big challenge,” said Mr Garlick, who plans to continue to live in Stockton.

Antibiotic 'cerebral palsy link'

A study has linked a small number of cases of cerebral palsy to antibiotics given to women in premature labour.

The UK study found 35 cases of cerebral palsy in 769 children of women without early broken waters given antibiotics.

This compared with 12 cases among 735 children of women not given the drugs. Advice is being sent to the study's 4,148 mothers and a helpline set up.
Medical experts stressed pregnant women should not feel concerned about taking antibiotics to treat infections.

These findings do not mean that antibiotics are unsafe for use in pregnancy The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

The Oracle study was the largest trial in the world into premature labour and was set up to investigate whether giving antibiotics - which might tackle an underlying symptomless infection - to women with signs of premature labour would improve outcomes for babies.
One in eight babies in the UK is born prematurely and prematurity is the leading cause of disability and of infant death in the first month after birth.

Premature labour
In 2001, ORACLE found the antibiotic erythromycin had immediate benefits for women in premature labour (before 37 weeks gestation) whose waters had broken. It delayed onset of labour and reduced the risk of infections and breathing problems in babies.

Pregnant women should not feel concerned about taking antibiotics to treat infections Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson

Erythromycin and the other antibiotic studied - co-amoxiclav - showed no benefit or harm for the women whose waters were still intact, however, and doctors were advised not to routinely prescribe them in such circumstances.

To study the longer-term outcomes, the Medical Research Council-funded scientists followed up the children seven years later.

Unexpectedly, both antibiotics appeared to increase the risk of functional impairment - such as difficulty walking or problems with day to day problem solving - and treble the chance of cerebral palsy in the children of the women whose waters had not broken.

Of the 769 children born to mothers without early broken waters and given both antibiotics, 35 had cerebral palsy, compared with 12 out of 735 whose mothers did not receive antibiotics in the same circumstances.

The reasons behind this link are unclear, particularly as there was no increased risk of cerebral palsy in women whose waters had broken.

Hostile environment

The researchers believe cerebral palsy is unlikely to be a direct effect of the antibiotic but rather due to factors involved in prolonging a pregnancy that might otherwise have delivered early.
Researcher Professor Peter Brocklehurst of Oxford University said: "We have a suspicion that infection is implicated in premature labour.

"Antibiotics may merely suppress levels of infection to stop preterm labour, but the baby remains in a hostile environment."

Infections during pregnancy or infancy are known to cause cerebral palsy.
In a letter to doctors and midwives advising them about the findings, Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson says: "Pregnant women should not feel concerned about taking antibiotics to treat infections.

"It is important to note that these women had no evidence of infection and would not routinely be given antibiotics."

Where there is obvious infection, antibiotics can be life-saving for both mother and baby, the CMO says.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said: "These findings do not mean that antibiotics are unsafe for use in pregnancy. Pregnant women showing signs of infection should be treated promptly with antibiotics."

Cerebral palsy can cause physical impairments and mobility problems.

It results from the failure of a part of the brain to develop before birth or in early childhood or brain damage and affects one in 400 births.

A helpline is available for study participants on 0800 085 2411 between 0930 and 1630 BST. NHS Direct has information available for other members of the public.

A spokeswoman from the special care baby charity Bliss said: "This highlights the importance of fully understanding both the immediate and long-term impact of the care and treatment that both mother and baby receive at this crucial time."

Twins take part in landmark medical procedure

Identical twin brothers have made medical history, after one gave the other a piece of his back.

Scott Mills needs metal rods put in his spine to help him breathe more easily Photo: Archant
Luke Mills, 19, underwent the procedure because his brother Scott suffers from severe scoliosis or curvature of the spine.
Scott, from Mutford, Suffolk, needs metal rods put in his spine in an operation that will help him breathe more easily, stop his spine collapsing, and in the long term, save his life.
After a number of operations, however, Scott's back was so scarred and thin that surgeons would not have been able to sew him up again.
Last month Luke donated a 10in by 6in flap - a piece of skin, fat and muscle with a vein and artery - from his back.
Surgeons at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital removed the flesh before colleagues grafted it on to Scott's back in an adjoining theatre.
It is the first time the operation has ever been carried out on identical twins.
Elaine Sassoon, consultant plastic surgeon at the hospital, said: "I had sleepless nights. It was worse than a standard operation because you are operating on a healthy person who doesn't need surgery.
"If I had taken the flap from him and failed it would have been terrible."
Scott, who plans to study accountancy at the University of East Anglia, has had scoliosis since he was a baby.
He said: "I think we are closer than brothers because we are at the same stage of life. We were already close anyway so we knew we would do anything we could to help each other."
He added: "It was really nice of him to say he would do it. There is a lot more pain involved for the donor than the recipient."
Luke, who is studying French at the British Institute in Paris, said: "He was more worried about me than he was about himself, after all he had been through."
Scott's next operation is in October, when he will have the metal rods put back in his spine.

Cricketer Grace, 12, beats spinal condition

When Grace Tebbatt was born with a spinal condition, her parents feared she could be crippled for life.
However, with determination and the help of a team of medical specialists, she has beaten the odds to become a talented cricketer.
Grace, 12, from Mountsorrel, was born with scoliosis, which causes a curvature of the spine.
Three or four in every 1,000 children have the condition. In most cases it corrects itself, but a small number need surgery to stop it getting worse and damaging the spine, chest, pelvis, heart and lungs.
Doctors at Leicester Royal Infirmary spotted the condition in Grace when she was 19 weeks old.
At three, she had an operation to fuse her lower vertebrae and give her greater flexibility.
The operation was a success and she is now able to run around like any other child her age.
This summer, she was picked for Leicestershire under-13 girls cricket team as a fast bowler and also plays against boys for Barkby United Cricket Club.
Grace, who attends Vale of Catmose College, in Oakham, said: "I love playing cricket and I'm really thankful for all the support I've received from my family, friends and doctors.
"Thankfully, I'm able to play sport. Some people with scoliosis aren't quite so lucky."
Her dad, Mark, who plays for and coaches Barkby United, said Grace was a very active child despite the setback early in her life.
He said: "We would always let her run around at a young age. She really enjoyed swimming, too, and, thankfully, her back never really got worse.
"We had to be careful and constantly watch her back, because Grace's shoulders and hips were out of alignment.
"I'm really grateful the condition was spotted early because she loves playing sport and, thanks to the treatment she's received, she can do that.
"With many people, if scoliosis isn't treated early, they can suffer severely."
Members of the Barkby United cricket team's senior side are embarking on a 92-mile charity bike race – partly in support of the British Scoliosis Research Foundation.
They have raised more than £3,500 so far and hope to have at least £5,000 before they set off next Saturday.
The ride begins at the cricket club grounds and finishes in Hunstanton, on the north Norfolk coast.
John Hollis, who helped organise the charity event, said 10 players would be taking part.
He said: "We're going to use some of the money to pay for an artificial pitch at the club, which we really need.
"The rest will go to charity. We all know Grace and her dad and we all know what a great cause we're cycling for."
Dad Mark said: "We've been training seriously since April.
"It's been a struggle but it's a joy to feel fitter."
As well as becoming a fast bowler, Grace is a keen martial artist.
She is due to take her green belt exams in taekwondo in the next few weeks.

15 September 2008

When a stroke strikes the youngest

By Julie Randle

Jessica Spear wanted to be told she was crazy.

That news would have put to rest her worst fears — that something was wrong with her son.

Instead, those fears were confirmed.

Her son, Brendon, was the victim of a perinatal stroke, a stroke that occurs in the womb or within 30 days of birth.

The stroke left Brendon with mild cerebral palsy, speech difficulties and under-developed back and shoulder muscles on his right side, the result of muscular scoliosis.

“I had never heard of a stroke happening to a child,” said Spear, 36, who conducted admissions and evaluated patients for nursing homes in the mid-1990s. “When I started seeing the symptoms — in hindsight — I looked at him and it looked like he had a stroke.”

Spear had an inkling of what was wrong with her son, but it took 19 months before a doctor finally pinned down a diagnosis.

Spear first noticed something abnormal two weeks after Brendon came home — he never moved his head to the right.

As he grew older, the symptoms accumulated.

She noticed that he sat hunched over in his high chair, he clutched his right hand, his right foot was at a weird angle when he attempted to walk and he used his left hand for everything.

And he said few words. He made noises.

“He said ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ on time and then for months you heard nothing,” she said. “He did noises. Some stroke patients make noises.”

As signs that seemed odd to her appeared, she informed doctors.

One dismissed her claims as something her son would grow out of by age 2 while others reassured her that Brendon was healthy.

But she was right. And she knew it.

Nearly a year and a half after Brendon was born, doctors determined he had suffered a stroke. The diagnosis was confirmed through an MRI.

Along the way to the correct diagnosis, Spear and her son saw eight doctors, including two orthopedists and four neurologists.

The first orthopedist said Brendon was fine. The second orthopedist recognized that something was wrong with Brendon and referred them to a neurologist.

The chain of doctors and the reassurances that Brendon was in good health were not good enough for Spear.

“I needed a reason why he was OK, the foot was the way it was and why he was left-handed,” she said.

Spear and her husband had invited Terry Dollinger, a parent educator for Parents as Teachers, to work with them in their South County home soon after Brendon’s birth.

Dollinger, a veteran of working with parents on child development, saw the same problems Spear had been seeing all along.

Dollinger provided a source of support for Spear, who felt guilty over her inability to figure out Brendon’s problems.

She and her husband, Stephen, 42, a captain with the Webster Groves Police Department, were first-time parents, which added to their anxieties.

Despite her gut instinct that something was wrong, Jessica Spear hoped someone would step forward and tell her she was wrong, that she was imagining her son’s troubles.

Dollinger reassured Spear that she was correct, that Brendon needed help.

“I was her cheerleader,” Dollinger said.

Finally, the walking difficulties and speech signs were too obvious too ignore.

In March 2007, a neurologist conducted an exam. Brendon was asked to reach for toys, grab them and poke them. He was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, which includes many neurological disorders that affect body movement and muscle coordination. The doctor wanted to know why the condition occurred.

“He believed the cause was a brain tumor or stroke,” Jessica Spear said. “We were in a race against time. I felt so angry. I was cheated. This started at nine months and this was 19 months. I should have at least known 10 months ago about this.”

The MRI showed that Brendon had damage on the left side of his brain, which affects motor control on the right side of his body.

Doctors believed the stroke happened during Jessica Spear’s second or third trimester of pregnancy.

So how does a baby suffer from a stroke?

One possible explanation is that a mother’s blood becomes sticky in the body’s effort to prevent excessive blood loss during birth.

This can cause blood clots and, later, strokes in babies, said Dr. Brad Schlaggar, an associate professor of neurology and pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

One baby out of every 5,000 born will have a perinatal stroke, said Schlaggar, director of the pediatric neurology residency training at Washington University School of Medicine. He doesn’t consider this rare, but it can be difficult to detect.

“Perinatal stroke is far more common than most people realize, but the manifestations can be subtle,” he said.

About half of patients with perinatal stroke are diagnosed because they have seizures within the first several days after being born. The other half of patients are diagnosed because there is something different about their development of motor and/or cognitive skills.

“Brendon hit his milestones on time,” Jessica Spear said. “He was a tricky guy.”

This is one explanation for the delay in diagnosis.

“If the developmental issue is subtle, the problem may be minimized and a workup will not be carried out,” Schlaggar said. “This scenario is the most common reason these days that a perinatal stroke will be detected relatively later.”

Today, Brendon attends preschool and receives physical and occupational therapy at his early childhood center in South County.

From time to time Brendon wears a cast on his left arm for two weeks at a time. Last year, the Spears decided to try constraint-induced therapy, which forces the brain to learn to use the other arm and helps Brendon build up strength in his weak arm.

This is his fourth round of therapy. He has sported a cast in December 2007 and in March, May and August of this year.

He also wears a McKee thumb splint on his right hand that forces his thumb out because of the cerebral palsy.

The Spears recently established Brendon’s Smile…Raising Awareness for Childhood Stroke, a non-profit organization designed to raise awareness for perinatal and childhood stroke and to advocate for child survivors of stroke.

The Spears wanted to spread the word about stroke so other families are spared what they went through. The Spear family and their story are featured in the September/October issue of “StrokeSmart,” a magazine published by the National Stroke Association.

“There’s not enough information about childhood stroke, the prognosis and who it affects,” said Stephen Spear, 42. “We’re using Brendon’s story to propel the bigger issue of childhood stroke.”

For more information visit, www.bredonssmile.org.

Want to go?What: Brendon’s Smile — Raising Awareness for Childhood Stroke information rally and walk

When: 9 a.m., Sept. 28

Where: The Atkinson Shelter off Grant Road at Jefferson Barracks, 251 Cy Road

Info: Visit www.brendonssmile.org

Stroke knows no age

Signs of possible stroke:

-- Seizures in infants that are confined to one area of the body

-- Poor feeding in newborns or early hand preference before 10 months

-- Delays in motor development

-- Tightness or restricted movement in legs and arms

-- Language delays

-- Seizures or sudden onset of one-sided paralysis are seen in older children

13 September 2008

Peering Eyes Watching

When I sit quietly, and think over my life, as a rebel, advocate, and activist with a cause, I remember certain residue of the most frustrating aspect of dealing with my own disability. These remains have been the left over hurt and pain that were caused by the “attention of self styled experts” and people who wanted and had to have control at all cost.
Having been brought up to believe in the truth and goodness in man kind, I was won over, persuaded, and convinced by these so called experts, in the disabled community. These experts exercised restrained management to try and run other peoples lives, and have complete control and say so over our destination, despite what I truly believed was right for me, in my heart.
These experts tried on numerous occasions to impose their authority, their supremacy, and their power in many areas of my life. I personally had to struggle and fight back with everything I had, to ward off their arrogance in obtaining my education as well as in employment. Sometimes, I simply was not taken seriously or sincerely by both experts and those I worked with. My word was not regarded or deemed worthy.
For example, I was falsely labeled mentally retarded on three separate occasions. This was designed to force me to except what one particular expert wanted me to limit my life to. He believed himself to know “all” about what he felt I shouldn’t be allowed to do with “my” life. His opinions were designed around a very old fashioned, out-moded, and passé, concept of what we, with hidden learning disabilities, were supposed to theoretically do. We were sentenced to live life in a workshop setting. We were beaten and battered down to believe that, that was all we were able to handle and receive out of life.
What was even more frustrating was that this gentleman could not work himself without having an interpreter by his side. Who was he to tell me what my dreams and goals aught to be, or how I should direct my live. And, how dear he tell me where my interest lie!
So, the very person who should have been the most supportive, helpful, and kind to me, turned out to be the greatest obstacle of all. One situation at a time he impeded, held me back, and obstructed my future academic progress. It was not
only very irritating, infuriating, and exasperating to have to waste time being evaluated and judged severely, but it limited my future work.
This arrogant, haughty, disturbing attitude was shared by others too! Some of then where people I worked with. You would think it would be different. But this was not the case- as I found out this attitude was everywhere! They assumed that simply because they did not have a visible disability they had every right to make fun of me, belittle me, and minimize my contribution to myself, my life, others, and the world.
Some people refused to allow me to work as I chose and saw fit. They did not wish me to be an equal and productive person in society. These professionals found every way possible to discredit my abilities, my talents, and my aptitude of skills. I had to personally find clever and survival oriented techniques to persuade not only the experts, but those clients I worked with to make an effort to follow instructions.
These struggles resulted from the same attitude which doesn’t grasp our full potential and abilities. I think the greatest thing we can do as a community is to be committed to one another, help in any way we can, and have an active directed life-style. We must retain the right to express our own vision to the world in our own creative, original, genuine way. It is also very vital that we as disabled people are supportive of our own community, and all their dreams, wants, and desires.
Because of my situation, I have been thoroughly committed to giving back all of what I never received from these “helpful” counselors. In every jagged, angle of my journey, I have sought to be a voice when there was no voice for the unheard among us. All of us, in our own special way, ought to find it within the depths of our beings, to give unconditionally, unreservedly, and completely to our total cause. It will harm and hamper many if given with half-measures or haphazardly.
It is truly annoying to think of how much time we all must spend getting around a system that does not work. It wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t see stubbornness so many show. The issue is no longer what is best for our own goals, but rather, how to impose the expert’s viewpoint and will upon us. We have the right as children of God, and citizens of a free country, to run our own lives. That must include the right to make mistakes, and learn from them. Our “friendly” experts think they are giving us a better life, but it is too often a comfortable slavery. They do not see with our eyes, and feel with our hearts, nor do they talk the same language as we. Like Sara in “children of a lesser God,” we must retain our will. That may be disconcerting to the normal community, but it is preferable to a life-time spent waiting to be told what to do, or fighting a system that just does not work.

Thoughts on S.A.D.

Yesterday was day when I felt things slowly to change. My eyes opened early morning about 7:30 AM, I did not want to get out of bed as much as I tried. I'd sit up out of bad, look around and shortly after that my head would go crashing down back into the pillows. I'd pull the covers back over my head and try to sleep for a few more minutes, after awhile I pulled myself up and felt the stiffness in my neck and back.

The clouds were grey and gloomy, the winding blowing in short spurts and the sky letting droplets of water hit the earth as it pleased. I was very tired and lethargic,tense and anxious. I know these feelings, they associate with something called Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. for short. It affects millions and millions of people a year. Its very tough to live with, and very often it can be very difficult to confront.

Its very difficult to live and cope with as the seasons change, it is said that S.A.D. is caused by our bodies lack of sun light. So light therapy is one the best treatments to date, along with various medications. I wanted to write about this illness because, its very real and there is still a real stigma behind it and various other forms of depression. As I said a bit ago, it can be very hard to confront and talk about, because sometimes people don't know how to react to such news.

There's a great fear that lingers. Most may think "What are people going to think of me?"

While depression and other forms of mental illnesses are just that, and illness. I believe love and grace is the best medicine possible. With this condition it really takes control of your mood. You become cranky and fits of anger at times, and the smallest acts of love for the moment will not seem to help, and that would be enough for anyone to pack their bags and run the other direction.

But if you have friend or family member who suffers from this illness, you must learn to stay close and yet at a safe distance. What I mean by this is, sometimes with depression one desires to be left alone, doesn't want advice, doesn't want to hear things like: "It'll be okay, just think positive". And while this may very well be said in love, it can add to the agitation.

Often a close silence is best, the silence often says things the voice can't. With that said I want to address the spiritual side of mental illness. A majority of believers see any mental illness as some form of demon possession, I honestly I have yet to see any biblical evidence of such of statement, and in all truth... This is beyond annoying and sometimes can be a smack in the face.

I believe those who follow Yeshua (Jesus) and are afflicted with S.A.D. have said the prayers, lost all hope in Church and want nothing more then to have someone pull them through the gloom of the seasons (fall/winter) and that is exactly what needs to happen. There is hope. I believe God has a extra grace and stillness with those who don't have the strength or energy to move.

And we as humans regardless of world view or spiritual belief should as well. In the words of Matt Kearney: "I can be the wall when you fall down, find me on the rocks when you breakdown." I believe that all our minds need to be transformed and renewed, if they are not, we will never learn what it means to love the oppressed. There is no greater calling in life than to do that.

So, may we learn to sit still.
May we learn to quiet ourselves,
and learn to breath, and understand
that life is not only fragile but beautiful with every passing moment. May we endure the full force of life, in the pain and hope. May we see with new eyes and start to change our perspectives for a better tomorrow, and softer mornings.

Go in peace.

-Brandon Ryan

12 September 2008

Aerobic Exercise For The Wheelchair-bound

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2008) — University of Texas at Austin alumnus, Chris Stanford (MSEE '91), and Electrical & Computer Engineering undergraduates are working on making exercise fun for wheelchair users. For the last year, Stanford has been partnering with engineering seniors to test his idea for a virtual reality treadmill for the disabled.
"Not many people realize," says Stanford who has been confined to a wheelchair since 1988, "the special health risks faced by wheelchair users. Everything is more difficult, including eating right and getting enough exercise. Because of this, the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease is several times the rate of the general population."
Stanford's solution, called TrekEase, approximates an arcade driving game. Users back a manual wheelchair into a frame, engage the flywheel for resistance, and start the driving software.
"When Chris approached me last year about using [TrekEase] as one of our senior design projects," says UT-ECE professor Jon Valvano "I was enthusiastic. It's an interesting engineering challenge. He came in with a mechanical system that had already been vetted for safety. The students added software and sensors that make the experience interactive."
Users can control speed and direction. A new group of students is continuing the project this semester. They plan to enhance the existing design so the system detects tilt making flight simulation possible and to work on the packaging so it will be affordable and easily reproducible.
"There is no way I could've done this by myself. I don't have the skill set," says Stanford." The students are amazing. They step up to every challenge."
Adapted from materials provided by University of Texas at Austin, Electrical & Computer Engineering, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

09 September 2008

Challenge Air Events Give Disabled Individuals Free Flights

Challenge Air Events Give Disabled Individuals Free Flights

Children and adults with disabilities, including Cerebral Palsy, as well as individuals with certain types of cancer, such as mesothelioma, have the opportunity to take flight with the Challenge Air program, which provides free flights for children and adults & their families. Other constraints include that of breathing in which case children would require nebulizers.

The program operates in about 16 different U.S. cities, and an event costs about $13,000. Generally, local businesses sponsor the event. Challenge Air has been providing flights for the last 16 years and recruits volunteer pilots to give plane rides.

Children and adults with Cerebral Palsy experience various degrees of learning disabilities and may be at a heightened risk of developing certain health problems, including heart defects and ear infections.

None of that matters, however, when a disabled child is up in the air at a Challenge Air event.

Founder Rick Amber believed that “every disabled person should see the world from a different view…out of their wheelchairs and crutches and from the sky.” Amber, who lost the use of his legs while serving in the United States Navy, was passionate about providing disabled individuals with new and unforgettable life experiences. Amber passed away in 1997, but his wish is carried on by the staff at Challenge Air.

To contact Challenge Air, please visit www.challengeair.com.

07 September 2008

Tees hero Kenny has sights on more gold

Sep 5 2008 by Sarah Judd, Evening Gazette

THE Beijing Paralympics kick-off tomorrow. In the last of our series looking at the lives of Teesside’s three Paralympians, Sarah Judd meets an athlete who has overcome cerebral palsy and bereavement to become one of the best in the land.

SOUTH BANK-BORN javelin ace Kenny Churchill has broken the world record five times.

With a staggering complement of 20 medals - including 14 golds - Kenny is among the best of British athletes.

But at 33, he will not rest until he has given gold medal-worthy performances in Beijing next Tuesday, before hopefully ending his career with a bang in London 2012.

Speaking of his Beijing chances, his dad, Kenneth, 68, said: “He’s going out to win it. If he doesn’t win it, it won’t be for the want of trying.”

His dad also reveals Kenny will end his career with what he hopes will be the performance of his life on home turf.

“Kenny has already said that if he can get through to London 2012, that will be his last,” he said. “He’s a big occasion athlete and thrives on a good atmosphere.”

Like many Paralympic athletes, Kenny’s career in sport began with physiotherapy to help him cope with his disability.

Kenneth said: “Kenny suffers from cerebral palsy which means the right hand side of his body doesn’t receive signals from the brain as quickly as the left and he has speech problems. He didn’t walk until he was about four or five and then he had his leg operated on and started to make progress.”

Following the operation, Kenny had ongoing physiotherapy while his dad taught him how to swim.

“He achieved some swimming medals and that developed his interest,” said Kenneth.

“Then, when he was about 10, we were at a sports event in Walker, Newcastle and a group of trainers from around the North-east were there. One of them gave Kenny a ball filled with sand and told him to throw it down the gym as far as he could.

“It hit the wall about half way up on the other side and the trainer, who was from Cumbria, just said, ‘I thought so.’

“Ever since then he’s been a thrower and has competed in the discus, shotput and javelin, but now specialises in javelin.”

Shortly after the breakthrough, Kenny joined Cleveland Harriers and trained at Clairville Stadium, Middlesbrough.

While he was a pupil at Ormesby School, his teacher Ian Smith also supported his development in athletics. Kenny went on to become a member of Durham Harriers and in 1992 won his first medal - a bronze in javelin - at the Barcelona Paralympics.

“I went to Barcelona with him and his mum, Betty,” said Kenneth.

It was an important achievement for Kenny, as it was the only medal his mum would see him win in a major competition before her death in 1994.

Kenny said: “My mum got ill in 1992 and she was in Barcelona watching me and so proud of me because I won Bronze.

“Then in 1994 she died before I went to my first world championships. I was very upset but I said at her gravestone that I would win gold in Berlin at the worlds. I couldn’t believe it when I did.”

At those World Championships, Kenny didn’t just win gold. For the first time, he broke the world record in javelin, and also brought home a gold medal in the discus.

His dad said: “Betty had always been fiercely proud of him.

“When he went to Berlin and broke the world record for the first time we were still at sixes and sevens after she had died.

“I had told him he didn’t have to go but Kenny said his mother wanted him to do it.”

From that point, Kenny’s career went from strength to strength and as his father describes it, he “won everything that was put in front of him.”

In the Paralympic Games in Atlanta 1996, Kenny set another new world record when he took a second gold in javelin and won bronze in the shot put. He went on to smash the world record for javelin three more times.

Kenneth recalls frightening the life out of patrons at his local, the Stapleton Arms in Eston, when Kenny phoned home from Berlin to say he had broken the world record for the first time.

“Kenny phoned the pub to let me know how he’d got on and said, ‘Dad, I’ve just smashed the world record.’ I gave such a yell and frightened the life out of the pub!”

Kenneth said the Stapleton Arms was a great support early in Kenny’s athletics career. They gave him his first job and raised £600 to help fund his trip to Atlanta. “His job at the pub gave him confidence and he also went on to work at Yates Wine Lodge in Middlesbrough,” said Kenneth.

Kenny is now a full-time athlete and is also a hands-on dad-of-three. He lives in Loughborough with his partner, Claire Williams, 21 and their 10-month-old daughter Gracie, and also has two children, Ewan, eight and Amber, six, from a previous relationship.

The javelin ace met Claire, 21, a discus thrower, from Carmarthen, Wales, when they were both training for Athens at Loughborough University training centre.

And Claire describes the fun-loving sports star as a champion dad. “He’s just a very fun-loving, really friendly person,” she said.

“He’s just a nice character to be around and he doesn’t let anything get to him.”

Kenny is also keen to keep in regular contact with his dad, a retired British Steel worker, who has dedicated much of his life to his career. “He worked so hard for me so I could go so far in my life,” Kenny said.

Kenny also credits his coach Paul Young, who supported him from 1992 to 2004 and current coach Mark Edwards with helping him to achieve success.

Kenny, who threw 48.09m to set a world record in Athens in 2004, said: “I am looking forward to Beijing because I’m an underdog for the first time since 2006. There’s a Chinese athlete who can throw 51 metres. But I do believe that if I do well on the day I can win gold.”

Emmerdale are thrilled to led support to Deaf Parenting UK

Emmerdale, a popular ITV British Soap have joined Deaf Parenting UK and led their support of our work.

Sabina Iqbal, Chair/Founder of Deaf Parenting UK welcomed the news: "Deaf Parenting UK is delighted to have Emmerdale's support and recognition of our work and the needs of Deaf Parents in UK. We continue to work hard on limited budget and vastly on voluntary basis, to raise the profile of Deaf Parenting UK to the mainstream as well as championing the needs and rights of Deaf Parents in accessing to mainstream services without barriers."

Emmerdale' Spokesperson recognised the importance of Deaf Parenting UK, saying: "If you are a parent yourselves, it is challenging being a parent but for Deaf parents, it is even more challenging as information and services are not accessible for Deaf parents who use sign language as first/ main language.

"Little things like access to info during pregnancy, birth, the choices of labour/birth, planning the baby/child's first few years, their education ? choosing which school are often taken for granted where hearing parents can find out information from other parents, chatting to neighbours/ local network, local radio/ newspaper, TV as such but for Deaf parents, they miss out so many information and were often the last to know.

"Deaf Parenting UK is working hard to reach out to Deaf parents, enabling them to have confidence in being parents as well as to raise awareness of Deaf parenting issues among Deaf parents and professionals who work with them. Deaf Parenting UK also campaign for better access to services for Deaf parents in all aspect of parenting in the same way as other parents.

"For those reasons, all cast from Emmerdale Production Team are thrilled in support of Deaf Parenting UK and wish to highlight that Deaf parents should have the same opportunities in life as any other parents in accessing to information and services.

"We are in favour of the unique work that Deaf Parenting UK do and would urge everyone else to support Deaf Parenting UK by any means necessary."

To learn more, please visit Deaf Parenting UK: www.deafparent.org.uk

BBC See Hear: Deaf parents experiences wanted!

Deaf Parenting UK and BBC See Hear are working together to make a programme on Deaf Parents and their experiences to highlight the issues they faces in accessing to services.

Sabina Iqbal, Chair/Founder of Deaf Parenting UK explained: "As our aim is about enabling, empowering and supporting Deaf parents, we need your experiences as Deaf Parents accessing to mainstream services across maternity care, accessing to health, children's education and many more etc. We encourage Deaf Parents to share their experiences, both negative and positive so we can put forward stories and highlight the issues faces by Deaf Parents."

Angela Spielsinger, researcher for BBC See Hear added: "We are keen to hear your experiences on the attitudes of medical professionals towards deaf parents who have hearing and Deaf child/ren. As Deaf adults have a 90% chance of having hearing children and what support they actually received from the professional."

"I would be grateful if you as a Deaf parents who have faced these issues and please feel free to contact me if you are interested."

Please submit your experience urgently to angela.spielsinger@bbc.co.uk or info@deafparent.org.uk.

To learn more, please visit Deaf Parenting UK: www.deafparent.org.uk or email info@deafparent.org.uk

Disabled people won't be left out in the cold

Disabled people will have the opportunity to overcome the current hike in energy prices and help them save money on their gas and electricity bills thanks to a new partnership between charity Scope and Which?, the UK's leading consumer organisation.

Disability charity Scope has partnered with Which's 'Switch with Which?' service which allows customers to identify the most cost-effective option and facilitate consumers switching between energy suppliers.

This is particularly important for disabled people who are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people. A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that three out of 10 disabled adults of working age are living in poverty.

Under the terms of the partnership, for every switch made through Scope's 'Switch with Which?' service, £10 will also be donated to Scope. On average, customers who used the service saved £233 in a year.

The money raised will help Scope work with disabled people to achieve equality through its Time to Get Equal campaign and a range of innovative services which enable disabled people to have choice and control over their lives.

Jane Aldous, Head of Scope Partnerships, said: "In this current economic climate, we're all thinking about how we can save money and the 'Switch with Which?' service will help consumers do just that. Scope is very proud to be partnering with Which?, who are not only making it easier for thousands of people to save money on their energy bills, but also helping us raise vital funds to work with disabled people to achieve equality."

Alison Morrison, Head of Non-Subscription Marketing, Which? adds: "We're delighted to be building this partnership with Scope. We hope that it will enable us reach out to many more disabled people and help them get a better deal on their energy bills. At Which? we aim to make individuals as powerful as the organisations they deal with in their everyday lives. We've done our best to make switching as simple as possible - anyone with access to a telephone can call us for free, or people can go online at our website."

Switching suppliers is simple, free and fast. Customers simply need to call 0800 533 031 quoting Scope with a copy of a recent energy bill, or visit www.switchwithwhich.co.uk/scope

06 September 2008

In the gym!!!!

What a great week in the gym this week, you may remember that I have started to use some of the machines last week well this week I progressed one step further and was allowed to try them with some weights behind them. I had to keep stopping as it was making my back a little sore, but once I rested enough in between each set the soreness went quickly and I was surprised how well I had done to even move them and my trunk rotation is improving a lot as well. Although I can’t twist using my mid trunk I can now actually rotate just above where I am fused so therefore allowing new movement that I have not experienced before. It is an odd feeling and I am sure I will get my head around it soon. I then went over to one of the therapy beds to do some one on one work with my physio, we worked on some exercises with the wobble cushion and a walking stick, this was so we could work on my dynamic control, although my core control is good my dynamic control needs some work doing to help me understand better all the new movements my body is undergoing and to make them stronger and more stable. I couldn’t believe how much I was able to stay upright on the cushion when doing the exercises with the stick, normally I would of slid to one side during the first one but I balanced quite well, during the exercises it became apparent that my left side needs a bit of work as its a bit weak in comparison to my right side which is my dominant side. I explained to her that I have just bought a Wii and she was really pleased and said it was one of the best things to come out on the market and thinks I will do very well with it, I have to say since I started with it I have really enjoyed it its exercise with the fun element fun because you don’t realise you are exercising.

Good Luck Lee!!!!

Paralympic star has sights set on fencing success in Beijing

LEE Fawcett, flies out to Beijing today to compete in the wheelchair fencing event at the Paralympic Games. In the second of a three-part series on Teesside’s Paralympic athletes, Sarah Judd discovers that fencing was not the Middlesbrough dad’s first love.

PARALYMPIC fencer Lee Fawcett has never let disability get in the way of living life to the full.

At 32, the former Brackenhoe School pupil is married with three children and has enjoyed a varied and successful sporting career.

In little more than 12 years, Lee has coached a successful young football team, been part of a multi-medal-winning wheelchair basketball team and made a switch to the new discipline of fencing.

Football-mad Lee had his eyes opened to a world of alternative sporting opportunities after an operation left him paralysed in 1992. The surgery was meant to correct a condition called scoliosis or curvature of the spine, which Lee had suffered since birth.

“The operation was to try to prevent it getting worse while I went through my growth spurt,” explained Lee.

“But during the operation, the spine swelled up and left me paralysed due to a trapped nerve. I was 15 years old and still at school. It was just a shock.”

Lee was in the old Middlesbrough General Hospital for a month, surrounded by family, including mum Anne and school friends, who helped him come to terms with the diagnosis.

“After that, they sent me to Hexham for rehabilitation,” said Lee.

“It was hard to leave my family but when I look back, it was the best thing to help me adjust to life in a wheelchair.”

Lee had always loved football and as he adapted to being back at school, it was hard to think he would never play the game again. But after facing up to life in a wheelchair, Lee found a world of sporting opportunity was just around the corner.

“I got introduced to Ian Smith from Ormesby School who showed me lots of different sports like wheelchair racing and basketball and I started training at Southlands Centre and Clairville Stadium,” said Lee. “I used to love football and thought there was nothing else. So the first thing I wanted to do was coach a team because I couldn’t play myself.”

Lee started the Grove Hill Under-12s and in five years the team won two league cups and were runners-up in the league twice. While Lee was coaching he also began playing for wheelchair basketball team Teesside Lions, based at the Southlands Centre.

There, he met friend Terry Bywater, 25. They both played for the GB Junior team and made it into Great Britain’s Paralympic team for Sydney 2000.

Lee said: “I got in as a reserve and went out to the games, although I didn’t get the chance to compete.”

Lee then suffered a health setback just before the 2004 Paralympics in Athens when he had a kidney removed.

“I suffered from constant infections and it took me a good year to get back to the level I was at just after Sydney.”

Sadly, Lee didn’t make the squad for Athens and instead trained with the English Institute of Sport in Durham.

There, he met fencing coach Laslo Jacob who tried to persuade Lee to take up the sport.

“He kept on at me for a few weeks and out of politeness I said I’d give it a try.”

Lee eventually made the decision to switch to fencing and it was a decision that paid off as, within four months, he made the Great Britain squad.

Lee now has two fencing medals to his name. The first a bronze from the Team Sabre event at the 2005 European Championships in Spain and a bronze at the World Cup in Italy in 2006 in the Individual Sabre.

And Lee is going to Beijing in a confident frame of mind.

“I think I’ve proved in this last year that, on my day, I can beat anyone in that field,” he said.

Despite his obvious drive and ambition, it is clear Lee loves nothing more than being a dad and his main priority is his family and Hemlington home.

Lee met his wife Linda when they were both students at Middlesbrough College and got chatting in the lunch hall.

“She caught my eye so I’d go and sit there with her more often,” said Lee.

When they met, Lee was in his fourth year at the college studying business and finance and Linda had just started her course in health and social care.

Linda said: “He had charm and seemed very caring with a nice personality.”

The couple were soon an item and about a year later, their first son, Liam, now 10, was born.

Lee and Linda now have another boy, four-year-old Jamie and a seven- month-old baby girl called Millie.

Lee said: “It is difficult because you are two people. You’re an athlete and then you’re the family guy. Sometimes finding the balance is hard, especially when you’re out training.”

For the moment the family are focused on watching Lee in Beijing.

Linda said: “When he went to Sydney, we were trying to see if we could see him on the sidelines.

“But with his fencing, it’s all about him and we’ll get to see him compete.”

Lee’s mum, 50, and his little sister Carly Williams, 21, both from Grove Hill, will also be rooting for him.

Lee is proud to represent Teesside as one of three Paralympic athletes from the area.

“I just hope we can bring a few medals back,” he said.

Lee Fawcett is competing in the Wheelchair Fencing event at the Beijing Paralympic Games on September 14.

04 September 2008

My first chance and many more

Hello all.

Yesterday was my first chance to grab a mic and share my life with willing ears. I never got nervous until the car ride. My Dad and I discussed how my approach to this was going to be. I hadn't written any notes or bullet points on anything, because for some reason it just doesn't sit well with with.

My Dad warned me not to tell the crowd my entire life story, to leave room for them to buy the book after if they wanted too. When we got there, a fire began to burn in my stomach, maybe it was due to the fact that I was hungry or everything that I've been longing and hoping for was about to become real.

As I sat in the car, I examined the amount of cars and people walking in and out. Which there were many. My Dad helped me into my wheel chair an we then went into the conference hall. It was fairly big, and some people were dressed to the nines, and me in a pin stripe shirt and jeans and black shoes.

I wanted to rock the man in black look, but NE is so gosh darn hot, and I really didn't want to die early. Anyhow, when we were inside we were met by my new friend Brian. He is a very cool guy. He seated us at a table at the very front of the room.

Lunch was being served, and while we ate the good food. Brian and I talked about writing. He to is a fellow writer. He is working on his first book and I am honored to help him get his first book published.

While others were still eating, Brian and I talked about life and faith and hope. He to was a believer in Jesus. So that calmed my nerves a bit, in between the small talk. People that would chime in a say: "Hey Brian, what's the program for today?"

Brian would say: "Well we have an author here (Brandon Ryan) who wrote a book on his life". The responses would be "wow" or even a nod of approval. Before I new it, it was time to take my position in front of the podium and share myself with the sixty plus crowd.

Brian, read from a brief Biography that I sent to him as an introduction. The room was so silent, as though they were waiting for some famous musician to strike the first not on a piano, as my Dad wheeled me up there. I knew in my heart that there was no turning back.

I did what I always do. Bring it from the heart and nothing less. I started to talk about my life, what my condition was and the challenge it has made my life. I talked about the pain I've gone through, the scars on my body and the operations they were from.

I then went on to talk about life for others and how painful it can be. Babies who never get a chance to be brought into this world, people who cut, people who suffer from depression and not wanting to get out of bed every morning.

People watched and listened as though nothing else mattered, not getting back to their jobs or anything. Every one was in the moment. I openly talked about suicide and how thoughts of it were sometimes worse than actually going through with it. I even talked about how important it was to start living life.

That it wasn't about the money being made in life, we can't take anything with us when we die. Except how we lived are lives. I told the everyone how important it was to start living life today, for something more. And that if they knew of someone who was hurting or suffering, to please go and try and help them any way they could.

I ended my talk with a quote from Mother Teresa: "We are not called to do great things, only small things with great love."

Then it was time for a small question and answer session. People asked about my life and if I was on any medication. To which I replied yes, but very little, only really an anti depressant to help combat my own fight with an illness. Other questions were somewhat business related, which I didn't mind.

But the past was still yet to come. Several people approached me about how they could buy the book. I had brought a huge box full, as others made their way to my Dad to handle the money side of things. I was approached by a few people that worked in the Millard school district, they told me up front that they wanted to book me to come speak at their schools.

As some of you may or may not know, the Omaha and Millard area have been on the end of school shootings, threats and other life altering events. This clicked in my mind and I said yes to them right away.

Others came to me shook my hand and asked me to sign their books. Which I did with delight. I looked everyone in the eyes and asked them how they were doing in life. People told me that I had such a great voice and that they would help me get more events like this. Which brought me great humility and joy.

While some were talking to my Dad, I spoke with a lady (Who's name I forgot) but we had the most honest conversation in three to four minutes. She told me that she had a friend who's son committed suicide. I told her how sorry I was to hear that, and that it is horrible. She asked me if I had a business card, but I didn't because they were all gone, as always.

But she wanted her friend to contact me, because he runs and organization that deals with coping with the loss of a loved one from Suicide. So without thinking I wrote down my number to give to him. And I hope and pray he calls.

While I was still signing books and shaking hands. My Dad talked to tall man named Mike. I had no clue, what he did at all. So when my Dad and I got back into the car to drive home, he told me that Mike worked for the Millard Board Of Education. Which took me be surprise.

My Dad told how Mike told him that he was very serious about booking me for a large assemble. Which made me smile from ear to ear. I was ready to do it right then and there. Not because if being center stage or having attention, but because of the chance to be a light in the darkness.

This all means so much to me. I know this is only the start of greater things. And I cannot find the words to thank God for granting me the chance to talk about the hope that he gives everyday.

And I thank you so much for all of you who have supported me from the start, without you I wouldn't be this far. But I need all of you to get excited and on fire with me, please. Please tell your churches or venues about my story. Read it if you have not already.

I believe that lives are being changed and great things are in store for our world. So lets believe in recovery and redemption. Because its either we choose one or the other. we either choose to live or we perish. Lets choose to live.

With love,

-Brandon the writer.

I can't help it, I am going to write.

My friend paul sent me this video he found. I'm going to post it here.

Just listen to the song mostly, I know it will make a home in your heart.

there is a video that goes with this, if it does not show up. please visit my myspace to watch it: www.myspace.com/yeshuakid

This video has provoked my soul in the deepest way possible, as if some one tore up the roots that have been my life. and made them new, planted new seeds so they can grow and produce life.

The quote in the song sings: "You have redeemed my soul from death".

For some reason it meant so much to me. Well, I know why. I've been struggling the past few days. Whenever days like this come along, I also start to compare my life and self to others.

I have been feeding myself a lie. I've been telling myself, that if could just get it together. not struggle with depression, or sadness or suicide (thought wise) than my life would be great. and I could understand life and love better.

I've come to realize just how much B.S. that is. And I heard someone once say that we never learn anything when life goes our way. What a profound statement, I mean its a pile driver to the human experience wether you like it or not.

In my life, I have found that Christ is most present. when my life is at its darkest, and when I'm the most weakest. And thats not to say that the presence of Gods love does not come in the bright moments.

Its more so that when we are feeling the weak, dirty, filthy and thrown to the side. Thats when we realize the true meaning of being redeemed.

A verse I've been saying over in my mind is Jeremiah 31:3:

the LORD appeared to him [a] from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you."

Sometimes... On the days when life seems to pile up, and my soul is downcast. I sometimes think the only way out is the grave. I know this is NOT true, but I would be lying to myself and all of you if I said that suicide didn't poke its head up every so often.

But I want to draw you back to that line:

"And you have redeemed my soul from death".

Let me say again.. Suicide is never an option.

Life can get better. We don't have to live this way.

when you are aware of the depth and how vast the love of Christ is for you. your life will never be the same. i know it. I'm working on it, and I'm still learning to talk about it, but often don't because no offense to those who care... but I don't need a sermon, I just need you to listen and try and have empathy.

When we re-play that line, it becomes a tape playing in our minds. things change very slowly... very slowly.. but when it is said enough. you start to believe. and we can then look at our grave. close our eyes and walk away.

Because death, is not our master. Death and all its friends can take our mortal lives. but it cannot take our souls. this is the life i dream of life, the life i want. i want that life for you too.


Please open your eyes.

So its early morning and I'm still really tired. I've been sick the past few days, I am trying to sit up more so my lungs to go flying out of my chest from coughing so hard. The sun is starting to sparkle and it just felt right to write out some thoughts as best I can. If I tend to skip around please bare with me.


I've really have been wondering about the condition of our world, more so on a level of awareness as to what is happening around us. Do we even realize how good we have it? I don't ever want to not show regard for someone's pain. But please hear me out.

We all have are own pain and daily struggle to fight against, but in the same breath we also have a roof over our heads, a clean bed to sleep in, (I hope) the ability to eat whenever we please, a hot shower whenever desired and the list could go on and on.

So why then when life kicks us in the teeth, we feel like the entire earth is falling down around us? Seriously, think about this with me. Every single person is guilty of this, and that is said in love and with honesty.

I was watching this movie series called "Generation Kill" last night, and its based off the war we are in at this moment. I watched with intent, my eyes and spirt were searching for any hint of truth and mercy it could lock onto.

There was one part in the episode where a family was dragging their wounded son, in a blanket. They dragged him to where the troops were resting and re-grouping as a team. When one soldier saw the family, five of them rushed to see what was going on.

The little boys mom was just a mess, she was just sobbing and it sounded as if she was praying. The boy had be hit three times in the stomach, if something was not done as soon as possible he was going to die. And that family would also loose a son.

So the medic did all he could to comfort and make sure the boys vital signs were stable. While the other troops tried to radio for evacuation be Helicopter, they could not get through to their commander.

This boy, this human being was struck by a Marine who was following orders from his commander also. The Marine was there with the medic, he confessed to what he had to done and pleaded to offer and help he could. The rest of the troops were angry, every moment was so important for this kids life.

So they set out with the boy on a stretcher and the family trailing behind, they carried the boy to their commanders tent who was not answering his head set. They set the boy down and the family kneeled beside him and held his bloody hands and wept and wailed.

The commander finally came out and the first words that came out of his mouth were, "What the hell is this?" the medic who tended to the boys needs said slowly: "we brought this boy here so he could die."

Their commander was silent, then he pulled the troops over to the side. He began to tell the platoon that helicopter evacuation was very dangerous and two were just shot down the night before. He said the the second option was to send a truck to drive the boy to the nearest hospital.

The catch was that that truck would drive through one of the most dangerous war zones to be under attack. This meant that the boy might not even make it. So here is this fragile situation where humanity and flesh and blood, making a very bold statement.

I could sense that the heart of these soldiers were going out to this family, they wanted to offer this young boy every chance at life they could. Even if it meant their own death. It dawn on that once again life is stronger than death.

Here in this blood bathed battle ground, for a few minutes it is not us versus them. It is about human being meets human being. Sometimes when we are faced with our own war we become so aware of ourselves that we fail to keep are hearts softened to the conditions of another's life, needs and the battle they face.

Let us not loose ourselves in ourselves. Please lets open our eyes to our entire world and all people, not just our lives and what we are comfortable with. I know that may seem a bit harsh and it very well may be, but please open up your eyes and see that this word needs you.

The love of God does not require us to do huge things. It begs of us to do small things with great love. Let us also learn to be ourselves and not try and copy others, we were made originals and not carbon copies of another person.

I truly believe that our world can change. But you know what the truth is? It probably won't make CNN, the violence will be the main attraction. But the little things that people won't. I'm sorry to say that but its true.

As Shane Claiborne put it we are going to grow smaller and smaller until we change the world. And I hope that disturbs you, because it does me. This means that are perspectives must change inwardly.

The way we view recognition must change, this is something that I fight against because it feels good to be noticed, it feels good to have people say nice things about us. But is there really any good in it?

We don't need bigger buildings, large followings or mass exposure. Sure there is good in all of that, but what we really need is to always learn to keep are hearts in the right place and always let are minds be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

This is how I believe Jesus would want it to be, and I honestly believe that he doesn't care about how big your thing gets. What I believe he cares the most about, is wether or not we are letting his love and mercy be at work in our lives and are that we are doing all we can to show his mercy in small doses to this world.

We are all broken and sick, if you didn't know. Some may have it worse than others. But we are alive and are only just starting to make a a flame arise from the darkness. This will create a flame that will we be very hard to put out as long as we are adding fuel to the fire.

Brandon-The Writer

There is Hope!!

This a rough draft of the teaching all be giving friday. Its not finished a hundred percent yet. But I just wanted to give you something to reflect on.


(My Story)

What has brought you here?

What are the dreams that are placed in your heart? Do you believe that they are possible to reach?

Are you happy with the life your living?

Do you know how much you are worth? How much you are loved? How much hope there is for your life?

I truly believe that one person could live more of his or her life with only hours remaining, knowing that they have poured themselves out. Given all their passion and energy to the things they love and care about. Then one who stays captive to fear and failure.

"I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself."
-David Herbert Lawrence

God loves you and does not want you living with guilt a minute longer.

Romans 8:1says that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Replace the word condemnation with words, guilt or shame.

You are already a child of God. We are his Sons and Daughters. We are his beloved.

The question is now, are our hearts and minds aware of it?

This world is a very tough place to live in, and for a vast majority of us life is beyond difficult. Its hard to wake up everyday and believe that things can be different. Our greatest enemy is not those who are against us. But rather ourselves, because we can't let ourselves off the hook.

Would you still believe that there is hope, even if things don't go the way we want?

2 Corinthians:

16-20Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.

Brandon The Writer


A very profound truth has clicked me this morning. I woke up this morning and stuck in my headphones to my head phones to my Ipod, and listened to a teaching by Matthew Creek, he is a very wise man and is an ex doctor. He spoke about time, and how it seems to humanity how we have no time.

Now, think about this with me for a few minutes. How often does this excuse fall from our lips? Very often I believe. We are all guilty of this. It is estimated that in the United States alone there're 30 billion clocks. Clocks in our computers, TV's, Dish Washers, Microwaves, Stereos and countless other item.

We even where watches on our wrists, that conveniently tells us what time it is. I am starting to believe that most of creation, meaning us. Is being killed by time. What I mean is, for those of us who are single, and with every birthday that passes.We start tending to believe that we are running out of time to finds someone to spend the rest of our lives with.

Then there're those of us who are trying to figure out all the mysterious way of the world, before we go six feet under. What I mean by that, we are always searching for answers to why certain things happen in our lives. And even more so to the other countries around us.

As if will never be okay with our lives, with our maker. Until we get some answers. What if you find out that there is no answer to certain things in life.

Could you still believe life can be enjoyed?

Could you even go on living?

Could you somehow, some way be find a way to let go of the need for control?

And if you, never found an answer to a haunting question in your life... Would you still believe in hope?

Better yet. What would you do with the time that you do have?

Its as though we are in this race against the clock, and its killing us. It really is. How many conversations are cut short because you had to be somewhere else? Some of us might have the desire to help contribute to the redemption of our world.

Which is great, it really is. But let me ask another question. What are you doing with the time that you have in order to do that? Maybe you have these talents locked away inside of you, that have been there for years. But you are afraid of really stepping out and using them, you have time to start using them.

Which now brings up the phrase: "You don't know what tomorrow may bring." Very true, tomorrow could be the time when I walk to my grave (I sure hope not) but even if we had one year or even one hundred or maybe even one more day you still have the time to do something so amazing.

There is so much freedom is this, and I hope and pray that you see it. There is so many layers to this, and it goes so deep. Even for me this becomes so personal. Which makes me want to draw back to the phrase that we reflected on earlier:

"I don't have time".

I was talking to my best friend Garret yesterday, and before we hung up the phone. He said something that burned deep within my soul. He said: "I don't want to be that kind of person, so I always try and answer my phone". Now I know to you this may sound so small. But for me this was so rich in love and grace, because a majority of the time I get a voice mail.

To always "make time" to answer your phone, for a friend who feels like their and their wits end in life. And so you spend ex amount of hours on the phone with them because you really do care for their well being. I want to be the kind of person who does not hide behind a vocation that sucks up my "time".

I want to live a life that spends my time well, and my vocation becomes about investing time in people and being a light in a dark place. This is time well spent. I'm not saying that we can't have fun with life, thats not what I'm saying at all.

In fact if we learn to take deep breathes every now and then, and not let time consume us. And let OURSELVES consume time. Life will be fun, life with be beautiful and more poetic and rich. And it will be on earth as it is in Heaven.

So may we learn to stop.
May we open our eyes.
May we learn to communicate better.
May we close our eyes to sleep, and wake refreshed.
Let us consume our hands with the work of redemption,
and may everything we touched be filled with ever lasting grace.

Be still and learn today.

-Brandon The Writer.

The Emotional Struggle continued.......

This is an excerpt of the book called The Emotional Struggle". by Brandon Ryan.
Copyright material through Author House publishing. 2007-2008

Throughout my childhood, I endured a great amount of physical pain. My very first operation was a rhizotomy. The purpose of that operation was to improve my posture, allowing me to sit up straight and to relieve the tightness in my leg muscles, improving plasticity. For this procedure, a surgeon makes an incision approximately six inches long over the lower area of the spinal chord. Next the nerves in the chord that causes the muscles to tighten are found and cut.

Arriving at Children’s Hospital early in the morning, I really had no idea what I was in for except a lot of pain. The hospital was cold and silent, so silent that if at any time a pin dropped to the floor, the noise could have woken the entire hospital.

From the entryway my family and I went into a giant elevator that would take us to the pre-operating room. When we arrived at our destination, we opened the brown wooden door to a world of bright colors, toys, TV, and a very, very comfortable waterbed. I remember being let down from my wheelchair, playing with the toys for a while, then going over to the nice comfortable waterbed and lying down. It was like home, but not exactly home. It was still home-like, if you know what I mean. I recall a nurse calling for me, “Brandon Ryan.” Keep in mind that I was still extremely young (six or seven years old), so I really had to go with the flow of things.

My dad picked me up and put me back into my larger-than-life wheelchair, and then we were off, following the nurse into a room that wasn’t as colorful as the room we had been in before. I remember the nurse saying to me, “I’m going to prick your finger, is that ok?” I remember nodding my head, trying not to show the fact that my heart was in my stomach.

Next, I sensed rubbing alcohol living up to its name, as the nurse applied it to my finger. I glanced at the needle the nurse had with her. As my eyes fixed onto it she said, “Oh don’t worry, it’s not a big needle. It’s just a small one,” as if that offered me any comfort.

The next thing I knew, my mom was covering my eyes saying, “Don’t look!” My entire body quivered because I knew that the “small needle” was getting closer to my finger. Then the nurse said, “OK; on the count of three. Ready?” I shook my head forcefully. The nurse counted aloud, “One, Two, Three.” Poke!

As the needle jabbed my skin, my body convulsed from the feeling. A few moments later my mom removed her hands from my eyes. The nurse used a small cotton ball to stop the bleeding and placed a bandage on my finger.

I went back to the bright-colored playroom to sit with my family, waiting for the time when I would have to be strong. I felt like I had to become a man faster than any boy. Before I knew it, my doctor’s assistant came in to get me. While his exact words do not come to mind, I understood that the time had arrived.

My family accompanied me to a different room with a single hospital bed and dim ambient lighting. The same nurse who had poked my finger (with the “small” needle) instructed me to get up on the bed. She gave me an ugly white hospital gown (I kid you not; it was ugly. Not that it matters, honestly). My mom helped me put the gown on.

Then the nurse came back, telling me to take some medicine that would “help me relax.” I don’t remember exactly how the medicine tasted, but I’m sure it was gross. I lay down a bit, with only the operation on my mind, not really knowing how much pain waited to test my endurance. All the pondering must have swept the remaining time away, because before I knew it, the time had finally come.

The nurse entered the room once again. This time she raised the sidebars on the hospital bed, almost trapping me inside. My feet were wrapped in blankets. I was wheeled down a series of hallways. And during those moments, what sticks out in my mind most is lying in that hospital bed, wailing, crying loudly as I waited outside of the operating room (OR).

Everyone was waiting for the surgeons, Dr. Hellbush and his team, to finish the preparations. For some reason—maybe it was the medicine—all that I remember is someone saying, “Brandon, calm down. Everything will be okay.” Nonetheless, I cried. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. When the operating room was ready I was wheeled in, and immediately I asked a nurse standing next to me, “Where is my doctor?” “He’ll be here soon,” she reassured. A few short minutes later, I heard a voice say, “Hi Brandon.” As I slowly rolled my head to the left, I realized that it was Dr. Esposito. I must admit, at ten years old, hearing a calming voice like his really did slow my anxious racing heart. Another nurse stood over me, holding an oxygen mask. As she placed the mask over my nose and mouth, she explained, “This will help you go to sleep.” Next, she instructed, “Count back from a hundred.” And as I did what she directed me to, I was out cold!

The operation lasted about eight hours. Of course, I was asleep for the entire duration. However, I awoke to a nurse saying, “Brandon, wake up. Brandon, can you hear me?” Her questions were rather annoying because my throat had dried to the extent that I could barely speak, let alone reply intelligently. After not eating anything for twenty-four hours, the feeling wasn’t very pleasant. Upon fully awakening, I remember being moved to ICU (The Intensive Care Unit). Once in the room, I looked to my right to see a newborn smile at me.

My dad sat next to my bed, as I lay there motionless, afraid to move. Even the slightest gesture roused my nervous system to that deep six-inch cut on my back. I don’t remember much about being in the ICU except for being tired, hungry, and eager to move to my own room where I could possibly get some rest. My dad told me that I should consider taking a nap, and only a few moments later my eye lids closed for what seemed to be several hours but was really only about five minutes. Upon waking up my dad mentioned something about eating a steak. I must say, that did sound delightful.

I knew that my hopes for my own room were fulfilled when we went back into the enormous elevator. Arriving on the correct floor, we were led down several hallways with grotesque green carpet, down another straight hallway, ending with an extremely large door, all to get to my room. As we entered, I observed how the room was wide open. It was furnished with a small TV attached near the summit of two walls, in the front corner of the room.

As I lay there, my mom opened the curtains. The sun broke through as if it had been held captive by darkness, and my eyes made their adjustments. I glanced out the window, and my gaze fixed on the most amazing store in a young kid’s life, Toys R’ US. Yes, that’s right. That was my favorite store in the whole wide world, and nothing could compare. There in that room more time elapsed (I’m not sure exactly how long). I waited, again not knowing why. Little did I know, I was waiting to encounter a physical sensation I would never forget.

The hospital bed was elevated so that I was sat up slightly. Sitting all the way upright would have increased my senses’ awareness of the cuts and changes made during the operation, which would have been too painful for me to bear. But soon I would be asked to move.

Dr Esposito came into the room and said something to the effect of, “Its time we sit you up out of bed.” That shocked me. I had just gotten out of my first operation; I was still tired and cranky because my stomach was empty; was I expected to endure more? The only thing I was allowed to consume was perhaps some 7-Up or some ice chips. But with those options, and me in my situation, I wanted every ounce I could get. I never knew 7-Up could taste so good. With my throat as dry as it was, all I wanted to do was down the entire can at once; but wisely and carefully my mom gave me small sips, one at a time. The idea of my doctor wanting to sit me up in bed so soon was clearly outrageous, at least in my mind. One would think that I needed some down time from mobility, but that wasn’t the case.

Honestly, I do not remember each person involved in moving me off and to the side of my hospital bed. I do recall it taking several nurses plus my mom and dad. The entire process hurt. All it really required was scooting me to the side of my bed and then hanging my legs over the edge.

Do you remember the fear that I described having upon going into the operation (until the very last second)? That same terrible fear came rushing over me again. It was as if I had a bounty on my head or I was on death row, something life threatening. A lump developed in my throat and my eyes started stinging as the tears formed. Then it happened. A nurse elevated my bed to the point that I was sitting upright. I could feel the insigne (area where the operation had been performed) stretch with every second of movement.

Next in the procession was a nurse who cradled her arm under mine, slowly rotating me to my right. I wore agony on my face with every passing second. Only moments later several nurses came in. Then a few more came. And before I could catch my breath, nurses were pulling me up until I sat completely straight. The tears burst from behind my eyes like a scene from Water World with Kevin Costner. I began to scream as loud as a metal-band vocalist.

I remember grabbing the nurses’ white lab coats, still screaming and crying my heart out, trying to expel the pain of the experience. The part that hurt most was when all the nurses finally managed to bring my legs over the edge. As my legs hung over, the pain intensified with each breath. It felt like having several knives dig into my back with no intention of stopping. I don’t remember much about the moments that followed that vivid and overwhelming scene.