A lot of time has past since our last post.  (Thanks for all your email gently prodding me to write another update.)  The truth is that no news has been gloriously good news.  Typical summer, typical Halloween, typical Christmas—typical and happy doing everything a 10 (now 11) year old boy should be doing.


In school Lio is learning, maths remaining his strength and music remaining his pride.  Outside of school he’s playing with his friends and picking up a new instrument at every opportunity—trumpet is the latest addition to piano, guitar and singing.  Life is very good for him at the moment, if a bit manic for me:  I’m doing more at the University of Sussex.  Last term I had to cover as head of my subject area because of a colleague’s cancer recovery.  But more importantly, this spring I’m going to really push myself to make some headway on my next writing project, which is likely to be a book about being tall as told through the lens of all Lio’s leg operations.


Our big preoccupation at the moment is perfectly normal, something faced by most families:  the choice of a secondary school.  We’ve looked at just about every school within a 45-minute radius and Lio’s done some entrance exams for a few independent schools.  I’ve had countless meetings with head teachers and educational needs people.  I’ve been completely open and honest about the spells Lio is going to have to spend in a wheelchair in the future and the remaining speech and language issues (mostly reading comprehension).  Some of them have come back saying that they don’t think they’d be able to cater for Lio, which is absolutely fine.  We want to make sure we find the right situation for him—like with doctors, there is no abstract ‘best school’ out there.


While Lio’s doing more and more sport and pushing himself physically every week, it feels like his next round of leg lengthening is certainly nearer than his last one.  He really wanted to do a running race with his school last week.  I was in two minds, but he did it–and did it very respectably; however for the past three days he’s been limping around in real pain.  When he went into the garage last night to fish out his old crutches my heart sank.  I can’t and desperately don’t want to hold him back.  I want him to have as physical a childhood as he wants to have, but it still hurts to see him in pain, especially when we both remember how things were during the last bout of lengthening.  I’ve made a touch-base appointment with his brilliant physio here in Lewes and we’ll talk things over with his surgeon at Great Ormond Street when we next see him in a couple of months.


As his legs grow, so does he as a person.  Last month he decided he wanted to start reading After the Crash.  I had expected that he’d be curious about it when he was approaching adulthood (and I partly wrote it with a grown-up Lio in mind—as a kind of testament to some future Lio about how strong and courageous he’d been as a child), so I was a bit apprehensive about it in the hands of an 11-year-old Lio.  But like his running race, I decided to let him experiment with a bit more autonomy. Not far into it he started pulling our old photo albums down from the shelf and went off into a whirlwind of drawing based on the pictures of him in hospital, some with a remarkable depth of feeling and sensitity—particularly one of him hugging a young doctor at his leaving party.


I’m thinking about how to nurture and encourage this energy and creativity in the midst of all his homework and music practice.  I’m thinking maybe I should clear out the garage and put a few more tools and a workbench for him in there for some ambitious building projects; it would be another nice connection to things I did with my own father.


We’re off to the continent for some doctoring (and the to Italy for a few days) for Lio’s half-term holiday in a couple of weeks.  We haven’t been there since the summer and we both miss it.   Maybe we’ll get to play in a bit of snow on the Alps.  Lio had a fantastic time in the States for Christmas, with snow falling on Christmas Eve and lots of sledding and ice skating with his cousin Kevin.  He really is a creature of winter my Lio.  His sprinkle-covered birthday cake on December 26th was blue again, just like it was last year.


It’s possible that we’ll be back in the States again for Easter to coincide with the American release of After the Crash.  It all depends on what the publicist and distributor can arrange in terms of interviews.  They may decide that they want to do their blitz in May.  In any case, I fear that I’m going to have begin the social media bombardment again soon.  As you can imagine, I’m thrilled that it’s finally coming out in the US and am really looking forward to it reaching more people back home.


After the Crash has been doing fantastically in the UK.  It was my publisher’s best selling book in 2012 and has been in and out of Amazon.co.uk’s top 100 since it was published.  I’d be pleased beyond belief if it reached as many people in the US, but we’ll just have to wait and see.  I’m just glad that it’s out there.  Thanks again for all your warm wishes—they’ll always mean a lot to Lio and me.


18 Responses to “Typical”

  1. Melissa Lee says:

    Hi Martin, I can’t believe Lio is 11 already! When I look at his photos, I can still see his Mum in him so clearly. He seems to have inherited the best from you both, based on his many accomplishments. Best wishes, Melissa

  2. Janet Lee says:

    Nice Update on Lio! I am please to see how far he has come along and how you can see how much older he is getting. I can see him in you Martin – Like Father, Like Son. I am sure he has some qualities of his own mother as well inside his own heart as well. I am very happy to hear that your Book has finally made it to the shores of USA! Even though I do have your UK book which was a fabulous read. Currently I am dealing with a Medical Issues and having surgeries after surgeries. I often think how brave Lio was when he went through his own medical situation, his leg, everytime I have my surgery. I am due for #15th in a few weeks time, I had my #14 nearly 3 weeks ago. I am hoping that this will be the end of the road for me to be once finally free of pain for good. I wish the same for Lio when he gets his leg all set and taken care of when he reaches of age as well. My puppy Seamus Lio MacTavish (almost 9 months)- Yes the middle name is after your son Lio because of his bravery and I wanted a strong name for my dog after my other one passed away last year at such a young age. Plus I thought the name sounded so fitting for the dog and his personality, he is full of life and energy! Keeps me on my toes all the time! lol Anyway, wishing you all the best and Good luck w/ your launching of the book in US. Take Care! all the way from a Cold Michigan! Brrrr….Brrrrr……

  3. Helen Abbotts says:

    I think Sasha would be really proud of you both. Good luck with secondary schools, your book in the US and SATs. All will fall into place, as these things do. Like you say they are the ‘normal’ stresses. Georgia my 15 yr old is facing struggles with GCSE year, finding a work experience placement etc. All much the same sort of thing. From reading your book I’m sure you will trust your instinct about the right school. It is clear that Lio has great strength and resilience. It is equally clear that you have the same. As a parent, managing all that must be very hard, albeit for a positive outcome, so I wish you both the best for the next round of surgery.

  4. Lucy Killian says:

    Lovely to hear you are both doing so well!

  5. Rosemary says:

    Just read you book. You are an amazing Dad. and Lio is responding to your love and attention.

  6. Margaret Steel says:

    Hi Martin, Am just on with reading the book..I had not seen or heard about it until i was in my local supermarket and the book seemed to leap out at me. I find it very moving, inspiring but, most of all ,heartfelt.

    The book then, naturally , led me to look on this blog. Its great to see Lio is flourishing under your guidance, and is growing into a proper young man.All credit to you and your perseverence and vision.

    Keep up the good work and good luck to Lio.

    Margaret Steel

  7. Morna Watson says:

    Just read your article in The Huffington Post, Martin. I was so moved by your story that I googled you and found Lio’s blog. I can’t wait to read your book, it sounds inspirational. Thank you for sharing the life that you and Lio are experiencing – both the miraculous and the mundane. I wish you much joy in the years to come and will add my prayers (envisioning a successful outcome from the next round of surgeries) to those of all your wellwishers. You are a Star, Lio!

  8. Deborah Finck says:

    Thank you for the article I’ve just read on AOL. In a media forum such as AOL, unbelievably tragic stories are daily fare, and if they aren’t tragic enough, they are sensationalized to draw the click. Within seconds of beginning your story, I knew I would read every word, and then find out more. My own life, raising a son with profound autism, has been enriched–I am grateful.
    Now I’m off to Amazon to buy the book! Blessings to you and your incredible boy!

  9. chris damico says:

    watched your interview on aol news. I totally understand what you have been through . my daughter at 16 was in a car accident. she was in a coma for a month . the day of her accident I was told she would not make it very long. she was unrecognizable to look at. she made it through the night , then I was told she would not make it through the day . she did. a week later a neurologist told me her tests showed sever brain damage and she would probably be a vegetable the rest of her life and we should think about taking her off life support. I was by her side almost 24/7 I talked to her played music for her. asked her to squeeze my hand . I got a very slight hand movement once every 1000 times I asked her. the doctors all told me it was involuntary movement , but as her father I knew different . well she was moved still in a coma state to a rehab of our choice In Philadelphia shortly after she started to wake up and then show some recognition to her family members. the short of it is . we were told many times along the way that she would not make it. and many do not . many kids in the hospital did not make it that came in better shape than my daughter. she made it through many obstacles that we were told would happen. well the accident was 9 years ago .my daughter has an apartment in Philly and has completed schooling . she drives and leads a most normal life of volunteer work . she does have some slight residual effects from her accident but for the most part my daughter is a walking talking miracle and no one can ever tell me different.. she went back 6 months after the accident to see the doctors that had worked on her at that first hospital and the two doctors were in an office talking when we walked in . and you would have thought they saw a ghost . they said that it really cant be explained . the story has many many more details to it but I mainly just wanted to share something that I really haven’t been able to share with anyone who has been through the same. I dont think there are that many of us. my daughter has been taking writing lessons and is trying to complete her story from her view. its been 4 or 5 years going. I hope she finishes it. one last thing , my mothers side of the family . their name is Spinale , very interesting to me. .

  10. Kathy Smarslok says:

    Martin, I am certain your Mom is very proud of you and your Dad would be as well. I am so happy that Lio is doing so well, and certain that it had a lot to do with you and your attitude, attentiveness and love. Lio sounds like an amazing child that would make you proud of his achievements. I am about 2/3 of the way into the book and enjoying it immensely. You are a wonderful writer and I have told many of my friend to read your book. Everyone in my family as read the book as well. I wish you much success with your future writings as well as with Lio’s progress. Lio will be in my prayers. BTW is Lio a swimmer like you and your brothers were. I remember the days of swim team for you and my boys. Best wishes, Kathy Smarslok

  11. Gerry Kearney says:

    I actually ordered your Kindle edition accidentally when I was ordering a book recounting the death of a couple’s three daughters in a car accident. However, as I began reading your book, I became quickly caught up in the love story between you and Sasha, the horrendous accident, and your beautiful son’s courageous battle to recapture his Lio-ness that was nearly destroyed. Sasha’s spirit is certainly a virtual presence in her son’s life. My own father, who was struck by a car, was left with a devastating traumatic brain injury from which he never recovered and, though he didn’t die in the accident, in effect the person who he was did in fact leave us. I could not put your book until 2:00 am, as I followed your incredible journey. I was so moved that I had to follow up the book by reading your blog. Count me as another New Jersey fan.

  12. Noelle Morris says:

    Hi, I’ve just finished reading ‘After the Crash’, and was very moved by it. I hope Lio is doing well, and wish him all the best for his future leg operations. My thoughts and prayers are with you both, with love and best wishes, Noelle Morris

  13. Pat Fernandes says:

    I have just finished “after the Crash & your story will stay with me forever. I am 67 years of age which i have only reached with the grace of a miracle when i was 2years old. My own doctors I am told readily said “I am a man of science but I have just witnessed a miracle”. May you and Lio continue to grow together. Love from a very hot (unusual) July in the north of England. God bless xxx

  14. Denise Kaminskas says:

    Hello from Connecticut! I just finished reading your book this evening. I ordered it from Amazon after reading an excerpt on AOL. I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end. I’m so happy for you both that Lio’s recovery has come so far. I pray that Lio’s leg will someday soon be healed for good and no further surgeries will be necessary. Lio is truly an amazing child and you are truly an amazing father. I am so sorry for the loss you both suffered, and I find it truly beautiful how you continue to honor the memory of your departed wife. I wish you both a lifetime of good health and happiness.

  15. Shannon says:

    Hello I’m from northern Ireland and just wanted to say that I received your book as a gift for my birthday and after reading I have found it truly inspiring. Lio is such an amazing child, so much stronger than I could have ever been and I’m so happy that he is doing well. I also have so much respect for you in everything that you and lio have achieved. I wish you the very best, will include you in my prayers and hope to continue following your story. Xx

  16. Frances Lee says:


    I’ve just finished reading your book! I admire you so much for putting Lio and his needs before your own for so long. Women often do this but I don’t think many men take up the challenge for such a long time as you have done! Well done! I wish you well in your own career now that you have more time!

    I do think that the disadvantage to being highly intelligent is seeing intelligence as the holy grail in life and only valuing those who have it! I’m hoping that this experience has enabled you to see that it’s a useful tool which your lucky to have but it’s not the be all and end all. When your back is against the wall and you need help it’s often those who have less to give intellectually who give so much physically and emotionally whilst those who are so clever won’t find a space in their life to give you the necessary physical and emotional help!

    Surely God will be more impressed by the love and help we give to others than by the number of exams we pass! Love and light xx

  17. vi donnelly says:


    Just popped onto your page for an update and it was very uplifting. Seeing Lio’s pictures was an inspiration and especially loved the one with the birthday cake. What wee boy can resist the icing (tell tale signs round the mouth!) Wishing you both all the very best.

  18. Jo Third says:

    Hello again Martin. Just keeping tabs on yours and Lio’s progress. I watched your television interview today, feeling just a tad disappointed that you weren’t given longer to tell more of your story as it’s so inspirational and so heart warming. You and Lio continue to amaze and delight – the way your face lights up when you mention Sasha’s name and when you talk about Lio’s challenges is absolutely wonderful to see, and Lio too, his obvious beautiful demeanour and his (many times proven) strength of character is written all over him! I am so delighted to be able to accompany you both (in a small way) on your continuing journey l and I wish you well with your choice of secondary school. Best wishes again from an ardent fan.

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