Mark Berridge is an author, speaker and lived adversity expert talking about his book A Fraction Stronger. It’s a book Mark never imagined he would write. Mark’s high powered corporate career came to an abrupt end in March 2019 following a very serious cycling accident. It fractured his identity and triggered a personal battle to regain his mobility and reimagine a different life with new meaning.
A Fraction Stronger is an inspirational book about facing adversity with a positive spirit, intentional actions and a can-do attitude. It’s a blueprint on how we can embrace uncertainty and liberate possibility.
After an idyllic childhood in Western Australia Mark now lives in Brisbane and this conversation was recorded over the internet. Our warm table experience extended to a cup of tea across the ether!
“But sometimes the pathway is broken, and it's dark, and it's hard. And it doesn't have to have light only from above, it can have light from below. And that was what was really making me think about this idea of embers, the coals and the fire, the stuff that might help you find that pathway.” – Mark Berridge
Early life in WA (1:10)
The accident (3:00)
Rebuilding identity (14:00)
Excerpt from the book (29:00)
Duration: 38 minutes.
Book: A Fraction Stronger
Audio book now available at: Authors Direct Kobo Chirpbooks
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Book Club is one of those activities that many of us enjoy hosting around our warm tables at home. And today on My Warm Table, I have an excellent recommendation for your next book club or book gift. I'm delighted to be speaking with author, speaker and lived adversity expert Mark Berridge on his very personal book, A Fraction Stronger. It's a book Mark never imagined writing.Mark;s high powered corporate career came to an abrupt end in March 2019, following a very serious cycling accident. It fractured his identity and triggered a personal battle to regain his mobility and reimagine a different life with new meaning. A Fraction Stronger is an inspirational book about facing adversity with a positive spirit, intentional actions and a can do attitude. Mark, welcome to My Warm Table.Mark Berridge:
Thank you, Sonia.Absolute pleasure to be here.Sonia Nolan:
Mark, your book opens in in the beachside town in WA of Geraldton. Where you spent what seems like an idyllic childhood. Tell us about your roots in Western Australia.Mark Berridge:
Yeah, we had a couple of stints of Geraldton.So my parents were school teachers. And as happens for school teachers, they tend to travel around country, Western Australia as they work their way up the chain of command. And I think I was in Geradlton until I was about five years old and lots of idyllic memories of going to the beach as a as a really young individual. And then we went back again from when I was 10 to 13. Yeah,great, great experiences and I guess I see myself as a very beach oriented person as a result of that. I did try and persevere with surfing once I went to Albany but I think eventually the the idea of being wet suited all the time and it just got too much for me but yeah, very much a beachside person I think and I still miss those WA beaches. I mainly grew up in country, Western Australia, we did have a period of time in Roleystone up in the hills of Perth, which was beautiful as well, lots of great memories from being up there.And then because I finished high school at Albany, Senior High School on the south coast then off to UWA stayed at St. Columba College, great experience of university and, and living there. I had a few years living up in Hong Kong in my mid 20s,then moved to Brisbane after that. And largely been here,since although we had a few years in Singapore as well.Sonia Nolan:
Your childhood and your early adulthood was spent here in Western Australia. And now I'm speaking to you via zoom and our warm table experience includes a cup of coffee today.But sadly, we can't be together because you're now in Brisbane.There was this high powered career that I sort of alluded to at the start where you were working for a mining giant as they say, you know, they're often called in the media and we won't dwell on that side because you've very much reinvented yourself since those days Mark and tell me how that came to be.Tell me about March 2019.Mark Berridge:
Yeah, well still working for the mining giant on a consulting basis, the day that I had my accident, like many people trying to juggle that fitness and headspace that you get out of doing physical activity. And for me, cycling had become my love as I had played a lot of hockey, but my knees had basically gone and therefore my hockey career had gone and cycling was a new outlet. I was probably doing about 250 ks per week, I was scheduled to fly out to Salt Lake City that night for work and unfortunately crashed in the early hours of the morning. So I'm just coming down through a corner and the bike understeered through the corner hit a bit of a dent in the road, had to make a controlled crash decision. So there's a park in front of me that's a better option than the alternatives. I'll crash into the park. But unfortunately, I found a big storm water drain that's over 1.6 metres below ground level. So I've catapulted myself in that storm water drain or sort of, I think my helmets clipped the bluestone rockery on the edge of that drain or towards the bottom of the drain.And that sent the force of my collision into my spine. So five fractured bones, left scapula,three ribs, left wrist, but most material I crushed two vertebrae one with down to 40% of its original height. So T 12, which is sort of at the middle of your back. And a piece of that,unfortunately went into my spinal cord so incredible pain at that point in time, just trying my best to stay calm. And it was only later in hospital I realised quite the extent of my injuries, of course,Sonia Nolan:
in your book, A Fraction Stronger you talk about the thinking that went through your mind as you were stuck in the ditch, you know, and you had that terrible pain and, and that's one of the more really inspirational starts to that story Mark is that, you know,again, I'm gonna gush a little bit because your story is so inspirational despite you know what you've gone through, you've really offered up this belief and possibility in the impossible moments which As you know, sort of on the front page of your, of your book, and every little hurdle was what you sort of focused on just this is where I am right this moment. And this is the hurdle I need to get through. So lying in the ditch there sort of having had this very serious cycling accident,but not necessarily understanding just how serious it was at the time, your focus was just on the next moment, and the next moment and the next moment until the paramedics arrived.Mark Berridge:
Yeah, I think with everything, you've always got a series of time horizons you've got to deal with. So once they'd let me know that they'd called the ambulance, which they did. And when I think actually,the first voice that I heard was, I'm calling the ambulance Berro. I was lucky enough to be cycling with eight other guys and straight on to it they've made that call. So obviously,I'm in that moment, you know, my time horizons are waiting for that ambulance. And that could have been ended up being quite a while. So I can't deal with that uncertainty on that time horizon that point in time. So all I've got to concentrate is on. Okay,how do I just breathe, and do the things I can control? I can't control how long that ambulance takes to get to me and the pain is unbearable? What can I do now? And so it was really just the first point was this,how do I slow things down for myself and breathe and not get panic, not too concerned about what might come on the other side of that ambulance journey or anything like that. The most important thing at that point in time for me was to try and stay as calm as possible, and breathe and get to that next hurdle,which was I guess, I saw it as being the ambulance arriving. It turned out that the hurdle of how do we get me out of the ditch to even get me in the ambulance, which of course, I had no idea I was in a ditch. It was only four weeks later, when I went back and saw the extent of the ditch, did I understand where I'd actually landed in, I had no idea that the reason why it took so long for me to get into the ambulance and get going was they had to problem solve and how to get me out of the ditch. So I think sometimes it really does help because you're not really fully aware of the situation around you. How do you just focus on the things you could control? At that point intime I could control:
How do I react to this situation? How to control my breathing? What more for one of a better phrase normal things for me. So how do I problem solve the fact that I'm missing my flight tonight to Salt Lake City? Is there another way I might get there? If everything goes well? And how do I try and utilise some humour, I guess which was relatively typical, or may have just things that helped me, I just still by myself in that moment of otherwise could have spiralled into panic.Sonia Nolan:
And that opens up another really big lesson in your book that I found actually,because the concept of ambiguity, this idea of we spend so much energy trying to find the certain in life. And in fact, there are so many aspects of of our world these days,because it's become so complex,or, you know, we really like a decision and we really like certainty. But ambiguity is actually really pervasive in everything that surrounds us.And you talk about ambiguity a lot. And I found that particularly helpful just from not from a health point of view,but just from a business point of view, even just to be really comfortable in the ambiguity,and that the ambiguity actually opens up possibilities. So I really liked your take on that,Mark Berridge:
you know, I would say that there's elements of the way my mother in particular,tackled life being very creative. I think she probably liked that possibility, and just seeing what can be achieved and was very open thinking. So that must have helped a lot. But I think also my career definitely helped always being in sales and marketing, that sort of revenue,end of the business, I was very focused on what's the opportunity here. So often we can get concerned about our situation, and that fear will almost always drive us back towards certainty, but certainly may not actually help us deal with that fear, that tension,you know, we do need some level of certainty, we do need to understand our own core values.And there are things that makes real sense when we're making a plan for why we might tackle it.But at the same time, having that open mind to adjust, to look for the opportunity when things aren't quite going, as you planned is so critical as well. And, and to me, I think that that ability to manage those two things together, not just chase for certainty, and okay, what's wrong with the what does this mean? How do I deal with this and try and Google and get a very prescriptive answer to my situation, I think that really helped me that I was just able to sort of take it from moment to moment and listen to both medical experts, which are so important to me through the journey, but also sort of challenge that and well, what else might I be able to achieve?What's my situation?Sonia Nolan:
And that was your negotiation skills, wasn't it?Mark, because you talked about that, from your marketing background and from your international career that you know, negotiation skills are one of those key things that you always needed to use with customers and clients to actually see well, what's possible, where can we get to and you really tapped into those negotiation skills in even with working with you health professionals to say, Okay, well what can I do and what is possible? And what am I allowed to do?Mark Berridge:
I think persuasion is a really valuable skill as well. And it's related to negotiation without being quite the same time. So there are times I had to persuade myself to do things. The book is an example of that, besides myself, being vulnerable, and sharing all the things that happen in my book, as uncomfortable as it might be,for me, if I really want to help people, there's more value in me actually sharing all of my story than than hiding parts of it that are uncomfortable to share.So there's elements of persuasion and elements of absolute trading in when what I had to do to achieve and Lucy my wife, she was really important with one of those early in terms of which hospital we're going to next that was an important negotiation. Because at that point in time, I just felt so broken in those first, that first week, about what what next, I was quite happy to acquiesce and go wherever that particular hospital wanted me to go next, whereas Lucy is very much going on, hang on, there's a number of different things at play here. And was really good at getting me into a hospital that was much closer to us at home, therefore close to my friends support. And given you know, I ended up being there far longer than I ever would have expected, I'd probably hoped to be out there in two weeks was out there in six, that was really, really important in her abilities, I guess to deal with that one. But me personally, the negotiation around my orthotic device that they put on my foot was a really key one, they, they just had a number of medical influences around me in the hospital, some of the physios certainly the spine, spinal specialist team that really wanted me to wear this orthotic because I was going to have to wear it the rest of my life. And I'm thinking, Well, I don't want to wear it the rest of my life at all, I start wearing it now and therefore I am more likely to be wearing it the rest of my life. How do I find a way to give you what you want, which is wearing it some of the time, but being allowed to not wear it some of the time as well. So that there is this hope of me getting movement back on my left foot, and being able to have a more normal walking gait in the future. I'm not closing the door on that. So you know, we came up with this, I guess the the trading of when I would wear it and how I would wear which enabled both those two interests to be protected. Because they wanted me to be safe. And they didn't really expect me to regain much movement in that foot. I wanted to be able to regain my long term movement. So yeah, how do you understand the drivers of why they're pushing for that they're pushing for it for my safety? Okay, in what situations am I unsafe? How do I make sure I'm wearing it in the situations where you think I'm gonna be unsafe? Where am I in a really safe position, I'm in the gym with the other physios.Surely I can not wear it there so that we can maximise my recovery?Sonia Nolan:
Mindset is such a big part of what you talk about in A Fraction Stronger, that it's having a vulnerability to be open to assistance in every aspect of your life. But it's also having that real positivity to make choices. You use the word choice a lot in the early pages of your book.Mark Berridge:
I haven't actually searched how often I use choice, but I was definitely again, perhaps back to persuasion. I was definitely trying to persuade myself, you can tackle this. And now you're feeling pretty bleak at these early hours. And so often I was,but you can tackle this and it's a choice. Other people have made choices, look what they've achieved through the choices that they might have made from harder positions. And yeah, so that that element of choice was fundamental to I guess the way I drove my mindset and then we joked with the next book will be Mostly Follows Instructions because I don't always follow instructions perfectly as my wife would particularly note.The idea being that I absolutely listened and took on board what people had to tell me I'd also tried to push the boundaries a little bit more because I wanted more I was really hungry for maximising how I might come out of what was a really difficult situation.Sonia Nolan:
One of those reasons that you wanted to maximise everything is that your identity was so challenged at that moment in time, you know,you have an identity as a father as a professional as a husband,as a cycling buddy and your identity had been fractured, as we said earlier. So I guess that was a huge motivator for you.Mark Berridge:
Totally. So I'm displaced from all those things,what I would call those embers of yourself, that understanding of your values and what's really core and important to you. And I'm desperately fighting for them that I'm using them as part of this persuasion or this driver for myself of how do I tackle this difficult situation?And so yes, that all those wonderful things that are around me, through my life, the memories I've managed to gather from having a great life and wonderful family. All of those things I associated with helping our busy family get through their weekends or sport and other things rather than suddenly not being able to participate in those because it's just too hard to take me potentially, that's the sort of vision I had. And it seems overblown now, but in the early days, I certainly had this vision of suddenly, I'm not part of those activities, because it's just too hard to be involved anymore. Or, I'm only involved in select activities,because it's just too hard to be involved to the same extent as before. And so I was using all of that definitely to drive myself and, you know, you start to make life much more rewarding for the health professionals and putting all this effort into helping you, you are given the opportunity of coming back to where you were before. And I could see around me that there was other patients that just didn't quite have those same drivers that same ability. And I guess the idea of the book is definitely, how do I encourage a few people to try a bit harder a bit longer, and realise that there's value in doing so?Because not only will their life be better that the health professionals that treat them and the people around them and love them will live a better life? And how do we create that belief that that I've managed to generate by imagining what other people have done around me? I guess, how do we replicate that more often for more people?Sonia Nolan:
And it absolutely does that Mark, I've passed this book on to a friends of mine who have experienced traumatic health issues and feedback that's already come back from one of them has been it gave me hope. Rehabilitation is hard.It's boring, and it's consistently you don't feel like you're making any traction, it gets a bit stale. And having read your book, it really inspired this particular friend of mine to just have that hope and say, No, it's just a fraction stronger. And, and that's what I was saying to you when we first spoke Mark that I love the title, because it resonates deeply with I think everybody you know, even when we're talking about our own fitness, just a fraction stronger a fraction, every little step in the right direction is something to celebrate, it's in the right,you're heading in the right way.Mark Berridge:
Celebrate, we don't celebrate our little gains. Because all of those little gains those fractions of gains, they compound, they help us get to the next that might even open the door for the next step change. Certainly that happened to me and my recovery journey. It is all about those fractions building on each other and creating the game. So absolutely, I wanted people to pick up the book and feel I can understand and to value and to celebrate more small gains, and small targets, we talked before about the ditch and just breathe, just get through the moment. That's, that's a goal by celebrating, it's actually worth celebrating, if you're in that situation with that much amount of pain and you can stay relatively calm through it, you should be proud of that look back on it, if you've achieved that, and people will be listening to this have achieved things like that, you know, I guess so often, you know, most of us, we're setting ourselves pretty high expectations in life all the time. So we then look at the gap, what have we fallen short of and how we improve and narrow that gap to what our expectation was on ourselves or what we're going to achieve in life. And when we do spend a lot of time focused on that area of shortfall. And therefore we don't always celebrate just how much I have achieved,particularly if it was towards a strong really strong target that it doesn't really matter. Even if it's just a small mini target, you know, how do I go on that? What was my attitude? Can I just celebrate the attitude I applied to this, that's quite a simple thing that we can hold ourselves as, as they hold ourselves accountable, that's a little bit strong. Just, you know, really celebrate it and go, right, I said I would give this my best shot. And I did.I'm going to celebrate that I'm gonna celebrate what I learned,even if I didn't achieve what I want to achieve out of this.Sonia Nolan:
And you got a lot of those sorts of little questions that you pose at the end of each chapter, Mark to really get us thinking about well what was our attitude? And where have we taken a moment to celebrate? And, you know, what are our goals? And how do we imagine ourselves in our daily life and in what gives us meaning? You actually have these little thought starters and conversation points at the end of each chapter, which I found really helpful and really useful. And I think, you know,coming back to the book club theme, you know, people were going to use A Fraction Stronger as, as a book club book. There's some terrific conversation starters in there.Mark Berridge:
Those questions in the chapter, I think probably started out of my book coach's idea, and certainly something I've worked on hard with my editor, Brooke Lyons was amazing in terms of how do we get those because I think there's something I inherently did during my own recovery was thinking about okay, I'm feeling really crappy in this moment about that and a bit of news,okay, how do I find a way to turn that around? I think about what I have achieved so far, or what did I do well, and okay,what's one thing I can do? Well,how do I just do that now?Sonia Nolan:
I'd like to take us back and explore this idea of embers because that's something that you talk a lot about in your book Mark. And I really love that idea of the embers as you describe them as these were memories, those core values that define you, the key people, the friends and the family who bring meaning to your world, and how you want to show up for them and how you want to front up in the world. And all those little fractions of moments and memories and people and places.They're stoking this warm fire that you talk about. It's just a beautiful analogy. But it was really, really meaningful for me.Mark Berridge:
It probably came out of the first attempts to generate a keynote speech. And I was really thinking about what were the I guess, the fundamental things I did in terms of this idea of generating hope and possibility and focusing on it. And I really felt that I was illuminating hope. And I was trying to do lots of things that would illuminate which later, thanks to Birds of Tokyo, became lanterns. And Lanterns, Angels and Demons works as the three sections, the books are like that, you know, the two simple nature of those three sections.So it was a logical change. But back to illimination, the idea that you do have your, I guess,the horizon, the possibility,and there's the vision of these big things that that we might aim for. And sometimes we do hold up this spotlight and just think we need to just have this big vision, and only a vision.But sometimes the pathway is broken, and it's dark, and it's hard. And it doesn't have to have light only from above, it can have light from below. And that was what was really making me think about this idea of embers, the coals and the fire,the stuff that might help you find that pathway, but isn't coming from this, this lighthouse, or this light on the hill or this beacon of hope that is coming from some other way.And that really made me think of the the idea of embers and all that sense of identity inside you. And, and something that might look like it's not much now just coals that are almost look like they're laying cold.And particularly when you're you know, as fractured as I was feeling those first few weeks,but just by reflecting on them by putting some little bit of energy into them. They've got an amazing amount of warmth, and light that will help steer you down that pathway of hope. And I think that was really the crux of why I came up with that embers idea. So yes, it was, for me, it was the the sense of my identity, both in a working career but more importantly,around my family and my family,you know, how can I contribute to that? You know, how would I continue to enjoy the last section of my life and the way that I hoped, just a few days before I was going to enjoy it not in the way that I was currently feeling like I've looked, the things inside you the values that you can, how you can show up and the attitude you can take to the game, as we've discussed before, for me, you know, finding lighter moments and a bit of humour, which is something I guess I'd always tried to do as a leader, or a difficult work situations when things were looking a bit harder. How do I find a way just to keep it a bit more real and just take the edge off? Putting it back into perspective,really, by having a little bit of like humour, that sense of humour, or attempted sense of humour, as my children would say, is a integral part of who I am as a person. So I definitely tried to channel those things I could still connect with,despite my physical nature not being what it was just a few days before.Sonia Nolan:
So it's really tapping into the core values as you describe them. And what's going to make life bearable in the short term, what's going to make life meaningful. So the,you know, the long term journey?And also, how do you reframe and reimagine your life going forward? And I guess there's that element of grieving, what you can't do anymore and grieving who you were like, can you take us through some of that journey? Because I think that's very real for people who have had a serious accident that is life changing?Mark Berridge:
Well, I'll build into that by saying yes, exactly the things you said and that element of control, you can control how you connect to your memories in your sense of identity inside you and what parts of that you can still do.Because if you don't have some sense of control by focusing on the bits of it, the you can still connect with them. And yes, all your focus is going to be on those bits you can't do and if you start focusing on all these bits that you aren't anymore and the bits you can't do anymore, well where's all your energy coming? It's backwards and into that lamentation of things lost. And I definitely had periods where that was impacting. And sometimes it took Lucy or others to shake me out of it. There's a bit in the book that talks about quite often in terms of Lucy buying this I'm Sorry button because I was so busy apologising to the family on what had happened to me all the time, and she bought me a Mood Diary, and I'm thinking I don't think I don't need this crap.What the cost? Probably $40. I'm thinking, I'm injured, I'm in hospital, I'm not earning any more. I don't know what's happening in the future. What are we spending money on this crap. And it's $40 and I know it's not that much in that in the context of our lives,fortunately. But somehow that's the way I responded to it initially. And it took me a couple of days to realise just how powerful it was. But a) in making me focus on how often I was apologising for something that couldn't be undone, that it was draining energy from me.Sonia Nolan:
That little mood diary was one of those little flip charts, wasn't it that said, today I'm feeling fuzzy,or I'm feeling fabulous. Or I'm feeling optimistic, or I'm feeling ...Mark Berridge:
and I wasn't feeling remarkable when I received the mood diary, that's for sure. What was the first word addled? I think? I don't think I'd ever much used addled in a sentence, certainly not in any serious context. And I thought, yeah, I do you feel addled at the moment, as I'm lying here in hospital, not quite the person I was before and on a lot of painkillers and unable to move. So once I sort of come around, and then it became a sense of fun, and it actually became a, you know, I couldn't physically flip the chart myself. So I'd have to ask other people, well, why don't you make an assessment of what you think I should be today?Sonia Nolan:
I think that your wife, Lucy is a very wise woman with the gifts that she gave you MarkMark Berridge:
She did some incredible things during the whole journey really, really incredible. I'm very grateful for that. Overall, all the family and friends and hospital certainly does reinforce gratitude. And I think gratitude as well, reflecting on that you know, when you're feeling bad about yourself can be another way of breaking the cycle. In you having those moments of focusing on what you can't do,or if you suddenly start focusing on gratitude for the kindness and the care and other thikngs you are getting again,it does help to start to redirect to reframe that energy to a more productive space and just I can't keep up with my family when walking particularly football seems to be the one that I noticed the most. And we're walking towards the Gabba I'll just fall behind a few metres 10 metres, whatever. And I've always got to think to myself, the first thoughts automatically I can't help but which is I hate falling behind.And I've just got to attach to it every time going, well, at least I'm walking and making improvement. So create your own mantras to attach to things to help you reframe when you've got those negative thoughts. But yes, something external, like a mood diary can also help because it makes you reflect on it. And once you're reflecting on what you're feeling and why, you're much more capable of creating that manta that will help you address how you're feeling.Sonia Nolan:
I asked if you would find a passage in the book to share with us on My Warm Table. Is there a passage somewhere in the book that you feel is really pertinent that you wanted to read for us?Mark Berridge:
I thought I'd read a little bit about my time in PA hospital. So if I give some broad context, this stage is basically a month post injury. At the very start. I wasn't expecting to be admitted to the spinal unit of the hospital. So my spinal cord injury was severe but not quite so severe as to go into the spinal unit, fortunately, but they came and assessed me and they put me in on the waitlist for spinal unit, which actually led to me being in this other hospital PA Gara unit, it was a pretty hard place to rehab in and I would reach the point where I just wanted to be at home. Then out of the blue my main physio heard from one of her bosses that suddenly this boss had some capacity so my physio Lucy. So first I'll call her physio Lucy to avoid the confusionSonia Nolan:
I'm just going to jump in there Mark, I'm just going to talk about the fact that the word Lucy means you know, light and illumination.And you know, you talk a lot about this sort of the embers in the light and illumination. I think you were just surrounded by Lucy'sMark Berridge:
as well, our son Luke also similar so, you know,quite interesting that this worked out that way and, you know, unwittingly in a way that you know, needed light and light all around me. Anyway, so jumped on this opportunity to have this other lady Leanne work with me.So Leanne was, I guess, did some really interesting things at a point in time where I was grinding away with that rehab and it can be hard and just starting to give up that I was actually going to make much headway because I've just realised how hard it was to deal with the situation I was in and it'd become apparent that I need a lot more treatment, well Leanne these interesting things where she would basically go well, you know, you're all your core muscles are so tight from having protected your spinal cord at the point of impact. You know, we've got to find a way to get some movement back in there because that's part of your problem and you've forgotten how to use your your feet. So I've got to retrain your feet. She'd have these specific exercises that she would do. So in this part of the book leading into the talking about you know,she's just probably through some of these specific exercises, but I just wanted to pick up from there if, if we will if that's enough context. "These steps were part of coaching me in the dynamics of walking. Because of my sensory disruption, my body had lost all sense of what to do. Together, Leanne and I would stand at the end of my little runway in the gym, Leanne wrapping one arm around my shoulders and the other arm applying bracing pressure at my waist, supporting the upper half of my body. Without that support, I had insufficient balance or strength to hold myself up. I was instructed to walk as fast as I could. As we walked in unison, I tried to concentrate on my specific neural pathways she had just stimulated such as generating the heel strike. Leanne was physically directing my body to wake up nerve pathways to reconnect. It was scary.exhilarating, demoralising,inspiring. I had limited controls on my legs, and no control of my feet. They would smash into the ground as we walked as fast as I could slap,slap slap, I ended up having five sessions. At each session Leanne would target one or two specific muscle areas for manipulation to stimulate the neural pathways disrupted by my spinal cord before we did our conjoined walking, it felt like quite the grandstand finish to me. Because of the way the treatment built up to those six or so laps down our seven metre a long runway. Typically a few of the other physios or gym staff would be there watching,encouraging my effort and progression as I marched at the edge of control, relying on Leanne to keep me upright and safe, our intertwined position,and the slapping noise from my feet on the floor, meant it provided an engaging spectacle,Leanne opened pathways, she showed me how to tackle my constraints, and she gave me reason to retest some assumptions. In those first days post accident, I hoped my apparent nerve damage was only temporary. But as time ground on, I learned just how slow and difficult progress was. I was starting to accept that the 12millimetre piece of vertebra may have indeed severed my spinal cord and my hopes. Leanne provided a different perspective on my damage than I'd received from the other specialists. She likened my body to a car that had violently crash, where the wiring of that car had been loosened, and the connections shaken free from their rightful place at the time of impact.Fortunately, our bodies are smart cars, there was hope of getting the car wiring working again. But I needed to stimulate the pathways to reconnect that wiring or relearn how to use the connections that were left behind. It provided hope versus the alternative hypothesis, that the clean cut in my spinal cord meant the non working parts of my body were impacted forever.Leanne's intervention provided a vital step change to my progression. It liberated possibilities about the extent I might recover. Leanne's actions and perspectives broaden my belief about the outcomes I might achieve. And for those pathways that she and physio Lucy opened for me, I'll be eternally grateful." To me that's really important, you know, both because I was starting to give up but that intervention, challenged my assumptions of what was possible at that point in time, probably at a point where I was losing my belief and hope of what was possible. So I guess Yeah,certainly the elements of gratitude, kindness, expertise,opportunity, and grabbing that opportunity when it comes because quite often,particularly for I'm gonna say,particularly for us men of my age and era, but I think it's true, anyone feel that proudness of I'm not going to do that, I'm not going to grab that opportunity in that way. I'm not going to find a way I'm not going to do it. And you know, if you don't grab those opportunities, then you miss this opportunity that might really make the difference for you. And I really feel that particular intervention by Leanne made a huge difference to how I was able to recoverSonia Nolan:
Tell us where you're at now. So I'm looking at a very fit looking person, raced down the stairs to get a parcel delivered for his daughter and came back up again and joined me so look I'm amazed at the recovery that you've experienced but tell us what you can do today.Mark Berridge:
Yeah, I can walk about 50% of the pace that I did before. Getting down off the ground and into the ground and back up again it's really hard,So I'm definitely dealing with like niggly pain all the time and compromise my ability that overall you know,extraordinarily fortunate. So you didn't mention that we had to after I come back up the stairs I we had to wait two minutes before the breathing got back to normal. but you know that's my strength is not what it was for walking upstairs. But yeah, I'm very fortunate I can do stairs and walk in general,okay, it's yeah, I've got I've got to be careful of not overdoing it, come back to biting off on more than you can chew and certainly in recovery,you know, as you're trying to get back to work and you just you associate with that identity I did overdo it at different stages and cause other complications for myself. So that is a ongoing challenge for me of how do I find that sense of identity and do rewarding work, but not create side effects on myself physically,but you know, overall very, very fortunate.Sonia Nolan:
Mark, I've taken so much out of our conversation today. The top tips I'm thinking here are in the moment, just breathe and focus on what is immediately in your ability and power to control. Secondly,I've learned from you the idea of reframing negative emotions so that they are helping you and you're using your energy in the right channel, rather than actually using it for something that may never happen or is not useful. That's a really important one is that that mindset, and the hope and the energy, this symbiotic relationship between hope and energy, the idea of being vulnerable, the idea that a broken body is not a broken person. And Mark, there are just so many lessons that A Fraction Stronger has reinforced for me and I will continue buying it shamelessly for people and handing it on and hoping that it will make a great book club read for people who might be listening. But I'm just so thankful for your time. And I'm so glad that we connected so Mark wishing you every bit of success and joy as you move forward becoming a fraction stronger every day and reaching your own goals and inspiring us to reach ours. thank you.Mark Berridge:
Much appreciated.Thank you, Sonia.Sonia Nolan:
You've been listening to My Warm Table with Sonia Nolan in Italian a tavola calda is a warm and welcoming table where you can share big ideas, friendship, laughter and life. So much happens around the kitchen table and I wanted to amplify it here in this podcast.My aim is to feed your mind and soul through smart conversations with heart. No topic is off limits. But good table manners rule. I hope you'll join us each week as we set the table for my extraordinary guests who will let you feast on their deep knowledge, life experiences and wise insights. Let's keep the conversation flowing. Please subscribe to the My Warm Table podcast and share it with your friends and networks. Perhaps if they're new to podcasting, take a moment to show them how to download and subscribe so they don't miss an episode either.I'd also love you to join our community on Facebook. You'll find the group at M Warm Table Podcast. Your support is very much appreciated so that together we can eat, think and be merry.