Written by Jim Roberts
Edited by Genevieve Gordon
2: Upside Down
Life getting turned upside down, that’s exactly what if felt like lying in a hospital bed. I was recovering from bacterial meningitis. I still don’t know where I contracted the disease from; I do know that everything changed.
The recovery process was long and slow. Probably a lot to do with my stubborn nature. I’m a firm believer that you have to hit your rock bottom before you can pick yourself back up again For me unfortunately rock bottom was a cardiac arrest and back into intensive care.
Friends and family were absolutely essential to my recovery. I spent two and a half years in hospital. By the time I’d reached the rehab hospital I was again motivated and working hard to become as self-supporting as possible. I’d visit the hospital gym whenever I could – I wanted my independence back.
Team sport had been a big part of my life before contracting meningitis and I knew I had to be involved in that atmosphere again. I had played a lot of rugby prior to meningitis so I went back to my old club to watch a few games. It was infuriating to watch international rugby, these were my friends and I just wanted to be out there helping them to succeed.
So how did I get into wheelchair rugby?
I’d been told about wheelchair rugby whilst doing my rehab by one of the ward nurses, she said I might have the right kind of disability to be successful in the sport. She actually got in touch with the then GB physiotherapist asking if they’d have a look at me.
I didn’t get involved straight away but when I did I thought it would be a lot easier to progress than it was. Although I was working out I was no where near fit enough to play this game at any kind of competitive level at all.
I massively enjoyed the sport but my primary focus was still to finish the degree I’d started before meningitis. Wheelchair rugby took a bit of a backseat as a hobby to build a bit of a fitness base.