In 2004, Gav Pauze was in a BMX accident that left him with serious head injuries. The doctors gave him a bleak outlook on life, as the accident left him with inhibited speech, mobility and writing skills. However, through the ‘natural therapies’ of reggae music, poetry and positive energy, Gaz kept on going, and is now a successful DJ, song writer and published poet. Read his incredibly inspiring story about not giving up, and remaining positive in the face of adversity.
Over the years of sharing this story briefly in interviews on radio stations and on websites, I have been told that it is very inspiring and uplifting. I feel the story I have to share is eye opening, not only in showing that in the face of adversity, we can do everything we set our minds out to do, but also how positivity through music, poetry and thoughts can help us heal through serious life changing injuries and help us to progress forwards with our lives. This article here is the most in-depth. I have talked on what happened to me and I now feel that 11 years since the accident I am healed enough and ready to share the full story, even the bits that have not been shared before. Some of the memories of what happened are still a bit hazy, but I am in a better place now and I have had enough time to recall and reflect on what I went through.
In 2004 I fell off a BMX and landed on the crown of my head; my neck took the full weight of my body. At the time I did not realise the exact damage that had been done or the extent of the injuries that I had suffered. How did it happen? Well, I was cycling down a main road and jumped up a curb, as I was landing, the front wheel hit the ground first, spun my handlebars round 360 and I was thrown over the top of the bike, into the middle of a normally busy main road, landing on my head and bouncing down the road, coming to a stop by landing on my ribs on the metal spiked pedals. As I woke from being knocked out, I knew I had been lucky, there was no traffic around that late at night.
After picking myself up, dusting off myself and assessing what damage I had done, I could feel the pain in my neck, back, right shoulder, ribs and leg instantly where I had landed, bounced and slid down the road. What I didn’t realise at the time was the seriousness of the head injury. I was dazed and confused, getting back on the bike to get myself home. Once cycling again, I kept having to stop to take time out, catching breath and at that point I started feeling pain inside my head, a burning feeling. I touched the crown of my head and it was sticky. I looked at my fingers and they were covered in a really deep, dark red blood. Trying not to think about it, at this time I realised that I had a hole in the crown of my head and this is when I realised that must have been where the full impact of the accident had happened!
The closer I got to home, the more dazed and confused I got, once home I got into my bed and just lay down in agony. Stiffening up due to the injuries, I lay in bed for over a week. Not only was a I struggling to move with the pain of the injuries but also I felt different in my mind and being the stubborn person I am, I refused to go to hospital. It took some good friends telling me to go seek some medical advice before I actually dragged myself to the hospital, 11 days after the accident.
I wasn’t very firm on my feet and found walking quite hard – I had put this down to the suspected broken ribs and possibly bruised neck that I thought I had. Once I arrived at the hospital I was checked in through triage and I sat and waited to be seen. After about a 5 hour wait, the hospital checked over my body, giving me x-rays for my ribs and diagnosed me with having three broken ribs on one side and four on the other. Issuing me some painkillers, they packaged me off home and advised that I rested and booked into see my GP as soon as I could. They didn’t even check the now healing hole on the crown of my head, but as it was healing I didn’t think that was of concern so my head was never checked for any injury or damage.
After resting at home for some time, struggling with walking, talking and just understanding day to day life, I started to notice a lot of changes in who I was as a person. I would get angry very quickly and as I tried to speak, my words were coming out wrong and not making sense. I was finding life very difficult. On top of this, when walking I would often lose balance and fall over to the right side. To me this was worrying and after a couple of months of anguish, confusion and going through several different emotional stages I felt frustrated. There was not much I could do apart from rest and I kind of realised that what I was suffering from was severe concussion, so that’s when I decided to book in to see my local doctor.
The doctor saw me right away after I explained on the phone what had happened. He checked over my injuries and looked at the crown of my head, where I said I had landed and that the hospital had never even looked at. Straight away he said that I needed to go back to hospital. Struggling to walk and get by on a daily basis had started to become the new normal for me, but it was not something that was easy to get used to. I was getting angry at friends that were trying to help me and be there for me. I was growing more and more frustrated at how I was feeling inside. The frustration sometimes amounted into me feeling very angry, and the sudden change in personality was starting to become apparent.
Nothing that the doctors were doing for me was helping: I was prescribed tablets, sent on courses at the hospital to help with walking and talking again but none of it was doing any good. Getting back to my old daytime job as a chef seemed like an impossibility and I was unsure whether I would ever be able to go back to DJ’ing in clubs at night. It didn’t help either that some of the doctors I had been seeing said that I would never work again and that I was lucky to be alive. I recall one doctor saying to me, “if you had been a little heavier you would have broken your neck.” I started to feel depressed and anxious. I could not take what was being said by certain medical professionals, since I had always worked in some way, shape or form – sitting around doing nothing was not for me. So I decided that the only way to get the right help was by helping myself. I reverted back to what had been therapy for me since I was 15, the very thing that had been an escape for me, which was DJ’ing.
I took it slowly, and in the time of recovering and finding that none of the medication that I was prescribed was having any benefit to me, I stumbled across an album from a positive roots Reggae artist called Dub Judah. This album became the soundtrack to my healing process. When playing the songs I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. The music not only uplifted my mood, it inspired me and gave me an energy that I had not fully embraced with music before. It was a difficult year but after constantly listening to Dub Judah’s “Better To Be Good” album I was starting to feel different; starting to feel as if I could strive forward to heal.
The positivity the music was feeding me was extremely inspiring and I started to listen to more roots reggae; it started to dawn on me that just like we are what we eat, we are what we listen too. The music was teaching me a lot, not just uplifting and motivating me but also I was learning about life more, from the messages in the music. I started buying more positive music and getting more involved with other DJ’s that supported reggae. This lead to a chance to spin music on the radio in 2005 as a guest on a local station and in 2006 I was then offered my own radio show by that same station.
Still struggling with my speech and balance I was a little hesitant at first but I thought why not give it a try? My confidence was starting to build and the way that the music made me feel was installing an energy in me, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to showcase the very music that was helping me to heal. If it could help and benefit me that much, then surely it could do the same for other people that had gone through tough times; potential listeners of the radio show could use the music on the same level that I had been doing.
My first solo radio show was aired on Unique FM December 6th 2006. Since then things started to move forward at a very fast pace. I had decided to structure the radio show as a mix of music, only talking to announce the artists names and the song names, the reason being is that I wanted the listeners to be able to absorb the lyrics and the positivity in the music, to feel it, benefit from it fully. The radio shows were not about me, so it did not need my voice interrupting the songs and distracting the listeners attention from the messages. As the strength and popularity of the radio shows grew I decided to move to London to be closer to associates in the music – I saw that there was a lot more opportunities in doing this.
As time passed, I had been in and out of doctors and specialists getting treatment for PTSD which I was diagnosed with in 2008. Since moving south I found that the treatments I received were a lot better than what I had been given in the Midlands, but still I was not fully recovered. I started acupuncture treatment to help with the healing process further, as my new doctor believed in natural healing and he also told me to continue with the music works I was doing. Even though I had no intention of stopping doing the music, his encouragement just boosted my confidence more. Even though I was still working on creating positive radio shows (which had been highly benefiting my speech progress and confidence issues) I still felt like I needed to do more to help myself.
It was not until 2009 that I actually found solstice in writing poetry; another outlet to release my feelings, emotions and experiences. Not only that but I thought it would benefit my writing skills in general as I seriously felt like I was struggling with writing. It was almost like I had forgotten the basics of reading, writing and walking since the accident; the things we all take for granted I wanted back completely. I was determined to succeed. I had gotten better at walking, even though I did still have some balance issues, and through doing the radio shows my speech skills had developed a lot. Now was time to put some focus into writing and gaining that back.
One of the greatest things the music has taught me is to how to keep going, how to keep on keeping on, so I continued forwards. The first poem that I wrote was about the accident.I thought releasing what was pent up inside of me from that would help. I called it “Accidental Damage” and this is what set me off on my journey of words, releasing through written works, which I found to be extremely beneficial. After the first handful of poems I decided that I would share a few of them with a close friend and their reaction boosted my confidence even more. Writing became a new release for me as well as the music; seeing how my words helped people was an amazing feeling. In 2012 I had my first hardback poetry book published, called “In Heart Mind & Soul.”
With the poetry getting a great response and having a lot of links with Reggae artists through working on the radio shows, I started trying my hand at writing songs, creating lyrics for a number of known and upcoming Reggae artists. All of this progression was helping to boost my confidence even more, helping I to focus not on the diagnosed PTSD but actually on pushing my life forward. Having something to concentrate on and give energy to is extremely helpful and rewarding in all aspects of life, almost like a good distraction, and all the positive works had started to attract more positive people into my life. Continuing with the positive movements with the radio shows and poetry I decided to get back into producing music and using the skills I had learned at college in the 90’s to mix and master audio.
Now in 2015 there is a lot of works in the pipeline in all of the natural therapies I have used to help me: the music, the writing and the positive works in general. I also think that staying real and true to a cause is very important. I feel that a lot of people seem to think being real means that we are negative but they are actually two different things. Being realistic is vital but remembering that everything is always possible, keeping our feet firmly on the ground and reaching way above the skies to achieve is actually easier than some of us think, especially when what we are doing comes from the heart and is driven by passion. The key is to not put limitations on ourselves. As a line from my poem “Open Doors” says “Aim too high as the sky is not the limit, expand your brain, no need for a permit.”
With that I have to conclude this real life story here by saying; Music, poetry and applying conscious livity in our lives can be very beneficial to us. Not only that but I feel that these activities also can help us to heal and overcome any given situation or life changing experience. I believe that everything is always possible, determination and hard work does count, as you only get out of what you put into but I have used music as a catalyst and everything else has been born from that. I have learned a lot in the last 10 years, grown a lot and I feel proud of the works that I have done and continue to do, uplifting myself and others has now become a huge part of my life and I hope that in sharing what I have been through here helps others to see this. Ok it’s not been easy, it has been rough and tough at times, nothing worth having ever comes easy, but I have come out a better, stronger person the other side.
Gav Pauze aka DJ Pauze
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