IT is likely this morning you woke up, either jumped out of bed or dragged yourself out and went about your morning routine running on auto pilot.

Or maybe you pursued a passion like going for a run or a bike ride. 

But did you stop to say thank you to your legs or even just to appreciate the level of independence you have from doing all this on your own? 

Most people won’t stop to think how lucky they are to perform simple routines like these without much cognitive effort. 

I often write about how I have struggled more with my spinal cord injury than I have done with my tumour. 

In many ways I feel like I died in 2016 when I woke up paraylsed, in one surgery almost everything I loved was taken away from me.  

It also feels like we are no closer to a cure for spinal cord injury in 2022 than we were 20 years ago.

That’s despite there have been some great breakthroughs in the medical world over that period.

As someone living with a spinal injury, I am not sure in my lifetime I will ever move again, but this doesn’t stop me trying to.

Having self-efficacy is an important trait when you find yourself in my position.

And a component of self-efficacy comes from seeing people like yourself succeed by their sustained effort.

This in turn raises your belief that you too posses the capabilities to master certain activities.  

This could be as simple as dressing yourself, or for some maybe getting back into sport. 

I had many of these experiences in hospital and even now I look weekly for others like me who are smashing life with paralysis.

I try to live in a certain way to provide these experiences for others who are struggling. 

In many ways, the spinal cord injury community try to help each other as much as you can.  

However, when it comes to a fellow athlete, I know exactly what they are going through.

How one day you’re one of the fittest people around, then next having bed baths unable to even feed yourself. 

The impact of this fall is beyond comprehension.

It is something you never think will happen to you.  

I follow the hashtag #spinalcordinjury on Instagram.

Maybe it is in search of these vicarious experiences to give myself hope, or to just reach out to help others.

But whatever it is I came across Nathan Ford - a Welsh athlete who was paralysed in 2021.

His Instagram went from photos of his athletic prowess to him lying in a hospital bed. 

I instantly felt a deep level of compassion, because I knew the feeling of one day posting a bike photo to then facing a climb like no other.  

At what was possibly the highest point of Nathan’s fitness in his 2021 season, the 37-year-old was racing in the British Triathlon Championships in Aberfeldy when he crashed on the bike leg resulting in him damaging his spinal cord. 

Waking up in hospital paralyzed from the neck down is a very traumatic experience. 

There aren’t many positives, but he was lucky to not to have a brain injury and lucky still to be alive.  

There is an initial moment of thanks, the internal words of ‘I am alive and don’t have a brain injury’, then the gravity of the spinal injury hits you.

It is the fear of the unknown. ‘Will I walk again?’ ‘How badly is the cord damaged?’

In this moment it helps having the mindset of an athlete, it goes to work right away with planning and setting goals. 

But there are the dark times, times when you question life and wonder how am I going to live like this. 

It drives you to rehab hard, and that’s exactly what Nathan has done. I have followed his recovery over the last months and exchanged messages of hope and inspiration.  

To go from peak fitness to bedbound is heart breaking and even more so when you know there is no current cure for this injury. 

But Nathan has taken that fitness and mindset and applied to his rehab. 

I felt like I was taking each step with him when I watched him take those first few steps with the aid of a Zimmer frame. 

Who knows if Nathan will ever ride a bike again, but watching his determination via his Instagram posts is one that can inspire you to be more mindful of those morning routines.

For me, well I believe he WILL ride again.

And that’s what I hope for Nathan, that he finds away of riding and feels the wind in his face again.