Touched by physiotherapy
Alfred Francis reflects on personal journey, offers tips for Gleaner 5K
Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
Because of his association with road racing in Jamaica, one would assume Alfred 'Frano' Francis of Running Events Jamaica is the epitome of good health.
But in November 2013, Francis' body betrayed him. Perhaps unknown to some, he was near death.
Francis developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks its nervous system. It left Francis, by all measure, completely paralysed.
Treatment at the University Hospital of the West Indies' (UHWI) Physiotherapy Depart-ment started from he was in intensive care, as his limbs had no life. After about eight or nine days, he left intensive care.
"I went home after three weeks, and then they would come to my home and treat me until I was able to be driven to the hospital to do sessions," he said.
Francis says he was gradually "rebuilt" as the mission of the Ward 10-located department is to bring its patients back to the state of good health. He admitted the experience was an eye-opener..
"Growing up in sports, you think about pulling a muscle or breaking a leg," he said. "And when you come here and see all the young kids being treated, you see people who are recovering from various operations."
You don't need to be able to read minds to see Francis was touched by not just what was done for him, but the scope of services offered.
"Being here and seeing the need that exists here and how they have to improvise and how they adapt, … I want to help. This is one of the areas I want to work for - to get subscriptions, to get funding, to get support."
The department is currently in expansion mode, but as Francis pointed out, there is always the need for equipment that can aid people's recovery. He even suggested it didn't have to be brand-new stuff, as long as they were working properly.
STRIKING A COMPROMISE
Already committed to a 5K run for September 13, Francis found a compromise: he would do the Gleaner 5K if the UHWI Physiotherapy Department was part-beneficiary. Deal!
Francis set the course for the 5K, which takes participants from The Gleaner Company's North Street entrance on to South Camp Road, then on to Camp Road before turning down on to Marescaux Road. Then it's on to Heroes Circle, before ending on East Street.
"It's a fantastic course. It's a fast course - if you run wisely," he warned with a laugh. "And the road surface is good."
He explained it like this: the first half of the race, you should be able to speak a full sentence. By the time you're heading for Marescaux Road, a couple of words.
"And then for the last 25 per cent of it, you should be out of breath, because you're going all-out," he said.
Francis says his illness and recovery have provided him with a different outlook on life.
"In life, you need to give thanks," he said. "Being here, I think that my Maker wanted to teach me some lessons. I am thankful, and I am glad that I am spared so that I can continue this wonderful work of doing road racing, helping people [and] helping worthy causes."
The Gleaner 180 5K Run will take place on September 13 and will benefit the UHWI Physiotherapy Department and PALS (Peace and Love in Society).