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Webchat with James Cracknell and Beverley Turner about life after brain injury (and more), TODAY, Monday 12 November, 1-2pm

(98 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 08-Nov-12 12:06:46

We're joined on Monday at 1pm by Olympic rower James Cracknell and his wife, writer and broadcaster Beverley Turner who have just published their book, Touching Distance.

In 2010 James was knocked off his bike by the wing mirror of a petrol tanker in Arizona. It had smashed into the back of his head at high speed, causing severe frontal lobe damage. The doctors weren't sure if he would recover and, if he did, whether he would ever be the same again. A year later, he suffered a seizure at home which left him struggling to master life's simple challenges whilst his family faced the challenges this brought to their own lives.

Touching Distance is an extraordinary, honest and powerful account. James and Bev confront for the first time the lasting effects that the accident has had on their lives. Send your questions to James or Bev in advance or join them on Monday at 1pm for the webchat. Send in a question and you will be entered into a draw to win one of four signed copies of Touching Distance.

Hello James & Beverley. I can't make the web chat on Monday, but I'd really like to ask James what keeps him going during his extreme challenges when he reaches the point where he feels as if he's had enough and can't go on?
Thank you.

aaaaagh Thu 08-Nov-12 21:17:36

Hello Beverley and James, I'd like to ask Beverley the following;
Being married to such an adventurous risk taker is in itself a risky adventure, do you see yourself as a risk taker? I ask this because I am a health and safety control freak and my husband does not plan! I think we complement one another - although it drives me bonkers. Thank you for your inspiration and dedication to one another.

JoshLyman Fri 09-Nov-12 14:55:30

Obviously the head injury has been extremely difficult and traumatic for you but have there been any lighter moments? Anything funny or embarrassing that James had done?

lovelyrara Fri 09-Nov-12 18:54:02

Hello Beverley & James. My daughter tells me that I must read your book as it is captivating. Do you have any thoughts on writing a novel now that you have made a start at being an author?
Also if yout name was used in naming a flower or vegetable, what would you like to be associated with? My daughter says this is a silly question but I wouldn't mind having a sweet pea named after me.
I won't be around for the web chat on Monday but I expect you will be relieved about that. Perhaps you may chat to my daughter Katherine and she can confirm that her mother is batty.

aristocat Sat 10-Nov-12 12:25:05

Hello Beverley and James,
Can I first say what an inspiration you are to all of us. Your strength and determination is astounding.

What will your next challenge be? And which of your experiences has been your favourite, was it the Marathon des Sables or the hoard of gold medals smile

Thank you.

fuzzysnout Sun 11-Nov-12 08:08:19

Hello Beverley and James. Your recovery as a couple is very inspirational and no doubt your love and strength as a partnership has seen you through to a huge extent. However, I'd like to ask each of you how you individually found the strength and motivation to carry on when you had your personal moments of hell if that's not too upsetting, thank you. I look forward to reading your book.

LineRunner Sun 11-Nov-12 14:09:26

I'm really sorry that I'll miss your webchat (work, unfortunately!), but I'll read all the questions and answers when I get home.

So, what's Steve Redgrave really like? smile

Trills Sun 11-Nov-12 14:59:50

James - What is it, do you think, that makes you continue to take on these challenges when it might be considered more sensible to retire, or to get a job with only an average chance of death or serious injury?

Trills Sun 11-Nov-12 15:01:39

I know I only get one, but here's an alternative.

Beverley - When you married James did you think that he would finish rowing and get a commentator-type job, or did you know that he would never be happy sitting still?

prettybird Sun 11-Nov-12 17:30:15

Perhaps an uncomfortable question, but are you concerned about the potential for a relapse or ongoing consequences from the head injury?

My mother sustained fronto-temporal head injuries in a cycling accident (even though she was wearing a helmet - which probably saved her life at that point) and after her initial recovery, went on to develop fronto-temporal dementia 3 years later sad. They are hopeful, however of understanding the mechanism by which this happens to certain people and of developing a drug to stop it.

Hasn't put us off cycling though - but we are all strict about wearing helmets smile

Pinkforever Sun 11-Nov-12 18:05:38

My question is to beverly-

You have both been very honest about the strain the injury has put on your marriage-if you could turn back the clock would you want the "old" james from before his accident?

bruxeur Sun 11-Nov-12 18:15:34

Hello James. It's interesting that contemporary accounts of your polar challenge placed quite a lot of emphasis on the massive contribution that Ed Coats made in keeping you and BF going, both physically and mentally (and in the face of some quite spectacularly bad judgement calls on your part).

Since then, he's been mostly written out of the history. I appreciate that this was most probably a business decision made by you and Ben Fogle, but as a person do you ever feel any remorse about it?

VivaLeBeaver Sun 11-Nov-12 20:21:14

James, what did you find tougher - the Atlantic rowing or the long distance cycling in America (not counting the accident)? Are you back cycling now? Any plans for anymore trips, either rowing, cycling, anything else?

Beverley, do you ever wish that James had a more "normal" job? Not just perhaps from a less risk point of view but also just from been about more to help with parenting, day to day life, etc.

tablefor4 Sun 11-Nov-12 21:37:45

I hope that this doesn't appear too harsh...

James do you think that these "adventures" are selfish?

Hi James and Bev (just been reading something in the Daily Mail about you having a very new roof, which is giving me palpatations as I'll be missing the web chat because ceilings are being taken down to survey our roof)....

Anyway the question. James I know you used to be a keen surfer and wondered whether you still surf (and Bev, whether you do as well?). Surfing has been life changing for my severely autistic teenager. He rides a 12 foot board tandem with a coach and gets taken out the back to catch big waves (while I flounder around on a 9 ft foamie nearer the shore). We both go year round now.

So yes, lots of waffle but a short question; do you surf?

GW297 Mon 12-Nov-12 09:29:59

My question is: Are your children showing any signs of having inherited their father's risk taking gene and how would you feel if they were to follow in his footsteps when they were older?

juneau Mon 12-Nov-12 09:38:19

Hi James and Beverley,

I've read several of your articles and excerpts from your book in newspapers and I followed the news of the accident and your recovery with interest - particularly after learning that Beverley had just found out she was pregnant with your third child at the time. I was also pregnant back then with my second, so my heart really went out to you Beverley as I couldn't imagine facing such a terrible situation while pregnant, trying to care for two other children, and wondering whether my husband would survive or be severely brain-damaged (and the financial implications of that).

Reading your accounts of that time I have to admit that I laughed out loud at some of the bizarre things James came out with - although I then felt guilty for laughing because it must have been pretty devastating to hear how jumbled up James' brain was at that time.

What I'd like to ask you both is: How is James doing now? And on a day-to-day basis has the impact of the accident now receded into the background so that you're able to live a largely normal family life again? I hope so - your resilience as a couple is very inspiring and I wish you both well.

babybarrister Mon 12-Nov-12 09:40:27

Hello Beverley and James,

As a wife and mother of 6 year old who now finds myself in the same position as Beverley as my husband suffered a cycling accident last October and has been left with frontal lobe brain damage, I just wanted to say how important your story is. There is very little in the immediate public realm about living with a brain injury or living with someone who has a brain injury. As we know it is not easy to say the least! He was also a very fit man who played rugby at a very high level, rode bikes etc etc

I have tried to understand brain injury myself over the past year as it is the ultimate in an invisible disability - in fact given the amount of time my husband has taken off work, in some ways he looks better than ever which the public finds very confusing! However the reality is so different. Living with someone who is "irritable" [hah, hah!], HAS to sleep for 2-3 hours every afternoon, reacts to any noise, wears eye plugs at times, forbids music in the house and who now cannot socialise in the evenings as he is always too exhausted is so difficult to explain to people... I have described it as like living with the Taliban at times.

I for one am immensely grateful for all the PR that has been connected with the launch of your book as it is has come at the perfect time for us - it has placed this condition into the limelight and made a very positive contribution to public understanding of the long term effects of brain damage.

My husband also attends the same Headway group that you do in London and we have also found this of huge support - I am sure that many other members also share my view about the importance of this book.

Finally, I just wanted to highlight a recent news story I read which indicated that there is a very high rate of correlation between brain injuries and young offenders www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19998710 . This "silent epidemic" as it ha been named, it to my mind, one of the saddest aspects of brain injury. Having also seen first hand how difficult it has been for a previously calm adult man to keep his temper after a brain injury, it seems to me that it is totally unrealistic to expect brain injuries to have had no effect on more impetuous young men ...

I hope that your recovery continues as I hope my husband's does too and once again thank you for bringing this issue to public congnisance

Yours

dinkystinky Mon 12-Nov-12 09:50:46

James and Beverley - thanks for coming on. Your story, and Babybarrister's, are so painful - thank you though for sharing them with us, as so often families struggles when an awful accident happens are kept behind closed doors. My question: did you find writing this book cathartic and how is life nowadays for your family?

prettybird Mon 12-Nov-12 10:07:48

Can I just add to babybarrister's post about how brilliant Headway are. I know that my dad found them brilliant after mum's accident.

TractorKate Mon 12-Nov-12 10:53:05

Hi James and Beverley. Congratulations on the book. I'm joping to join you later today but if I don\'t make it just wanted to ask you whether you enjoyed the olympics this summer? Did you get to see much live and what were your highlights?

TractorKate Mon 12-Nov-12 11:17:22

Can I sneak in another question? Do you know Bradley Wiggins? If so send him my love and hope he's okay after his accident. Are you strict with your kids about cycling helmets? I find it really hard to get my teen to wear his - any tips? Just realised that's about 4 questions I've asked - hope that's okay smile

VivaLeBeaver Mon 12-Nov-12 11:20:30

I'm going to sneak in another question. I'm planning a long distance bike ride across a fair section of Canada.

Any tips for training or for the actual ride? I'm doing it solo and fully loaded. Is it true about the mental battle been worse than the physical effort?

babybarrister Mon 12-Nov-12 11:29:32

Can I just ask a direct question to you both, as well after my thoughts above - what have you both said to your 6 year old son to explain Daddy's brain injury and the angry outbursts as it is something that in the same position as yourselves I find very difficult to think of a good explanation for. Thanks

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