personal stories

from important people in my life

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Sonya

Sister

"When I got the call that Mark was in hospital, I assumed it was for something minor; a sprained wrist, a broken leg etc. When I saw him in a neck brace on the table of the A&E room that looked like an abattoir there was so much blood, I got a shock. I said some brief meaningless words to him and darted to the toilet where I fainted.

 

When my parents went to catch some sleep, I once stayed with Mark by myself. This could have been days/weeks after the accident; a funny time warp happened for a few months. Two nurses came and said they had to ‘turn him’. I didn’t know what that meant but I left his bedside. The nurses closed the curtains around his bed. Moments later I heard a loud guttural roar. The nurses had to move him (with his many broken bones, punctured lungs and tubes) so he wouldn’t get bed sores. The sound Mark made that day is the only sound of anguish that I recall Mark making as a result of his accident.

 

When transferred to another hospital, Mark once asked me to help him get to the toilet. I had to lift the things that the tubes that were coming out of him were connected to. On the way up the long, old corridor, he turned to me and wiggled his damaged right arm at me and made a sound to scare me. I jumped. He started laughing. I was astounded. Did he not understand the extent of his injury? Was he in denial? In hindsight, I now understand that this was acceptance.

 

Happiness can only exist in acceptance  - George Orwell

 

Mark quickly accepted and adapted. From the obvious, using his mount to open a packet of crisps, to the more creative, using a tea towel anchored under the corner of the toaster to hold his toast in place as he buttered it. Mark’s attitude and adaptability have been awe-inspiring. He hasn’t let it stop him from anything…a welding course, segwaying, tag rugby tournaments, 10 mile charity race etc. An inspiration who constantly challenges my assumptions."

Sonya Gaffney

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Owen

Friend

Mark Gaffney, a best friend, an inspiration and a survivor.

 

I've known Mark for what seems like all my life even though, it's only been 14 or 15 years. Funny how you don't take the time to sit back and really appreciate the good times you have with the people closest to you, because before you know it you could be pacing around in a hospital, wondering if he will ever reach life's milestones or if we'd get a chance to make more memories.

 

My story of this hero and I say hero because he knows nothing of survival, as he never tried to survive he just kept living. Mark is one those guys who, no matter what people say or do he will find a way or if there is no way he will create one not just so he can keep going but also so other people all over the world can use an idea he has or vice versa.

 

Mark tragically was in a motorbike accident just minutes outside his home around 12 years ago at no fault of his own. Not to get people feeling sorry for him but just to hear what he has to share with you, I'll give some background of the accident.

 

It was maybe 11pm on a stormy night in October, when Mark crashed into a truck. He was within meters of his parents’ home but sadly when he was knocked from his bike he was left passed out, bleeding both internally and externally with major life threating damage. As he could not call for help, Mark lay on the road to die until one car passed roughly 30 minutes later and almost ran him over thinking he was a black garbage bag but luckily they stopped and called an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital. Among other injuries, Mark was left with a broken collar bone, broken ribs, a damaged spine, nerve damage to one eye and he broke both of his arms. Sadly, he lost the mobility of his right arm completely. After multiple surgeries, the expert staff at the hospital tried using nerves and tendons from his chest and tried attaching them to his arm to save it but to no avail, unfortunately.

It has has been 12 years since the accident and despite being left with only one fully functioning arm Mark lives a perfectly normal life, in fact, he is more active and involved in more sport then anyone in our group of friends. He plays rugby, soccer, goes to the gym, swims, drives, he also fights in Muay Thai, there's no stopping him.

 

Mark is one of my closest friends, he is basically a brother to me, he would do anything for me and I would do the same. The reason I am sharing this with you all is because Mark wanted to reach out to anyone in a similar situation who may be finding it hard to cope with everyday life and doing simple things. He has taught himself how to do a lot of things you may think can't be done. He wants to share his experiences and life hacks with you all and to hear yours too. I have nothing but love and respect for Mark for creating this site and hope this helps others to succeed and grow as he has. Do not hesitate to ask any questions to him.

Owen Marshall

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Niall

Friend

It is very hard to ascertain to the feelings of someone who has gone through such a traumatic event in their life. I know Mark since we were 4 years old meeting in school and have remained best friends since. It is very easy to feel sorry for Mark and take pity on him as of what happened and I am sure a lot of people do. I think personality that people should commend Mark for what he has done to get over the crash.

 

Since I have known Mark he has always been good with his hands, building go karts, treehouses, fixing cars etc. Mark wanted to be a carpenter when he finished school. He decided at the time that college was not right for him and wanted to explore his passion for woodwork. This all changed the night of the crash and for someone who had their future plans made out. It must have been so hard not to spiral emotionally from the fact that his future plans he had setup could no longer be a reality.

I believe when it originally happened to Mark and everyone was visiting him he probably was not focused on his future but just physically getting over everything. If it was me, when I first got home after months in hospital and all my friends were either working or in school the reality would set in. As far as I could tell Mark was starting to get upset about things and it can be very lonely all day on your own in a house. I would call to Mark drag him out for a walk and a chat or even call up to watch movies to keep him company. I probably was not the best visitor as I can get awkward make him laugh or even hit him and forget that this was all painful for him.

 

His mother Collette actually decided to send Mark, me, his father and uncle to Tenerife for a week to get him out of a spiral and bad moods. This was great as we went out and just relaxed. From this I think Mark started to realize not all was doom and gloom. This I can see was the pivotal point for Mark and he then began to focus not on the old future he had but to map out a new path for the future.

 

I think a lot of people look up to Mark, I know I definitely do and not just as he is 6ft 5 inches tall. He was able to overcome such a traumatic event in his life. Mark went back to school after being out 6 months or so. Went on to do a welding course. Proving people wrong who said he could not do it. The recession hit and there was no work so he decided to go back to education and go down the IT route. Mark is now working full-time as employee of a call centre being the IT help desk Engineer. Anyone who knows Mark can tell you that he will try anything. The disability that he has does not hold him back in anyway and should definitely not hold anyone else back. Mark is a great inspiration and if there is anyone who has gone through something similar reach out to Mark as he will show you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

On a side note Mark just captained our tag rugby team to a cup win. I think if you put that into perspective alone for a person who only has the use of one arm you will see that anything is possible.

Niall Moran