I was asked this week if having a spinal injury is a gift.

This might sound like a crazy question to ask someone who is clearly struggling to move. 

But it made me think twice.

During my time in hospital where everyone is in an acute phase of injury it is easy to lose the will to live. 

At this stage of injury we all focus on trying to get back to the people we were pre-injury.

I know I held on to the person I was pre-injury for years.

My only goal was to get him back. 

While I finally had to accept he had gone there was still the option to live a very fulfilling life, even as a paralysed human. 

There was so much I could still do.

It just needed some changes in perspective, curiosity and to stay open minded. 

My self-esteem had taken a real hit, mind you. 

Losing your independence is a hard process to go through. 

You also see this in sport when athletes retire.

It can hit them mentally in a similar way.

So this is the ‘gift’ part to my injury; I could say I have lived more since my paralysis than I did before as I am now more aware of life and death. 

I appreciate time and nature more now than I ever did growing up as a sportsman. 

Now this is a gift I would rather not have and would not wish it on anyone.

But if you do suffer a spinal injury, it is important to know that life is NOT over.

Even if you have to fight at the start, you can find solace in so many things.

It just takes a bit more effort and planning.

And as for those who don’t have this injury, the question is how can you too learn to be more aware of life?

My paralysis forced me to look inside and to do the inner work that when everything is going well most of us might not do. 

Life in the pandemic has presented a similar situation for many.

It has shown how reframing certain obstacles in life can change our perspective in a way that is both powerful and lifesaving. 

When I think about reframing and how people in hospital can lose the will to live, I like to use the phrase ‘fighting for one’s life’. 

What does this really mean? On a physical and mental level? 

I recall a conversation in hospital when a gentleman told me he wanted to die because he could not live in a wheelchair. 

I remember showing him videos of people doing incredible things and telling him not to give up fighting.

Why am I thinking of this right now, you might ask? 

Because I often feel I am fighting to live with my tumour. And I have met others who tell me they are fighting for their life. 

But are we fighting in the right way? And is fight even the right word to use? 

It all seems very fresh for me right now as I had an experience this week which left me in a position where a young woman who had been in in a car crash was fighting for her life in my arms.

What had started off as a great day on the bike riding through Usain Bolt’s parish to see where the fastest man in the world grew up ended up with me arriving at the scene of another car crash. 

Road accidents claim over 400 people a year in Jamacia. 

It was frantic with people panicking and through the haze of people I seen a young lady in the car clearly in a bad way. 

I knew I could help and could not keep driving. 

Even though I had seen people fight for their life in hospital this was the first time I actually had to keep someone alive till the medics arrived. 

Kneeling in broken glass with just board shorts on I did all I could.

It was a pretty traumatic experience and it showed me again how quickly life can change. 

Seeing the woman in this condition also sparked the conversation about whether my spinal injury and tumour was a gift.

The driver of the car, a young man who lost control of his car while driving at excess speeds, stood at the side of the road unaware of the magnitude of the impact of his driving.

It took over one hour for the medics to arrive and this lady stayed with me fighting. 

As I left the accident, I realised how lucky in some ways I am to have learned some hard lessons from my time fighting for my life.

When I am on my death bed I can look back and be content that after paralysis I learned how to live.