CATWALK TALKS TO CHRIS LAY
CW: What has caused you to be in a chair and when did it happen?
CL: Just over one year ago I was a dairy farm manager, it was my weekend off and I was on my way to the pub for a few beers o a Saturday night. I fell asleep at the wheel of a motor vehicle travelling along one of the straighter roads I know. I veered off the road, the car flipped several times and I was trapped for four hours after breaking my neck in the accident.
CW: Are you a paraplegic or tetraplegic?
CL: Tetraplegic C6 complete
CW: Tell us about any surgery that you have had since your accident.
CL: Apart from H plate surgery to stabilise my neck a few days after my accident I haven't had any other surgery. The pinch grip operation may be on the cards in another year or so.
CW: Tell us about your fitness regime.
CL: I love exercise so my fitness regime at this point of my rehabilitation is pretty full on. Gym and weight training three days a week, wheelchair rugby training twice a week, then any other free time I have, I try to get out and about on my hand bike. That basically sums it up.
CW: Tell us about your support network, especially family, friends, medical.
CL: I will start from the top in order of importance; my partner Sian who is the rock of my life and supports me in anyway possible. My family who are based up in Auckland have done amazing things and are always there when we need them. Friends are a fantastic support when it comes to a life changing experience, you get to know who your real friends are very quickly. Apart from a local GP who is very understanding this is all the medical support I require. But you always know there is professional help available.
CW: Are you currently employed, or how do you spend your days?
CL: I am self-employed and in the last two months formed the company named Dairy Smart Ltd, which is a dairy farming consultancy business. Although my focus over the next year is rehabiliation, I will be working with local farmers around the area focusing on cows and grass. I think it's very important to stay busy and interested in the things that make you tick.
CW: Tell us about any specific modications to your home or place of work, especially those beneficial to others in chairs.
CL: A high wheelbase 4x4 ute ~ a modified Ford Ranger. An amazing vehicle that would help all outdoor type people. Half of my time this is my office when I'm out and about visiting farmers.
CW: What are your goals for 2008 and the future?
CL: Kids and marriage have to be on the cards. Grow and run a successful business, and in six years time own a large-scale dairy farm in New Zealand. And last but not least be happy and healthy.
CW: What is the one piece of equipment that you just couldn't do without?
CL: Despite the controversy I've faced over owning e-motion wheels, I can honestly say that they are the best thing since being in a chair. The ability to cover any type of terrain and to travel longer distances at greater speeds make e-motion wheels an invaluable tool for me. Secondly a very simple piece of equipment, my weight gloves which enable me to do free weights and grip weight bars at the gym.
CW: What has been one of your most satisfying achievements since being in a chair?
CL: To have gained the ability to independently get myself into bed at whatever time of night I like, and not have to rely on anybody else. It seems like such a small task but yet it is so important.
CW: Who inspires you and why?
CL: People that grab the bull by the horns so to speak, people that make the most of their lives and have the will to succeed and reach their goals.
CW: When a cure for SCI is found, what will be the first thing that you want to do.
CL: Well that is one of the toughest questions because there is so much to do, but probably to play a game of tennis or play frisbee on the beach would be a good start.
CW: Is there anything else that may be of interst to our readers?
CL: For those interested in checking out the e-motion wheels as mentioned above, go to www.gblwheelchairs.com/productdetails.asp?id=105