Spinal Cord Injury
On Saturday April 15th 2000, John obtained the timber for parallel bars to be erected at his home in Cornwall, On Sunday I went to John's home and completed the job, for tomorrow was to be a momentous occasion indeed.
John was left paralysed, in 1990, when surgery to his spine went wrong. He was told that after two years any chance of further recovery would be highly unlikely and for the next six years he experienced little if any change in his condition.
Monday morning I am on my way to John's home in Cornwall, to meet with Tim Iredale, who is a news reporter for Carlton Television South-West. We intended to witness something truly magical. But could not have imagined what was in store for us.
John was about walk in front of a television camera and crew for the first time in close to ten years. John had told me that he had regained the ability to move his legs, but I had grossly underestimated how much function John had regained.
During the interview, John was asked to show how he manages to get out of bed now and he transferred with ease both in and out of bed, leaning back and lifting his legs. He was then asked to raise his legs while lying on the bed and he obliged with ease. When asked if he could feel when touched on his legs, he replied my legs feel like normal legs instead of heavy weights. John then went on to explain how much of the swelling in his legs had gone-and that this flies in the face of the current act of elevating the legs above the heart. Advise from the medical profession, which John duly ignored in favour of sleeping with his legs down.
Fortunately for John this meant that he could now wear ankle braces and special shoes, which would, provided support for his substantially weakened and as yet unresponsive ankles.
John approached the parallel bars in his wheel chair and applied the brakes when he was in position. He grasped the two ends of the parallel bars and using his legs he pushed himself into a vertical position. Towering some six feet four inches, John moved one leg in front of the other, bending the knees as he lifted each leg to walk 12 feet to the end of the bars. I turned and looked at Tim and saw disbelief and astonishment flash across his face, I bet my face was a sight to behold too. John then turned his powerful 19 stone body around and walked, yes walked back to his chair. Struggling and somewhat weakened by the experience, he lowered his body into the chair and his face had the expression of a boxer who had just knocked down his opponent. He said casually: 'Was that alright'? John had indeed delivered a powerful blow to his opponent.
Fortunately heavy rain prevented us from doing a retake and the rest of the interview took place in John's bedroom.
When the story was finished and everyone was ready to leave, I turned and thanked the camera man and Tim Iredale, who turned and said that this is one of those days that you will always remember, one of those days when you know exactly what you were doing.
The cameraman said while shaking my hand that: ' it has been a privilege to work with me and witness the results from such a simple application'.
I drove home the richest man alive that day and will remember it for the rest of my days.
On Monday the 17th April 2000 I waited for the local news on Carlton TV and saw the opening news which pictured me looking down my inclined bed, a simple bed designed to take us into the new millennium. After the interlude the fun really started. John was walking for everyone in the South West of England to see, at least. The news stayed focused on the remarkable effects of two eight-inch blocks tucked under the head end of John's bed. No $billion research, no waiting for the next ten years to see if it works and no room for any refutation of the results, which were plain for everyone to see on Carlton Television, News, Language Science Park, Plympton, Plymouth, Devon, UK. But John is not the only person with a spinal cord injury, who is benefiting from the effects of gravity, in fact there are two more people in the Torbay Area of Devon who are making steady progress.
In 1990 I had two slipped discs, and had a lamenectomy which ended up with me being unable to walk. It is thought that a delay of 39 hours for surgery to what was found to be a compression of the spinal cord was responsible for my paralysis.
I was lucky enough to get a bed at ROOKWOOD Hospital, a place that I cannot thank or speak highly enough of, they gave me back the will to live.
After two years all the slow progress stopped as I had been informed to expect. I had no feeling from the hips down and no movement of the legs at all. Luckily my arms were o.k so transfers to the wheelchair were more of a throw which usually ended with my coccyx hitting the wheel, but as there was no feeling, so it didn't bother me too much. After a few months came the most horrendous phantom pains like a knife attached to the mains that struck anywhere in the legs or feet, for this I was on strong painkillers or if it was too bad injections. When driving my car around a corner, I had to wedge my head against the roof of the car to stop my body from falling over. This was due to damage to the nerves, which used to control the nerves which held my upper body erect, something I used to take for granted as everyone else does.
Getting into bed would involve tremendous effort. I would throw my rear onto the bed and then with my right hand holding the wheel, I would pull my left leg up, with my left hand, holding my trouser leg. Then holding the bedding with my left hand, I would pull my right leg up with my right hand. At one stage I had even asked for my legs to be amputated, as they were useless and hung heavily. In addition my toenails would fall out on a regular basis, predominantly the big toe nails, often coming away when I removed my socks.
I often bumped my coccyx while transferring from my wheelchair, though I could not tell if I had injured myself, due to the absence of pain. About two years ago a cutting from a paper was sent to me, it was about Andrew
Fletcher's raised bed. I rang Andrew and he explained his theory and told me how to raise the bed. The bed was raised eight inches that day, when I saw the bed it looked impossible not to end up on the floor at the foot. However that night was wonderful, the phantom pains stopped and I had a full nights sleep. Slowly things started to improve, improvements such as instead of having to grab my sock or trouser leg to lift my legs onto the bed I could lean back and swing them up, muscles in my thighs started to twitch, turning over in bed became possible without having to grab the side of the bed and pull myself over, not having to pull my legs over by hand.
I have experienced so many improvements that creep up and are not noticed until days later.
Pains started again and I thought here we go again, but it soon became obvious to me that it was nerve regeneration pains that I was experiencing. Although they felt like previous pains, these stayed in the same place anything from six to twenty four hours. The next time the pains moved further down the leg, now I am glad to say those pains have gone the last ones were in my toes. The present pains are in the feet again but generated from the nerve that runs under the buttocks, now the feeling has come back to that area it makes sitting in the wheelchair most uncomfortable, but that is the next problem to get over, but I will, in the knowledge that something else will improve when the new pains subside.
Now, what I would like to say to everyone who reads this is; if you have any medical problem try it, and more importantly "stick with it"! Most of all have faith in the healing power of gravity, it has worked for me, AND WHEN I WALK AGAIN!
I will first thank Andrew, and secondly I will let everyone that reads this web page know about it.
The injury was caused by negligence in a small Cottage Hospital.
For many years my left ankle kept going out of joint and allowing me to fall over, there was no back pain at all for many years, then a Doctor told me it was a disc going. So it was fixed and for about seven weeks everything was fine, then pain started to build up and I was in hospital again, the pain got really bad but as medication was every four hours and there was no doctor in the hospital I could get no help. All of a sudden there was a shooting pain down my right leg and up my left.
I ended up with no movement or feeling, no bowel control and was on self catherization and had dreadful phantom pains, I went to a spinal centre for six months with very small improvements however I was taught how to manage myself.
This went on for eight years injections were the only way to get rid of the pains when they hit which was nearly all the time. I was sent an article about raising the head of the bed, I read it and really could not see how it could help my pain, but being a person that have always had a go at things I bought six four inch building blocks and got a friend to take off the casters, and there was my bed that we both laughed at with the headboard leaning over and we both thought I would be on the floor in the morning.
As usual I put my injection by the side of my bed, took my oral medication and watched tv. The moment I got on the bed it felt strange but all of a sudden I heard the tv, it was morning, my injection was unused and best of all there was no pain, and although I was waiting for it to hit me it did not come, it was wonderful, and there was no pain for a month.
Then all of a sudden I had a horrendous pain at the top of my left buttock, luckily there were some injections left and then after four days it left as fast as it arrived, after that it came again at odd intervals but it worked down my left leg and up my right. These were not the same pains but always after they moved feeling and movement came back, so they were nerve regeneration pains, it has taken a long time but now my bowels are fine as before, there is no need to use a catheter any more.
Six blocks raise the head eight inches. Take out the casters, put two on top of each other flat on each side of the head that's eight inches each side leave the foot on the floor and put the other two one on each side in the centre to support the middle of the bed.
A friend and I have been trying this for several years and we find that it is worth trying different heights, do not go lower that six inches but try eight to start with. My injury was L1-L2 and L4-L5 incomplete, my friend was worse than me and complete vehicle crash but he had his 20 years before he tried the raised bed, he is getting improvements but slower than me.
I apologise for not replying before, I have spent hours trying to find you, so I asked Andrew to send this letter to you, but I am still going to try to send it myself, you will find this is slightly different that is because I found a few mistakes.
Please do not be afraid to have a go, it costs only the price of the blocks, and it works.
John has just realised that he can now feel a catheter, when it is inserted and it's Very painful! He only noticed because he was going to a public place, and although he does not need a catheter now, he thought it would be convenient, so tried to put one in. He added, before, you could have knocked one in with a hammer and I would not have felt a thing.
After my spinal problem I had two DVT'S and my right leg was enormous and the lower leg was black. After raising my bed 8 inches because of pain I forgot about my leg but it must have been a long time I noticed it was the same size as the other leg and the movement was improving.
04-16-2003 I got blown out of the wheelchair during a storm
and broke that leg and up it went again. This time I cut it badly and soaked a towel in blood I was just about to get some help when it stopped, so I wrapped it up in a clean towel and went to sleep I woke in the morning and it appeared that a clear liquid had been leaking into the towel but it had stopped and the leg was down quite a lot and it is still improving.
The whole of that leg is swollen because of the latest operation, but it is getting better. Swellings do improve with the raised bed but it takes time.