All Mark Pollock Blogs

What is normal?

  I can’t step onto a weighing scales at home anymore. Instead, I travel to the National Rehabilitation Hospital and roll onto a weighbridge in my wheelchair. Like an HGV driver being inspected at customs, I am pausing temporarily on my way to another place. My...

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My first piece of kit post-fall: the table my dad made

I had an unexpected rush of emotion this morning as I rolled into my kit room in Trinity College Dublin. Simone, my fiancée, hadn’t been in here for a while, and she said, “Oh, look! Your red table. I’d forgotten about your red table.” “Imagine,” she said, “There are...

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8 years on from intensive care

Yesterday, 8 years ago, I fell from a second storey bedroom window onto the concrete below. I’m not sure how it happened, but I suspect I got up to go to the bathroom and, being blind, using my hand to feel my way, that night, my hand found an open space where the...

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You Can’t Out Train Your Diet

#TeamUnbreakable #SmartBike #FastTrackingACure #Paralysis I was apprehensive as I rolled in my wheelchair onto the scales in the National Rehabilitation Hospital. The screen said 111.3 kilograms for the combined weight of my chair and me. And, as I reversed off the...

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Robots, Smart Bikes and Team UnBreakable

My empty wheelchair disappears behind me as I walk across the sports hall in my robotic legs. Dr. Neil Fleming monitors the electrical stimulation unit that is pushing current into my damaged spinal cord. And, Simon O’Donnell shadows me calling out the data from my...

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Back in the saddle

#SmartBike #TeamUnbreakable #ArrowElectronics The streets of Belfast were nearly empty, just a handful of buses and the odd car easing through the city. It was the summer of 1994 when the Tour De France had not yet been tarnished by widespread drugs scandals and my...

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The Test Is Just The Evidence Of What You Do In Training

The sweat is running down my face, my arms are burning and the rain is soaking me through. Simon is up front on our tandem bike changing up through the gears and calling “go” at the start of another push during today’s interval session. We’re training for my first...

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The Day I Didn’t Die

I sat in my wheelchair eating a sausage and bacon roll as the wind gusted through the tented café at Henley Royal Regatta. Little has changed about the place since I first raced there as a 19 year old, the café still faces the river, the boat tents are still to my...

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What the polar explorers teach us about resilience

There is no cure for paralysis and I am paralysed. So my motivation to connect people around the world to create a cure may simply seem like a personal desire to walk, to feel, to be my old self again. The fall that broke my back in 2010 leaving me with no movement or...

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Yes, You Need More Than Just You

Last Saturday morning I woke up, facing into my seventh and eighth training sessions in four days and I struggled. As my care assistant knocked the door, let himself in and made his way up the stairs in my house, I wanted to tell him to turn around and let me sleep...

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