Chris Lloyd: My Journey
Posted by: Chris Lloyd, British Paralympic Skier
I’ve always loved sport. I’ve skied since the age of 14 and started rally car racing in 2007 – I was competing at an elite level of rallying at the time of my accident. In 2011, I was competing in a race when the rally car went off the road and hit a tree upside down. I hit my head and broke my back, damaged my neck and crushed my spinal cord leaving me paralysed from the neck down.
When the doctors told me that I’d never be able to rally drive or ski again, at first I was in shock, but then came my determination to prove them wrong. During my long rehabilitation programme, it was with determination and belief that I gradually started to walk again.
“I told myself I would ski in the Winter Paralympic Games one day.”
The hardest part to deal with was when my two children would visit me in hospital. I’d be helpless in bed but I knew the only way to recover would be to set myself goals, like walking up the street or walking up a hill, and try my hardest to achieve these targets. I told myself I would ski in the Winter Paralympic Games one day.
I taught myself positive visualisation and set myself goals. I was initially taught the art of visualisation when I was in hospital by the physio who came to work with me. They said that I could recreate pathways for the signals and movement that were damaged and I could regain these by ‘visualising’. I suppose I began visualising while I was in hospital and when my brother came to visit, he had some meditation apps downloaded on to my phone which also helped my recovery.
To be honest, it wasn’t until I was outside of the hospital environment that I realised just how much my life had changed. I had totally lost my independence. I had to crawl up the stairs because I couldn’t really walk up the stairs, I couldn’t get myself in or out of the bath and I couldn’t get up and down off the floor. So I had someone constantly helping me, everything was totally different. I lost my independence and I needed assistance with everything really.
“Training and racing is harder but I will not give up on my goal.”
Despite this, I was determined to stay positive and every day I would set myself goals and try to achieve them – trying to get myself as good as I could really. I probably spent 3-4 hours at least in rehabilitation every day, doing different things and practising pathways. Training and racing is harder but I will not give up on my goal.
My advice to any readers who may be going through a similar situation, or any other form of personal injury, would be that time is a great healer and to keep persevering with what you’re doing. The neurology trains very slowly and it takes a lot of determination and hard work but as long as you try and do your best, you’ll be on the right track to a good recovery.
For more information on Chris Lloyd, visit his website here.