The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct term as it still feels like an understatement.

The pain started on Sunday, I tried to ignore it and push on as normal as I was determined to attend my Godson’s first birthday. I made it to his birthday party but so did the pain. I wanted to leave it at home but unfortunately it follows me everywhere.

If I’m honest pain and I have been getting along recently. Mainly appearing when predicted, not in my face every day, but hovering in the background shouting out every so often when it needs more attention.

At the birthday party I couldn’t get involved in the “sit on the floor” games kids love to play, instead I had to occupy a safe zone on the sofa. The pain slowly took over. My knee started to feel like it was simultaneously on fire and being hit with a hammer and chisel. I put on a brave face as I wanted to enjoy the party. I wanted to ask for help but the words didn’t leave my mouth. As soon as they rose in my throat I swallowed them and chose a deep breath instead.

Pain and I made it through to the end of the party; we sang, cut the cake and even posed for a few photos. But by the end it was clear pain had won our secret competition, it’s victory seen clearly on my face and in my limp. We said our goodbyes as quickly as possible, counting down the minutes until I could get to my painkillers. Ten minutes felt like ten hours as I focused on being able to put pain back in its box. I needed to put it back in its place and so I stood my ground.

Pain is a stubborn one, even with the strongest medication I could throw at it, it wouldn’t just simply disappear. After an hour or two it faded enough that I could fall asleep. Only to realise in the morning we were playing a game of hide and seek. When I woke, pain was right there causing my left knee to swell up like a balloon. Pain had come back with avengence. I could barely move my knee and had to use my walking stick. 

I needed to engage heavier artillery to manage this pain. This time I reluctantly invited morphine to challenge the pain, hoping it would vanquish the pain enough but not dull my thoughts. Which it did, along with sending me into a deep slumber.

When I awoke thankfully, I felt better. Pain subsided and weakened for a while longer in its box. Like any unwanted guest, the impact is always felt, the frustrations, the tiredness but also the knowledge and acceptance it will return again.

Even as I write this now I’m still not feeling 100%, using public transport with the walking stick was a necessary challenge today. But, one I need to face and accept. Pain, I dislike you but I accept you. You will not define me.

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December 28, 2020
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My first ever vlog and hopefully more to come. This vlog documents my first day at the Google Innovator Academy

November 17, 2019

My first ever vlog and hopefully more to come. This vlog documents my first day at the Google Innovator Academy in Sweden. Part 2 coming soon!

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The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

February 19, 2020
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been busy getting things done, travelling for work and working on

November 8, 2019
Health, Personal, Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been busy getting things done, travelling for work and working on my master plan. But, if I’m honest a friend from college has motivated me to start blogging again (Tolu-make sure you check out her blog). I fell off but want to get back on!

I’m currently sat on a plane to Sweden where I’ll attend the Google Innovator Academy. I finally plucked up the courage to apply after mulling over it for a few months. I was recommended by someone last year to apply for the New York cohort but didn’t feel ready and the cost would be too much. Then this year there was a London cohort (right on my doorstep) but yet I still didn’t feel it was the right time and was worried three days out of work would be an issue. I let every excuse keep me from applying and left myself in limbo.

After some deep reflection, I knew the honest reason I hadn’t applied is that I didn’t want to fail and thought that somehow I wasn’t good enough to be a part of it. So even when everyone in my Personal Learning Network encouraged me to I didn’t. Imposter syndrome can be so debilitating.

I was also worried about how my body would hold up for three intense days. Would it let me down again, as it has on so many occasions?  It’s hard to do things when you don’t trust your body but I guess it’s not impossible.

I regretted not applying for the London cohort, while it was on I felt irritated I was missing out. I should have been there learning new things and growing. I felt a bit daft that I’d not committed to my promise several years ago to live without regrets.

Enough was enough and I finally decided to apply to the Sweden Innovator Academy. The application itself was quite a lengthy one. You have to identify a challenge that you would like to solve in education, interview a few students or teachers affected by the challenge, film a 60-second video about that challenge and why you want to solve it. After a stern talking to myself I completed it on time and a few weeks later learnt I was accepted.

As I am passionate about giving back to others and improving social mobility, I decided on the following: How might we ensure mentoring of disengaged students is consistent and effective? Keep posted to find out how I solve this challenge.

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December 28, 2020
Tags: Health, Personal

The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

February 19, 2020

Reflections

When you die, how will you be remembered? A harsh opening line I know, but it is a powerful question that can lead to important changes.

I attended a funeral a few months ago and it got me thinking about how I’ll be remembered when I die. Over three hundred people came to pay their respects to someone they very clearly loved. The queue to enter the church was something that I had never seen before. It wound down the stairs of the church long before the service had even started. The service itself was beautiful, filled with fond memories from close friends and family, who all spoke about his kindness, charity and sense of humour. I was easily moved thinking about how one person could affect so many. I guess it made me reflect on whether I was living my life to the fullest and whether one day I would leave a lasting impression. I know I’d like to think so but the truth is more complicated. Living from the heart is difficult. It requires facing and then transcending your core fears.

The way I face my fears is coming to terms with my own mortality. I know I won’t be alive forever and I can’t know for certain when my time is up. It’s so easy

to get comfortable with life or distracted by; other people; social media; our fears and demons. Sometimes it takes something life-threatening for us to snap out of our haze and kick start our productivity. But why must we wait until then? When we truly accept the inevitability of death it can give us a renewed sense of urgency about living life to the fullest.  

Accepting your own mortality strips away the lies, excuses and illusions you feed yourself. If these barriers move you further away from your purpose or your intended legacy they are not necessary. After challenging them you may find the power or confidence you didn’t know you had.

How I want to be remembered:

    • Someone who extended love to others
    • A loving husband and father
    • Someone who inspired others to live a life they love
    • Homestand real, not interested in pretending to be somebody else
    • Valued time with family and friends
    • Enjoyed exercise, valued health and happiness
    • Set goals and was determined to keep growing, changing and learning
    • Compassionate
    • Never gave up, no matter what happened.

The most powerful currency in the world is time, once you spend it you cannot earn it back. Stop procrastinating and act today.

How do you want to be remembered? Please comment below

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The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

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My first ever vlog and hopefully more to come. This vlog documents my first day at the Google Innovator Academy

November 17, 2019

Last week I caught up with an old college friend- Amma. She reached out after reading my blog last week. I was knackered and my knees were sore but I wanted to make the effort to meet up and I’m glad I did as it was a pleasant end to the week!

I was late which is totally unlike me (Southern Rail’s fault) but as I walked into the restaurant I could see Amma’s big cheesy grin ready to greet me. It didn’t feel like 8 years had passed since we had last seen each other. She had me in stitches right from the beginning to the end. In typical Amma style she told me she was a bit worried about seeing me after reading my blog. When I asked why, she replied that she thought I would look fragile and be limping. She gestured something close to Quasimodo which made me laugh. I didn’t take offence, I’m sure most people expect to see people with a condition looking ‘ill’ and when they’re better they look ‘healthy’. On this day I suppose I looked well and so it contrasted with what she was expecting. I reminded her to never “judge a book by it’s cover.”

I have an athletic build as I like to workout and I’m told I’m a sharp dresser so I suppose my exterior can confuse people. Colleagues I’ve worked with and even doctors wrongly assume my pain has been caused by an overzealous workout. Seriously the last doctor I saw in A&E advised me to stop squatting in the gym, despite me trying to explain to him the pain was chronic and neuropathic. I know it’s easy to look at a person and quickly try to explain their behaviour or symptoms based on your own experiences. But the danger here is that we are not the same and by jumping to quick assumptions we miss the truth. First hand experience tells me it’s far more effective to ask questions if you want the whole picture.

There are days where I struggle both mentally and physically.  It’s hard to hide the physical struggle as this is what people see straight away. You can see whether I’m walking straight or limping or whether my hand might jerk.The mental struggle is far easier to hide. As soon as I leave the house it’s easy to smile and be strong. But hiding and pretending has never really helped me, it’s highly frustrating and means that those people I want to understand me can’t. I’ve learnt that it’s ok not to be ok and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. I’m definitely blessed with friends and family who are always willing to help and support me.

What does this mean for you? The people that need our help the most probably won’t ask for it. This week pick up the phone to check in on someone you haven’t heard from in a while and ask them how they are doing. Or when you stop to ask someone at work how they are doing, actually take the time and show them that you care about their answer. Ask more questions and make fewer assumptions. Let’s not forget to “never judge a book by its cover.”

Have a great week people!

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December 28, 2020
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The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

February 19, 2020

What a week

It’s crazy to think that three weeks of the year have already passed and time as always waits for no-one!

Thank you for all your messages and responses to my last blog. Really great to know people are reading and caring about what I write.

Last weekend was pretty action packed, myself and Emmanuel attended a party to celebrate our client DJ Melody Kane becoming a resident DJ for BBC 1Xtra. Huge congratulations to her, she’s a true grafter and deserves every success!

Saturday was pretty much a wipeout as I was still recovering from my visit to the hospital last week. I told everyone I was tired as it was easier than describing the pain I was feeling. I didn’t want to worry them again.

In the evening, probably foolishly I went to an awards ceremony in central London to celebrate Black British media creators. Maybe I should have cancelled going to this event but I had already paid for my ticket and thought it would be a good opportunity to network. It was a good night and the pain subsided enough for me to enjoy it.

I left by 11pm as I had an early start the next morning. I was excited to be returning to my old school to deliver a talk on resilience to the year 11’s.

When I woke up I felt absolutely fine, the pain had returned to its normal parameters. I was a little nervous about this talk as it involved me opening up to students that I had taught only last year. The talk went really well and the kids seemed to respond to it. At the end I was getting handshakes and congratulations of ‘well done sir’, can you imagine the irony?

Tuesday and Wednesday were difficult. The pain spiked enough that I couldn’t get any comfort. It wasn’t at the level where I would want to go to the hospital but it wasn’t far off. On Tuesday morning I had a Neurology appointment so I had to leave the house. I hate taking morphine when I go out as it muddles speech and thoughts so I decided that endure the pain until I returned home.

My appointment left me feeling low and frustrated. Nothing has changed majorly but my very experienced consultant still can’t figure out what is going on with me. It’s hard to know how to respond or where to go from that. The other consultants at the sleep and pain departments are equally as baffled. Despite their support and advice over the years, I wish I could have some definitive answers.

I took several deep breaths and tried to replace my anger with a sense of calm. I promised myself this year that I would work harder at looking at the positives and being more appreciative of my blessings.

I’m challenging us all this week when faced with our struggles to reflect on what we can be proud of and think about what we greatful as sometimes we can over look the things we have.

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December 28, 2020
Tags: Health, Personal

The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

February 19, 2020

Ironically, I wrote about setbacks last week and then had one on Tuesday morning out of the blue. The good thing was that I didn’t have an epileptic attack but instead had a severe wave of pain that attacked my joints. It left me unable to walk or find any comfortable position.

Normally I am able to control the pain and manage it on a daily basis by taking pain relief medication or by resting. But none of the above were working on this day, I had to call an ambulance and was blue lighted to A&E. Pain is a trigger for my seizures and I really did not want to have a seizure. The only way they can try to reduce the pain is by giving me the higher doses of sub-cut or IV morphine that they can’t prescribe for me at home. It’s crazy how long I have to take to explain my history, my symptoms, and that no I don’t have a sports injury to at least two people before they finally agree to prescribe me something. Those moments I hate.

I know last week I talked about resilience and everything I said I wholeheartedly believe in but maybe one of the things I forgot to mention was how hard it is to develop it.  Last Tuesday was a setback and even now I as I write this I am feeling the effects of it as I recover. I’ve generally felt extremely tired and the pain is simmering above it’s ‘normal’ level.

I thought I would walk you through a typical morning for me. My eyes tend to open around 3:30-4:00 am not because I want them to but 1) I have issues sleeping and 2) The pain tends to wake me up. I lie in bed for about an hour trying to muster up the energy and strength to move. My limbs feel so heavy some mornings and are unresponsive to what I would like them to do.  Once I am finally out of bed I then pace around a bit trying to wake my legs up. It feels like I am a 96 Ford Fiesta that has run it’s course and needs to be scrapped.

I then go into the office and layout out my medication for the day. At a first glance you might mistake them for a bag of pick’n’mix due to the number and combination of pills I need to take. I don’t enjoy this part of the day at all, but I’m always hopeful that starting the day by looking after myself will more likely result in a good day.

I crave my cup of coffee, three spoonfuls in my black cup, two sugars and a dash of coconut milk. As I sip away, slowly waking up and feeling more like myself I then start to attack to my to do list. I turn on my laptop and start my day.

Some mornings are harder than others. The pain is always there, every day but the level at which it spikes is unpredictable at times. After a successful run over the last few months where I had been able to manage the pain and get back into a decent gym routine, I felt the wind had been completely knocked out of my sails. Frustrated, angry, sad, tired and then angry again is typically how I feel after an episode. I find it hard to speak to people and prefer to sit with my own thoughts. But I work hard at being positive, snapping myself out of it and work towards getting back up.

We all struggle with something and people often hide theirs. I hope as you read this you find some comfort in that and understanding that strength is born from struggle.

My top tips for getting over a setback:

  1. Accept that you can’t control every situation fully, but plan for the events that you can control and break them down into manageable chunks.
  2. Be good to yourself, remember that the setback is temporary and does not reflect who you are but simply where you are right now.
  3. Communicate how you are feeling to your support network. Tell them how they can support you when they ask.

Remember to share and comment.

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December 28, 2020
Tags: Health, Personal

The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

February 19, 2020

Hope your first week of the new year has been a good one. Thank you for all your messages on my last blog post (click here if you missed it), they were very encouraging. But one of the questions stuck with me “How do you keep getting back up after each time you get knocked down?” I didn’t expect to receive that question on a Friday night in the middle of watching Star Wars. I kept thinking about how to reply to this message, throughout the film and even wrote several replies when I got home but didn’t think I could do it justice in a few lines. So I decided to write a blog post.

After all the epileptic attacks, the daily chronic pain and aspects of my cognitive skills declining- how do I keep getting back up?

One word that often resonates with me is RESILIENCE. The best definition I found is Resilience involves the ability to get back up when you’ve been knocked down or to come back fighting stronger after a setback.”  I have always been a fighter when I reflect on my past failings and setbacks. Failing and then re-sitting my GCSE’s and then graduating with a 2:1 in Software Engineering despite a period of amnesia in my second year which meant I had to re-learn skills and content in time for the end of year exams was a tough time. Another example of my resilience was learning to walk again after a severe epileptic attack.  The pain I felt literally brought me to my knees and each time I fell down I knew it would be easy to just give up and accept that life won’t ever be the same. But I kept trying, I never want to fail at anything I do. I suppose I can’t accept failure and never want to be limited by my circumstances or events I can’t control.

Another characteristic I think I have is GRIT (Anyone that has read anything by Angela Lee Duckworth knows about this term). For me resilience is having the optimism to continue when you’ve experienced some failures and see things through. While grit is the motivational drive that keeps you on a difficult task over a sustained period of time. I think of a Rottweiler not letting go of what it wants and how I need grab things in the same way.

I’m not saying I think any of this is easy. Believe me I have been at rock bottom, struggling to get back up or not knowing whether it was possible for me to recover. The truth is I had to accept that my life was never going to be same again and so I had to make life changing adjustments which were incredibly hard and frustrating. But I’ve decided to keep growing and moving forward in life I have to continue to be a positive force. When I feel things slipping out of my control I imagine that Rotweiller in me and simply hang on. I am determined to make my mark on this world before I leave it. For me life is about having no regrets and knowing you have had a positive impact that remains after my last breath.

I know that I wouldn’t  have been able to do so much without the incredible support from my FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

 My take away tips to develop Resilience and Grit

  1. Talk to and learn from people who persevere. Everyone has a story and the more you share with others the more likely we can inspire and feed each other’s ambitions.
  2. Set small goals that align with your purpose and work towards them every day. If an action doesn’t fit your vision, don’t give it your time or energy.
  3. Build time into your day for reflection. Time to take stock of your successes, who you need to thank or show some appreciation for what you already have.

Even though you may not think it, we have all shown resilience and grit at some point in our lives, whether that’s bouncing back from someone’s harsh words or achieving a goal when people doubted you. Share your moment in the comments below and let’s keep inspiring each other.

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The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

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My first ever vlog and hopefully more to come. This vlog documents my first day at the Google Innovator Academy

November 17, 2019

It’s that time of the year when people start to set a list of New Year resolutions, excited that come January 1st their whole life will dramatically change. I used to do this until I realised I would strictly follow them in January and then they would gradually fizzle out. I was mainly unable to follow them as I always felt like I was depriving myself and once I had lapsed it was difficult to get back on track.

I now set only a few targets for the year, targets that are much more manageable and realistic. These feed into my vision of being a better person. I remind myself of them daily, so they are not some abstract frightening concept I feel I can’t reach. I then review where I am every month. This allows me to measure the progress I am making towards my targets and the chance to reflect and make better choices.

One of my main goals this year is to be more CONSISTENT. For me this means going to the gym three times a week (health permitting), eating better (less red meat and more vegetables), making the effort to plan in time with friends and family, finishing books (I often start several but don’t quite get to finish them) and uploading my blogs more frequently (work in progress).

Another goal is to be more FORGIVING of myself. When things don’t go to plan or as well as intended, I need to shake it off and learn from the situation quickly. I know I am not perfect – no one ever is, but accepting and bouncing back from challenges is something I will continue to work on.

I asked my wife to go for a walk with me, she agreed but looked at me oddly- it isn’t something I normally ask to do especially on a cold night. Those of you who follow my story know that I sometimes have issues walking. Nevertheless, the time spent walking beside her was a simple pleasure and reminded me that I should never take the simple things in life for granted. My final goal is to be more APPRECIATIVE by giving time, attention and thanks to the important people and things in life.

I see these goals as essential for me becoming a better version of myself. There is no shock or surprise in what I want to achieve. They are not absolute or set in stone, but what they are, are achievable and very clear.

I’m going to challenge you to do one thing in addition to your own targets for this year, and that is to look after yourself. Each day find a way to be good to yourself.  

Let me know what your goals are this year, feel free to share them in the comments below!

Roll on 2018.

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The last few days have been rough to say the least. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve used the correct

February 19, 2020
Tags: Personal, Thoughts

My first ever vlog and hopefully more to come. This vlog documents my first day at the Google Innovator Academy

November 17, 2019