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Winning at life! Mike's story...

In 2020 NZST's Annual Appeal was based on the theme "Winning at Life!"


Mike's Story

The start of Mike’s SCI journey saw him spend 5 ½ hours trapped in the wreck of a fertiliser spreader truck waiting for someone to find him. When help arrived he says he gave a sigh of relief and thought “I’ve survived ‘til the experts got here, now I’ll leave it to them”. And next thing he remembers was three days later. “The fact I got to wake up again was a hell of a win” … his first “I’ve got this” moment.

When he went to Burwood Spinal Unit he really struggled with learning transfer techniques to get from the bed to his wheelchair – he felt like he had no clue what he was doing. While working with his physio he saw another person who was about a month ahead on her SCI journey – Amanda’s effort and progress inspired him and he realised that if she could manage it, he could too … another “I’ve got this” moment.

Mike reckons his biggest winning at life moment was when he got his first hand bike. To begin with he was “hopeless – could barely hold the hand grips”. But he kept working on it. Eventually he was out on 12 – 15 km rides … with lots of stops on the way. But he could feel the huge difference physically – he was getting stronger and fitter. And the boost to his mental wellbeing was incalculable - he was out participating in the community. His bike helped break down barriers, folk would want to chat with him about his bike.

He had that hand bike for 12 years. Then he upgraded to an e-bike … 45-50km rides!

And he’s recently upgraded again … to an Omeo. Another set of muscles to work out, another conversation starter, another challenging technique to learn … another win to pursue.

We like that Mike’s story touches on the mental wellbeing aspect – when going through such a life-changing event, the mental game is crucial to long term success. It’s one of the reasons our Peer and Whānau Support Team is so important – their lived experience means patients and clients can often feel more at ease opening up about their darker moments, the times of mental struggle. Having someone to talk to who truly understands can be a huge relief … and you know what they say about a problem shared …