Paul Herbert's Story
'No matter how big or small we all have the ability, we all have a chapter in our life make it count, my story and a new chapter goes on I’m going to make it count for others like me'
My name is Paul Herbert, I’m the Health Ambassador for Leicestershire, Hinckley and Bosworth and would like to bring you all on my journey and my story is as follows.
In 2016 I was told I had three strokes, and being a very active person, mountain biking, surfing, snowboarding, kayaking, coast to coast walking and many other hobbies aswell as a carpenter/joiner, my world crashed and changed dramatically.
With the many health issues that the strokes caused such as no balance, extreme fatigue, permanent debilitating headaches, losing some sight in my left eye, loss of speech and memory, tremors in my hands and head and many other issues, life became very difficult for not just me but also my wife and family.
I also lost my driving licence and so much independence, which knocks your confidence for six depending on family and friends. I knew the task ahead would be difficult.
In such a difficult time I soon realised things in my life had to change as I had taken so much for granted.
I soon began many hospital visits and tests because no one knew the real reason for my strokes. During this time I was also visiting my GP, Dr Robbins at the local surgery. It was in one such meeting with Dr Robbins that we discussed physio for myself and she recommended whilst waiting I should go for a referral.
This was soon put into place and I was contacted by Simon, the coordinator and PT instructor at Hinckley Leisure Centre. With the aid of my father-in-law Austin I made it into the gym and soon enough all the worries and concerns that had bugged me the previous days building up to this, started to run through my mind. Once I’d met Simon and begun to exercise I was soon at ease and after a few sessions the old me started to kick in and confidence grew.
With this new confidence I wanted to try and get back to doing some of the things I used to do. Good friends were still inviting me along to a regular weekend mountain bike meet, something I loved to do before the strokes.
I’d always go along for a catch up with a tea or coffee but I was frustrated at not being able to head out with them on my bike, this wasn’t going to be the end for me and had to find a solution.
That solution came in the form of an off-road scooter so at least I could ride along with them. Even though it was slow this would hurt me and would soon result in more pain.
Being in pain 24/7 can be incredibly debilitating so when I could I would focus on the gym.
Soon enough the twelve-week referral was up, but realising I needed to keep my health and confidence going I went back to my doctors and expressed how good it was for me and others requesting another referral and was soon granted that opportunity.
During the referral scheme I was nominated for a sports award, even though I didn’t win it the taking part and sense of achievement was what counted for me.
During the second referral I was approached by Simon, the referred PT and asked if I’d be interested in becoming a health Ambassador for the council. After a little deliberation and meeting Graham the health and recreation manager, I said yes and knew the new chapter in my life was about to begin.
With new found confidence, sport and driving were now on my hit list, so I began to focus my attention and emotions to biking and decided that if I can cycle in the gym why not outside, what’s the worst that can happen!!
So as usual the weekend bike meet was on, only this time with the bike much to my wife’s dismay, more than a few words were said.
After arriving at the cycle centre the lads rolled up to help get the scooter out as usual, only to the be met with my bike.
Now I’ve known big Jas, Lee and James for quite a long time but they soon questioned my ability as they all know how crazy I used to be, thus having a nickname the “honey badger”.
With a little persuasion they helped me onto the bike and after a little test in the car park I felt happy to go on.
So, with fear in all of the gang’s eyes we went on and one by one the group took turns to follow me. Apparently they couldn’t stop laughing at me trying to stay within the track more so than falling off in the bushes. We made it back with cuts and bruises it was a short ride.
They soon realised this would not be the end and have since gone out of their way to guide and help me whenever they could. Together with my wife and these friends we have ridden the South Down Way but still it takes its toll on me and the after effects are tremendous each time I try.
Between the time being enrolled as a health Ambassador and now I’ve been giving Inspirational speeches to groups with health issues and giving back some of the inspiration they need to go on. Although thoroughly enjoying it the extreme fatigue makes me sleep most of the time however it’s some comfort to the headaches.
Not being content with just biking I asked my wife about surfing to which she replied, “you can hardly stand let alone surf”. But I had to know, so we went to a local swimming pool and sure enough I managed to swim. With swimming in the bag Croyde Bay here we come, but there’s something more pressing on the horizon.
At a bike meet not so long ago one of my best mates Jas asked me how do you fancy a triathlon? With no hesitation I said ok and discussed the Blenheim Palace Sprint event.
Jas has already registered for it along with other good friends who agreed to have a go, I knew how difficult this would be, but why not.
Jas is always one step ahead of most and does well to organise our group so soon enough there was Big Jas, Jas P, Phil, Graham and me, out of the group only one has first-hand experience of triathlons.
I soon had reservations on having no real experience at the open water swimming even though before my stroke I could swim more confidently in the sea whilst surfing.
I soon registered myself for this event and started to ask Big Jas questions and as usual he soon put me at ease. I can depend on him and look up to him as a real inspiration to many others and me. Now a plan is in place to start some open water swimming at Cliff Lakes in Tamworth. I can’t wait it’s going to hurt I know.
So far, me and five good friends along with many others can hopefully give to others in need of the help. It’s for that help people like myself can never say thank you enough.
So hopefully we can raise as much as we can or inspire others to come along and have a go and do their bit. We can all do it, just dig deep like me you’ll feel better for it, no matter how big or small we all have the ability, we all have a chapter in our life make it count, my story and a new chapter goes on I’m going to make it count for others like me the Health Ambassador.