Danny Teare (England) – Discovering my new potential
In this blog, Danny reflects on the integral role ocean sports plays in his life and shares how he is discovering his new potential after surviving multiple strokes in 2019/20.
I was surfing when I had my first stroke in 2019. My world as I had known it for 44 years suddenly ended… well that’s how it felt to me.
I had spent those 44 years happily pursuing all forms of sports and activities. I think my parents realised at a young age I was far happier being outside and experiencing the great outdoors and so encouraged it. I loved pushing my body to its near limit and discovering new skills and friends to share it with.
Due to this unexpected and life changing 1st stroke, I was advised to cease all activities until medical investigations could ascertain the reason behind it. Unfortunately for me, I was carrying a rare undiagnosed adrenal gland tumour for a further 3 months and then BAM! My life changed again!
I recall waking up in a hospital bed to be told I was 250 miles from home and needed 2 days of emergency surgery to save my life. This was the nearest hospital specialising in a rare tumour called a “Pheochromocytoma”. It was at some point during my 2 weeks in an ICU ward bed, that I looked down at my body and cried as I did not recognise any of my new self. It was also at this moment, that I turned to the hospital window and made a promise to get strong enough to enjoy the outdoors again.
One of my consultants told me afterwards, I had “dodged a bullet” and that he believed my background fitness gained from surfing and running had certainly contributed to my survival. The tumour had done its damage though; 5x strokes survived in total, 25cm surgery scar across my tummy to remove the tumour, a metal plate and x11 screws now holding my shoulder together due to a massive seizure I experienced which had left it dislocated and fractured.
The promise I made to enjoy the outdoors again required me to adopt an attitude of positivity and determination… very difficult to achieve at first, but with the support of family and health professionals I slowly saw small gains.
I call it “discovering my new potential” and my new normal means I am discovering different ways of enjoying sports and activities. In my 3 years now post stroke, my recovery journey has been inspired by the many great adaptive sportsmen and women I have been privileged to meet. These individuals have encouraged and supported me in so many ways. The adaptive surf team and coaches have helped me to return to a surfboard and I have participated in many adaptive surf sessions. The help of others has enabled me to pursue my love of the outdoors and I have discovered other ocean sports that I had never considered before.
I was initially (and understandably) advised against a return to surfing, due to my seizure tearing a vein in my neck. I turned my focus onto other forms of ocean sports which I would be able to pursue safely. and I have recently competed in UK and European Bodysurfing championships.
My journey to return to the outdoors prompted me to deliver a beach day for brain injury survivors and so I recently ran and walked 65 miles of the South West Coastal Footpath to raise money to fund other brain injury survivors and their loved ones to go surfing. We all had an incredible day at the beach with Coastal Crusaders CIC based in Newquay, and it is my hope to spread more positivity and stoke next year with more beach sessions for families.
My idea was to run/ walk 65 miles over 3 consecutive days, to raise funds to take other survivors/ loved ones surfing. A tough challenge I set myself, but so rewarding to then see the smiles on the families faces on our beach day with “Coastal Crusaders CIC”… more being planned for next year!!
Participating in sports and activities makes me so happy. I believe my passion in wanting to enjoy the sea again has been more instrumental in my personal recovery than any medication I have taken to date. I feel that I have been able to rebond with my wife and 2 young children through our family time outdoors. My mental and physical health has benefitted hugely from our time at the beach.
I nearly died whilst surfing… but my passion to get back to surfing has kept me alive!
Created a Stoked Stroke Survivor community to promote positivity and got myself a flag!
You can find out more about the Stoked Stroke Survivors community created by Danny on his website https://www.sssands.org.uk/