Patrick (48) is an artist in George. He is quadriplegic and an Associate Member of the Mouth and Foot Painters Association. Patrick lives with his partner and their son in George and he paints every day. He tells the story of his accident and how art has transformed his life.
“When it happened, I’ve just bought a house in Pretoria. I was a policeman, so life was just starting, I was just building a future for myself. And then the accident happened. We were all under the influence of alcohol, so that was the main reason for the accident. One of my colleagues passed away, and I broke my neck from it. So, after that, it was almost like a straight downward spiral – almost like a black hole. You can’t see any positiveness. One moment you have everything going for yourself, the next moment you can’t lift up your own arms.
“So, I had nothing to look forward to, basically. I had a lot of questions, about what’s the use of living. You almost feel like a vegetable, you know. You’re like in the way of everybody, banging into things… Also because everything must be done for you now. You must be washed. You must be dressed, your teeth must be brushed… All the little stuff. From a man’s point of view, it’s almost like taking your manhood from you. That, for me, was really tough.
“I broke my neck between the fifth and the fourth vertebrate. I was in hospital for eight months. a month in Pretoria and the other seven months in Conradie Hospital in Pinelands. I had extensive sessions in physio and with an occupational therapist. So I regained a little bit of movement in my arms, but not the wrists. So I can just lift the arms. There’s no wrist movement in this hand, and I regained a little bit of wrist movement in this hand. But nothing in the fingers. If I want to use my phone, my thumb is normally just straight so I can press it. Otherwise, I pick it up and use my tongue.