Thursday, 1 May 2014

My trip to the Road to Recovery, Rehabilitation conference.

Road to Recovery, Rehabilitation Conference Flyer
 As most of you know I have been supported from very early on since becoming an amputee by a clinic called Pace Rehabilitation. Why did Pace decide to support me? Well this could have been for any number of reasons. Maybe it was because I put myself out there from very early on following my amputation. I was determined, positive wouldn’t take no for an answer when told “you can’t do that” would question "why not". Or possibly it was because I was a good role model for other amputees, in that I was just an ordinary lad who wanted to live a normal life, do stuff I once enjoyed, plus add a few new things along the way. Who knows it could have been blind luck or fate that brought us together. What I do know is that I can’t thank Pace enough for all their on-going support and helping me on my particular Road to Recovery.

Thinking of how that statement ends I would like to tell you all about my recent trip down to London to take part in a conference organised by Pace Rehabilitation, aptly named “Road to Recovery”.
Very early in the year I was asked would I like to take part in this conference by Scott, who is Pace’s what I call PR guru, his real title sounding much more technical, Business Development Manager. My reply “sure I’ll just go with the flow”. I enjoy helping out where I can, plus it’s always an opportunity to meet people both old and new at these types of events and as an added bonus learn new and interesting things.

Images courtesy of Pace Rehab copyright 2013
Images courtesy of Pace Rehab copyright 2013
 The conference was to be held on April 30th at the Royal College of Physicians, so I booked in a few days annual leave, taking the 29th through to the 1st of May so that I would have a long weekend as the Bank Holiday followed on the Monday.

Scott kept me up to date with proceedings via email, saying he had a plan for me to make a grand entrance on my bike and actually ride down the stairs into the auditorium at the conference. “Mmmmm ok I thought, I’ll give it a go” I mean what’s the worst that can happen right. I asked Scott to send me some pictures of the stairs just so I had an idea of what I was going to be heading down.

Wow it feels like I had no sooner heard about my involvement in the conference and the month of April was upon us. As usual I had left pretty much everything until the last moment. Well apart from my bike, which I had partly helped Ern (my dad) strip down to get clean, service and add some new transfers and oh rim tape.

On the morning of my trip down to London I got up and immediately set about, getting ready, errrrr!  No. I actually got up and turned my pc on and set about trying to finish off the editing of one of my videos. I had been on the night earlier and couldn’t get the intro quite right and this was bugging me. My train was due to leave at 14:25 I had plenty of time. Anyhoo at around 11:00 am Ern came to my room and said do you not think it was time you started getting ready. Ahhhh plenty of time. At this point I hadn’t really even thought what gear I would need and whether it would fit in my brand new Camelbak Hawg that I had bought.

When it eventually came time to packing my backpack, wow was it heavy. I mean I had to strip my Bartlett Tendon (BTK) down and get it in my pack. I suppose I could have done what I did when I went to America on my holidays and just used my everyday knee on my BTK socket, however that socket isn’t really made for walking and I knew I had a little bit of a walk to the Royal College of Physician’s where the conference was being held after I got off the train at King’s Cross. No I decided I would take 2 legs, well 3 if you include my own good one. So back pack packed, enough for an overnight stay, a multi tool to put my BTK back together, some meds and a few other bits and pieces like cycling gear, helmet, gloves, jersey and shorts.

I then went back to trying to sort this video before I left lol, bit of a fail there as I didn’t quite manage to have time to upload it and pop it on my blog before it was time to go.

My friend John had called in to say “Hi” and my son Kyle who had been staying all helped with various bits of my gear and in trying to help me see if I had forgotten anything. Yeah I know I should have had a check list. As Ern drove us all to Newcastle train station to catch my train I was keep saying I have this horrible feeling I have forgot something. Turns out I hadn’t, my bike was on board on the bike trailer and I had everything I needed.
Ern,Kyle and John all came down to the platform and gave me a hand with boarding the train, placing my bike at the front of the train and securely fastening it into the bike rack. Well as securely as possible those racks aren’t made for Fat Bikes, must send a note to East Coast Railway lol. I took my seat in 1st class. I was travelling in style, not bad and then I was off on my way to London.

Earlier in the week I had arranged to meet for the very first time a lovely lady named Bex, she was going to meet me off the train at King’s Cross. Bex is a co-founder and trustee of the charity Arctic One. I have spoken to her a few times via telephone along with Matt the other founder and I was real excited about meeting her. I am now involved with Arctic one myself and aim to do as much fund-raising as possible on their behalf and really get the name of their charity into the public eye. I really admire and respect the charities aim’s, goals and ethos and this is why I agreed to come on board. You will be hearing a lot more about Arctic One and both Matt and Bex as I continue to blog.

The train journey down was uneventful, yet pleasant. On arriving at King’s Cross I grabbed my gear and headed off to retrieve my bike. As I was unloosening the ties that held her in place there was a “hello from behind me”. It was Bex, she had been waiting for me and come to see if she could help with any of my gear. I handed Bex my bike as I dismounted the train and then took it off her again after giving her a friendly hug. I wasn’t going to let Bex carry my bag, just not polite as it was so bloody heavy lol, and as for wheeling my bike in London, omg! it was a nightmare.

Off we set; Bex was using her sat nave app on her smart phone. I couldn’t believe the amount of people on the streets. It’s possibly because there was a tube strike on over the following couple of days I don’t know. For me even though we were outside and walking up the pavement it just felt claustrophobic. I guess I’m just not a city guy.

We walked along intermittently chatting as we were broke apart by the flow of people, heading for the Royal College of Physician’s. It occurred to me that everyone in London appears as if they are on a mission. And woe be tide if you tried to make eye contact and offer a friendly smile. It’s at that moment I seemed to recall the movie World War Z and all the clambering infected like zombies. If it kicked off in London I’d be in trouble. I also thought back to my time in New York, even then as I recall the streets didn’t appear so thick with people. London is fast,fast,fast. It’s as if everyone there was pre-programmed. I’m not saying these people are bad people; it’s just very weird for me coming from where I live. I quite often call where I live in a jovial manner as it is a rather a rundown kind of a place, but hey give me Stanley any day of the week compared to the centre of London.

We eventually make it the one and a half miles give or take to the college. I’m to be staying at the William Harvey House and very nice it is too. It was designed and built in1826 by the architect John Nash (1752-1835) upon arrival I was shown around by the lovely desk clerk. My room being on the 3rd floor. Each of the rooms are named after famous physicians and the room I was in was named after Henry Halford. A quick history lesson…
Sir Henry Halford, 1st Baronet, GCH (2 October 1766 – 1844), born Henry Vaughan, royal and society physician, was physician extraordinary to King GeorgeIII from 1793 to 1820, then as physician in ordinary to his three successors – George IV, William IV and the young Victoria. He also served other members of the Royal Family until his death. I have to say the accommodation was first class, very nice and just next door to the Royal College of Physicians.

William Harvey House

I rang Scott to inform him of our arrival and we agreed to meet him in a local pub called the Green Man. It was just a short walk for Bex and I and once in we got a couple of drinks and went and grabbed a seat at a table. There we ordered something to eat and had a lovely chat about the future and where and what we could do to further our cause concerning Arctic One.

After a little while both Scott and his daughter arrived and we enjoyed a catch up as well as discussing various interesting topics. By ten time had gotten on, it had gone so quickly, must have been the interesting conversation and great company. Bex had to leave in order to catch her train back home, so we said our goodbyes. I am looking forward to working alongside both Bex, she is an awesome person, very friendly, likeable and from our small encounter very supportive. So a big thank you to Bex for taking the time out to come and meet with me, make friends and also set my mind at ease about not getting stressed out about undertaking what is a big challenge for me in the coming year ahead.

Again a little while later I was introduced to another likeable guy named Bobby. Bobby was taking part as one of the other models (there were four of us in total, Jade and Gary being the other two) all with different stories, however all to do with amputation and the Road to Recovery. We enjoyed a few more drinks then went back to the place we were booked in for the night to meet up with Jade, who is a young lady who lost her left leg in a terrible road traffic accident, where she happened to be a pedestrian. Gary didn’t arrive until later that evening so I didn’t get to meet him until the following morning and I was amazed to see he had a really cool micro-processed left hand. It was amazing as I was to find out during the course of his demonstration during the day.

I had a bit of an unsettled night; maybe it was pre-ride down stairs nerves lol. In the morning I awoke and met the guys in reception and we headed off for breakfast across the way at the college.

Not long after this the conference began and before I knew it, it was my time for my big entrance. I had checked out the planned route and was a little bit concerned about one thing. There was a hand rail to the left of the stairs starting at the top. I knew if I hit this with my bars as I turned it would all go horribly Pete Tong. This was on my mind. Scott and his wife held the doors open I rode in or tried to, dammit I couldn’t get my left foot clipped in in time and caught the side of the wall on entrance. I had to stop at the top of the stairs…Omg! Epic fail. I was determined I was going to do this so quickly said hold on to Scott, who must have been thinking something like “Awww crap Glenn” I’m sure he will tell me his exact thought’s in a mail lol. Anyhoo my 2nd attempt I came in with more pace, fully clipped in and blitzed the stairs no probs. My excuse for the fail first time around, well probably a little nervous, but also my bars are quite wide so it was awkward getting a good line and not hitting anything. Job done

throughout the day I was approached by some very interesting people who asked various questions relating to my amputation and the equipment I was using. And I really enjoyed this. I also got to see what other bits of kit other people are using and have to say at times you can get a tad jealous. Some of the new stuff that is coming through is just amazing and has the potential to enrich a person’s life who suffers from limb loss so much. The down side is cost, in some cases costing around £70,000 for one knee, this being the new Genium X3 by Otto Bock, which was designed incorporation by the US military.

After lunch I was asked to do a small demo outside whilst Jamie (one of Pace’s prosthetist’s) did a presentation. Jamie approached me explained what he wanted me to do and asked if I wouldn’t mind saying a few words briefly about how my particular prosthesis the Bartlett Tendon had helped me basically just get on with what I like doing. As many of you know I can talk, yes it’s mainly a load of crap as I tend to get excited. I think this comes from now being out in the real world rather than isolated at home ill. I had years of not really meeting new people and being cooped up in my house alone. It’s only just recently I have come to understand at times I talk way too much and don’t listen enough. I understand my fault’s however and I am working on it. So I do my little bit of a ride around and Jamie invites me over to say my piece. This is totally ad lib and my mind kind of goes’ blank. Never mind maybe not perfect but I think I managed to blag my way through. Probably everyone was pleased when I shut up any ways as they wouldn’t have been able to understand my accent. I’ve been told it’s really thick. Or maybe they actually mean I’m just thick lol. I didn’t think it was too bad until watching my friend Lee’s video which he shot the other week and I appeared on it. Then it was a case of Omg! Do I really sound like that, maybe I need elocution lessons. I have to admit I do sound pretty common, but hey that is who I am I guess and some people love me for it.

For me the day was almost over. I managed to see a few more presentations and speak to some more delegates and then it was time to pack up and make my way through the on a mission zombiefied (don’t know if that’s even a word) throng back to King’s Cross where I would catch my return train home.

I popped My location to King’s Cross in Google maps and proceeded to push my bike following the direction my sat nav pointed. Dear me I hate Google maps, every time I use it ,it sends me totally the wrong way and I end up walking miles in the wrong direction. As I recall the only time it has ever worked is when I went on a works night out, my work colleagues broke me with Yeager bombs and I was absolutely hammered and tried using it to walk home. After stopping numerous times and figuring out that the app was actually showing the map backwards as I walked forwards and so a left became a right and vice versa I thought I was on the right road. I was amazed as I was lost up this side street that I actually got this one smile of a young lady and NO she wasn’t that type of lady before you start thinking “ahh side streets”. As I walked along keep checking my phone I saw a gentleman who was in charge of one of the bike stands, where people can rent bikes to get around. He saw me pushing my bike and checked out my rather fat tyres, giving me a friendly nod. I headed towards him and asked “am I going in the right direction for King’s Cross”, “Yeah mate” he said “just head down past the fire station and the Natural History Museum, turn that thing off” he said laughing. What a nice bloke.

About half a mile or so and I was at King’s Cross. I had just got in the entrance and when a gentleman came up to me. He was pushing a foldy up bicycle and in a Scottish accent said “ahh I’ve got a Fat Bike up home, it’s a Surly”, he then proceeded to check out my Sandman. Saying “have you had it long” and asking where I was from. It soon turned out that Alan who was from Dunbar and I knew some of the same people, what a very small world. As soon as I mentioned Bruce (Coastkid71) and Jason, it was like “why aye man” and we enjoyed a goof 15 to 20 minute chat about the whole Fat Bike scene and who we knew. The power of Fat huh, this encounter with Alan just topped off my day as he was so friendly and very enthusiastic about talking about bikes. We said our goodbyes and I’d like to think I will someday bump into Alan again, maybe at one of the Fat bike festivals that Bruce organises. I was gutted I didn’t get to this years, just didn’t feel fit enough to ride miles.

Not long after chatting to Alan another gentleman approached me, again admiring my bike. I feel really guilty as I can’t remember catching his name. This lad was also real friendly; he was from Guisborough and catching the same train as me, getting off at Darlington. He had been to a conference, something to do with chemicals as I recall. Again I really enjoyed chatting and this lad was really helpful in getting my bike through the train ticket machine and pointing me in the right direction as to where to go. So if you get to read my blog and you recognise yourself, get in touch and a big thank you for your help. I enjoyed our chat even if it was brief, oh and keep putting ice on that Achilles.

Bike strapped in, got my seat, the train journey back seemed to take absolutely ages. It was quite boring to as I kept loosing internet connection so couldn’t play with my mobile phone. I tried snoozing on the way back, however couldn’t get comfortable.

Around 3 and a half hours later and I was back to Newcastle, where my dad met me off the train and went and collected my bike out of the baggage car for me. Traffic was fairly light so we were home in no time, ahhh a nice sit down and a cup of coffee out of the Tassimo. I really enjoyed my little adventure, hope I did Pace proud and hope that the delegates can take something useful away I'm sure they will as it was a fantastic event.

I would just like to say another big thank you to my friend Ade, who provides a lot of images totally free of charge as he likes to play his part in supporting me, this doesn't go un-noticed. The Main image used in Pace's poster for instance, with me riding my bike with a slightly wonky helmet. I like how Scott described this as "a patient almost rehabilitated", nice one.



  1. Great blog. Your accent is perfect ! You talk a lot because you're interesting and have so much to say and I bet you did all your sponsors proud ! x

  2. Thanks Michelle,well I try my best and to be honest I'm proud to come from the North East. I couldn't ever see myself living in a place like London, it's way too stressful and scary lol x