Helping Rob cope with Tetraplegia

Holiday in Dorset to finish the summer break

Rob has certainly kept busy over the latter part of the summer. Visits to walk the dogs at Westonbirt with his cousin Emily and her partner John from the States – though sometimes it is not clear who is taking who for the walk as Rosie and Pebbles become Robert’s huskies.

Taking a rest during the walk at Westonbirt

Taking a rest during the walk at Westonbirt

Saving on the batteries

Saving on the batteries

Blackberrying in the woods at home

Blackberrying in the woods at home

Then there were the blackberrying trips with Grandma – little did she know that they were destined for blackberry vodka rather than blackberry and apple pie. Rob also thoroughly enjoyed his day trip to Reading Festival with Rob and Gwillym. Calling it a day trip is misleading as they did not return until the small hours of the morning. Rob intends to look into making it a two day trip and camping over next year!

Gwillym and the two Robs started on coffee by the looks!

Gwillym and the two Robs started on coffee by the looks!

Beer at this stage!

Beer at this stage!

Having just returned from his week at Channel 4 and Reed Smith late Friday night it was a quick turn around for Rob and his care team to get ready for the family holiday at Axnoller near Beaminster in Dorset on Monday. It was a relatively last minute holiday and Rob and his family really appreciated the dedication of his care team who were prepared to work at sorting the rota so that all shifts could be covered. We booked a separate cottage close by for the carers for their base as it was not practical for them to do a shift, drive home for 2 1/2 hours and then be back on shift the next day.A separate van also had to be hired to take all the equipment including the extra wheelchair, air bed, wet ventilator circuit etc and all the consumable medical bits which certainly mounts up when a weeks supply is put together. Rob and family had a very peaceful and spacious farm cottage at West Axnoller Farm which was a great base for exploring the “Jurassic Coast” as well as trying out Rob’s skills against quad bikes on a trip to The Henley Hillbillies.Rob was very grateful to be allowed to use the track but it did require some persuasion,understandably to be allowed to go over their steeper humps. At one time Rob raced towards his Dad as his ventilator tube had become disconnected and asking the instructor to put it back on was not possible!!His instructor then asked whether it was only talking that Rob could not do when he was disconnected from his ventilator – no reason why he should have known any different!!

The quad bike racers - Rob, Dad, Kev the carer and Kirsty

The quad bike racers – Rob, Dad, Kev the carer and Kirsty

Kirsty and Rob at the Henley Hillbillies track

Kirsty and Rob at the Henley Hillbillies track

Apart from seeing some dramatic scenery along the coast at West Bay with the towering cliffs above or searching for the fossils at Charmouth beach Rob took on some challenging driving along coastal paths. These routes would not feature in any Accessible walks book but that did not phase Rob from giving it a go. It was the first series of steps that Rob had attempted and needless to say Rob made it look easy with the comment “if we are going to try Snowdon next year then we can’t be put off by these!” His Mum decided to walk in the other direction whilst the challenge was taken! Having successfully got up the steps it was frustrating to be stopped by a kissing gate a little further along the path! This video clip shows Rob heading back down the steps only to be met by someone who stopped Rob and asked if he would go and speak with his client who wanted to know all about the chair that Rob used. It turned out that “the client” was also tetraplegic although not ventilated and was someone who had been in Salisbury at the same time as Rob. They exchanged stories and each passed on their own practical tips about bits of equipment that helped them and about coping with the challenges of the dramatic sudden changes that had happened to both their lives. A small world.

The view from the top of the steps

The view from the top of the steps

You came up them so the only way is down.

You came up them so the only way is down.

Other walks along the coast paths also through up their driving challenges and one that required a fence to be temporarily moved but there were also some quieter times allowing everyone to enjoy the sea air and local dining.

The harbour at West Bay

The harbour at West Bay

Good local seafood was never far away in our plans!

Good local seafood was never far away in our plans!