After my experience of oncology, I decided this week to jump on a flight to the Alps before my CT scan.

I was desperate to try skiing again before facing any more hospital appointments. But the universe wanted to test me this week. 

With the airline not putting my bag on the plane and my tooth falling out on the drive to the resort, I was thinking maybe I should have stayed home. Thankfully, I kept driving and arrived the Alp d’Huez.

It was nice to be back after cycling here last summer, however this time there was no bike with me. I was here to ski. 

Skiing paralysed is not straightforward but with a background in the sport, I know what I need to do. It is just that sometimes my body doesn’t want to do it.  

I knew I just needed to build some confidence again and it wasn’t long until I was getting on and off the chair lifts and in my own way ripping up the hill. 

The best part of all? I never thought about hospital once.  

On the last day I heard some youngsters debate if they should do one more run. I wanted to say ‘absolutely, as you never know when you might not have the choice’.

I often think if I knew I was going to spend most of my life paralysed, I would have done so much more skiing before that day in 2016.

It wasn’t long till I was back in hospital though and walking into the lift puts a shudder through me. Every floor triggers a past memory of pain from past surgeries. 

Today it’s just a CT scan, so no physical pain but trust me I suffer mentally and emotionally from these days. I don’t have the words to describe the emotions of this journey. 

I didn’t want to leave the mountains, but I had no choice. Before the scan I have to face my biggest fear of needles. As the canular goes in, I remember what Stanford Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman advises around breathing in stressful situations. 


I focus on my double inhale through my nose and a long exhale. I feel my body and mind regulate after several minutes. I sit watching person after person pass after their scans until it is finally my time. 

It feels a million miles away from the ski slopes. 

As I feel the contrast dye run through my body my whole body starts to overheat, I feel like I am going to be sick, but thankfully this scan is over in under a few minutes. 

As I lie watching the inner workings of the CT scanning machine, I thought about getting out of here and going straight back to the mountains. But unfortunately, it is the dentist on Monday to sort this broken tooth. The mountains will have to wait.

After the scan I sit in the waiting area, I feel too sick to leave. It is also a moment of reflection. 

A dad was sat hugging his teenage boy in front of me. I could only see the back of them, and I felt distant yet close, then the dad turned his head to wipe the tears from his eyes. I guess he didn’t want his son to see him cry.

We held eye contact for only a split second, a smile to say 'I got you, I feel your pain'. 

As my eyes closed and opened, I felt the tears run down my face. 

Strangers passing in here feels so much different than passing in the streets outside the hospital. Maybe there is a higher level of compassion here? 

A far cry from the joy and freedom of this week’s skiing. But when you sit this close to your own death it can have a profound impact on how you live. 

We enter this life on an inhale and leave on an exhale. Arguably the two most important breaths we will ever take. 

But what I learn from these days inside the scanner is that every breath we take is important. If possible, we should use those breaths to get every inch out of life.

How are using your breaths? I simply tell myself, 'David, be clear on your values'.

Every action you make should be towards those values - and don’t take any moment for granted.