Perth underdog dares to believe!  

Pete and Warren at the Gymn

With my new trainer Warren at Surge Gym, Clarkson

The last 7 years of my life have been absolute hell.

Struggling from quadriplegia, learning to communicate with only my eyes, learning to breathe again on my own and – the final indignity – being fed baby food until I was able to hold a spoon! For a 33-year old ex-squaddie-cum-martial arts enthusiast-cum-builder-cum-runner, this was quite a comedown, I can tell you!

After waking from coma after my stroke, I was totally paralysed, unable to do anything except blink. I had to learn absolutely EVERYTHING again – walking, talking, eating and even breathing. But I did it. 6 months and 1 day after a massive brain stem stroke left me locked-in, I managed, albeit shakily, to walk out of hospital and into an uphill struggle from then on.

So you’ll forgive me for confessing: “I am extremely proud to have found my feet again – not just in a physical sense. At the same time, my experience has humbled me, and I will always be very grounded!!

You don’t just get through locked-in syndrome and think: “Oh well crack open the beers and spark up”.

It’s made me completely O.C.D. from my P,T.S.D. Yet it’s changed me into ME! – only a little more introverted I guess, a little more distant from the world. Hey, it’s even turned me almost pescatarian (that’s fish-eater to me and you!) – I feel stronger for it. I’ve got used to the new Pete and I’m content with bugger all! I know what that REALLY means now!

For the last 7 years almost, I’ve spent most nights in the gym, getting my body to work again. The gym is my church for mental and physical health and once I walked in there nothing else in life mattered. Just me, the music and my obsessive mission to be strong again!

3 months ago, I joined Surge Gym, Clarkson. I’ve never lived so close to a gym before -ever so have taken that as a sign from the force above.

I dare to believe I can be a body builder!

Yes I know. I thought I’d just stop and get on with my life -,but working out has become my life now and I need to see just how far I can push this battle-worn carcass of mine!

I recently met this Personal trainer in Surge called Warren who’s taken me under his wing. Sadly, when he was 20, his mother was cruelly taken away from him with a stroke. .
You know when you’re being guided! I swear you’re given signs in this life! But you still have a choice, E

ither follow these signs or just believe in nothing and moan about stuff! As for me, I believe when your cards are dealt you must play the best hand you can!

I might be dead soon, so having fought so hard for the life I have left, I personally want to put my absolute best hand on the table. I’ve realised my curse has become my drive for life and now I’m going for it!

I am doing this for me!

I am doing this for locked-in syndrome survivors!

I am doing this for stroke/brain injury survivors!

I am doing this for everyone who is fighting against the odds!

But most of all, I am doing this because no one believed I could!

WARREN – Let’s show ‘em bro!

 

Certificate 3 in Allied Health Assistance

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It’s arrived!!!!

I’ve done it!!

Many said I would never move again!.Others said a high level of care would be needed: ”He may make a few small gains.”

Well….I’m proud to say that I didn’t listen to ANYBODY!!! I just pushed and pushed and never stopped looking forward. Forward-forward-forward!!!!

And here I am with my Certificate 3 in Allied Health Assistance!! Proof, if any were needed that there IS life after Locked-in!

Every millimetre! From getting every spoonful of porridge to my mouth…to pushing pillows in bed with my legs (Wow, that was so hard!)

The first stand…to first step…to over 1,000kms! I wanted Pete back!

Many people left my side, probably a good thing as I was in a different world, a different mind frame!  It’s like adrenaline for years!

All my training and discipline over my life helped, I think – my sense of humour especially 🙂 – though there were more tears than laughter, I promise you that)

But yes!!! I DID IT!!!!!!!! Whoowhooooo!

I think I’m the first man in history (at least in Australia) to have broken out of Locked-in syndrome and bounced back into health care as an Assistant Therapist!

Yet this is no power trip. This is very important….many stroke and brain injury survivors are still in dark places trying to battle their way home.

My message: I can’t give you my strength, as I’ve very little left in life after this, but I have shared my journey from the  start, hoping to prove to you that if you’re 100% committed to getting there, you will make gains. I didn’t even have the new clot-busting drug either!

I pray my story gives fuel and hope around this (sometimes) cruel world!

Remember my words and challenge everything!  Sometimes the experts and people at the top only know what they are taught – just like the rest of us!

Human Will is still the Boss!

Thanks also for a great Health Service, Australia! I urge the government not to cut nurses’ jobs health care costs; from what I can see, the system struggles enough.

God bless all in the health services! My heroes!!

 

Hang tough, Strokies – and Focus!

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When I feel the need to write, nothing matters till the words are down! Today is such a day.

I do sit n cry now and then when I’m alone – and am not ashamed to say so, either. This feeling of gratefulness hits me, memories of trying to swallow litres of spit after my coma and trying to lift my head up too – it was so heavy, like a cannon ball.

I cannot fully express the happiness I feel at the moment. I love having a purpose again!  Working in the community seems to be bringing out the new Pete; working over 20 hours is still a struggle but, all in all, I don’t suffer with fatigue any longer. Insomnia and fatigue was hell for what seemed like forever!!

The company limits my hours for now, and I’m also finishing the last part of my Certificate 3 in Allied Health within the company (thanks to Michelle Jenkins!)

On completing this, I’m very grateful after fighting my way back from locked-in-syndrome, total quadriplegia and speechlessness to getting a Allied Health Certificate 3 and a Community Care Support position.

Now you see why I cry!

My fight to gain millimetre after millimetre for half a decade has made me this new man.  I’m still a bit obsessed there I think, as I can’t stop rotating my wrists or trying to lift my legs in shops.

Know  what I think? I think I like the new me better! The limping,  non-drinking Pete is very, very content, more positive and laughs a bit more – well, a LOT more at  myself, actually! Haha. My life’s slotting back in place in a much more exciting way.

The point of this blog was to say to others with ABIs (Acquired Brain Injuries) or stroke: “No matter how far or how long it takes to achieve the smallest of goals, you must keep trying, and you just never know how far or how much you’ll achieve!

Please!  Focus only on today. If you do this then, one day, tomorrow could surprise you! Be stubborn. Get obsessive. Keep positive. Believe. Keep trying.

Above all, hang tough and focus.

God bless you!

Pete 😎 👊👍

First day on the job – I’m now officially a Community Support Worker

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Quickest blog ever!  I’ve just completed my first day in my support role in the community and am now officially a Community Support Worker…..but you can call me Pete!!

Feeling proud ‘n’ privileged Fisted hand sign
From being comatose, quadripleagic and speechless to having a support role!!
Put that in ya pipe an’ smoke it! Yes!!!!!
Yo Adrian…….i did it Fisted hand sign

Technology’s amazing, but there’s no substitute for sheer hard work!

 

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As usual I am waking up with an itching desire and need to offload my mind!

Forgive me for diving into a random subject!! But it’s one that’s been bugging me for a long time. I have to talk about it, as I got a phone call from the US, from a young guy building interphase technology!  He’s putting together these headsets that read your brain patterns and can actually read what you are thinking – bloody amazing!!!

Why I want to discuss this is to document my thoughts, as he wanted to know my thoughts on it being used for LIS, you see. I was very honest and just spoke straight from my heart as I always do. “I said look, what you young guys are doing is totally amazing and you’re changing the world!! but…..!!!!!!

And it’s a big but!! We’re forgetting that we can’t count on this technology to fix us; all it’s doing in some cases is taking away the need to try moving and speaking for ourselves, which in turn fixes us! Here’s what I think today’s problem is, and I’m sorry this will be a long blog, but those people I know who read these blogs will be interested in my thoughts.

It’s very simple to me! A baby cries for a reason for years of its life, developing speech by exercising the voice box, the lungs and muscles in the diaphragm – this we know, yeah? It’s not rocket science!! So why are we looking to bypass the habits of a baby to regain speaking with interphase or iPad apps? We know by constantly trying to pronounce a letter or word it improves over many years. What I’m afraid of is, those who could otherwise regain the power of speech are not going to be trying anymore! They’re simply given a clever system and put back in the community!

If I was given this at the point when I couldn’t speak, I tell ya now there’s no way I would be speaking now, no way!!!! The brain will take the easy way every time!  You give your 1-year-old an iPad with a speech app and do you think it would keep developing? No way!

The other thing I want to touch on is, I met a couple of guys here in Australia – Shri Rai and Fairuz Shirataddin from the School of Engineering and Information Technology, Murdock University – who are working on some awesome computer game therapy, so I just had to see it in action….

I watched my mate and fellow stroke survivor Craig try to play this game; he was hooked up and, like Batman had to fly though these rings. He tried to move his affected arm to lift his (virtual) wing! It was really making him try (this part I loved about the game) but I could see him having so much trouble lifting – he was lifting his shoulder incorrectly.

I explained to the team how I got the use of my arms back – through pulley systems and counter-balanced weights. This gave them an idea to improve the game.

My theory is: You take away, say, nearly all the 4-5kgs weight of an arm and instead start the game with the arm trying to lift the weight of a box of matches. Then simply add more weight as time goes on. This allows for correct rotation, training the arm to move correctly without damage to the shoulder joint.

Hope they listen. I strengthened my arms by using homemade pulley systems (without games) in my back garden for years – and it worked!! I had to be strapped in at first, as my hand couldn’t hold on, so had Velcro straps to strengthen my grip.

Me and the guys exchanged emails and I hope to get this game adapted further to help strokies like me. I’m excited about the advances I see around me in the stroke world; a lot of positive gains are being made with physiotherapy. We’re on the edge of great times!

I wanted to document this blog, as I know Curtin Uni read my blogs and so do LIS sufferers!

Ok I can sleep now. Thank you for reading!

Night 😴

They thought I’d need care for life. Instead I’M the carer!

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3.30am and still awake, remembering the excitement of yesterday!!!!

Yesterday was a special day indeed for me, a day when dreams and thousands of little goals finally became reality!!!
I applied for a job in care in the community last week (not expecting to get it of course)
After my story confidence in the work force in a new career isn’t my strong point.

Would rather not mention where, but blow me down I got it!!! Well… part time hours to begin with, but anyway it’s the little break I needed.

The day started with smashing an assignment at my college, and then I got the unexpected phone call! The news was the best I’d had in months and welcomed by the whole community care group – me, from a “blink with no hope” to a job helping disabilities in the community!!!

Me !!! Wowhooooo!!!!!

39 and starting again wasn’t really my life’s plan of course – ha ha – but I’m so happy right now (if I was rich in money  couldn’t be happier.)
I have always considered myself an underdog of life- a struggling failure at school,  cancer, then stroke – but just lately I feel I can do anything!

I am not an underdog; I am a English-cum-Aussie pit bull of life. And I’m winning it back!
They thought I would need a high level of care for the rest of my life but, through my defiance I am gonna GIVE care for the rest of my life!! And I’m just getting started!

Never listen to what you’re told you can’t do: Can’t is as it says “Can with a ” T” for Told ya so!!!!!!”

Taking the plunge! Back to school and learning new strokes.

 

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No matter how old I get, I still get anxious when it comes to classrooms. From pre-school to college, it never sits well; I would prefer to do anything else but paperwork!! Always been the same!!!

Tomorrow is my second semester at college. It was meant to be just 6 months, but I was struggling with the whole speed of things.

Focusing for 6 hours in class then homework n assignments, plus the odd presentation on body parts – I couldn’t keep up! I felt stupid!!! But I have to remember nobody else has been through what I have and come back from a coma, so I might be going back with new people. But I’m still trying to give it a crack.

After working at Aegis Retirement Home I’ve learned that an Occupational Therapy Assistant may not quite be the path for me, so I’m gonna try Disability next and gain volunteer experience there!

Either way, I need my Certificate 3 to move forward, and I must complete this bloody course!!!

God willing (& Pete willing) I WILL!