In a split second...
Hi, I'm Steven 'Harry' Harrison, this is a photo of me taken 2-hours before I broke my neck.
4th July 1998. On a day out water-skiing with friends in America, a dive from the speedboat into shallow water broke my neck in three places causing immediate paralysis.
The traumatic event left me overwhelmed with immense pain fluctuating throughout my body caused by damage to the spinal cord. Focussed on the surreal sensory experience, I wanted everyone to understand what I was feeling, other than just 'the intensity of pain'. Unable to articulate the bizarre experience at the time added to the frustrations and fears of lifelong paralysis.
Fast forward 5-years… while studying art at college I created a website to showcase my artwork. However, the website became more of an insight into my life; the injury, how I manage day-to-day as well as other life challenges.
These pages carry a brutally honest account of life before injury, the injury, rehabilitation, how I choose to live my life continually adapting irrespective of physical limitations.
Independence Day 4th July 1998
Clinton Lake, Illinois, USA
I hope you enjoy reading my story which is intended to help anyone struggling with life's challenges, and hopefully encourage positive change, identifying and managing problems to navigate a healthier happier life.
We may not be able to change the past… but we can change the way we think and enjoy life!
"Don't put a limit on what can be accomplished"
Christopher Reeve (Original Superman) suffered a C-2 level spinal cord injury during a horse riding accident in 1995. Before his death in 2004, Christopher Reeve taught us how hope, determination and sufficient resources enable recovery from even the most devastating spinal cord injury.
Sink or swim!
Leaving the lake, my recollections of the following 24-hours are jumbled memories, mere flashes of imagery; paramedics, ambulance... the intense bright light in triage, burred images of people bustling about, voices and merged together… images and sounds that still haunt without invitation to this day.
Painting Sculpting Casting
I experience sensory impairment and diversity few people can comprehend. Fortunately, I am privileged to have just enough physical ability to enable me to convey my personal experience of physical trauma and diverse life through art media.
The aim of which is to create a greater awareness of paralysis while stimulating dialogue around preconceptions of physical impairment.
Wheelchair rugby is a fast-paced ball game played on a basketball court, where chair to chair contact is all part of the game.
The game attracts players with various disabilities, the requisite being some form of upper limb impairment or impaired coordination which is then classified 0.5 - 4pt.
Even after drowning, getting back into the water post-injury felt great.
I was a strong swimmer before injury, now I can only swim on my back with the help of a buoyancy aide without which I sink like a brick due to the change in oxygenated muscle. Great for stamina building.
Above all sports, I find cycling the most empowering, as I’m able to use the physical challenge and enjoyment to fundraise for charities. Cycling not only takes me locally in the beautiful Yorkshire Countryside, I have also cycled around Cuba and London to Paris.
Keeping fit is a necessity for everyone, especially for a wheelchair user with high-level spinal cord injury. Key benefits include; strength and stamina building, cardio vascular health and stronger respiratory system, hand-eye coordination, balance and mobility, as well as releasing endorphins.
"I lost my leg aged 5... Now I'm 1.9 seconds behind Usain Bolt"
Jonnie Peacock, British Paralympic Athlete
Trains, planes & automobiles
I never questioned the possibilities of air travel after injury, I had the excitement of being repatriated back to the UK by Air Ambulance, so I knew it was possible. However, travelling with partners, friends and family takes a lot more planning when you're confined to a wheelchair, after that, the skies the limit.