For Sheffield Crew Manager Paul Holbrook, one of the biggest lessons he learned from his time with The Fire Fighters Charity was patience.
“I realised much as I’d like it to be, recovery isn’t an overnight thing,” he says when we catch up with him during his second visit to Jubilee House, our residential centre in Penrith, Cumbria. “I thought I’d be back on the run a few months after my surgery, but coming here has made me realise it takes as long as it takes.”
Around two years ago, Paul dislocated his shoulder during a rugby game, and since then suffered with it constantly dislocating itself.
“The doctor said I needed surgery, because it was excruciating, but the date they suggested was when my wife was due to give birth,” he says. “I didn’t want to have to be recovering from shoulder surgery with a newborn in the house, and not be able to cope, so I asked to defer it. I’m glad I did, because it meant we could work together when our son was born. Having him spurred me on in wanting to make progress, because I didn’t want to be one of those dads watching from the side lines, not taking part.”
Once he he’d had the surgery last autumn, Paul approached The Fire Fighters Charity for help with his recovery, and has since visited Jubilee House twice.
“The first time I came was only 12 weeks after my surgery and I think I pushed myself too hard,” he says. “After the first day I felt sore and really down, like I’d come too soon. I spoke to the physios and they were great, helping me turn down the throttle and adjust my exercises, taping up my shoulder to help me more. After three days I had turned a corner and saw improvement, but it definitely wasn’t a magical overnight fix.
“The whole week was brilliant and I was determined to make the most of it. I went to the talks and relaxation sessions, and I had a counselling session to get some things off my chest. But it was the first time I’d ever been away from my wife and son, and I found myself struggling, especially in the evenings.”
When he was offered a second visit to continue his progress, Paul asked if it would be possible for his family to come with him, and was offered a bungalow in the grounds: “I can’t thank the Charity enough for accommodating them as well, so they could be part of my recovery here,” he says. “It’s different having them here; I don’t focus on myself as completely as I did first time around, but it’s lovely having their support, being able to take part in my programme knowing they’re here. I’m a lot happier this time around, seeing much more improvement and being able to share the experience with them.”
If you’re recovering from surgery or a long-term health condition and would like the Charity’s help in getting back on your feet, get in touch with us. You can phone the Support Line on 0800 389 8820 or contact us online.