Friday, May 20, 2011

Drive to stay alive

With the advent of some wet and wild weather, the roads will be treacherous and accidents liable to happen: in fact, there are probably several thousand "P Platers" out there who have never driven in such wet conditions: so be warned and be prepared!
As tens of thousands of parents drive their kids to and from school, there are bound to be delays and there may be a temptation to take a risk if you're running late: take my advise, arrive alive and arrive late if you have to.
It is a sad fact that most of the Quadriplegic Centers worldwide have been created as a result of motor vehicle accidents involving young people - mainly young men on motorbikes - and not all of them were at fault. One of the most inspirational guys I've ever met was a young Kiwi who had been sitting on his motorbike at an intersection and was "taken out" by driver who was rushing. The van driver walked away, but my friend suffered a broken neck and has since been a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. He needs 24 hour assistance and every outing is a major operation: but then this is a very special guy and he still does live life to the full!
He has taught himself to sail in a specially adapted boat (plus entourage in following rubber ducky) and enjoyed it so much, he paid for another boat out of his compensation, so that he could take other spinal injured patients out on the water too! Not content with helping fellow quadriplegics, he also goes to Cambodia and sponsors a couple of orphanages up there as well: in other words, he still embraces life to the full despite his severe limitations.
The reason I mention all this is that researchers have developed a "Stimulator" for damaged spines that has allowed one person to regain some function below the damaged area of his spine: he can now move his lower limb and walk on a treadmill with assistance. This technology has huge potential because it is much more likely to help sufferers in the short term, as opposed to the more distant promises of Stem Cell therapy. But from my time as Director of the Quadriplegic Centre in Shenton Park, whilst most of these guys would love to walk again, what they would really like to regain control of is their bladder and bowels.
Loss of control of bladder and bowels means a much greater risk for wee infections and damage to the kidneys. Bowel care for spinal injured persons is not a pretty event; in fact it's quite humiliating for them, and it's something they face every day of their lives: to regain control of bladder and bowel is for them, Nirvana!
So as you drive in the wet today, be very aware that there is danger on the roads - if not directly to you, then to unseen others, especially cyclist and motor cyclists. Slow down, be patient, don't answer the phone and please don't txt - it can all wait until you have dropped your precious bundles off at school: or even better, after the stress of driving, treat yourself to a well deserved coffee and use your phones then.
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2 comments:

Tai Tai said...

Great post. I read that article in SMH today about the stimulator. Interesting stuff. But as you say dignity comes above momentary bursts of old function when you're facing spinal injuries.

ClaireyH said...

I have done some work with the spinal injury section of a hospital, we sponsored a ski trip for them. The work and time required was worth it for the happiness that these mainly fit and healthy people received after being in, mainly road accidents, and ended up in wheelchairs.