Two men bumping fists in front of graffiti

“Attempt to do something first yourself, and if you can’t, ask for help.” That’s the ethos that Gawler resident Mark Payne, 62, lives by.  

And it’s an ethos that’s served him well. Having experienced a stroke at the age of 50, rendering his right hand non-functional, it might have been tempting for Mark to ease off on trying to do things for himself. 

Instead, he worked on maintaining his physical fitness and losing 40 kilograms – culminating with completing the 12km race in the City to Bay Fun Run, in a wheelchair. He’d spent 18 months training for this event with his trainer and friend, Adam, and together they raised $2,700 for the Stroke Foundation. 

Not long after completing this, in 2018, a spinal injury left Mark in hospital, with the prospect of never walking again.  

RESILIENCE AND RECOVERY 

“When I think about it, it took lots of mental focus, but after six months in hospital and lots of effort I was able regain movement in my legs,” says Mark. 

“It started with just being able to move my toes. That took a month itself!”  

Feros Care Local Area Coordinator, Olivia Hoogenhout began working with Mark to review his NDIS plan soon after he left hospital.  

“Mark is fiercely independent and wants to keep it that way,” explains Olivia. 

Determined not to lose his independence, Mark continued working on his strength and mobility with various professionals, however he gained most benefit from his training with Adam of Unicore Personal Training. 

MAKING THE MOST OF HIS NDIS PLAN 

“Adam worked with Mark to push beyond standard rehabilitation exercises, creating scenarios that would help Mark beyond the gym. Rather than continuing to do the same strengthening routines, he’d have Mark bend a certain way so that he had the ability to pick something up if he dropped it, for instance.” 

“We were able to demonstrate the benefits of Mark’s continued work with Adam to the NDIS, and they approved ongoing sessions in his plan,” says Olivia.  

“Not only have these innovative sessions built Mark’s physical capacity to the point where he can take three or four steps unaided, and lift his right arm above his head, it also meets other goals – helping him maintain access to his community through attendance at a mainstream gym and contributes to his mental health through the wonderful friendship he and Adam have.” 

In 2020 Mark was involved in a serious accident when he was hit by a car while crossing the road on his scooter. He credits his ongoing sessions with Adam with his recovery. “If I wasn’t doing the training, I wouldn’t have had the physical strength to survive.” 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR MARK 

Never one to stop moving forward, and with his physical capacity continuing to improve, Mark has another, entirely different goal he’s working toward.  

He’s writing a book. What began as a cookbook to house the recipes that helped Mark lose 40 kilograms has morphed into a repository of seriously useful tips for people with disability who are living in a world that’s not necessarily geared toward them.  

Not content with just one attempt at doing something, and not wanting to rely on his wife who is his carer, too heavily, Mark found new ways to do things for himself, using everyday items around the house. He forced himself to think differently and found innovative solutions for performing everyday tasks and maintaining independence with a disability. These days he cooks and shops and is out and about in his community. 

Not yet ready for publication, Olivia says that through Mark’s NDIS plan he can receive supports to help him bring all these tips together for the book, so it can be published.  

We look forward to learning more from Mark’s unique perspective when he becomes a published author! 

For more stories of Feros Care participants kicking their goals click here

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