Rob: I mean, I layed on the floor in a plaster… in a half cast on my back, dictating letters to the company, and turning around doing accounts.
Alex: So you were still trying to work despite the situation?
Rob: Oh, inaudible 09.35 everything I possibly could, because I thought I was going to come out to back where I was.
Rob: I mean I thought I was going to be ending up doing a loop, and never thought in a million years that things would change so dramatically.
Rob: But at that point, that was… I mean we said this last night, there was a situation where I think people around me were more… I think I came to a point in my time in my mind where ‘ok, I’ve got to move forward and do something different, things have got to change,’ and think that’s a really big shock for most people. I said to you before, there’s situations where people with spinal injuries go to work, get up in a morning, go to work, get in their car, drive off, they have an accident, they may have a spinal injury, all of a sudden they go into spinal unit, they’re repaired, whatever they… whichever level it is and it’s from all the way down, [moving hand in front of body]…
Rob: …and depending on where it is, it depends on how severe they are and what they can do and how much mobility they’ve got. And at that point, they’ve then got to start dealing with the real world once they get out of the spinal unit and after the rehab and everything else. That’s when the shock sets in.
Rob: Because sometimes you can’t go back to your home even, let alone work, you know, the home’s not accessible, I mean then you think ‘well hang on, what about when I go back to work, can I get into work even, can I drive,’ those are the things you then… so once you’ve got past that, and that takes a long time to get over.
Alex: Yeah, well one of the things also… I think’s really interesting in your story is that initially the expectation was say that you’d do a loop, that you’d go back to being the person you were before…
Rob: Oh yeah.
Alex: …and then after three years, that obviously became clear that, that wasn’t going to happen, so at that point, talk us a little bit through how you then… how you were able to come to terms with what was happening and you then started to see a future which was very different from the past you were trying to get back to.
Rob: I mean I’d always been a hundred mile an hour, I’d never stopped. I was running doing this, running doing that. Once I think I was running five or six different companies simultaneously, which was what happened when I did my back, and we were doing lots of things, and yeah, it all seemed very exciting at the time, and yeah, we were going in the right direction which is very good and we were you know, successful and it was good fun, but suddenly it stops and you then have to take stock, and you sit back, and I’m the one who was laying there thinking ‘hang on a minute, what are we doing, how am I going to pay the bills, what am I going to do.’ Fortunately I was in a situation where I’d managed to be able to put a cushion of money away; sell the house, downsize. That was one of the first decisions we made and I think it was the right decision now. And I said ‘ok, right, we’ve got to turn around and keep the kids going and do everything else,’ because I’ve got… fortunately at that time I had two children, lot of time you know, sometimes I may not have been able to have children after the event, but I’d already had two children, so I thought ‘ok, that’s the most priority,’ you know, ‘their lives can’t be changed too much, we’ve got to carry on and they’ve got to be getting to school and doing things.’ And we moved from where we were, out a bit, downsized, carried on with the school kids [and] what I suddenly started realising is I saw my children. I was one of these absentee fathers. There’s a film where the dad, I think it’s Robin Williams, in one of the TV programmes, records his sons baseball games; he sends somebody from work with a video camera. I wasn’t far off that.
Alex: [Laughing] Ok.
Rob: It really was that bad, I mean I sent somebody to take photographs of the school play, I mean it was getting that bad because I couldn’t get back, so I suddenly thought ‘I’ve waited so long to have these, I’m missing it,’ you know, ‘this is the most important years of their life and I’m not even enjoying it and I’m not seeing it,’ so at that point I started taking more interest in what they were doing, who they were, and watching their life develop.
Alex: You see what’s to me is so interesting about that is I think in the situation you were in, I think what I think most people would do is they would focus on what they couldn’t do, and what they didn’t have any more, and what seems… what’s to me very inspiring about it is that you focussed on what is there that I’ve got, and how can I give myself the chance to really appreciate that.
Rob: I think from my point of view, I’m practical, I’ve always had an enquiring, practical mind. My attitude is if I can’t get in a door one way, I’m going to find another way.
Alex: [Laughing] Ok.
Rob: And if all else fails, I’m going to use a sledgehammer.
Jennie: I can vouch for that.
Alex: You’ve seen this in action?