The Definition of Dichotomy

Spinal cord injury is the definition of dichotomy…

The rewards are so small, yet the effort required is so incredibly large. The evidence of healing and recovery comes so slowly, yet we all have to move and work so darn quickly.

The day-to-day grind drags on forever, yet the day disappears with never enough time to fit everything required in. The heaviness of the situation keeps you buried, but the wins lift you higher than one can imagine. The good news you want to hear, is the news that is so painful to accept.

And well…

The updates you wish to share come freely to your mind… but Will’s update page remains largely untouched (add in exasperated sigh right there)!! (Is dichotomy even the right word I wonder?? Oh to have the time to find that out!)

I’m not sure if what I’ve just written captures the extremes of this bloody injury - but if there’s one parallelism in spinal cord injury it’s its extremes! The effort required from Will is extreme, the effort required from Will’s family and team is extreme, the busy-ness is extreme, the resources required are extreme, the funds required are extreme, the grief is extreme, the emotional toll is extreme, the treatments you need to consider and put in place are extreme… everything except the bloody rewards for effort are extreme!!

No-one deserves extreme rewards for effort more than Will. I’ve been watching the AFL boys hit pre-season pretty hard over the last couple of weeks and quite frankly their workload is not a patch on Will’s. Patrick Rummerfield, the world’s first ever documented fully functioning quadriplegic who now competes in able bodied ironman events, once said that rehab from spinal cord injury is harder than competing in a full ironman triathlon - daily! (That would be like doing a 3.86km swim, 180.25km ride and a 42.2km run… daily.)

Under the darkness of night last week, we ushered Dr Zhu, our incredible, awesome, 70 year old acupuncturist back into Melbourne to work with Will (and this time he had his colleague Dr Beh with him). He was in Australia running a course and with very little convincing he jumped at the chance to take Will to the next level in his recovery.

The weight of expectation is so huge for all of us whenever we initiate a new step in Will’s recovery plan - that this time we kept it to ourselves. We knew his visit would be tough - physically and emotionally for Will, in particular, but also for us, Will’s siblings, his grandparents, nurses, trainer and therapists.

For 7 days we strapped ourselves in for the rollercoaster ride of Dr Zhu… we held on tight through the ups and downs of the brutal realities he delivered through broken English and the relentless push of someone who has witnessed first hand, for 50 years, what can be achieved with this injury.

I seemed to be the one in the group who spent more time down than I did up (with my mum not far behind). But Will… well he just worked consistently, and kept working and kept pushing. He didn’t complain or ever ask to stop. He didn’t give up or take short cuts. This 14 year old kid just did the work and got the job done.

I tell my clients - when the “Why” is big enough it will drive you to do things that you just don’t want to do. Find your “Why” and you will find your purpose, you will find your motivation. Our brains aren’t designed to do 8 hours of rehab, everyday, 7 days a week - it’s not normal to do this, it’s normal to want to stop.

Our brain’s basic, fundamental job is to help us survive - not thrive… but here’s the thing, here’s the secret - our “Why” will propel us to achieve, our “Why” will get us out of bed each morning when the alarm goes off. I know my “Why”… I don’t know Will’s “Why”, he’s never told me and I’ve never asked - but I know he must have found it, because he is striving way beyond surviving spinal cord injury… his actions and effort will one day show the world how to thrive after spinal cord injury… and for that I feel most proud.


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