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Trip Up in the Sun

This year has been emotionally gruelling for me. From within a situation, you can become overwhelmed, not knowing which way to turn. I needed to take a step back and reassess my priorities. So, I booked a flight to Tenerife. I cast my mind back to my wish to go travelling so decided to see this as a test run. I deliberately didn’t make plans, no itinerary, no expectations. Was I going to find myself? Lose myself? Only time would tell…

I was waiting for the taxi early Monday morning, around 2 AM I think. I was “bricking” it. I have never been out of the country on my own, much less in an electric wheelchair, which is in itself, quite restrictive already. I’d not slept for some time, so the stress was already starting to take its toll. I only became more nervous when I saw Stansted airport looming. To say I was daunted would be the mother of all understatements. It reminded me of venturing into the corporate world when I had only been a factory worker. I asked myself am I biting off more than I can chew? When I had checked in and was waiting to board the plane, a helpful member of staff came over and informed me that it was unlikely I’d be able to transport my cumbersome electric wheelchair, being that it doesn’t fold down. Brilliant, my test run had potentially crashed before it had even taken off. He explained that he’d see what he could do, so I boarded the plane hoping that my wheelchair would be waiting for me in Tenerife.

When the plane landed four hours later, I got off the plane and my wheelchair was indeed waiting for me. Happy days! I pointed at it to the Spanish staff member who didn’t understand much English. He understood enough, though, to inform me that it wasn’t mine. I had quite a compelling argument as to why it WAS, but he couldn’t understand it. I sat in the wheelchair and firmly refused to budge while he had a debate with his colleagues. I’m not sure what the outcome was, but I managed to “steal” it and get out of the airport, and waited for a bus. For some unknown reason, I’d decided to stay in Santa Cruz at the other side of the island. The right bus came but wasn’t equipped to take my wheelchair. I waited for the next bus and had the same problem. And the next, and the next. I decided to call the local bus station and enquire. They explained that there are only two accessible buses for this long journey, that I’ve missed the first and the next is in a couple of hours. Looking at the hundreds of people going about their adventures freely, and me not even being able to get out of this airport, I was feeling lower than low. Couple that with the tiredness and stress, and I was a mess. When the accessible bus finally came, the driver had to drop everything, holding everyone up, to operate a complicated lift system. He got me onto the bus and strapped me in like a useless piece of meat. This wasn’t what I’d envisaged his trip to be like at all! I got to the hotel after having a meltdown and feeling about as upset as you could possibly be. I was cheered up immediately when I got there and got a much-needed early night.

I did a bit of research and found out about a local beach which had been made accessible. I took a bus (all of the inter-urban buses are accessible) and went to the nearby beach. It was lovely and I sunbathed for most of the day. I got chatting to some people who are employed simply to help the disabled visitors. They explained how they can take me out into the sea. I expessed how I would very much like this and they dumped me in the sea and left. THIS was more what I had in mind!

I went back to Santa Cruz in high spirits and sat “people watching” outside with some rum. I then went back to the hotel, did some more research and made some enquiries. The rest of the holiday became a bit of a blur. I know that I went to see the new Star Wars movie a day before UK release.

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I also went on a tour of Teide National Park. I was able to take some great photos.

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The tour guide said, “Hey, I’ve got a gift for you.” He handed me a piece of obsidian. I don’t know if this is merely coincidence, but from here the holiday became amazing and I managed to make some tough personal decisions. Since looking at the symbolism of obsidian, it is told to remove negativity and help cut attachment cords. This great day was rounded off when I went to take a closer look at the National Auditorium. I thought wouldn’t it be cool if I could see an orchestra play here?
I went in to see if there were any tickets available for anything during the duration of my stay. The girl behind the desk explained that there was only the gospel choir playing within the date range I’d given her. Then added, “The Symphony Orchestra are playing tonight…” Amazing! And they were just that.

I got a reply back from one of the enquiries that I’d made; I’d explained my mobility issues to a company who specialise in paragliding from Teide. They told me it would be entirely possible. I arranged to be picked up from my hotel, armed only with a walking frame. The lead up to this experience yielded this beautiful picture:

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Here is me doing the jump:

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Feeling a sense of elation, I went back to Santa Cruz and found out just how generous this Spanish are with their glasses of rum. I woke up the next day regretting having made this discovery. With the state that I was in, I resigned to just get a replacement case for my sunglasses and go back to the hotel to feel sorry for myself. As I was rolling up the street, I thought I’d heard English sounds emanating from a couple up ahead. Having only spoken to Spanish folk in the manner that you would talk to a baby, I was missing exercising my vocabulary. I stalked them for some time until they sat down by the side of the road, on a shop window ledge. I approached them and we got chatting. They were a couple, Taciana from Argentina, Joe from New Zealand. They explained how they had just travelled across Europe, paid for only by music. They fascinated me, living a life I had dreamed of.

They were currently busking to raise money for a guitar for Joe, which he normally played while Taciana (or Tash) sang. They had a speaker and microphone but the adapter for these broke, so Joe went in search of a replacement. They said I was welcome to stay and watch Taciana sing a cappella while he was gone. I did this.

She sang a Spanish song, and it was beautiful. I could hear her passion for life in her voice. I can hardly comprehend someone going to such lengths, simply to enjoy this world. I then got thinking about how I am only where I am, because people have helped me. It’s time to give back. I approached Tash and told her that I would buy them the guitar. When she’d finished telling me that I didn’t have to do that, she was over the moon and couldn’t wait for Joe to get back. She excitedly managed to give him the good news and he disappeared yet again, this time to procure a guitar. Upon his return, wearing a smile like the Cheshire Cat, we set off so that they could buy me some drinks to say thank you. Joe’s smile didn’t fade, apart from when he started beat boxing and playing his guitar while walking; he had so much music pent up in him. They are my kind of people; we had the best conversation about life. They played me a few songs, some of which Joe had written himself, one which he dedicated to me as it resonated with me. It was called I’m Not Stuck in the System; I’m sure most reading this know that I indeed should be, should have been written off with no hope of life. Of THIS! We went back to the spot where we had met, and they sang with their new guitar, to raise enough money so they could buy me dinner. I loved watching passers-by taking joy from these two, a woman even grabbing the guitar and singing a song! We had dinner and agreed to meet the next day.

When I met them the next day, they were with Bart, a nice Polish chap who was travelling in the same manner. I saw the Law of Attraction at work, as these sort of positive people seem to group together. We all went for a drink and everybody passed the guitar around and laughed (apart from me, I just laughed).

joe-and-tash

bart

Then the “guitar grabber” walked past and did her thing. She grabbed and sang. She is filled with an immeasurable energy and love, which is highly infectious.

mariaa

She said that she was having a party in the mountains tomorrow, and that we should all come! I said that I would get us all a taxi up there, but the next day she was to turn up at my hotel having procured the use of her friend’s minibus. I went off to the mountains.

That night I saw a side of life I have not yet had the privilege of knowing. It was a group of people, many of whom had never met, whose only motives were to make sure that everybody had as good a time as they did. It was like I had known them for many years, and it was an honour to be accepted in this way. I stayed up till 5 AM, drinking and singing and laughing, enjoying more happiness than I have done in a long, long time. They next day, I was sat on the porch, overlooking spectacular views while the fiesta continued (minus the drinking!) Joe started playing with some beats he’d made from scratch with an app on his phone, which was connected to a speaker. I got excited and asked him to play my song, which I promptly recorded. I can’t believe that this music sprang out of nowhere without warning, most of it being improvised “on-the-fly”. This sort of thing has been happening constantly, but I was too busy enjoying it to be recording. Caution, the following video contains some naughty words (the picture is the amazing view I was looking at):

P.S The guitar get’s amazing!!

My only regret is that I didn’t re-book my flight and stay for longer. I have taken a lot from this holiday. One of the main things I noticed was my differing reaction to the two amazing events of the previous day. I have been recording the summary of the days events using a dictaphone. When describing the epic paragliding experience, I was quite calm and reserved. However, when I was describing the invitation to the party, it started, “OH! MY! GOD!” So, it appears that I get much more fulfilment from amazing people than I do amazing experiences; that amazing people to me are amazing experiences! The other main thing I took from this holiday is a note I wrote to myself, to be repeated to me every day:

Look at the things people overcome to experience this beautiful world. They mainly contend with money, you don’t have to. Instead, you have mobility problems. Swings and roundabouts. You owe it to yourself to not waste this opportunity.


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This has to be my favourite picture from Tenerife – some of my new amigos

This trip lifted my spirits beyond belief and reinforced that there are endless possibilities if you can only dream them.

Happiness. Not Just a Chance, But a Choice.

I couldn’t have put it better myself! Please read these uplifting words from Inspired Beacon

Happiness is not just a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. You can be as happy as you make up your mind to be. Once you realize that happiness is not controlled by outside forces but instead by what goes on inside your mind, you can make happiness a choice, day by day.…

Source: Happiness Not Just a Chance, But a Choice

My Story

Read about how I temporarily bested the Grim Reaper; how I fought impossibility to earn a fulfilling life.

Source: My Story

 

2015 UKABIF Conference

Hi peeps,

I’ve had a pretty mental week. Supremely re/ a-warding though…(certainly not relating to the calibre of my jokes!)

On Wednesday, 11 November I went to the 2015 UKABIF conference in London. I thought it was just to say a few words about why I’d chosen to raise money for this awesome charity and be presented with a thank you type award.

I got up on the stage expecting this to happen.

It did not.

Pre-speech

The speaker announcing the awards started describing little old me. And then announced to everybody, including me, that I had won the ‘Stephen McAleese award for inspiration by an individual in the field of ABI’!!

Have a look at this link to see just how amazing this man was and hopefully you will see why this is such an honour:

http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/recognition-for-late-cumbrian-man-who-inspired-others-1.902917

 

 

Award presented by John and Susan McAleese, Stephen's parents

Award presented by John and Susan McAleese, Stephen’s parents

Suddenly, the thank you that I had written didn’t seem too much anymore. If anything, it seemed way too little! Here are the few words that I said (still in a state of shock I might add):

” Hello.

I’ve been asked to say a few words about why I chose to raise money for UKABIF. Let me start by introducing myself:

My name is Nick Verron. On July 4, 2009 I was attacked resulting in a TBI. I was stabbed through my left temple with a 10 inch screwdriver, so deep and with so much force that the handle smashed my skull leaving fragments strewn in my brain. This resulted in a subarachnoid haemorrhage and left me in a coma with a GCS of 3. I was expected to become a persistent vegetable. I’m told that the best I could hope for was to wake up and have the mentality of a happy 2 year old. When I woke up after a month with normal cognitive function, the medical profession was shocked. I understand that there is a short window where rehabilitation is most effective as the brain is plastic. However, for me there was no rush? Apparently this is quite commonplace. We need to be making sure that this window is fully utilised.

The term “traumatic brain injury” has two meanings for me. The period after my injury was the epitome of traumatic. I don’t want people to have to feel the way that I did, to have to fight against parts of the medical profession at every turn to fight for a recovery they are not supposed to have. There is so much out there which could help brain injury sufferers. But even if there were a cure for world hunger, it would be useless if we didn’t know where to find it! There needs to be fundamental change in how neurological injuries are treated, from start to finish.
UKABIF are in the corner fighting for all brain injury, DEDICATED to bringing about that change. They stand to drastically improve the quality of life of so many.

I chose to raise money for UKABIF because if I were to start my own charity, it would look like UKABIF.”

When I’d finished, the applause seemed massive. I just thought to myself, “did you EVER expect to feel this, a lecture theatre filled with 100’s of professionals, clapping after you just stood up to give a speech?”. It wasn’t long ago I couldn’t even sit up; not long before that I couldn’t even talk! I think the biggest achievement of the day was not bursting out into tears of happiness.

Nick speaking

Belief in myself, against all odds, had paid off.

 

“Never let life impede on your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen.” – Corin Nemec

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