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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

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 11:45:40

Hi James and Beverley,

Just before I ask my question I would just like to tell Beverley that I think she's gorgeous and has amazing hair. envy

Anyway, Beverley, how do you avoid the temptation to barricade James into the house when he wants to go out cycling? My husband would love to ride a motorbike to work but I have told him in no uncertain terms that I could never deal with it and thankfully, he hasn't been through an awful accident. Do you worry every time he goes out on his bike?

RatherBeOnThePiste Mon 12-Nov-12 12:35:57

At the encouragement of my rowing teens, I have taken up rowing recently. Love it! Going tonight on the Thames in the dark and more than likely rain, but it is sweeptastic and I'm hooked. smile

Can you please settle a family debate once and for all?

Are pogies just for weeds?

Isla77 Mon 12-Nov-12 12:49:34

Have just finished reading your book. What an inspiring read and what a struggle to get through after such an apalling injury. How lucky you both are to have one another and your beautiful children. Good luck to you both for the future.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Nov-12 13:03:29

Bev and James are on their way but stuck in traffic shock Should be here imminently...

VivaLeBeaver Mon 12-Nov-12 13:08:02

Its ok, will give MN time to crash a few more times. wink

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 13:21:16

Hello! Sorry we're late. Terrible traffic...but also...I was SO grey this morning I had to get my roots done...Almost ran out with wet hair but then got a two-handed blow-dry. Looking forward to chatting to everyone.x

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Nov-12 13:21:33

James and Bev are now here. Tech hitches behind us (hopefully) and ready to start... welcome to mumsnet

Phoebe47 Mon 12-Nov-12 13:21:51

How do you get on to the webchat?

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 13:22:43

Hello! Sorry we're late. Terrible traffic...but also...I was SO grey this morning I had to get my roots done...Almost ran out with wet hair but then got a two-handed blow-dry. Looking forward to chatting to everyone.x

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 13:22:43

Hope everyone's having a great day, just to say that me and my two fingered typing is in situ and about to work down the list of questions. Thanks so much for sending them in. James

VivaLeBeaver Mon 12-Nov-12 13:24:47

Hello.

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 13:26:33

You're on it, Phoebe!

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 13:26:51

Hello grin

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 13:27:40

RatherBeOnThePiste

At the encouragement of my rowing teens, I have taken up rowing recently. Love it! Going tonight on the Thames in the dark and more than likely rain, but it is sweeptastic and I'm hooked. smile

Can you please settle a family debate once and for all?

Are pogies just for weeds?

Thought I'd ease myself in with a rowing based question. Pogies are gloves that the oar handle goes through so you can effectively row in gloves. Are they for weeds? Bit like playing football in tracksuit bottoms and as I rowed with some hardcore old guys aka Steve Redgrave it wasn't for him. As our coach used to say "old trees don't bend" he was though happy to bend when a warm weather winter training camp to Spain was suggested. Personally I think that's taking an easier option than pogies!

Piffpaffpoff Mon 12-Nov-12 13:31:12

Hello, well I'll ask the question since no-one else has -fave biscuit?

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 13:31:53

BupcakesAndCunting

Hi James and Beverley,

Just before I ask my question I would just like to tell Beverley that I think she's gorgeous and has amazing hair. envy

Anyway, Beverley, how do you avoid the temptation to barricade James into the house when he wants to go out cycling? My husband would love to ride a motorbike to work but I have told him in no uncertain terms that I could never deal with it and thankfully, he hasn't been through an awful accident. Do you worry every time he goes out on his bike?

Thanks for the hair love! Honestly - if I left it, It'd be white, frizzy and flat...! But life is too short for bad hair. Ok, I know exactly what you're talking about with the whole safety / worry conundrum. If it was up to me, James would never go out on a bike again. BUT...I have to be fair about the risk v reward. He loves cycling and is always safety conscious - bright clothes, helmet, sensible route, not rushing etc etc..having said that, accidents do happen. I just have to realize that asking him NEVER to cycle would be an over-reaction on my part. As long as I feel reassured that he takes all sensible precautions, then so be it...HOWEVER, I HATE motorbikes. Sadly, since the accident, James has epilepsy so can't drive which has conveniently negated the need to discuss motorbikes! I think once you have children, it's much harder for blokes to justify any kind of potentially dangerous activity - for me, motorbikes come in that category! x

desserttime Mon 12-Nov-12 13:32:34

Hi Beverley and James

was so sorry to hear about James' accident, as a friend had just recently told me about it. Really hope you are both doing well and having just sneaked a peak at a few reviews of the book I'll be getting it for a few people this christmas!

I would really like to know one piece of advice you would give to people about how to stave of depression and how to keep strong in difficult circumstances?

Thank you!

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 13:32:36

Piffpaffpoff

Hello, well I'll ask the question since no-one else has -fave biscuit?

Those chocolate digestives with caramel in them...bloody heavenly...

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 13:34:04

babybarrister

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

Really hard and emotional question to answer and I'll be honest was tempted to avoid it. Bev has been forced into dealing with the fallout to our lad especially in the first few months as I wasn't aware of my behaviour. He knew what had happened but as I looked okay and healthy he couldn't understand why I'd react differently to certain situations/behaviour than I had in the past. It was the lack of predictability and the speed with which my mood changed that effected him most and looking back hurts me the most. The reality is the impact on Bev, the kids and my parents, sister has been worse than me. I'm the one that gets sympathy but they have had to learn to live with someone who's different from before.

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 13:36:20

BeverleyTurner

Piffpaffpoff

Hello, well I'll ask the question since no-one else has -fave biscuit?

Those chocolate digestives with caramel in them...bloody heavenly...

Sadly since the accident I've got no sense of taste so my enjoyment of biscuits has diminished. Pre-accident custard creams hit the spot but Bev said they weren't very classy!

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 13:38:24

"I think once you have children, it's much harder for blokes to justify any kind of potentially dangerous activity - for me, motorbikes come in that category! x"

I couldn't agree more!

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 13:40:08

Custard creams are the best biscuit in the world! (Sorry Beverley!)

I know I've had one question already so do feel free to not answer but James, what are the chances that you will ever regain your sense of taste? I temporarily lost my sense of smell ergo taste and it before then it was something I had taken for granted.

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 13:41:12

desserttime

Hi Beverley and James

was so sorry to hear about James' accident, as a friend had just recently told me about it. Really hope you are both doing well and having just sneaked a peak at a few reviews of the book I'll be getting it for a few people this christmas!

I would really like to know one piece of advice you would give to people about how to stave of depression and how to keep strong in difficult circumstances?

Thank you!

Thanks for msg and adding the book to your christmas list! How to stave off depression in tough times is a great question...It sounds strange, but it helps if you know what makes you happy in the easier times...women in particular tend not to be very good at that. We're so busy running around and keeping things together that we rarely stop to think, 'what actually makes me happy?' For me, it's time with good friends (the ones who make you laugh are gold-dust); feeling I'm on top of things practically (lists, organizing, planning) which can be a drag to do, but unfailingly makes me feel better afterwards; not being afraid to ask for help if you're feeling swamped; not feeling guilty about time to yourself, even if it's just a quiet bath! I also find writing stuff down is a massive help. There's something about leaving problems on a page that seems to lighten the load. Book something to look forward to - it doesn't have to be expensive - I recently took the kids to Bognor Regis beach for the day in the rain!! It should have been completely miserable but they absolutely loved it and slept all the way home in the car. x

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 13:43:15

dinkystinky

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?

Lovely question. Yes is the answer because despite thinking we had spoken about what we had been going through the reality was we hadn't. As we're lucky enough to have three kids time that Bev and I spend alone together is limited and if we're honest have used that as an excuse not to talk to each other about how we're feeling. Before reading Bev's parts of the book I'd only cried once in over two years but when I saw in black and white for the first time what Bev had and is feeling I kept breaking down and could't read it all in once go. She's an amazing person and I wouldn't have made the recovery I have if she hadn't been prepared to ask the tough questions which made me confront issues I was avoiding.

desserttime Mon 12-Nov-12 13:49:10

That's great advice, thank you Beverley. We quite like days on rainy beaches too!

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 13:51:36

GW297

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?

Very provocative question and one that I often get asked. I honestly don't think I have a risk taking gene, the events that I've done have been 'endurance' rather than 'adrenalin' based. Where mistakes are down to making poor decisions in the environment you're in so anything that goes wrong is predominantly down to you e.g. Antarctica is basically an isolated desert. Whereas I was hit on a public highway and the one thing we can't do is control other people's actions. As for my kids showing signs of enjoying endurance sports, our little lad is good at swimming but as his grandma is a swimming coach, his uncle competed in the pool at the Athens Olympics and his mum is slightly competitive he was out to his swimming club at 6am on Saturday. 'Luckily' I can't drive at the moment following a seizure so I had to stay in bed rather than take him!

joanbyers Mon 12-Nov-12 13:53:27

To James,

I know you are a big advocate of cycle helmets. It's easy to see, given your experience, why you do this. I wonder however if the particular focus on helmets is a distraction from cycle safety.

Fatal accident statistics show that while adult cycle accidents and fatalities are in the great majority of the cases the fault of the motorist involved, when it comes to children this is reversed, and the accident is most often caused by an error on the part of the cycling.

It's not hard to spot children cycling on and off pavements, on the wrong side of the road, and other dangerous behaviours, and I just wonder if the simplistic 'kids: wear a helmet' message is getting in the way of safe cycling - people seem to think that they just issue their 10-year-old with a helmet, and that's it, he's safe to go on the road, and the helmet will somehow stop him being hit by three-tonne motor vehicles.

Do you agree with me that the singular focus on cycle helmets, whether accident victims were wearing one (mentioned for example by Bradley Wiggins when a new cycle commuter (who was in fact a helmet advocate himself, and wearing one at the time) was killed by an Olympics bus in July), and so on, is in fact counter-productive to the wider cause of cycle safety/accident reduction, given the tendency to reduce cycle safety to 'you must wear a helmet' e.g., to take part in cycle-to-school events?

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 13:54:07

JamesCracknell

babybarrister

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

Really hard and emotional question to answer and I'll be honest was tempted to avoid it. Bev has been forced into dealing with the fallout to our lad especially in the first few months as I wasn't aware of my behaviour. He knew what had happened but as I looked okay and healthy he couldn't understand why I'd react differently to certain situations/behaviour than I had in the past. It was the lack of predictability and the speed with which my mood changed that effected him most and looking back hurts me the most. The reality is the impact on Bev, the kids and my parents, sister has been worse than me. I'm the one that gets sympathy but they have had to learn to live with someone who's different from before.

I think it's important to be as honest as possible. Kids have to know it is a physical problem and neither the fault of the injured person or - especially - the child themselves. Use language they will understand, "Daddy's brain is still healing and so it can make him tired and angry. It's ok to feel angry sometimes - everyone does - but daddy may not be able to stop himself shouting. He would hate to hurt your feelings. He loves you. etc etc..." Frank and true. And if you have a good day, make sure the child recognizes that. Ask his mum / aunt / whoever to say, "I think daddy had a very calm day today. Did you notice too?" And try to tease out the good things they see. I think the hardest thing can be that the child feels like they are the ONLY one whose daddy is like that...I will casually bring up in conversation a story I heard of a little boy who's daddy had a bang on the head...and let your child just open up...I have found that other male adults have played a vital role in keeping things normal and doing those boy-things together. Good luck.

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 13:58:15

BupcakesAndCunting

Custard creams are the best biscuit in the world! (Sorry Beverley!)

I know I've had one question already so do feel free to not answer but James, what are the chances that you will ever regain your sense of taste? I temporarily lost my sense of smell ergo taste and it before then it was something I had taken for granted.

Thanks for the support on custard creams, just don't get me started on vanilla ice cream! It needs support otherwise it'll lose out to all these fancy flavours and be lost to the world, my mum still mourns for the Vienetta! As for my sense of taste I don't know whether it will return, I've also lost my sense of smell which Bev says comes in very handy as "I can get away with murder now!" Problem for me is that as I can't smell I don't know when food in the fridge is off so I've had more food poisoning episodes since the accident. I've blamed Bev for deliberately leaving off food in the fridge to get me!

WorkInProgress Mon 12-Nov-12 13:59:24

Hi
First of all I would like to say that this is not a criticism but a genuine question as it is clear from above that people find your writing useful and I do admire what you have acheived. I used to really like some of the articles Bev wrote, but now it seems every time something happens an article is written and now you have a book, could you be accused of cashing in and living your lives in public. Don't you crave some privacy ?

HellothisisJoanie Mon 12-Nov-12 14:00:22

James - any plans to do the DW this year and get further than Mr Redgrave?

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 14:01:13

I remember seeing your interview on This Morning and the food poisoning/bumping-off theory grin

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 14:02:18

TotallyEggFlipped

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.

I'm not sure I'd have answered this in the same way 5 years ago but what I've learned is that you'll get more out of yourself and the experience if you stay positive rather than let the uncomfortable moment getting you down. The reality is that you've chosen to be there and people close to you have sacrificed time, annual holiday or money for you to pursue a dream/trip/event and as Bev says "you'd better bloody enjoy it!" Let's face it running through the Sahara isn't something you're going to do again so enjoy it while you're there!

Phoebe47 Mon 12-Nov-12 14:03:05

Just want to say "Good Luck" to you both, James and Beverley and to your three children. Sat up late last night reading you r book. Inspirational. You deserve much happiness to come.

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 14:03:51

joanbyers

To James,

I know you are a big advocate of cycle helmets. It's easy to see, given your experience, why you do this. I wonder however if the particular focus on helmets is a distraction from cycle safety.

Fatal accident statistics show that while adult cycle accidents and fatalities are in the great majority of the cases the fault of the motorist involved, when it comes to children this is reversed, and the accident is most often caused by an error on the part of the cycling.

It's not hard to spot children cycling on and off pavements, on the wrong side of the road, and other dangerous behaviours, and I just wonder if the simplistic 'kids: wear a helmet' message is getting in the way of safe cycling - people seem to think that they just issue their 10-year-old with a helmet, and that's it, he's safe to go on the road, and the helmet will somehow stop him being hit by three-tonne motor vehicles.

Do you agree with me that the singular focus on cycle helmets, whether accident victims were wearing one (mentioned for example by Bradley Wiggins when a new cycle commuter (who was in fact a helmet advocate himself, and wearing one at the time) was killed by an Olympics bus in July), and so on, is in fact counter-productive to the wider cause of cycle safety/accident reduction, given the tendency to reduce cycle safety to 'you must wear a helmet' e.g., to take part in cycle-to-school events?

We spent this Saturday at a charity event for the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, watching videos of children (and their families) whose lives have been utterly destroyed by NOT wearing a cycle hemlet. 90% of children's bike accidents DO NOT involve cars - they are the simple innocuous trip over a kerb or a wobble over a grid. How anyone can even consider letting their child go on a bike without a helmet is shocking - the ultimate in stupid, bad-parenting. I don't believe that emphasising helmet use somehow over-shadows all other discussions about cycle safety. Adult cyclists have to ride safely and considerately. Parents have to teach children about cycling safety and traffic awareness. I believe we are in a critical transitional period - more cyclists on the roads but we aren't keeping up with educating BOTH cyclists and drivers. It can feel like it is Cars versus cyclists on the road. As a driver, I should be happy to see more cyclists as fewer cars means fewer traffic jams! But I get furious when I see cyclists - no helmets; wearing an ipod; no lights; bag over handle-bars dodging a red light. I frequently wind down my window and politely let them know my thoughts! It's so selfish - if they get a brain injury, they will know little about it, but their families certainly will. We need to start with kids - make helmets as normal to them as seat belts in cars...so that when they are older, we won't have to have this conversation.

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 14:06:23

aristocat

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.

Olympic gold is hard to top because you spend years preparing for one race every four years and it's those six minutes that will determine whether those years will have been a waste of time. As for the other challenges I'v been lucky enough to do the Marathon des Sables stands out, not because I performed well but I made the right decisions at the right time in the pressure of a competitive event.

TheWombat Mon 12-Nov-12 14:07:57

Hello James and Beverley

I just wanted to say a big thank you to you, really. My husband and I have just read your book with a little shiver of recognition. My husband had a frontal lobe brain injury on ops in Iraq 10 years ago. He has all the symptoms James describes - memory loss, irritability, awful headaches...in fact, he had a seizure last night. sad. He has found it hard to move from fighter pilot mode to needing naps in the day, etc.

One of the things my husband is still coming to terms with and learning to recognise is his mood swings and ability to contain his frustrations. Reading your book was so helpful because it helped him recognise that there is a reason for these and that other TBI sufferers (for want of a better word) experience this too. Thank you so much for your honesty.

I'd like to ask if writing the book has been at all cathartic.

Piffpaffpoff Mon 12-Nov-12 14:08:40

Totally, 100% agree with you on the cycling helmets. It's been drilled into my two since they started on their balance bikes that no helmet = no bike. It's just part of going out on a bike to them now (but can get slightly embarrassing as they point out, at top volume, every single person they see not wearing a helmetgrin).

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 14:09:07

lovelyrara

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.

lovelyrara

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.

Thanks to you - and your daughter! I've actually got a finished novel in my bottom drawer that I'd been talking to a couple of publishers about before the accident. Getting that out is my no. 1 plan for 2013. (I also wrote a book in 2003 called 'The Pits: the real world of Formula One' all about my time as an ITV presenter in that world. It's a bit dull though - like F1 itself! smile Hhhmmm...what vegetable of flower would I be?...I think I'd rather like a strain ob Broccoli named after me as it has come to my rescue so many times when I'm stressing about my kids getting their five-a-day..Ideally, it would be the type of broccolli that never goes off in the back of the fridge and can cook itself with a nice cheese sauce...

CurlyRooth Mon 12-Nov-12 14:12:08

I know this is totally unrelated, and gorgeously superficial - but I just had to say 'hi' to the parents of another 'Trixie'. We have a 7 year old daughter called Trixie - and I loved it when I found out there was another one out there. Just to say - GOOD CHOICE!

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 14:14:23

TheWombat

Hello James and Beverley

I just wanted to say a big thank you to you, really. My husband and I have just read your book with a little shiver of recognition. My husband had a frontal lobe brain injury on ops in Iraq 10 years ago. He has all the symptoms James describes - memory loss, irritability, awful headaches...in fact, he had a seizure last night. sad. He has found it hard to move from fighter pilot mode to needing naps in the day, etc.

One of the things my husband is still coming to terms with and learning to recognise is his mood swings and ability to contain his frustrations. Reading your book was so helpful because it helped him recognise that there is a reason for these and that other TBI sufferers (for want of a better word) experience this too. Thank you so much for your honesty.

I'd like to ask if writing the book has been at all cathartic.

So sorry to hear that...what a tough time you must have had / still be having...Just a thought - in terms of therapies (and you may have tried them all) it may be worth finding a good CBT therapist or even EFT which is a little 'alternative' but incredibly effective (especially if there is some PTS involved too). I've come to think that TBI sufferers need to get to know themselves all over again and family members just can't do much to help that process. You may get CBT on the NHS...I'm so glad the book helped your hubby with his insight...writing it was immensely cathartic - great for me and James as he finally got to understand a bit about how life is for me! ;) Good luck xxx

babybarrister Mon 12-Nov-12 14:14:51

Thanks so much and good luck with the recovery ....

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 14:15:09

WorkInProgress

Hi
First of all I would like to say that this is not a criticism but a genuine question as it is clear from above that people find your writing useful and I do admire what you have acheived. I used to really like some of the articles Bev wrote, but now it seems every time something happens an article is written and now you have a book, could you be accused of cashing in and living your lives in public. Don't you crave some privacy ?

A totally fair question. In the past I've always said no when the subject/offer of an autobiography has been raised but this time I felt there was an important reason to write it. What I've been through and Bev has endured is fortunately rare but because of that you don't get to meet many people who've experienced the same problems and when I have I've taken great strength from the way they've coped. What I'm left with is an exaggeration of what people suffer in life - struggling with maintaining relationships with my wife and little ones, motivation, work. If by writing the book it helps people look at their life or approach any difficulties they're having in a more positive way then it will have been worth it. Ever since the accident I've been faced with people imposing ceilings on where they think I'll get back to, I don't want to live in a society where we make assumptions on what people can/can't do. As for cashing in we both wanted to write about what we've both been through in our own words and we chose a book rather than to sell to a glossy magazine where that wouldn't be possible.

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 14:15:41

CurlyRooth

I know this is totally unrelated, and gorgeously superficial - but I just had to say 'hi' to the parents of another 'Trixie'. We have a 7 year old daughter called Trixie - and I loved it when I found out there was another one out there. Just to say - GOOD CHOICE!

Ha - thanks! I read that 'Call The Midwife' book about three years ago and the spirited midwife Trixie, in that inspired me. I do like it - but she certainly is Tricksy!! x

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 14:17:41

BupcakesAndCunting

I remember seeing your interview on This Morning and the food poisoning/bumping-off theory grin

And also that James insinuated (I only realized after the interview) that I fart all over the house with complete freedom because he can't smell anything! Obviously...that is completely true...but I didn't expect him to say it on live tv!!!

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 14:19:53

CurlyRooth

I know this is totally unrelated, and gorgeously superficial - but I just had to say 'hi' to the parents of another 'Trixie'. We have a 7 year old daughter called Trixie - and I loved it when I found out there was another one out there. Just to say - GOOD CHOICE!

I'd like to claim credit for the name but it was Bev's choice. We thought we were having a boy, well Bev thought we were having a boy (despite not having found out on the 20wk scan) so came up with a list of boys names. Then a little girl 'popped' out and Bev said "I think we should call her Trixie, you've got five minutes to think of something better." I couldn't but suggested we might regret it in 18 years time when Kiki (our eldest daughter) and Trixie were hitting the town together and we ran the risk of them sounding like a pole-dancing outfit! It's a beautiful name for a beautiful girl!

TheWombat Mon 12-Nov-12 14:20:02

Ooh, thank you for the reply! Like many other TBI patients my husband fell through the gap when it came to treatment...so we haven't known about any options other than the pharmaceutical kind! I will get finding out about CBT ASAP. Many many thanks for the suggestion. If it isn't too 'therapy-ish' I may even get DH to agree to try it! smile

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 14:21:19

WorkInProgress

Hi
First of all I would like to say that this is not a criticism but a genuine question as it is clear from above that people find your writing useful and I do admire what you have acheived. I used to really like some of the articles Bev wrote, but now it seems every time something happens an article is written and now you have a book, could you be accused of cashing in and living your lives in public. Don't you crave some privacy ?

Good question. We have considered that but honestly feel that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear about being honest in public. We felt very strongly that it would have been irresponsible NOT to talk about our experiences after the accident as we have a platform to genuinely help other families in this horrible situation. (James had been asked to do autobiog before, but the timing was never right - there would have been no great purpose other than to 'cash in' as you say). We're also lucky - we're not 'celebrities' with paparazzi outside our door we're not that interesting!! x

JamesCracknell Mon 12-Nov-12 14:22:04

Thank you so much for the questions, hopefully you saw I didn't avoid the harder thought provoking ones. So I'm expecting a few 'direct' questions in the car home with Bev! Have a great afternoon, James

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Nov-12 14:22:08

Thanks so much to James and Bev for a great webchat and to everyone who joined in the discussion. We'll be announcing the four winners of the signed books shortly.

BeverleyTurner Mon 12-Nov-12 14:23:38

Ok...we've got to go now...thank you for all your fantastic questions...I could chat all day! But I've got a school football match to get to. Much love to all mumsnetters.xx

VivaLeBeaver Mon 12-Nov-12 14:26:47

I never get my questions answered in web chats <sobs>

prettybird Mon 12-Nov-12 14:34:40

Beaver - me neither although I can understand why mine wasn't answered even if they saw it . I think the "trick" is not to ask your question early and to ask it either just before or during the webchat itself wink

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 14:45:20

Awww weren't they lovely?! <swoons>

prettybird Mon 12-Nov-12 14:46:18

They were indeed lovely smile

TheWombat Mon 12-Nov-12 14:52:08

Viva at least you didnt ask a question and later find out it had apparently been answered upthread.. blush

Babybarrister I will PM you re our TBI husbands. Sorry to heat it has happened to your family too. Am always up for a chat if you fancy comparing notes!

babybarrister Mon 12-Nov-12 15:11:59

Thewombat and I have brain injured partners - if anyone else wants to pm us and be friends please just do! xx

babybarrister Mon 12-Nov-12 15:16:30

myself and thewombat are going to keep in touch as we have TBI partners - feel free to pm us too smile

TheWombat Mon 12-Nov-12 15:20:26

Yes yes, we can start a very exclusive quiche for TBI affected families! smile

babybarrister Mon 12-Nov-12 15:23:07

I thought that there would be more people on here affected by TBI to be honest - I actually posted in general health this morning to drum up some interest as I felt sure that there must be some more around!!!

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 15:44:40

I'm surprised that there weren't more people around in general tbh (although not complaining as I did get both my questions answered which might not have happened if it were busier wink)

Maybe the webchats clash with work for many MNers?

RatherBeOnThePiste Mon 12-Nov-12 15:49:54

Yes they do!

Had to leave my relatively very unimportant question at lunch. Would have liked to follow the chat.

Some webchats in the evening please MNHQ!
<passes gin as a bribe>

madwomanintheattic Mon 12-Nov-12 15:59:20

I didn't even realize this was on tbh - just seen it, and I'm normally aware of webchats...

I'll look up your thread in health, bb and wombat. Dh had similar accident in 2001. Seems like such a long time ago x

dinkystinky Mon 12-Nov-12 16:12:25

They were so lovely! Thank you James and Beverley for coming on and answering our questions.

archfiend Mon 12-Nov-12 16:27:23

Just been reading the webchat as I also missed it. A lot of it rings very true for me. DH has brain injury following stroke rather than accident but the outcome and 'dealing with it' aspects are very similar, particularly when talking about it to DC. Off to seek out the book now!

Lizzylou Mon 12-Nov-12 16:32:43

Oh no, I missed this, bloody work.
They were so lovely, always pleasing when people live up to your expectations of them iykwim smile

babybarrister Mon 12-Nov-12 16:42:06

archfiend - I have started a thread on brain injury in general health if you would like to join a small and select group grin

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Nov-12 17:35:47

RatherBeOnThePiste

Yes they do!

Had to leave my relatively very unimportant question at lunch. Would have liked to follow the chat.

Some webchats in the evening please MNHQ!
<passes gin as a bribe>

Sorry you missed this. We are looking at running some webchats in the eves and working on this - honest. We'll let you know when we fix something up.

RatherBeOnThePiste Mon 12-Nov-12 17:39:16

Aww Rachel, bless you, I had my very unimportant question answered so I'm very happy wine

But thank you thanks

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Nov-12 17:41:06

Congratulations to JoshLyman, Trills, GW297 and desserttime who have each won a signed copy of Touching Distance. We'll be sending you a Pm later today with details.

Keep your eyes peeled for our twitter comp from @mumsnetbookclub later this week for a chance to win another signed copy of the book.

archfiend Mon 12-Nov-12 18:02:54

babybarrister thanks, I might pop over later! grin

cocolepew Mon 12-Nov-12 19:56:13

That was a really good, informative webchat. They both came across really as nice.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 12-Nov-12 21:46:52

Lovely webchat.

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