If I can do it, you can too... Bernie's story
Do you look at others running a couple of miles or a marathon and think I could never do that? Well, all I can say is, if I can do it, you can too regardless of your fitness levels. Let me tell you why...
A year and half ago I woke up from surgery after an orthopaedic consultant put enough metal in my lower back to set off the scanners at the airport. An old injury had gotten the better of me and I spent nearly a year being 'lapped' down the corridor by everyone. A diagnosis of damaged vertebrae, collapsed discs and torn ligaments in my lower spine meant I had to adapt to living with long term chronic pain. In an unsuccessful attempt to reduce the pain the surgeons had even severed nerves in my spine, leaving me with permanently numb areas on my back and legs. If this paints a relatively bleak picture, I have to admit, it was very difficult to remain positive when I could hardly walk any further than 20 metres at a time and had not managed a 100 metres in a day for a year. Especially when the clinical view increasingly was that it may not improve.
A fantastic orthopaedic consultant finally suggested a 'flexible fusion' of the lower spine, requiring him to (carefully) fit a Meccano set of spacers, plates, screws and rods. After surgery it was as though my legs were not mine, but a random pair that had been grafted onto my body. Nearly three months of physiotherapy and the rather painful process of re-learning to walk properly again started. Every day I had to do rehab exercises (as basic as lifting my legs one at a time) followed by a couple of minutes on a treadmill, holding on to the rails determined not to fall off and become an internet video star. But every step hurt; a lot!
It has taken a year and half, and today you can (hopefully) hardly notice I walk with a limp. More importantly I have got my fitness levels back and I'm able to run once again. I was privileged enough to do the Simplyhealth Great Winter 5k Run in Edinburgh last weekend; proudly wearing the Simplyhealth t-shirt. For me, those 5 kilometres may as well have been a marathon, because for me it was a huge personal triumph. The sense of accomplishment, the sense of freedom and achievement is indescribable. If nothing else my experience has shown me very clearly that anything is possible. Set a goal, get started and quite simply do not give up. Do not let others tell you that you can't, and let those who want to see you succeed, help you. It will be worth it and if I can do it, you can... anyone can.
To find out more about Simplyhealth The Great Run Series, and the events coming up throughout the year, visit https://www.greatrun.org/
Head of New Proposition