20 Years Staying Strong

January 8 2020

  January afternoon and it’s nearly dark already. I’m still working in the call centre, it’s so painful typing with my amputated right arm and my rubbish prosthetic. It keeps on falling apart when I’m halfway through a call. I’ve become brilliant at improvising. Waiting in reception late at night for my lift home, peering […]

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What to do about December…

November 8 2019

December is the cruellest month. I can feel it coming down the tracks. It’s a big, bad, dirty locomotive that has the potential to crash through my world. This year is the 20thanniversary of my sepsis crisis and near-death experience. Although my memories of what happened are sketchy, they still form a powerful undercurrent to […]

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Controlling what I put into my head

October 27 2019

A quick update. The clocks have gone back, autumn is closing in. In Rutland, we’re surrounded by beautiful countryside and we’re exposed to the elements. The wind, the rain, the falling skies. At this time of year, I have to work harder on my mental health. December is when the crisis of sepsis nearly destroyed […]

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I forget

October 6 2019

I forget. It’s one of the symptoms of Post Sepsis Syndrome. Short term memory loss. I can’t hold a piece of information in my head and cross reference it to another. So, sequences of thought and the development of ideas becomes problematic, sometimes impossible. Often this means I go round and round in thought circles […]

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So Lonely

September 29 2019

I’ve become acutely aware lately of how easy it is for people to feel suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of isolation and loneliness. Relationships break up, people are moving frequently into new areas, children leave home, bereavement comes out of the blue. We are not prepared in any way to deal with such radical changes […]

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The Truth About Sepsis & Disability

September 8 2019

                    I worked hard all my life My early years were difficult, my Dad abandoned us and my Mum struggled to keep us housed and together. But I went to a good Comprehensive school and I applied myself. I got into Exeter University and came away […]

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If You Love Somebody

August 11 2019

Set them free. I’m coming up to a milestone in my life, as my son is about to leave home to start at university. He’s been such a good friend to me over the last nineteen years, I’ve kind of built my world around him, so it’s going to be tough to see him go. […]

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Body Beautiful

August 3 2019

I have spent many years being ashamed of the way I look. I often get stared at when I’m out, because I have an amputated face and four prosthetic limbs. Also for a while I had a trachaetomy punched through my throat, breathing stents protruding from my nose and other visible wounds following facial surgery. […]

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Next Steps Resilience

June 29 2019

Wow, what an action packed few weeks we’ve had. We’ve had a terrific response to our most recent speaking appearances at the Hull Sepsis Congress and the RCN Congress in Liverpool. Two brilliant cities where we had the chance to talk to thousands of hardworking nurses, doctors, technicians & healthcare workers making a real impact […]

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Are You Healing?

June 22 2019

This weekend I’m mostly sitting down. I’d like to be up and about on my prosthetic legs, but I’ve had a wound on my left knee for about two months now, and it’s not even close to healing. So I’m grounded, and that’s really frustrating, because I have things to do. I’ve tried dressing and […]

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When The Rain Comes

June 15 2019

It rained this week in Rutland. I mean, it really came down, in a biblical deluge.  We were driving home from Stamford, along the shore of Rutland Water, when the skies opened. So much rain, falling so hard on the roof of the car, it felt dangerous. I had to grip the wheel extra tight […]

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Strong & Silent?

June 9 2019

I have to tell you about my grandad’s shed.

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He’s Got Legs

June 1 2019

I’ve got new legs. I mean, they’ve made me new prosthetic legs, because the shape of my stumps has changed with time, and the old legs weren’t fitting so comfortably. I had to go to the limb fitting centre which is out near the M1 beyond Leicester. It takes about an hour to drive there. […]

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Long Term Resilience

May 12 2019

The bluebells in the woods right now are so beautiful. Well. It’s been one of those full on weeks. We did all our usual stuff, ticking over here in Rutland, plus we ran our Resilience workshops in London. We met some more amazing people. Nurses and healthcare assistants who work under pressure in under resourced […]

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Anxiety & Me

May 5 2019

Honesty is an important part of being resilient, and although I work every day to react with strength and balance to the difficult things in my life, I struggle to keep anxiety at bay. With 4 amputations, I feel physically vulnerable, and at the moment I have a cut on my leg that just won’t […]

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Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence?

April 21 2019

Two years ago Tom and Nic Ray teamed up with Pippa Bagnall and formed the public speaking business Resilience+Co. We have developed a strong and unique partnership through our respective experiences as patient, carer and clinician and have two ambitious objectives: To raise awareness of sepsis, emphasising the importance of early diagnosis and treatment Inspiring individuals to […]

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On Bereavement

April 13 2019

Then on Tuesday I came out of the Call Centre, Nic was standing by our car and straight away she told me that my brother-in-law Dave had died suddenly from a heart attack.    It felt like the ground was falling away from beneath me. It felt like something that could not be. I’ve known […]

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Five Great Ways I Brought Resilience Into My Life

March 23 2019

Change. Decisions, priorities, conflicts of interest. The pressure of time. Dwindling resources. That feeling of responsibility and having to make the right choice. What are the key behaviours we need to get right, to remain resilient? It’s important to define these, because we have limited mental, physical and emotional energy in adjusting to changing circumstances. […]

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You Can Do

March 15 2019

Here are three facts: Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine, which successfully eradicated an illness that had claimed approximately 500 million lives in the 20th century alone. The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, has enabled scientists and health professionals worldwide to make unparalleled medical breakthroughs. A businessman who experienced sudden financial ruin collected 1.4 billion […]

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Knowing When To Say ‘No’

March 9 2019

We sometimes need to say ‘no’. It’s an important element in our resilience as individuals and parents, and in our careers. But it’s not easy. These days, we’re under such a lot of pressure to do this and do that, to buy the latest thing that’s been advertised at our kids, to stay late at […]

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Under Pressure

March 2 2019

Life moves quickly, and with so many people under so much stress at work and at home, aggressive behaviour can come out of nowhere to challenge us. Customers, colleagues, friends and relatives can suddenly turn on us, without a moment’s warning. How do we stay calm in these instances, how do we control our reactions, […]

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You’re Stronger Than You Thought

February 23 2019

You’re unbeatable. I know you are. You’ve lived all these years now, you’ve overcome all kinds of adversity, and you’re still going. Every time you had a setback, you regrouped, you worked out how to fix things, you quietly carried on. You proved to yourself and you proved to the world that you were stronger […]

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Amazing, fantastic and lucky

February 16 2019

“If you are hitting your head against the same brick wall over and over, walk in the opposite direction – then life’s gifts will flow again.” Good advice. Thank you, Monique Hohnberg. Something about her words resonates with me. And I got to thinking… how in my own life am I hitting the same brick […]

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Doing More Of What Keeps You Calm

February 9 2019

I am looking out over Porthmeor beach, in St Ives, Cornwall. It’s early morning, there’s hardly anyone else around, but the sun’s already rising. I’m thinking about the day that lies ahead. A warm breeze is blowing, I’m watching the white gulls gliding in from either side. A dog is running in and out of […]

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What’s The News?

February 2 2019

Sometimes, just getting from one day to the next can seem like the hardest thing. How can we make that easier, when the news agenda is constantly ringing alarm bells? I made a list of 10 changes in behaviour that contribute to improved resilience, and the first action I thought of was to avoid bad […]

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Finally I Know What I Want

January 26 2019

Simplicity. Comfort. Solvency. Love. Health. Fulfilment. These six things, I feel they will give me the equilibrium to respond positively to changes that will inevitably come. Happiness, even. Because, I’m choosing to be happy. Like you, I was born that way, and so many good things have happened to me in the last 57 years, […]

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10 Powerful Reactions To A Setback

January 19 2019

You lost. The dream is over. What you wanted, what you were relying on, is suddenly something you can’t have. Something you relied on, has suddenly been taken away. You’ve got bad news, you’ve had a shock, it’s difficult to think straight. You’re feeling small, you’re feeling angry, you’re full of fear. I understand. I […]

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How To Lose Well

January 12 2019

I’ve just come back from the King Power stadium where my team Leicester City lost 1-2 to Southampton United. By the end, the atmosphere was brutal, with thousands of fans shouting at our players, and calling for the manager to resign. Any football fan will tell you this is a common experience. In today’s professional […]

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Do You Mind?

January 4 2019

Hospital corridor, 6AM. Hum of the electric lights, distant sounds of doors, swinging and clanging. Soft footsteps on linoleum floors. Side room, and a body in a bed. Half a man, sitting upright, eyes wide open and crying. This is me, after waking from my Sepsis coma, in April 2000. It’s taken me a few […]

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On Dignity & Perseverance

December 29 2018

Dignity, perseverance. These two words, I wrote them down in a note this week. I use my i-phone all the time to keep important things in mind, these words came up in conversation, and they struck a chord. I often feel so shabby. My lips were amputated after Sepsis, so I can’t eat and drink […]

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December 22 2018

In the week when we found out that during 2018 440 homeless people died on the streets of the UK – including one person directly outside the Houses of Parliament, I thought I would take a moment to list the things for which I am truly grateful. A number of fantastically skilled individuals drew on […]

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December 14 2018

It was this time of year, nineteen years ago, Sepsis nearly killed me. Time is a jet plane, it moves so fast. What have I achieved, in nearly two decades of my rehabilitation? I got up out of my hospital bed, and I crawled back home. I learned to walk on prosthetic legs, then I […]

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Have you been to the beach today?

December 8 2018

I remind myself every day, that I can control the way I feel. Nobody else has power over what I keep in mind, so if I want my conscious thoughts to be calm, happy and creative, then my job is to will them to be that way. At this time of year, it takes extra effort. […]

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Getting The Balance Right

December 1 2018

Our lives can be so challenging and finding the right balance in the way we respond to situations can be really hard. Sometimes we get it wrong. Particularly when we are under pressure, it’s easy to become led by emotion, rather than by reason. Finding the correct balance is a vital element to our resilience, and […]

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November 24 2018

Nothing in my life happens quickly. I’ve been severely disabled now for 18 years, and it’s taken that long for me to come to terms with the set of overwhelming changes that brought into my life. For a long time, I felt frustrated by the glacial sense of progress. After the amputations of my arms […]

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When You Can’t Walk Away

November 17 2018

                    3pm winter shadows gold and shining, slide across the wall. The afternoon, clinging to the light for happiness. Being alive is sometimes glorious. Desperate. Unforgiving. This week, UK cabinet ministers have been resigning over the proposed Brexit deal. There has been drama at Westminster, all […]

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That Kind Of Man

November 10 2018

Resilience is sometimes the hardest thing to find within myself, though I try my very best to remain calm, even-tempered and positive. A black and chilly November rises up around me, huge, dark, assertive and endless at the windows. I’ve been pushing myself to work extra shifts at the call centre in order to earn […]

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My Forever Good Things

November 4 2018

Saturday, I’m in Caffe Nero in Oakham – one of my very favourite places. Bob Dylan said time is a jet plane and he was right, November has arrived. I’ve been working late shifts at the call centre, which I find pretty difficult. Darkness scares me. I am signing up for as many shifts as […]

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October 19 2018

It’s raining, but it’s warm. I’m walking from the train at London, Kings Cross, all the way down the platform towards the ticket barriers and the concourse, at the end. For a man with false legs, it’s a distance. My son Freddy and I have travelled from Peterborough – and before that, he drove me […]

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Autumn Leaves

October 8 2018

October is my favourite month. At home, surrounded by the Rutland countryside, it always feels like nature is wrapping you in a windswept, loving hug, with winter coming on. There are yellow leaves, crisp blue skies, sudden showers. Red kites and ospreys, wheeling over the lake. A cleansing coolness. By this time of the year, […]

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August 19 2018

It took me a long time to understand how the way I behaved and reacted to the things that happened in my life directly affected those who were around me. In my twenties and thirties, I suffered from mood swings, and after Sepsis completely remodelled my life, I became entirely preoccupied with my own issues […]

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Bright Side

August 11 2018

Every time I have a setback, I try to find a positive. Sometimes it takes me a short while, because to be honest I tend to panic a bit at first – but once I’ve had a chance to consider my options, I just choose the best one and try and make it work. In […]

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Bad Beautiful

August 4 2018

The way I deal with the very difficult aspects of being severely disabled is to find something beautiful in the way I react to them. That way, I can transform pain into pleasure, distress into calmness, and fear into confidence. This might seem a bit controversial. I can understand how other disabled people might be […]

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Resilience Starts At Home

July 28 2018

I often wonder about this word we associate ourselves with – resilience. We chose it as the name of our public speaking initiative because it defines a positive response to setback, and to us, that seems the only way to go. We speak about how we respond to the challenges of severe disability, how they affect […]

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July 21 2018

Stop, go. Wrong, right. Love, hate. Win, lose. War, peace. Rich, poor. Black, white. Big, small. Lost, found. Noisy, quiet. Brave, coward. Public, private. Light, dark. Fast, slow. Guilty, innocent. Employed, unemployed. Pass, fail. On, off. Definitely, maybe. Remember, forget. When I first woke from my Sepsis coma after four months, and for a long […]

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Post Traumatic Growth

July 14 2018

I like this concept. It’s useful to me. Because even though I have been hugely affected by my amputations and by sepsis, I feel stronger and more confident as a result of everything that has happened since. Take this week, for example. It’s been eventful. Monday was the last day of my 6 month contract […]

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Starting Over

July 7 2018

I completed my short-term writing contract. The best job I’ve ever had. For the last 6 months, I’ve been working as a copywriter creating marketing material, articles for business magazines, and corporate blogs. It’s been fascinating, I’ve learned so much, and I’m very proud of what I achieved. I’m a better writer now than when […]

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July 1 2018

Money’s always tight, but there are plenty of free things that help me to stay resilient. Here’s a selection. Nobody ever got bored of fresh air I’m not a great walker, for obvious reasons, but at 5pm every day, I head for the door. I turn left outside my house, left again, then I follow […]

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How a man with no legs gets up the stairs

June 23 2018

When I came home from hospital after my sepsis, I was in a difficult position. At first, I was in a powered wheelchair, which was difficult to pilot around our tiny country cottage. I was forever bumping into the furniture and taking chunks out of the door frames. It was awkward. We found a way […]

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June 16 2018

I haven’t seen my Dad since 1970. That’s 48 years. Although, technically, that’s not wholly true, because he is an actor and occasionally I’ve seen him pop up on TV in shows like Doctor Who and Emmerdale. Also, he was in the National Theatre company for a long time and I used to go and watch […]

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June 9 2018

                    We have to work slowly for our small successes, so that the rest of our lives can be fulfilling. Imagine a billion marbles scattered all over the floor. It’s your job to pick them all up. Sometimes, isn’t that the way your day feels? Full of […]

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Walk Away From It

June 2 2018

Expectations. We’ve all got them. If we’re lucky, life is long, full of opportunity, packed with promise. But how do we cope when the future we’d planned for falls through? How do we stop our disappointments from pinning us down in the past and closing our minds from seeing new opportunities? What you dwell upon […]

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‘I’ve got a spare pair of hands in the cupboard’

May 26 2018

I’ve got robot hands. They’re what they call ‘myoelectric’. My old hands served me well but they were amputated after I had sepsis, age 38, and these are what they gave me in their place. They’re made in Austria, by a company called Otto Bock. I always like to imagine they’re part of a James […]

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Resilience Talks Ted

May 19 2018

We wanted to create a spectacle that was unique. In Guildford last week, Resilience+Co presented a new performance piece at the TedX event. By now, we’re well used to speaking at meetings and conferences about how we recovered from setback, but this was a chance to deliver our material in a much more dramatic and […]

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45th Generation Roman

May 13 2018

It’s 1969, I am 7 years old. I am standing outside a pub in Galway. I’ve been there for two hours already. There’s nowhere to sit, so my brother Adam and I are just kicking a pebble to each other, improvising a game of football, to pass the time. Our Dad’s been inside this pub […]

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May 5 2018

I got the tickets, the match was on, we were really excited.  My son Freddy and I are big Leicester City football fans. We’ve been season ticket holders for over a decade. When we started going to games, the team were in League One, but now they’ve hit the Premiership big time. We don’t often […]

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Let’s Keep It Simple

April 27 2018

I do remember simpler times. When I was a kid, roaming loose in the Essex badlands, we used to stay out way after dark, hiding in the woods. We got pocket money on Saturday mornings, then we went out and spent it. The highlight of the week was Top Of The Pops and all my […]

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Are You Busy?

April 22 2018

These days, it seems like everyone is busy. On the phone, on the road, in the office. We’re encouraged to work to tight schedules, to update each other on every detail of our daily lives, to constantly tell other people what we think and feel, to commit to meetings. Even in our downtime, at weekends, […]

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What It Is and What It Isn’t

April 14 2018

So – that thing has happened. You know, that event you were dreading, the one you were trying not to think about? What you feared, has become a reality, and now it’s just a disaster. Or is it? Because my own experience is that, in those very big moments of my life, it’s vital that […]

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5 ways to feel OK after a setback

April 8 2018

  When life doesn’t go to plan, or an unexpected turn of events knocks you back, it can make you feel shocked, desperate, unsure and isolated. Coping can be difficult. Here are 5 simple ways to react and to help you preserve your resilience: Don’t be the strong silent type  It’s only natural to run […]

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What’s The Plan?

March 31 2018

When I woke after four months of my sepsis coma, all my memories of my past life had vanished. That’s 35 years of consciousness, deleted at a stroke. Oh. The first thing I saw was my wife’s face – but I didn’t recognise her. I had to ask her who she was. Nic re-introduced herself […]

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Thanks For The Memory

March 24 2018

When I woke after four months from my Sepsis coma, aged 38, I couldn’t remember a thing about my past life. Everything was gone.  There was a beautiful woman sitting by my hospital bed, smiling at me. She was cradling a newborn baby in her arms. She told me she was my wife, and introduced […]

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Ten Ways You Can Be More Resilient This Week

March 17 2018

  Resilience is like a muscle. You have to exercise it a little bit every day to make sure you’re match ready when the moment comes. Here are some practical ideas for your daily resilience workout… Watch less TV news. By now, haven’t we heard all the stories? There are people whose job it is […]

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Resilience Goes To Liverpool

March 11 2018

It’s been a week of ups and downs Nic, Pippa and I spoke at the Chief Nursing Officers Summit at the ACC in Liverpool, we visited our daughter Grace at Manchester University, I had a trip to the GP surgery to get tested for diabetes. I worked at my writing job for three full days, […]

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What Resilience Means To Me

March 3 2018

Survival Picture this: a middle-aged man, in a hospital side room. He’s sitting sideways on his unmade bed, he’s dressed in a white hospital gown. His arms end just below the elbow, his legs below the knee – all four stumps are bandaged, as is the lower part of his face. His eyes are staring at […]

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How do I look?

February 24 2018

I was in an induced coma for four months after my Sepsis, and when I woke in April 2000, I found that my face had been amputated from my eyes downward. In fact, it took a few days for me to realise this: I was extremely confused and disorientated, my memory of my past life […]

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Right here, right now

February 17 2018

Let’s talk about control. Every day, we have thousands of thoughts. As humans, we’re blessed with this incredibly sophisticated organ we call a brain. It’s so advanced and complicated that we haven’t even really begun to understand how it works. It runs fast and it runs slow, stimulated by every little thing we experience. It […]

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Hit It

February 10 2018

Boom. Skitter. Ssshhh… The sounds coming from our garage: big, thunderous, rhythmic, crashing like the waves of an ocean. Huge noise. Then silence. A pause before it starts up again. I’m sitting upstairs, the resonance from the floor below through my artificial legs is shaking me. I don’t mind. In fact, the noise of my […]

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Ours Is Just A Little Sorrow

February 2 2018

Grief. Bereavement. Pain so profound, so searing, deeper than the ocean, wider than the sky. As we get older, we’re more exposed to these extremes of adversity and although in many ways we’re more experienced, it somehow becomes harder to know just how to react. To the news reports, to the sudden accidents, to the senseless […]

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Back in The Game

January 28 2018

It all began in 2007, when my son Freddy was barely 7 years old. He was born exactly at the same time as I had my Sepsis crisis, so at this point, I was just 7 years into my recovery and rehabilitation. In other words, I was still a bit of a mess. I was […]

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The Friends Connection

January 20 2018

Just how long have we been going to Book Group? It’s got to be well over ten years. Our children went to a village primary school, and pick up time in the afternoon gave us valuable social contact. Back then we’d become pretty isolated by the many months I’d spent in hospital and rehab, so […]

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

January 13 2018

I’ll be honest – in the past, Christmas has been a hard time of the year for me. Sepsis caught me in December 1999, so the season brings reminders. I’ve had to work to control the way I think about that experience. But what I’ve learned over time is that the manner in which I […]

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Headlights, dazzling

December 14 2017

Headlights, dazzling. Suddenly moving quickly away from home, wide-eyed in the early morning. Seven am. Endless blue sky over Rutland Water. Delicate. Delicious. Dashboard, lit up, orange, red, white. Energy, light, icicle emotion. Azure canopy, lake three miles wide, sheer, glinting, rippling silver in the blinding sunlight. We have to close our eyes momentarily, the […]

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I Can See Clearly Now

December 1 2017

Here’s a big picture. That’s me on the left of the stage, with my wife Nic on the right, giving a conference speech on Sepsis and Resilience this week at the Excel Centre, in London. I love to talk. I mean, it’s odd, because I’m not really what you would call an extrovert – but […]

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October Symphony

October 18 2017

October is my favourite month. We live in Oakham, a small market town in the East Midlands, so we notice the seasonal changes, as winter steadily approaches. The nights slowly draw in, the chill and tingle of the evening begins to take you by surprise as the autumn weeks fall away, the trees turn golden, […]

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Good morning my name is Tom how can I help you?

September 25 2017

The last two weeks of our lives. Remarkable. Rally-car rapid. The geography alone has been challenging. We’ve been speaking out about Sepsis, PTSD and resilience. We’ve been in Oakham, Leicester, London (twice), Swansea, Manchester and Worcester. For a quadruple amputee, the physical challenge of travelling like this is considerable in itself. In this fortnight, we’ve […]

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The Blame Game

September 5 2017

Friday night, December, Peterborough. The darkness on the edge of town is pitiless and profound. The civic boulevards are wide and empty, streaked and lit in parts by a neon light so orange, so cold, it’s heart-breaking. An ambulance blue lights its way along the road, gliding, riding, sliding into the black void in front […]

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Arms and the Man

August 23 2017

My arms break at least once every month. If it’s not the steel inner skeleton of my myoelectric hands that snaps, the charging points on the arm sockets will themselves fail and need replacing. The overall impact on my daily life is considerable, and I seem to be spending a good 2-3 hours a day […]

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Lucky Guy

April 27 2017

It’s another Monday, but a good one, because I’m creating stuff. Or, at least, I’m working around a creative subject. Occasionally, I am blessed with days like these, when things move all in the right direction. There is forward momentum.

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On Resilience

February 15 2017

It’s February 2017. Rutland is cold and quiet. The days are short. I’ve been rostered out of my work at the call centre, so I’ve had the last two weeks off.

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Flash Photography

February 11 2017

A day in my life. It goes by at shutter speed, and too quickly. Car pulls up outside our house, and my wife Nic helps me into it. She has our bags, …

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Talk, Talk

December 4 2016

So, yesterday, another big day for this small disabled guy.

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