Published: 06:00, 10 May 2021
Imagine waking up and not being able to move.
This was the "living nightmare" Allhallows' resident Danny Maher experienced on the morning of September 23, 2019.
The 52-year-old had been suffering from chronic back pain in the days leading up to the fateful moment, but had no idea of the severity of the problem.
He said: "I had been sleeping upright for two nights because of the pain.
"But when I woke on that Monday morning I realised I couldn't move. Initially I thought I just had that dead leg feeling but then the reality hit me like a tonne of bricks that I was paralysed.
"It was a feeling of utter panic and fear of not knowing what had happened, I just hoped it was a nightmare.
"An ambulance was called and I was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital and then began the long process of tests and scans to discover what was happening to me."
After months of examinations, doctors discovered Danny's freak impairment was caused by two abscesses on his spinal cord, which couldn't be treated medically.
He was moved to Hothfield Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Neurological Care Centre in Ashford, where he spent eight weeks receiving gentle physio and rehabilitation sessions.
Staff recommended Danny be sent to a specialist hospital that dealt with spinal injuries to continue his care.
"During meetings with medics, my family and myself it seemed the best place I could move to would be Stoke Mandeville, which came with promises of grandeur," added the ex-audio engineer.
"I finally arrived at the hospital and at last I thought I was at a place that was renowned for its care in spinal injuries.
"But then Covid-19 hit and the hospital was cleared in preparation for those patients."
Due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the need for more hospital beds, Danny was moved to Charing House Care & Nursing Home in Gillingham on an end-of-life ward.
He said: "There were days when other patients I had spoken to were no longer there.
"I was literally seeing new friends dying before my eyes and my only sense of freedom was a small roof garden, my only solace in a world of nightmares.
"I spent months there before I realised I needed to do something, maybe this was the time I returned, the Dan that used to be.
"I fought for funding to get myself to the Peter Gidney Neurological Care Centre in Dartford and through intense physio, I've pushed myself to rebuild my leg muscles."
He now hopes to raise £20,000 for a stimulation bike, which will help him regain control of his legs and allow him to continue his therapy at home. His fundraiser currently totals £1,260.
He said: "I want to say a massive thank you to Cyclone Mobility, the organisation that deal with the bike.
"They have been unbelievably helpful. The information they have given me, the advice, the support has been excellent.
"It's the first time I have dealt with an organisation where their service has been impeccable."
Funds raised will also go towards adaptations to his house, giving him more independence in every-day life.
"Mentally I am holding on because of the people that love me. I have to keep it together for the sake of them, but inside I am dying. I shouldn't be here.
"I feel so helpless, like a tortoise turned on its back. It would be life changing to get the bike and being able to return home.
"I've suffered with my back for a long time, because of a car crash I had many many years ago. It was always there – a simple task like shutting a car door would put me on the floor.
"But this, this could happen to anybody. I went to bed, I woke up the next morning, and I was paralysed.
"I feel so helpless, like a tortoise turned on its back...."
"If there is anybody out there that feels touched by my story, I would be so grateful for any for any donation.
"But I still maintain the focus, I have defied all medical expectations to even stand, and this piece of equipment will give me the best possible chance to walk again.
"Words fail me in regards to thanking those who have donated. I don't think there's a word that's been created to express my thanks to these people.
"I am completely humbled by their generosity."
To donate, visit his GoFundMe page.