I've briefly spoken about disability sport before, in particular wheelchair rugby, something I've been mastering (in much the same way a turkey masters flying!) for the past decade. It's something that I tried out at the Spinal Games whilst still in hospital and began playing as soon as I was discharged. I was drawn to it because
|...unlike this hairstyle!|
Yet as important as it is to find an activity that gives you muscle fitness, lung fitness and exercise goals to aim for, the physical benefits aren't even the most significant aspect, at least not to me. Imagine the shock at suffering a spinal injury: a large part of your body is no longer willing to do what you tell it, your legs won't move, you can't feel your feet, you're unsure of even when you need to go to the bathroom, and this is just the tip of the iceberg! You will have questions that you don't feel like your pre-injury friends and family would be able to help you with, and you will likely experience problems or incidents that you would feel embarrassed talking to them about. Well this is where the friends and connections you make through sporting activities come in. The vast majority of them will have had the same queries or suffered similar embarrassments to you and so you feel at ease to open up and discuss these things, often in horrendous detail, but almost always ending up in fits of laughter as you take turns recounting the horrors you've seen and experienced, each trying to one-up the other. And then everything feels okay. What may have initially felt like a cataclysmic event that had left you praying for the ground to swallow you up, was now a trivial source of laughter because you were surrounded by people who'd gone through it all before and you no longer felt alone or ashamed. And it is this sense of camaraderie that is the most important thing I have got out of sport since the injury.
Without the people I have met through sport, in particular my wheelchair rugby teammates, I wouldn't have the confidence I do now, I wouldn't have the independence and ability I do now, I certainly wouldn't have the emotional strength and mental willpower I do now, and I wouldn't have travelled anywhere near as much as I have during my time in a chair; whether it be for rugby tournaments around the UK and abroad, gigs, music festivals or other social events. In fact even as I type, tickets are being bought and flights and accommodation are being booked to watch the Paralympics in Rio next year, because lord knows, I'm not going to get there off the back of my ability on a rugby court!
And before I start getting accused of going all sentimental and coming across overly saccharine whilst painting
|Hitting the deck in 3...2...1...|