Emerging from Hell

I woke at 4 a.m. Silence has replaced the menagerie of beeps and alarms and
groans of my open-plan home for the last couple of months. I am spending my
first night in the rehab ward and the initial difference from the acute ward
is the sound. For the moment I am in a single room, away from the din of the
6 bed bay of before. In a matter of days, alongside my physical relocation,
my mind has moved to a significantly more positive place.

I wrote the above paragraph only hours after I posted my last blog, which
detailed how my fight was waning. But, after my short reprieve from
infections (enough of a reprieve for me to insist I be moved from the
acute ward), on day 1 in rehab I was exhausted… another infection was

2 miserable weeks have now passed since the initial high of my arrival in
rehab. Again, I couldn’t eat or drink much for the duration of the new
infection. In fact, I have lost over 2 stone since I arrived here, perhaps 3
stone since the accident. Ironically, this weight loss is close to the
weight I lost in 2 months racing across Antarctica and bang on the weight I
aimed for in order to row lightweight. My weak body suffered more blood
draws, temperatures now record for me of 41 degrees (105.8 degrees in old
money), intravenous antibiotics and vomiting. My consultant asked a patient
who had suffered a series of infections like me to come and console me, to
tell me of his experience. He told me how terrible he had felt for months
and how the third infection had nearly killed his spirit altogether. Perhaps
not quite the story I needed to hear. I thought I couldn’t cope with another
set back, but in this situation there is little, in fact no, choice.
So, I am again recovering, this time slowly. The exhaustion is lifting and I
am getting back in the wheelchair. Today I even managed to make my first
hydrotherapy session in the hospital pool. Stretching, floating and even
some swimming with a physiotherapist. The session only lasted 30 minutes but
the weightlessness was liberating. I will be pushing for more hydro!

When you are going through hell, keep going, said Winston
Churchill. Someone texted me this quote during my last infection. I have
hated my hell of the last 3 months, but I am starting to think I will fight
my way out regardless of these set backs.

11 Responses to “Emerging from Hell”

  1. 1 Donal Cronin October 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Fighting back – it’s in your DNA. You’re in our thoughts.

    • 2 Gary O Sullivan April 14, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Your Spirit is truely awe-inspiring.

      Everything thats thrown at you you meet head on Mark, and I believe you’ll meet this head on and win like you’ve won so many times before. Fight the Good Fight!!

      Sending you all the good vibes I can muster!! Good luck n God Bless

  2. 3 Cian O'Loingsigh October 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Mark, your indomitable spirit has kept you going through a hell that I struggle to even imagine, the Churchill quote is very very apt. Keep fighting, you truly are an inspiration to us all.

    I will continue to follow your progress, take care,


  3. 4 Catherine Keating October 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Keep fighting Mark & we will keep praying, you are always in my thoughts

  4. 5 Aine Power October 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Mark, it looks like you really are making progress. There doesn’t seem to be any end to your infinite fighting spirit. You are amazing. Sending you some good energy, Aine

  5. 6 Claire October 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Mark, you spoke to the Peter Mark group in Ireland last feb. I was so sorry to hear of your accident , and worry about you and wish you well! You inspired me so much and even though times are very hard here now with the recession and it seems hard to cope, I think of you and know that life goes on and I will continue to work hard and think and pray for your recovery! You are a legend! Always remember that!

  6. 7 Wendy McCullough October 9, 2010 at 12:26 am

    An appropriate quote …. Keep going Mark you are a fighter….you’ll get through this period of hell and one of these days you will look back and say I’m getting there…. Hopefully soon…x

  7. 8 Siobhan Jacob October 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm


    I spoke to Enda yesterday at the Sculling Ladder about you. (Sean says thanks for the Congrats by the way). I’m so saddened for all the pain you and those closest to you have had to endure. I’ve seen
    cases just like you – when I work as a Doctor and personally when my Mother had a serious Head Injury a number of years ago. The darkest hour is before the dawn. I know what your fighting spirit is like. I know you will make it. By the sounds of things you have made so much progress already – less than 10 weeks ago you were on the flat of your back drugged to the eyeballs ( Sounds like Student Life), now you are able to consider starting Hydro. I’m keeping you in my prayers and wish you the very best. You deserve it.

    Take Care,

    Siobhan Jacob

  8. 9 Klair O'Brien October 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm


    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    William Ernest Henley

  9. 10 Pascale Claes October 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Hello Mark, it is good to read that you are “emerging” as you put it. I have seen “Blind Man Walking”, and though it is very good, I am sure a one hour documentary can only convey a tiny taste of what actually happened in the months of preparation, and in the weeks of the event itself. Yet your determination shown throughout.

    I found your last blog post and this very hard to read, your words are so honest and open, with the sharpness of a steel razor. And yet again, your determination shines, no matter what.

    You are not alone Mark, a lot of people are thinking of you, willing you on. I hope you can draw on this. The Kanchi’s SB had its over-nighter last weekend, and you were talked about, a lot. You were missed there, and yet felt so present, so often.

    Wishing you all the best in rehab. You are an inspiration, now more than ever.

  10. 11 Steve Riley October 13, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for sharing Mark. Kia Kaha (Stay strong).
    Steve. New Zealand.

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