I transferred to Stanmore rehabilitation centre on 8th April 2015 and was to stay there for 4 months. Stanmore for me could have been worse, I had friends and family around me every day and I got along with all the physios and occupational therapists. I remember my first day there crying my eyes out in the morning hating it all (don’t be afraid of crying) with no one there, as visiting only started after 2. I hated change and I got very familiar with st George’s and my routine there, even to the curtains, believe it or not, Stanmore’s were dark blue and I despised them, compared to the patterned st George’s ones!
Within a week or two things got a lot easier, you get to know people, people get to know you and I built some good friendships that will last a long time. Certain people certainly made the whole process easier, one of many being my OT (who I named ‘my green person’) Michaela who made the boring stuff fun and occasionally managed to shut me up from talking shit! Of course like as many experiences, there were a few people that you wish you hadn’t met… but hey, thats life!
Being a rugby player always allowed me to have a big appetite, the food at Stanmore was questionably just about edible. My advise to you is to stick with the jacket potato, honestly I used have it twice a day… Ask my family it drove them mad! Believe me, I can’t look at one in the same way again! Having little hand function means holding cutlery for me at the time was a huge struggle, the main man Simon fixed me up with some adapted cutlery. This gave me huge confidence and independence as up until that point I was being fed and no one ever got the size of my mouthfuls right!!
One of the great things about Stanmore is the Aspire health club attached to it, I used to go to the gym on a daily basis where I would weight train and got to know my new best friend… the arm bike! The club also ran lots of sports sessions such as Ping Pong, Basketball, Tennis (I was rubbish at!) and swimming, all of which I wish I had taken part in at an earlier stage.
When I was first told about swimming, I had some horrible thoughts in my mind and I was really nervous to try it, but it was the best thing I could have done. The sensation of getting in water and floating was surreal and like no other (especially as they only give you a shower at the weekends!) and the improvement in strength it gave me was far more than any other exercise.
Visitors helped me throughout my time at Stanmore and I couldn’t have done it without them, although it was over an hour and a half away from home my mum and dad did alternate days. Cousins, girlfriend, aunts, uncles, brother, grandparents and friends came up often, especially as a little extra company at the weekends as the time tended to slow down as there were no physio or OT sessions.
Whilst at Stanmore you get an education pack (which was bigger than an a-level text book) you have to read this and then revise – you can imagine my disgust when they told me this, I thought i’d had it bad enough let alone having to do work! Before you can go on day trips and then weekend leave you do a test regarding all the information… Saying that, the information in that book is really essential for everyday living and is more like advise, read it as it really does help.
AD – ‘autonomic dysreflexer’ for those of you who don’t know it is your bodies method of telling your brain there is something wrong under the level of your injury, in other words where you can’t feel. All the nurses and rehab assistants took this matter very carefully and made AD out to be the the worst! I went AD in Stanmore once and it wasn’t that bad, now every time I go to the pub I go AD! Watch out for things but still live your life don’t let it stop you doing anything.
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Can we have more please ?! I have found this very moving and as a non injured person also surprisingly inspirational. Please keep writing Harry, the world needs to hear stories like yours. In amongst the madness of life there is such love and courage to be found. You have it in spades. X