Why did you decide to write this book and was it a
I was approached a few years ago about the possibility of writing a book, something I never thought I’d do. Writing the book was a fun new experience. The actual writing process wasn’t that bad but it
was tough to just trying to remember things that happened so long ago. The memories are dark ones but they are just part of my life and my story.
What got you through after your accident that left you paralysed?
The support network I had around me from the start. My parents flew over to Portugal straight away and one of them was always with me the entire time I was in hospital. My brothers were there for me from the moment I landed back in England and, together with friends, all helped me through the very tough early days when my health was all over the place, physically and mentally.
What was the turning point for you, the moment that you thought ‘I can live like this, life is going to be OK’?
I had one horrible day in hospital that changed my mindset completely. I hit absolute rock bottom that day. It was the day I was put into a wheelchair for the first time. It was a big bulky wheelchair that had big arm rests and a head rest because I couldn’t hold my head up at that point. We went around the hospital and it was great! We went outside as it was still sunny and as we were coming back in we stopped in front of the main entrance which is made up of two giant glass doors. For the first time in nearly two months I saw my reflection, but it was not me. I had lost 4 stone and was not the man I once was. I had a tube in my throat breathing for me and I couldn’t move. The reality of how the rest of my life would be had been shown to me in that reflection.
When I got back to my bed I broke down with uncontrollable tears saying over and over, why me? why me? I couldn’t sleep that night as I just kept crying and it wasn’t until the early hours of the morning until I stopped crying that I thought to myself, there is no point being sad or angry I have no one to blame for what has happened I may as well just get on with it. My mindset changed that day and I began looking at everything I could do, not what I couldn’t do.
You succeeded in achieving your goal to push yourself out
of the hospital after only six months. Are you still pushing
Yes, I was originally told that I would be in hospital for 18 months and that it would never be possible to move my wheelchair myself. I had learnt to breathe again without a ventilator and was determined to wheel myself out of the hospital doors. Even now I try to push my body as much as I can.
How do you keep in shape? Do you have a daily gym routine?
I have a trainer for two hours every Friday plus I try to do other exercises. I can’t do too much because it is tiring and I need energy to paint and write but I really do like to exercise.
In your book you talk about your rediscovered passion for painting, how hard was it for you to learn how to draw with your mouth? How long does it take to do each drawing?
It took a little while to find my style and a way that works best for me to paint. But I was comfortable almost straight away drawing and painting with my mouth. Each painting varies, they can take anywhere from two days to a week to paint. It depends on the subject and how tired I am.
Were you an artist before the accident?
I always loved art, doing GCSE and A’level, but as I got older I really started to fall out of love with the subject. If things had been different I probably would have given it up altogether. I have rediscovered a love for art again and without my injury I might not have been painting now.