Motocross with paraplegia (Bulletproof: Scott)

I’ve always been into speed and things that are fast. Bikes, cars, boats. (TYRES SCREECH) When I was younger, all I wanted to do was jump. Fear of falling off wasn’t really there. All I was thinking of was the next day. 15 minutes later, I’m getting airlifted to hospital. (MUSIC ENDS) Captions were made with the support of NZ On Air. Copyright Able 2021 (LIVELY MUSIC) (ENGINE PURRS) I’m Scott. I am 27 years old. I live in Te Puke. (ENGINE REVS) I like to do motor sports, motocross. I’m all into anything fast, action-packed, adrenaline sports. All about friends, family. I just like hanging out, just generally having a good time. I’m a T7 incomplete paraplegic. Being an incomplete paraplegic, I can still stand up, and I still have a bit of movement in my legs and sensation. So, for me, I can stand up to do things like reaching shelves.

Getting in and out of my chair is quite easy because I’ve got movement. You sure you don’t want any? – Nah. – Oakly’s my son. For a six-year-old, he’s done a lot compared to a lot of people. I’ve had him on the Bobcat, I’ve had him on the digger. He’s pretty good on the bikes. Anything, sort of, wheels. He likes motorbikes; he’s forever talking about racing and wanting to ride. The only thing that sort of gets to him sometimes is he gets a bit freaked out riding, and he’s like, you know, ‘I don’t want to break my back.’ And I’m like, ‘Nah, mate, you’re not gonna break your back. It’s all right.’ I was 14 when I had my accident. It was the 1st of February 2008. (ENGINE REVS) (UPBEAT MUSIC) I got my first bike when I was 12. DR-Z125. (ENGINE REVS) Once I realised I wanted to do bigger jumps, I got rid of that and got an RM-Z250. Pretty much from then, I was riding every day after school. Every weekend, I’d go down to Daniel’s place. – Goggles off.

I met Scott through Joseph, who’s our neighbour. And when we were building the track, they came over. Scott was only on a little bike at the time, and it was me that suggested that Scott got a bigger bike. – I’ve been mates with Joseph since primary. – I was there on the day of his crash. We come riding from my parents’ house and my father was home, so it was sweet that we went riding. (ENGINE REVS) – We’d been riding all afternoon, and we were about to head home, and Joseph’s sister was walking down the paddock, and then he had stopped to tell her we were heading home, and I carried on round the track. As I carried on, I hit one of the jumps. – Scott overcooked the jump. I think he got a bit, you know, too excited on the gas or something and showed off a little bit. (SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC) (MUSIC ENDS) – I don’t remember hitting the jump. I just remember waking up on the ground and having Joseph and them there.

By the time I caught up with them, he was moaning and groaning. I’d fallen off three times that day, and it was the first time he had fallen off, so I was actually chuckling to myself, thinking, ‘Good job. It’s about time.’ Cos he was getting real cocky. Got him to take his helmet off, and I saw some blood coming out of his ear and realised that it was quite serious. I thought, you know, it’s a brain bleed. I never knew that it was a physical injury as such. Like, (STAMMERS) you know, never thought about paralysis or anything. – I was pretty much in and out of consciousness. I remember lying on the ground and having Joseph take my boots off. I remember having— feeling, like, a rock underneath my back. and I kept saying to them to move the rock, and they were like, ‘Nah, there’s no rock. You’ve injured your back.’ I remember being put on to the stretcher. And that was probably the worst part of my accident — was getting rolled to the side. (EERIE MUSIC) I got put into the helicopter, and I remember coming up out of the track. And, at the time of my accident, there was only me and Joseph there.

And then when the helicopter was coming out, there was like 10 people standing on top of the hill, from all the neighbours and everything all watching. I remember getting out of the helicopter at Tauranga Hospital, and my mum had then arrived. And then I pretty much remember getting rushed into A&E and having about 10 doctors come at me, telling me that I fractured T7, T8 and I fractured T10 as well. And then they transferred me up to Middlemore. And I then had my surgery on my back, where they did the two rods and eight screws in my spine. When I first had the injury and I was in hospital, everyone, you know, was like, ‘Oh, you’re not gonna be able to walk and things.’ And I— to start with, I was pretty stoked with it, cos I was like,

  Determination of a war refugee

‘Sweet, I don’t have to go back to school. We’re a week out of going into Year 10. ‘I don’t have to go back. I get time off school. ‘I don’t— Now I don’t have to mow the lawns. I don’t have to feed the dogs.’ I was like, ‘Sweet. This will be sweet as. I still get to cruise around.’ (SOMBRE MUSIC) And I then got transferred to the Otara Spinal Unit. I was only gonna be there for two months, but I managed to start getting movement back in my legs. From that point, I got movement and I could start kicking my legs out, and my toes started coming back. And, from then, left the spine unit in mid-May and come home. – I just felt like crap about what had happened. Well, I feel guilty about him having the accident, because I said he needed a bigger bike. So, we went over and found Scott, and I said to Scott, you know, ‘I’m sorry about what had happened,’ and that I was gonna pretty much demolish the track. And he said to me, ‘Daniel, don’t demolish the track, cos I’ll be back.’ (HOPEFUL MUSIC) * – MAN: OK, wheelie-ing. On your marks, get set, go. Wheelie-ing, wheelie-ing. Can’t— Don’t wanna see the wheels drop. Uh-oh. – After my accident, I came home. Just figuring out what I needed to do. I think, cos of being young, I was like, ‘Nah, it’ll be sweet as. I’ll be fine,’ and sort of just carried on. I did physio for three days a week for two-and-a-half years. And, in that time, I managed to stand up. Can walk with crutches. (HOPEFUL MUSIC) The wheelchair life — for me, I adapted real quickly and real easy. Whole, like, day-to-day living, getting in and out of bed and things like that; getting dressed. I, like, picked that up pretty quickly. So, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll go straight back to school.’ And then, pretty much once I had my accident, and I was in the papers and everything like that, and I was sort of a celebrity at school for having my accident and being in the wheelchair and… – ARCHIVE: …like the thrill of going— – And then, because of my injury and because I am still, sort of, back to semi-normal, but not the full walking part, I’ve always been all right. So then, yeah, I had girlfriends through school and that. And then, yeah, I had my ex-partner that I had my son with. And I met her when I was 17. And we had our son. I was 20. – Hi, Dad. – How you been? – Good. How you been? – Good, good. Good day at school? – Yep. – Give me a cuddle. – Nah, the wheelchair never phased me.

I think when you like somebody — like them for the personality and who they are, not just their outer able-bodied shell. – That’s pretty good, mate. – Oakly has definitely got Scott’s push for life and to have fun and go. I’m so not like that; everything scares me. I don’t want to get on a bike any more or anything like that. He definitely takes after his father. You have a good weekend? – Yep. – (STRAINS) Love you. – Love you. – Say goodbye to Mum. So Oakly stays with me during the weeks — Monday to Friday. And then he goes to his mum’s on Friday nights, and goes back to school from hers on a Monday morning. – See ya. – Have a good one. – You too. Bye. – We’ve got a pretty good system worked out and we get on pretty well for that. (TRANQUIL MUSIC) Becoming a dad was pretty scary and freaky, but was exciting at the same time. Wheel stand, and go together, side-by-side. ‘From about two or three weeks old, I sat him on my lap and would just push along with him. ‘And I, sort of, would do a wheel stand and tuck him into my body so that he would stay there. ‘And then, from then, he just learnt balance.’ Had a few lessons in that now, eh? – What? – Few lessons in the chair now. ‘He understands the fact that I’m in a wheelchair. And he’s a real helpful kid. ‘He’s, sort of, grown up to know that, like, I need a little bit of help.’ It’s not bad. Spin. – WOMAN: What do you love about your dad? – Me and h— Me and him riding on our motorbikes. – So, we gotta check your air filter and things, mate. ‘I didn’t ride for, probably, two years. ‘And then I met a guy who owned a motorbike shop. ‘He got me back on to my two-wheeler.’ We put a broomstick on the gear lever, and the mate sort of put me on it, and then just pushed me off. (ENGINE REVS) (ROCK MUSIC) I was away. And I could still wheel stand and ride it like, sort of, anyone else without putting my feet down. I tried riding it a couple more times, but then because I couldn’t put my feet down, the starting and stopping was the only hard part for me. And then that’s when I got into the quads. First day ever riding a quad, I wanted to race, and so I got into racing. And I was the only one in a wheelchair in New Zealand racing four-wheelers. I didn’t have any way of shifting gears on my quad, so I’d just use my hand. I’d lean down on the start straight and change gears. And so I had a few people asking, like, ‘What’s this guy up to taking his hands off the handlebars?’ And then once they figured out I was in the wheelchair, I then had Dirt Rider Downunder do an interview on me, and they sponsored me a button shift kit for my bike. So then I didn’t have to take my hands off my handlebars. So this is just your standard Suzuki LT-R450 race quad. When I was racing, I had all, like, race suspension and things like that on it, but this one’s just standard. The only mods I’ve got to it, uh… good old Velcro straps to hold my feet in. On this side, I’ve got buttons on the handlebars to change gears. And I’ve got an actuator hooked up to the gear lever to change gears. (UPBEAT MUSIC) (ENGINE REVS) Motocross is my one thing that, sort of, keeps me going. I’ve built a track at home here for me and my mates to ride on, and Oakly. Oakly likes motorbikes. Every afternoon he comes home and, ‘Dad, can we ride bikes?’ He’s a pretty good rider for a six-year-old. I do practise days with him here at home, like jump practise, cornering practise. Teach him where to stand properly and just different body positions and things, just to ride safely. We’re always trying to tell him, like, you know, not to be showing off or anything. Only watch where you’re going. (LIVELY MUSIC) Start pouring it in there slowly. ‘Oakly, he’s got chronic kidney failure. ‘We found that out when Brittany was pregnant with him. ‘Internally, that means he’s just got one smaller than the other.’ And that’s enough. So take that out. ‘The kidneys — they said he’ll most likely need a transplant at some point in his age,’ but sort of said to, you know, be careful with him. – I really didn’t want Oakly to get on a bike at all. You know, if he was to fall off — of course, it’s your mother instinct to freak out a little bit. But he’s got an amazing father that will teach him not to overjump the jumps. And Scott and I were very open as parents and talk a lot about, you can’t bubble wrap your kids. (ENGINE ROARS) – If he doesn’t want to ride, that’s cool, he doesn’t have to ride. But the fact that he likes riding is cool, and something we enjoy doing together. Once he did his first race, and he won his first race, I was pretty proud. I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’ve been teaching him to do and riding for,’ and… – That day, I came fifth at TECT park, the first day. Came first. And it was a hard race to do. All about having fun. Guess who that is? – Is it you? – No, it’s Dad. – Dad. – But it’s insi— he’s in something. – I met Lisa through Tinder, as you do nowadays. It’s the old swipe right. And seem to have worked out all right. – (CHUCKLES) We’ve been together… about a year-ish of seeing each other on and off sort of thing. I didn’t know about the wheelchair in the beginning. Like, it wasn’t something he was, like, hard out talking to me in the beginning about. – All good now? Got your juice. – He insisted that cos we were talking online at first, he sent me photos of himself in the wheelchair, but I don’t recall it. (LAUGHS) So when I turned up here and he was, um, in his wheelchair, I thought it was just something he was riding around the house in just for fun. (LAUGHS) And then when he didn’t get up, I was like, ‘Um… ‘so, yeah, you should probably tell me a bit more about that.’ And gotten to know who he was, and it didn’t matter to me. He can still do everything that I can do. (RELAXED MUSIC) Scott’s pretty good as a dad. Yeah, he’s pretty awesome. He’s always looking after Oakly and making sure he’s having fun and everything he needs. Scott just loves him to death. – Because he’s got kidney failure, I just wanna give him the best childhood I can, so I just pretty much do anything and everything for him. He’s mainly my world now. * (TRANQUIL MUSIC) – What do you want on your sandwiches for school, Oakly? Nutella? Sweet as. Most of our mornings, I’ll get up about 6.30. Get Oakly ready, and I’ll send him off to school. And then I head off to work. You gonna walk to the bus. Walk down and catch the bus. Gimme a hug. – Bye, Dad. – See ya, matey. Have a good day at school. – I will. – I’ll see ya later. Love you. Have a good day. – You too. – Seating To Go do wheelchair assessments, and they put out an ad for wheelchair skills mentors. And, originally, we just taught people how to do wheelchair skills. Once I started doing the wheelchair skills, Seating To Go asked me to be one of their mechanics. I work five days a week, sort of, 40 hours a week. For me, being based in Rotorua, I cover, sort of, Taupo, Turangi Tokoroa and Murupara sort of area. What’s our plan for today? – Um, we’ve got Nic coming in. And I have got these. The shoe holders… I work here at Seating To Go as one of the wheelchair and seating therapists. How Scott and I work together is there’ll be something that I want to have happen for a client. Scott’s role is to figure out how to make it happen as a technician. – How are you? – Good morning. – So, his whole lived experience of being a wheelchair user, it makes a big difference. He’s really good at problem-solving. He can think quite laterally. – I could probably get it in purple for you, Nic. I’m on a different level than the other, sort of, techs I work with, because with me being in the wheelchair, I’m in the same situation. So I know what the clients are, sort of, thinking and how they’re getting on. You just need, like, a moon boot strap like I use on my motorbike. The one big thing for the job is when you have a little kid that first gets put into an electric wheelchair or a little manual chair and gets to push for the first time, and hasn’t ever been able to move by themselves, and then they get to move, and you see the smile on their face. That’s probably the most rewarding part of the job. This is a Omeo Segway. It’s just an all-round pretty good machine to be able to get out on the grass where I don’t have to push. Probably one of the steeper hills on my place to get up on this thing. Yeah, it’s just… if I wanted to just go and play around in my paddock, I can. It’s just having that independence and being able to do it yourself. (ENGINE STARTS) Good old trusty. (UPBEAT MUSIC) I get out here once a month and just do a bit of grooming. With the Bobcat, we got two joysticks — left and right, forward and backwards. I’ve got foot controls. My left one raises my arms and lowers my arms, and my right one does my bucket. With my ability and control in my legs, I can push forward enough with my toes to lower the bucket and tilt the bucket forward, but I can’t lift the arms up, so I’ve quite often got to push on my knees. The berms are the main things we maintain, just to keep nice corners, and just looking at your angles of the hills and just making sure everything’s right, and not silly little jumps that are gonna get you hurt. (RELAXED MUSIC) Like hanging out with mates, having them all around. And now with me having the track, Daniel brings his kids up for riding, and then I go down to Daniel’s with my kid riding. It sort of kept us all as a little motocross family. – Sweet. I got three months extra on this to bleep out all the bleep. – (LAUGHTER) – He always put others before himself. He’s always there if someone needs a tow or a trailer. He’s looking after all his mates’ bikes in the shed, and they come up here and… – Cooked, bro. Not running round the paddock. – I’m pretty proud of, actually, how he’s got his life together and carried on with his positive attitude and mindset towards things. He was straight back on a racing bike after the accident, and he never stopped to feel sorry for himself or put his hand out or anything. And he’s done really well. And I’m stoked that he’s actually giving back to other people with similar injuries. – Go for another ride? – Yep. – Yep. (LAUGHS) I guess I’m just proud of how he handles it. He’s got a son, and he’s got lots on his plate, but he still just takes it like a champ. I guess that’s where I’m the most proud of him. – My life would be a whole lot different, but I s’pose this was just what was meant to be, and I’ve just taken it on the chin and made it as positive as I can. Oakly, I hope he stays interested in motocross, cos hopefully gonna get pretty good. And we sort of just tell him, ‘Think about what you’re gonna do. Don’t just rush in and do it. ‘Look at it. Take your time. Make sure it’s safe.’ Captions were made with the support of NZ On Air. Copyright Able 2021

  Inside Outside: Pieta Bouma

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