Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Back Up



In 1991 I supported a Spinal Cord Injury charity called Back Up
I didn’t raise money, or indeed collected any but I gave my time to an organisation who stretched newly spinally injured men and women to experience sports outside their comfort zones.
That year I was one of the  nurse team who helped take paraplegic and quadraplegic patients skiing in Switzerland. Our job was to help the most paralysed patients in activities of daily living and help get them ready for the slopes, which usually meant a hard mornings’ work until 10.30 or so. 
The patients were then handed over to the ski instructors with their adapted ski, poles and seats and buggies until teatime when help was needed again to sort out bladders and bowels and to check skin  etc before dinner and the usual evening  where a great deal of serious drinking apres ski style, was achieved before bed.
Most of our charges were under the age of thirty.
And all had something to prove to themselves after months and months of inpatient care.

The ski resort, as most ski resorts are, was a rather posh place and our hotel was rather plush as I recall with a large open plan bar and restaurant decorated tastefully in 1960s style furniture and one evening after a particularly heavy bout of drinking by our back up team, I was approached by a rather well to do German lady who spoke impeccable English.
She was not happy at all
“ Please,” she asked “ Are You in Charge of zee English men in their wheelchairs? “
I told her I was not, that I was a nurse helper and could I be of any help
“ Zay are singing songs ya?” She complained earnestly “ Which are not in very gud taste”
I apologised thinking the German observers were getting a selection of British Rugby songs forced down their throats and went to investigate.
I found a dozen men and women in their wheelchairs all linking arms together, with a selection of able bodied drunk friends joining in with lusty voices and blurred expressions.
They were singing the football anthem “ You’ll never walk alone” with great emotion but had substituted their own words for the final bravura ending of the song
“ walk on, walk on with hope in your heart but we’ll never nev-er walk again!!!
WE’LL NEV-ER .....WALK AGAIN! “

As I passed the German lady on my return I merely shrugged 
“They sing very well ! “ I called out to her with a smile

47 comments:

  1. "You'll Never Walk Alone" is more of a hymn then a football theme song! Anyway, that's always been my take on that song here in the U.S.
    Of course, I can see it being converted to fix the needs of those who won't ever be doing that again!
    Good reply to the German lady!

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    1. In the uk it has been appropriated by Liverpool football team and their fans

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  2. Rather typical British humour from the patients laced with catharsis. Good riposte from yourself.

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    1. Even better final line by the singers

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  3. Barbara Anne12:50 am

    Ah, I remember that song from The Sound of Music and I must say, the rendition those patients were singing was therapeutic to the nth degree. Yes, good reply to the German lady.
    What a brilliant trip for those patients and I applaud you nurses, the hotel,the ski instructors, and all others who were involved in making the trip possible. I also hope those trips are still happening.

    Hugs!

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    1. It’s actually from carousel xx

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    2. Barbara Anne4:50 am

      This time I have to say Nope! The Mother Superior sings it to Maria (Julie Andrews) in The Sound of Music. Do, please, look it up. :)

      Hugs!

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    3. I looked it up and the Mother Superior sings "Climb Every Mountain". I would back John in every time. Sorry Barb xx. Cheers.

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    4. The two songs or hymns are very similar xxx

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    5. I though Gerry and the pacemakers sung it .

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    6. It was me actually, I sung it in the bath. How come nobody ever listens?

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  4. From my viewpoint her criticism of their song was not in very gud taste. She needs to wheel a mile in their shoes.

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  5. hahaha a cripple can call themselves a cripple. She didn't know the rules

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  6. I think that there is something beautiful in people who look at their adversity straight on and simply, practically, bravely deal with it. Courage never fails to being tears to my eyes.

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    1. It shows the power of the group , and mutual support as a part of rehabilitation

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  7. That's a great story! Sometimes black humour is the most beneficial to those in need.

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    1. Not everyone appreciates dark humour,
      Many don’t even. Understands it

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  8. What a great story and how wonderful that they were able to accept and laugh at their own adversity. xx

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  9. The embarrassment felt by able bodied society is understandable and dark humour is a way to alleviate both their discomfort and and the pain felt by those who should feel no shame.

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    1. Nicely written and observed and lived mave

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  10. Thhose men and women have learned the lesson that in such circumstances it is better to sing about it than to cry about it.

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    1. And by singing about it, they owned it

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  11. Reclaiming their humanity.

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  12. Reminds me of the film "The Best of Men."
    --Bonnie in Minneapolis

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    1. The dr was called Guttman
      He founded Stoke mandiville hospital spinal unit
      One of only 11 in the UK
      I WORKED in the Sheffield unit

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  13. It sounds like a grand adventure. You need some dark humor when life throws you a curve.

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    1. Patient humour is even darker than nurses and that’s saying something

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  14. Funny! And indicative of a healthy outlook, I'd say.

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    1. Humour and peer support ,I’m always thought invaluable in spinal injury regab

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  15. There is always someone like that who has to express their opinion when none is needed. Perhaps she misunderstood the words of the song or didn’t know this song, or perhaps she was just a bitch.

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    1. They were loud, and silly, I suspect that was the real issue

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  16. Looking life in the eye and laughing, that takes courage... and sometimes, strong drink! What a tremendous outing for your patients.

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    1. And for the nurses who probably learnt more on the hoof so to speak

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  17. On my unit we had a group of patients with hemiplegia who called themselves the 'one armed bandits".

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  18. Maybe they were singing typical rugby songs before you got there...Happily enjoying being men, despite what happened to them.

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  19. Cameraderie, fun, humour and alcohol are some of life's most important things...

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  20. Makes sense to me..

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  21. Group therapy laughter among friends no doubt part of the healing process and the knowledge that life is worth living I imagine life long friendships were formed on this trip.
    One thing I have learned living in five different countries that a sense of humour is not the same everywhere.

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  22. It would be in terrible taste for anybody else to sing that but for them to is hilarious. I wish I'd been there. Sometimes humor is the best coping mechanism bar none. Some people seem to have trouble with the fact that disabled people are people, with actual personalities and senses of humor about their situation. I mean, for me, I'm just over four feet tall (rare type of dwarfism, etc etc) and sometimes it's pretty funny. I wonder what songs I could adapt?

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I love all comments Except abusive ones from arseholes