My View, Ben Parkinson: Treatment under pressure

Doncaster war hero Ben Parkinson practises his chess while receiving his treatment in Edinburgh
Doncaster war hero Ben Parkinson practises his chess while receiving his treatment in Edinburgh

I am now in Edinburgh and have started my HBOT – hyperbaric oxygen therapy – treatment. There is thick snow up here and the temperature has gone from -12C to a warm 4C.

I have come up with my music therapy, my brain training and loads of games to help my coordination.

And I have also brought two pairs of legs up here with me – not many people can say that!

There are five of us altogether up here.

There is me with my mum and dad, and Royal Marine Steve with his mum.

We are staying in a lodge house and it was so cold that there was ice inside the windows. However, now we have got it really warm and comfy.

The treatment takes place in a huge metal cylinder which is just like an empty submarine, with masks along the walls.

There are no windows in it – there are just benches to sit on inside.

Our cylinder is 30 years old and was first used to help build the Thames barrier.

You sit in, and the door is sealed.

Then you hear hissing as the oxygen rushes in. Your ears pop, and if you have got cold ears it is very painful.

After you have been inside for about 15 minutes, it reaches pressure and you put the mask on.

You breathe high pressure pure oxygen for one hour and then the pressure is released.

My mum says it is just like opening a massive pressure cooker.

It makes you very hungry and sleepy.

But that is good news, because it is your body going into repair mode.

After two days, the swelling in my leg had gone down and I was walking on a treadmill.

My scars are starting to soften – and I have got lots of those to work on!

Now is the exciting time.

I have had five sessions and nerves start to regrow after five to 10 sessions.

I am doing loads of physio and brain training.

And I am playing old fashioned games like Connect Four, Perfection, Battleships.

The idea is to work on our concentration and planning skills.

I am even playing chess with a marine, so something must be working.

Next week, we start daily swimming sessions in a local pool.

I used to swim like a fish, but the missing legs mean that I tend to turn upside down due to buoyancy – and that is never a good idea.

Three more weeks to go, so more soon.

n Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who has been described as the British Army’s most injured survivor of the Afghanistan conflict, is having hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It involves two hours a day in a diving chamber. The chamber is filled with high pressure oxygen, which is known to help with breaks and soft tissue injuries.