Another Rehab False Start

I felt the blood drain from my face. My arms lost feeling and I knew I was
on my way out. Fainting is part of the transition from bed to wheelchair,
the first step to rehab. It is caused in part by the blood draining from the
top half of my body into my dormant bottom half. It was emotional, painful
and exhausting, but at least it was progress.

However, as soon as I started, I was wiped out by another infection.

Three weeks passed. Three weeks of vomiting, sky-high temperatures,
ice-baths, blood draws from ever retreating veins, drips and scans confining
me to bed again. It was another false start, another assault on my
motivation, and another scare for Simone and my family as they watched my
body suffer and my mind withdraw.

During the haze of sickness our South Pole race documentary – *‘Blind Man
Walking’* – screened in Ireland. I was too sick to do any of the planned
radio interviews and could not summon the energy to inform everyone who was
involved that it was on. But, as I lay here in the days that followed,
hundreds of messages popped up on my phone, many from complete strangers. Ross
Whitaker, film maker and friend, had captured the story of why the South
Pole race was, and is, so important to me and the response to that story has
been incredible. I thank you. During the South Pole race, when my resolve
was fractured, the people supporting me gave me hope. Now I am again
sustained by others in the absence of my own motivation.

*‘Blind Man Walking’* tells the story of how racing to the South Pole helped
me to deal with the demons of blindness that were still haunting me ten
years after losing my sight. The film sparked memories of the contentment
and peace which I am struggling to feel now. Today I am mentally and
physically destroyed in a way that I don’t think I ever was by the
blindness. I need to stop feeling sick and I need to get out of hospital.
But I still have months of rehab ahead.

So I will start again tomorrow. I will start to learn how to sit up without
falling. I will learn to dress myself, to feed myself, to transfer from the
bed to the wheelchair. I have to learn to live again from scratch and it
feels pathetic.

But I will learn and I know it will not feel like this forever. It’s just
that I have so little energy for the fight today. I cannot take another bout
of illness – I need this to be a true start.

25 Responses to “Another Rehab False Start”

  1. 1 Wendy McCullough September 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Mark it’s good to read your blog again… Hopefully the sickness will have gone for good and you can concentrate on getting out of bed… We are all willing you to feel better and send positive vibes galore to you….Your programme was fantastic and showed the strength of character you possess and this will help you now to get closer to your goal one day at a time….are you tempted to burst into song?! One day at a time sweet Jesus!! …. Wasn’t it hideous and one to stay in your head all day?! Ahhhh ….Wendy x

  2. 2 Christine Duggan September 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I had the pleasure of meeting you some years back when you addressed secondary school students in Croke Park – you were an inspiration then and are even more so now. I often speak of that day and how your words made everyone in the room feel – driven, ashamed, happy, determined, positive and just fortunate to be there to have heard it. I look forward to hearing you again soon and seeing you up and about, healthy and happy once more. Tomorrow is a brighter day although it may not seem it right now. There are amazing things and challenges ahead and we look forward to witnessing you overcome them all.
    You are in my prayers.

  3. 3 Derek Wilson September 20, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Mark. Great positive news. I want to be like you when I grow up! Hope to see you soon. Derek

  4. 4 Sweeney September 20, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Mark, hoping tomorrow will bring you another step closer to this goal, balls of steel. The enormity of this must seem insurmountable at times, a lot like racing to the poles or multiple marathons for people like us. As with everything you do, your determination will push you the limit. Good luck this week. Best wishes r&k

  5. 5 Catherine Keating September 21, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Mark Please keep fighting & you will overcome this I admire you co much & I will continue to follow your blog & pray for you

  6. 6 Darragh September 21, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Good luck with the starting again Mark. Good luck with it every day you have to try again. I keep on telling people I fully expect to see you atop of Everest within a couple of years – so, eh, don’t disappoint me dude, okay? By the way, you still owe me a pint.

    Hope the infections stay at bay!

  7. 7 Michael Buckley September 21, 2010 at 10:49 am

    No point in lying to you mate, I was worried here myself when I heard how sick you were. I was worried the weight of it all may have tempted your sub-conscience to just say “feck this”. But I think it’s great news to now see that even your body wants you to get as a better as you can. Delighted to hear you blog again too. Baby steps, baby steps Mark. Your energy will return in small increments but you will get there.
    Love and thoughts from Singapore.

  8. 8 deirdre dixon September 21, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Hi mark,

    I know that whatever it takes you will do it. Your courage and tenacity are a beacon to us all. Please don’t give up, think of all that you have achieved in your life already and so much more that is waiting out there for you to do.
    My thoughts are with you and if positive thoughts can energise then I send them to you with admiration and the knowledge that you will come through this.

    Take care

  9. 9 Tania Gray September 21, 2010 at 11:48 am

    mark. I think of you every day as you’re my shackleton hero. My heart goes out to you and Simone. What can i say but stay with it and hopefully soon things will start to improve. Sending you Glassillaun karma every day. Simone will explain how this is such a special place. We’ll get you there soon. Lots and lots of love. Tania

  10. 10 Niall September 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    You have traveled this road before stay strong you have always made a difference to others. Your strength of mind can be the differenve for you. Stay strong dont give up om the good fight, I have no doubt that you will inspire many people in the future again. We are all with you on your road to recovery let the courage from within drive you on.

    Regards Niall

  11. 11 Chris Brindley September 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Mark. You are a warrior and will come through this. You have demonstrated to tens of thousands of people that great achievements often have to overcome adversity and setbacks. Once again, it is you that will lead the way for others. You will once again prove to be a role model and leader.

    When I told the Regional Directors at RBS/NatWest you were the best speaker, it was because of your achievements. When I shared a Conference stage with you, it was a privilege, and when we watched United lose to Chelsea, it was a great day being in your company.

    I look forward to the day son, when you and I repeat all of the above.

    Best wishes and create the future.

    Chris Brindley

  12. 13 Munster Mammy September 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Babe, the sickness is sh*te getting from the bed to sitting up,but it passes,its just your body reacting to change, and the body reacting to change is the biggest plus it means it’s learning and giving out so keep it up I have faith that you will keep on top of it

  13. 14 Tony McManus September 22, 2010 at 4:32 am

    I’ve missed your updates. Please stay strong and get well. Tony

  14. 15 Eveline Holmes September 25, 2010 at 10:06 am


    Sending you as much strength and positivity as I can. You are doing so well – it’s a long fight ahead, but no better man to tackle it.

    Eveline x

  15. 16 Dearbhaile Baldwin September 25, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Mark
    Ive just watched ur programe on ur journey to North Pole. WOW u are a truly amazing person , with an up lifting spirit that i dont think can be broken.
    I wish u well in ur newest battle to get well again. Will keep u in my prayers.

    Best wishes to u , Simone and ur family.


  16. 17 Michelle September 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Mark, I just watched the documentary which I had taped it on sky+ – due to work I couldn’t watch it any sooner. I cried when I read the text at the end about the accident. What a terrible thing to happen to someone. However, from watching the documentary, you are obviously a very strong willed successful person and not one to give up, its just not in you, even if you wanted to. I shall continue to follow your blog and I can’t wait for the happy ending that is going to happen in your path. You are an inspiration, probably now more than ever before. Best of luck with your recovery. – Michelle x

  17. 18 Barbara and everyone at One51 September 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Mark, this is just the briefest of messages from all your many pals and admirers in One51 and in the former IAWS in Thomas Street. We have always followed your career and personal achievements and have felt the close connection as former colleagues and I wanted to assure you that we are with you in spirit, prayer and encouragemetn as you face your most difficult challenge yet. You are an inspiration and we hope that we can in some small way contribute to inspire you to progress and recovery. Stay safe and well. Best regards. Barbara and all.

  18. 19 Sinead Hamill September 28, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Mark,

    We have never met but had seen you interviewed several times and found you to be an inspirational person. I was unaware of your accident until I picked up the “Outdoor” magazine in my goody bag after the cliffs of moher half marathon. (small fry compared to your achievements!) I was shocked to hear of your accident and subsequent uphill battle you again face. I don’t know if there is a “higher being” deciding the destiny of all of us but if there is I’m betting when he looks at you he/she says “That Mark Pollack is one tough old bastard!”
    I am quite sure you have dark days but you’ll do it…but of course you already know that.

    All the best, I look forward to hearing about your next mind blowing achievement.

    Sinead Hamill

  19. 20 Maud Reardon September 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Thinking of you Mark and wishing you stay strong and make a full recovery.


  20. 21 mat September 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Much respect to you, i remembr you in trinity all those years ago, even though we never met, i also remember you training on the treadmill in the gym on tara street a few years later, i have told people of your escapades and subsequent trials and errors, it seems you ahve rather unfairly been afflicted with more than your fair share of bad luck, its aboiut time you had a slice of good luck i think, its easy for me to sit here upright in my chair and offer platitudes and words of encouragement, but i can only hope you find some reserves of strength to pull you through this dark time, certainly whether its of any consequence to you or not, you have proved an inspiration for me, a total stranger, keep going ma n, keep going.. keep fighting .best wishes and prayers .mat

  21. 22 Orla Power October 1, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Hi Mark,

    I was in Trinity at the same time as you many years ago. We would have once met at some of the drunken boat club nights – my engineering buddies were trying to row at the time!! I remember you as a very strong charismatic guy, which I saw again on ‘Blind Man Walking’.

    I know many others have expressed their good wishes for you and to let you know how truly inspiring you are, I just wanted to say it again.

    I wish you luck for every stage of your recovery, please don’t give up and keep the updates coming – like the 500 people you took to the South Pole, you have a lot of people following this journey you are on.


  22. 23 Paddy Garrett October 2, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Mark, if anyone can overcome this terrible setback it is you.

    You continue to inspire people and you have my best wishes

  23. 24 gracies mummy October 2, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    AH FFS! Trying to imagine how pissed off you are.

    But you are right. You can only (in the words of Kenny Rogers) take one day at a time and if this day doesn’t go to plan, go back to bed and try again tomorrow.

    Try and keep communicating. There are a lot of people who care about you who want to be sure that you aren’t going to dark side. And if there is anything that somebody can do – just ASK!

    xx (lisa Domican)

  24. 25 Michelle October 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Mark, I was in your BESS class in college, saw the documentary and visited your blog as a result. I’m so sorry to hear about your accident and just wanted to wish you all the best for your recovery. The way you have dealt with so much adversity is an inspiration, but you sound very down at the moment and I hope better times are ahead for you.


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