After four years of charging head long into life with damage legs I was forced to find a better way. This I did and although I always had difficulty, I not only learnt to live with the injuries to my knee and ankle, but learnt to live well and stay fit and strong. All this knowledge I then applied to the condition of paraplegia after breaking my back. Paraplegia, though, is a whole different ball game to damaged limbs. The weaknesses penetrate much deeper, to an intrinsic level. In other words, it affects the core of our bodies and the root of our strength. My experience served me well and I managed to live to the best ability that my body could allow (and still do), managed to prevent further serious decline and even made some improvement in my functional ability. The trouble was, you can only go so far through conscious muscular effort and I soon reached that point. From then on in it is a battle to maintain that level and prevent the slow but steady decline that is inevitable with such a depleted physical condition.
I had learnt the importance of not pushing the body too hard and to keep it in balance, but even so I faced a dilemma. ‘Do I strive to grow fit and strong through muscular effort or do I become resigned to living a very much lesser physical existence’. Possessing that dogged determination of us Capricorns, there was only ever going to be one answer. Of course I strived to live as active a life as possible, but it was just as sure that this would one day catch up on me and that I would again have to ‘find a better way’. However, this time there was no better way in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. A better way did not exist. Paraplegics do not improve. I was left out in the cold with the daunting prospect of living with paraplegia for the rest of my life.
Then one day I accompanied a young man with cerebral palsy to a centre where he was to undergo oxygen treatment in a pressure chamber. It’s what divers do when they get the ‘bends’; the idea being, in this case, that breathing pure oxygen under pressure allows it to penetrate into damaged areas of the brain to encourage healing. I didn’t think much of the oxygen treatment, a bit pie in the sky for my liking, but I did spend several hours watching a Russian gentleman who was teaching mothers with children with cerebral palsy to work upon the physical bodies of their children. Leonid Blyum had been invited to England by the woman who ran the centre and I was fascinated by what he was doing. I did not understand what effect the exercises were meant to have but I did have some grasp of his explanations about aspects of the body. He obviously had an understanding that went beyond that of the established medical profession and that of established alternative treatments which are often little more than the corrupt remains ancient ways.
Not long after, we discussed the possibility of me joining his therapy program. Leonid decided there was potential to make improvements to my physical condition and agreed to take me on if I so wished. Somehow I knew deep down that he had knowledge that could help me and so I decided to embark upon what is known as ‘Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation’ (ABR Therapy). This was just before Christmas 2000 and while back in my home town over the festive break I told an old friend what I was about to get into. His rather shocked response was, “Do you mean to tell me that you’re going to let someone tell you what to do!” My answer was simply, “Yes”, to which he replied, “I don’t believe you.” I’ve always lived life my own way and to this day, Leonid Blyum is the only person I’ve ever really allowed to tell me what to do.
ABR is a very slow and gentle therapy that addresses the deep structures of the body, rebuilding the depleted quality of intrinsic strength and it takes hundreds of hours of work to make substantial changes. I had to find a helper to work on me as the therapy relies upon the delivery of an external mechanical input and the ways in which you can work upon yourself are limited. I finally started in March 2001 and had to work for a whole year before appreciating that we really were engineering change in the structure of my body. This I could only do because I intuitively knew that I was on the right track, despite the fact that I had much to learn before I truly understood.
Ten years later I am working as hard as ever and not only still improving, but making enormous progress at actually conquering paraplegia. Walking is some way off, but it is now on the horizon and just as importantly my understanding, and awareness, of the body I live in has changed my whole perspective on health. The day I embarked upon ABR Therapy was the day I ‘Came In from the Cold’.