THE norm in spinal cord injury recovery is two years.

That’s what you’re told in hospital. 

If you haven’t got function at the two-year mark, then that’s it. 

So many give up after that mark and settle for the function they have, but a study conducted out in America which I read when I was in hospital showed that motivation was a big factor in lab settings when undertaking rehabilitation. 

I guess this is where being an athlete is a plus.

Athletes tend to have a deep level of motivation and search out challenges that will push them. 

In psychology this is often referred to as a growth mindset whilst the opposite to this mindset is a fixed mindset. 

Maybe that’s the difference of those who give up at that two-year mark compared to those who never give up. 

Are those who never give up over optimistic? 

Maybe we are living in a dream world that we will move again? 

I like to think of it as we have growth mindsets and are searching out challenges that might give us small improvements alongside and a level of hope that one day we will move again.

This mindset is what has me in the gym here in Jamacia 3 – 4 hours most days.

Covid had kept me out of the gym for over a year and my body was degenerating at a fast pace. 

Thoughts of ‘I am house bound’ were starting to enter my inner narrative and I could feel the anxiety starting to set in. 

Just that image is enough to drive me to get back in the gym. 

Even though I have been clocking up miles on the bike, this is endurance training and not specific to walking. 

It fatigues the nervous system and as it supports my body weight, I am not really strengthening my body to manage the degeneration that is happening. 

I hadn’t noticed how much of a difference strength training had on my body until I started back in the gym here.

I started to notice muscles twitching in my paralysed leg and the more weights I lifted the more my walking started to improve. 

I could stand upright and felt stronger. All this from just a few gym sessions? 

Now if that doesn’t motivate me to keep on with the gym work then nothing will. 

Navigating the gyms back home has not been a fun experience as a disabled person.

From people using the disabled bathrooms which left me wetting myself to people not putting their weights back leaving me with one side of my body striping 200kg of weight off a leg press.

And that’s before we throw covid into the mix. 

It was easy for me to find a good excuse not to go. 

Then there is the cost of gyms in London. 

The issue with this mindset is it was leaving my body in a weak state and degenerating fast. 

One of the reasons my tumour didn’t impact my life earlier was my strength masked it. 

Years of lifting weights to push a Bobsleigh hid many of the side effects. 

So, as I stood watching Yohan Blake train, I found a place that has accepted me into their gym community. 

Every day I arrive at the gym everyone speaks and helps me. 

A big part of exercise is the social side, another thing that covid has removed from our lives. 

So, it’s not just my body getting strong here but also my mind. 

I am thinking more around what this feeling of walking has done to my mind and the motivation it has giving me to get in the gym most days. 

When we see progress it’s easier to go through those long hard hours of spinal cord injury.

The anxiety lowers and although I won’t be running or making a comeback to Bobsleigh just taken a few pain free steps was the best Christmas gift I could have received this year.