By Marie-Louise Carroll
This article is part of My Plan Manager’s guest blogger series.
Our son was never into sports before he had a stroke. He went to taekwondo for fitness, loved the water and riding his bike. Our son was a scholar, and just wanted to go to uni even when he was in primary school. All that changed after his stroke. We eventually moved to Brisbane for medical reasons and to get services for him.
At first he fell in love with snow skiing, and, yes, skiing when you live in Brisbane was very difficult and expensive. His goal was to become a winter Paralympian but his brain tumour had more in store for him so that dream was put on hold after he was hospitalised for another 4 months.
After a few years of medical setbacks he set his sights on cycling…tandem cycling. That would be easier, you would think, but no, it wasn’t. You can’t just go to a bike shop and buy a tandem. And then you need someone to be the front person, the pilot , which is difficult to get too.
Unlike skiing there was no “pathway” to help and when he needed a tandem race bike we had no idea how we would fund it. This sport isn’t actually very inclusive and at times it discriminates just like some things in life when you have disabilities.
As difficult as his dream of becoming a Paralympian is, I don’t regret supporting him. The benefits for him have been enormous. Obviously he is healthier, he’s fitter, his weight is under control, it helps his state of mind, he has more energy but he also has a focus.
He does need a lot of support though and we get this through careful selection of support workers as well as a very tired father who trains with him early in the morning before he goes to work. We are also hoping to get younger people more involved in the sport. Our club is one of a few cycling clubs which welcome Para-cyclists. We try to help and encourage anyone to give cycling ago. We have handcycles, trikes and of course tandems to lend out and we have a social group that meets once a month to ride.
As for Jord, well he now has a coach, who tries to understand all the medical issues that he faces everyday. He races and beats the single bikes at our club races and he has won a few state titles. We are hoping he can go the National Para-Cycling titles next year, but as always we need a race pilot so fingers crossed that can happen for him. Will he ever reach his goal? Who knows – but he has something to strive for and that is great, whatever the outcome.
Marie-Louise Carroll is a mother, carer, nurse, advocate and support worker to her beautiful son Jordan, who is 24 years old. When Jordan was 11, he had a massive bleed in his brain which caused a stroke. Marie learnt to be an OT and support worker to him and then (to pay for his skiing goals) she became a support worker at Vision Australia. In ‘past lives’ a singer, dancer, office worker, lollipop lady, dance teacher, Marie is currently a disability rights advocate with regular public speaking engagements.