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Slough businessman discovers passion for poetry after recovery from spinal condition

A businessman from Slough has spoken of how he bounced back and developed a new love for poetry after recovering from a spinal condition which left him weak and struggling to function.

Around March 2017, Rafiq Chohan, chairman of the Slough Business and Community Partnership, started experiencing increasing spells of dizziness.

He went to his doctor, who said he urgently needed a scan as the discs in his neck were deteriorating.

While waiting for his scan, he says he felt considerably better while doing neck exercises and stretches which freed up tension.

“All of a sudden I felt as though something clocked in me, I just felt aligned with the world. I started writing poems – I wrote about 300 poems in two months. Just all of a sudden the world was just so beautiful, it was almost as though I was on drugs or something.”

The business adviser believes this transformation could have something to do with relieving tension in his spine, which is connected to the brain, but accepts a lack of scientific evidence to support this.

This bright spell ceased around December 2017 when Rafiq found himself feeling like he had lost his ‘zest for life’ and felt ‘a strong urge not to do anything’.

He says he started losing strength in his arms and legs and broke down crying in front of his wife and son when he found himself struggling to lift a glass of water.

The 63-year-old dropped out of the annual Slough Business Awards, stopped working with the Slough Business and Community Partnership and dissolved his company.

“I couldn’t use a keyboard, I couldn’t pick up a cup of tea. My legs could barely walk,” he added.

The father-of-four was given an urgent referral to a neurosurgeon in June last year, having been told his spine was being crushed by the ligaments in his spinal column.

Faced with the choice of becoming wheelchair bound and incontinent, Rafiq took a chance and went ahead with an eight-hour operation at the Oxford Clinic for Orthopaedics.

The arch of his vertebrae was cut in order to widen his spinal column and 14 screws and rods were put in his neck to hold everything in place.

Although Rafiq will never be able to play football again, he has regained his mobility and is back in business, having set up a 2dotzero1, a business and economic development consultancy service.

He has done work for the Pakistan Welfare Association and is getting involved again with the Slough Business Community Partnership.

Rafiq, who never wrote poetry before his ordeal, is continuing to express himself through the spoken word. He added: “I don’t know if my poetry is any good, I don’t know if Shakespeare has got anything to worry about.”

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