“C-BRACE is changing lives one step at a time”.

“Live the life you deserve with the C-Brace”.

I read these words and they stopped me in my tracks.

I had only just landed on the tarmac at Heathrow airport after my overnight flight back from Jamaica.

I quickly read the article and watched the video of a lady standing up out of her wheelchair and walking with almost perfect gait.

The real show stopper was when I saw her trying to walk without the Ottobock device.

I thought, “David you walk better.”

I didn’t have much time to ponder on this thought but I did start to dream of how this could be life-changing for me as I face life in a wheelchair.

After all, it had taken me forever to get out of Heathrow airport using the accessibility service, three different wheelchairs and a buggy.

And it hit me even more when I was parked in the corner facing away from baggage collection.

I felt anxious as I was fully dependent on others just for even basic tasks, and I felt frustrated.

After a 10-minute push in the wheelchair I arrived at level three to meet my Uber driver.

I had time to read more about this device as we drove back into London.

The Ottobock website got me on the first paragraph.

The C-Brace is a microprocessor-controlled leg knee-ankle-foot-orthosis (KAFO) that responds to everyday movements and situations in real time.

This helps to ensure safety, stability, and confidence in your everyday life.

The C-Brace allows users with leg paralysis to walk on uneven terrain, safely walk backwards, and go down stairs and slopes step over step.

I sat in the car dreaming of what this could mean for me and others I know.

This brace is like the prosthetic legs my military friends have.

Through the use of sensors, the C-Brace joint unit knows where it is in space and how fast its user is walking, meaning it can alter the hydraulics in the joint unit as needed.

“This can’t be real,” I think.

Am I just jet lagged or is what I am reading going to give me a level of freedom I never thought possible?

As the Uber pulled up to my flat I had to get inside, shower and change to attend an evening with Mark Foster and myself in the Sloane Club in Chelsea. A quick pot of coffee and I was on my way to the event.

However, I couldn’t get this device out of my mind, even more so when people asked how is it possible to stand when paralysed.

The effort I have put into standing in the gym over the last eight years has been one of the hardest things I have ever done and the only reason I can stand I explain.

Some people thought I was crazy getting off a flight and coming straight to the event, but for me it made perfect sense.

I need to keep my mind busy, as if I didn’t I would be living in the future, more importantly I would be living in Professor Choi’s office on Monday.

I know bad news is coming on Monday that’s going to throw a massive curve ball into my life and my dream of walking like I once did.

So the longer I can delay these thoughts the better.

The evening was fun as both Mark and I shared stories and talked, and in true Highland spirit I was the last to leave the event having laughed and chatted all evening.

However, the silence of my bed waited, when my thoughts are their loudest.

The what’s-ifs and anxiety of Monday are flowing in like a tsunami.

“Please, David, sleep,” I mutter.

The next morning it’s straight to podcasts and meetings, working hard to stay out of my own mind.

But I keep watching videos of this device; “I would give anything to walk like the lady in the video”, I kept thinking.

So I created a plan: I will call Ottobock and get information and get myself this C-Brace.

But just as I was planning the next few weeks and a day that I could get to a clinic, my friend called from Stoke Mandeville.

“Have you seen this C- Brace?” she asked.

I told her my excitement and what followed was like being shot with a very sharp dart.

“Did I hear you correctly?” I asked. “£75,000?”

“Yes, David, you heard me correctly.”

I fell into my chair and felt the cloud of depression wave over me like a storm.

My spirit crashed by the cost of something that is so life-changing but yet out of reach for so many.