In December 2012, Geoff was at home when he suddenly blacked out. The last thing he remembered was hitting the floor before he woke up two weeks later in the intensive care unit. The cause of his blackout was a stroke which left him paralysed from the waist down. It was a difficult time for Geoff, but he tried to stay optimistic throughout his hospital stay and rehabilitation.
‘I knew the mind set I had to be in was a winning mind set. I had to get on with it and do it because you’re going to have to do it eventually.’
Geoff progressed quickly and was even released early from hospital. But things were different when he went home.
‘I felt like things were closing in on me and my world was getting smaller and smaller.’
A staff member at the Duke of Cornwall spinal injuries unit recommended Back Up and he decided to get in touch. After several phone calls, he was asked if he’d like to go on a multi activity course in Exmoor. This experience proved to be the making of Geoff. Prior to his injury, Geoff had been an outgoing, sociable person. The chance to talk to other people with spinal cord injury, and the encouragement he received, helped him feel like his old self again.
‘I needed that at the time. I was on a downward slope. But being there with other people in wheelchairs was so helpful. That weekend helped me be me.’
Geoff’s ‘platinum’ moment, as he puts it, was when he went swimming. He was very scared of getting into the pool because he was worried that his stoma bag would come off. Geoff had to push himself to get in, but he was so glad he did it.
‘‘If I hadn’t done that, it wouldn’t have been the same. One of the volunteers said to me ‘I’ve never seen someone look as scared as you did getting into that pool. But when I saw you hit the water, I thought I’d never seen someone so happy.’ I enjoyed myself so much and that did it for me for the rest of the week.’’
Geoff is still in contact with some of the people from that course and he remembers their words of encouragement to this day. Even a year later, just talking about the course brings back many happy memories.
Geoff feels a lot more positive about his life now and is excited to see what the future holds. He recently did an indoor sky dive to raise funds for Back Up. He enjoyed himself immensely and would recommend the experience to anyone.
‘‘I try and have as much fun as I can. Some days it doesn’t work like that but you have to treat every day as it comes. Next month, I’m going to an opening evening at the college. I want to take English and Maths. I would like to help people really, care work would be great – something like what Back Up did for me.’’
If you’d like to do something fun for money, we’ve got a big range of accessible fundraising events, including Kayak the Great Glen on June 4 – 9. To find out more about all our events click here, or email Kat (Katherine@backuptrust.org.uk) for more information.