Before it happened

This was taken in 1994, a few months before I came off my motorbike in London's Kentish Town, when I was 25. Back then I lived in London near Kings Cross and I was doing a degree in furniture design at Middlesex university. I was very much part of the London vintage scene, riding old British motorbikes daily and socialising in rock'n'roll pubs around Camden. I was driving down to our Wednesday haunt when a pedestrian ran across the road, straight into my motorbike. Although I did see him running towards me, I did not even have the opportunity to brake or swerve to avoid him. I fell off my bike and suffered severe trauma to the nerves which control the muscles of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. The nerves were torn out of the spinal cord in my neck, resulting in a permanent paralysis of my left hand and arm, known as a braxial plexus injury.

I have had several major operations over a number of years involving nerve grafts, muscle grafts, even fusing my wrist and some fingers; I am grateful for the amazing work the surgeons did and although I cannot actually use my arm and hand, I am now able to raise my arm up (and down with gravity) and therefore can dance in a very robot like fashion.

I no longer drive motorbikes, I am not a furniture designer and I no longer look like a I just stepped out of the 1950s but it's ok. I had to adapt: I drive an automatic car, I became a design historian and my fashion style evolved. I am not going to put a positive spin on loosing the use of my arm and hand, let's face it, I would really love to be able to use both again; however my disability has made me stronger, more self-reliant and the person I am today.

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