Saturday, May 5, 2012

An inspirational story

The Press has a truly inspirational story this morning; check this out:

Less than two years after his legs were amputated with a pocket knife in the ruins of the earthquake-hit PGC building, Brian Coker will compete in the New York Marathon.
The Christchurch father of two, who has not participated in a running race since his school cross-country, had tears in his eyes as he pictured himself yesterday crossing the finish line on his hand-cycle in November.
"If there was an award in high school for the person most unlikely to do a marathon, I would have got it," he said.
The New York Marathon is one of the few 42-kilometre public races in the world that allows the use of wheelchairs and hand-cycles.
"I want to prove to myself that I can do this; that I can still take part alongside able-bodied people," Coker said.
Asked how it would feel crossing the finish line, he said: "I can imagine actually riding around having tears streaming down my face the whole way round. I can imagine I'll just dissolve a bit at the finish line."
His bilateral above-the-knee amputation was completed with a hacksaw and pocket knife in the rubble of the Pyne Gould Corporation building in central Christchurch. 

The photograph above shows Brian Coker in his hospital bed in Hamilton, surrounded by his family. Here's his story which accompanied the photograph, in his own words:

JUST before 1pm I was leaving my first floor office in Perpetual Group to go to lunch. I was on the landing about to go down the main stairs when the earthquake hit. I hung on to the balustrade, the ceiling tiles started falling around me. I was swept off my feet when a concrete wall fell on me.
I knew straight away I was pinned and there was no way I could get myself out.
I thought I was going to die. I was in two minds whether to text Helen or not as I didn't want to worry her. But I wanted to tell her I loved her and that I may not survive.
Helen got a text message at 1.03pm - she was in Palmerston North in the North Island visiting relatives. Brian also texted his children and then turned his phone off to save battery power.
The pain was excruciating - I had blood dripping from my head. There were a few aftershocks, I actually moved some loose panels to give myself protection as panels, and concrete dust and bits and pieces fell.
I just wanted there to be a decent aftershock to finish it.
I sort of thought that on the one hand if I lost consciousness it would just ease the pain but I presumed then that I would just die. I had to keep breathing so I did my labour deep breathing exercises. I had no water and the concrete dust was in my nose, in my mouth. I don't know when rescuers came but it was some hours later.
Helen had called Marton Police Station (near Palmerston North) and was patched through to national headquarters. She was able to tell police that her husband was in the Pyne Gould building on level one in the landing. She told them what he looked like and that she had a text from him.
One of the rescuers gave me a drink of water. They were very reassuring. They came and went and then went away for quite a time and came back with engineers. They kept reassuring me they would get me out. I could hear other people screaming in the building. There was nobody else on the landing.
I didn't know they were going to amputate my legs but I should have known. They cut my trousers and they did that while I was still conscious. They had no choice. I don't remember anything of the procedure. When the rescuers came at about 7pm they said they would get me out. They'd been in once before and given me some morphine.
I don't remember the amputation because I was anaesthetised. I was properly and professionally anaesthetised. I owe my life to Helen for contacting the emergency services and my brother Malcolm who is a paramedic.
I'm grateful for the support of my family, friends and clients. I'd like to thank Perpetual Group because they have been extremely supportive and to the wider Pyne Gould corporation.
 It's hard to imagine what Brian Coker and so many others went through on 22 February 2011. But his determination to live as normal as possible a life, and to compete in the New York Marathon is a real inspiration , and evidence of just what a person with th right attitude can achieve.

We wish Brian Coker well in his quest for New York. When we're down in Christchurch next weekend, we'll certainly keep an eye out for wheelchair athletes flying along at great speed. And we will follow his progress to New York with much interest, because Brian Coker's story is a story worth telling.


Suz said...

To me, he's the winner of the NY Marathon already! Amazing.

Keeping Stock said...

Absolutely agree Suz, even if it makes me feel very guilty about how little I use my two perfectly good legs. Brian Coker's story is one of genuine triumph over adversity.