Who Am I?
My name is Nick, I am a father, son, brother, uncle and proudly disabled army veteran who served queen and country for fourteen years, deploying on operations and to war zones around the globe, prior to being forced to leave through injury in 2013. I am now a mental health champion/campaigner, who ran two highly successful mental health awareness campaigns in 2018/19 and founder of the mens support group, Talk Mental Health , whose aim is to educate, empower and encourage individuals to better manage their own mental wellbeing.
What Is The Problem?
I have a number of physical and mental health disabilities, resulting from my time in the Army:
- Clinical Depression
- Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Suicidal Ideation
- 7Pro-lapse Discs in my spine resulting in chronic pain
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Prior to Covid my spinal injury had degraded further, with a recent MRI showing the fatty pads between the three discs in my neck had completely disintegrated and the two at the base of my spine had almost done the same. This resulted in increased levels of pain, which was impacting my mental health and moods, with my really struggling to find a way to manage the sheer intensity of pain, every minute of every day and this cost me my relationship with the love of my life.
Initially during 2020 and thanks to lockdown, I managed to begin supporting myself and even found a level of independence for the first time in 3years! However, come April within the third lockdown everything caught up with me, I was now battling with suicidal thoughts and the pain levels had increased again. I was exhausted from launching my mens support group in May '20, keeping it running throughout the entirety of Covid, helping those in crisis or feeling suicidal and was struggling with loneliness and isolation, with my being in self-isolation for over 14months, due to moving to Towcester just before the first lockdown and so didn't know anyone.
I am now in a position whereby;
- I cannot walk, sit or stand for longer than 20mins before my pain increases and swiftly becomes unbearable.
- I have become addicted to the Opiate based and Morphine pain killers, since being left on them for the past decade.
- I have been battling with suicidal thoughts/desires for over four months now.
- The waiting lists for any kind of support is between 6 - 18 months and I have been waiting for adult social services since February 2020.
- As I cannot walk, sit or stand for long, I struggle to get out and enjoy nature walks, to meet new people, to make friends, to even go to the pub for a drink or restaurant for a meal and so I have no social life.
- I spend 70% of my life laid on a mobility bed in my flat. Hence why I keep thinking, "What's the point?"
What Is The Recommendation?
I have spoken with the Complex Treatment and High Intensity team alongside my Neck and Spine specialists about all this and the recommendation from them, is to apply for an electric wheelchair with a special powered seat. This seat would be able to mimic, from my mobility bed, the most comfortable position which reduces the pain I experience, whilst still being able to leave home. It will mean I can;
- Go for a walk in the woods and begin photography again, which I had to stop because of the pain I would experience from standing too long or trying to bend down to take a picture.
- Visit our new offices in town, where we've opened a community co-working space, but currently can only spend a maximum of 2hrs there if I am lucky.
- Provide more 1to1 meetups with those we help, whereas currently I can only manage 1 or 2 per day.
- Go to the pub, not that I know many people haha, BUT, I can begin to socialise with people and when the pain begins to worsen, I can simply adjust the chair opposed to having to go home after 1hr in agony and then be laid up for 24hrs.
- Travel to visit friends and family for the first time in 2yrs, as currently I am so tired and in so much pain from driving, I cannot walk anywhere and even when I do visit someone, depending on what chairs they have, will dictate how long I can stay for, which is usually 1hr tops.
- Maybe even begin dating again!? Who wants to date someone who cannot even go for a walk or is laid on the bed 70% of the time? I know there are some angels, but lets be realistic, having greater mobility will help me to get out and about in life, maybe even beginning to thrive in life, opposed to merely survive in it.
What Does It Cost?
Brand new these chairs range from £3,000 to £12,000!! The plan is to buy a second hand one initially, so I can work out exactly what I need and what I don't, get used to living with one and make the necessary amendments in my environment I need. During this time I also need to have my PIP review and chase my War Pension as Covid has messed these things up and it will take 2 - 6 months to get this all straightened out.
Once this has been done, I can choose whether to get a brand new chair through Motobility OR stick with the chair I have and use Motobility to acquire a special vehicle with a ramp fitted, so I can ride the chair into the car and drive myself anywhere I want to go. The chairs are so heavy, whilst I might have a chair from this fundraising, I cannot travel anywhere with it until I manage to get the vehicle with a ramp.
How Urgent Is This?
This is a desperately urgent situation. I was the closest I have ever been to taking my life, since I last attempted suicide 5yrs ago, on Thursday 09th September this year! Because of the impact on waiting times for physical and mental health specialists, paperwork, PIP reviews and War Pension reviews, there is literally nothing the health service can do and the ONLY thing which will provide me with ANY kind of hope will be through acquiring an electric wheelchair with powered seat.