Teleflex for active living: people up close – Reda
Improving people’s quality of life and health is the central theme of our Teleflex Urology Care business unit. For many years now, Teleflex Urology Care has supported events and sponsorship activities with its “Teleflex for active living” initiative, where we interact with users of our products. With our new series “Teleflex for active living: people up close”, we aim to introduce you to some truly impressive individuals from different countries. Today, we’re talking to Reda from The Netherlands.
Reda Haouam (37) is captain of the Dutch wheelchair rugby team and also runs a company; his company T-WREX is the result of his passion for wheelchair rugby and his ambition to inspire people with and without disabilities in an innovative way. Twenty years ago he suffered a spinal cord injury; he dived from a jetty into the sea and broke his neck. In 2019, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had a kidney removed, then started self-catheterisation to spare his remaining kidney.
What is your everyday life like, both at work and in private? What is your experience with intermittent catheterisation?
I do a lot of different things. No two days are the same, although I do have a certain routine. Routine is shaped by my sport. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I do strength training. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I train with my club, the Amsterdam Terminators. And two weekends a month I have a training weekend with the Dutch national team. Two afternoons a week I am at the Reade rehabilitation centre in Amsterdam as an expert by experience.
I also have my own company, I am an importer of rugby wheelchairs, I give workshops and guest lessons in the field of wheelchair rugby. So I’m on the road a lot, always on the move. I catheterise in the morning and evening, so twice a day and it is part of my morning and evening routine. During the day I use a condom catheter.
Let’s get a bit more in-depth: What’s your story to share with our readers today? Please tell us about your journey and what makes it special. Tell us about some of the extraordinary moments that you have experienced.
I used to not know what I wanted to do with my life. I have a Moroccan background, I come from an immigrant family, a family of guest workers. Work ethic is very important to us, we were taught to do your best. Do your best at school, get good grades, get a good job, earn a lot of money. I didn’t really know what I wanted, so was guided by the choice of ‘where can I make money?’. Without having any real passion for it, I studied Business Logistics because I thought it offered job prospects. I did my graduation internship at the Nike headquarters, which gave me more direction. But logistics didn’t inspire me. I eventually ended up at a company in asphalt logistics. I didn’t really care about asphalt, but it paid well and I had 40 days off a year, I got a car and it allowed me to do the things I like. After three years my contract was not renewed and I was so relieved, because it wasn’t the right place for me.
I eventually started my own company. I thought if it doesn’t work out, I can always look for an office job. During my rehabilitation I have always looked at my options. See what you can do. I discovered in my rehabilitation that if I just do my best, I will fail 3 times and the fourth time I usually succeed. Don’t give up too quickly.
It is not easy to be an entrepreneur, to do it on your own, to also have your disability, to live on your own (I don’t have a partner/family), and have a top sports career. So I keep a lot of balls in the air. I have come to the conclusion that I have a beautiful and special life, which not many people have and I am very grateful for that. That spinal cord injury has also brought me a lot of good. That put me on this path. With T-WREX we provide wheelchair rugby workshops to companies. It is a total wheelchair experience. I am telling my own story here, this is who I am, this is how I came into contact with the sport. And this is what the sport means to me. It’s mainly playing, I don’t want to attach too much meaning to it. Discovery came naturally through experiencing it. Participants can play wheelchair rugby themselves and experience what it is like; thinking in possibilities again.
What is your biggest challenge in everyday life and what would you say is the greatest opportunity? How do you get motivated or inspire others?
My biggest challenge in daily life is to maintain balance. I like too many things, ask a lot of myself, rarely say no. That’s not because I can’t say no, but because I like doing things. Sometimes I should just say no, because I can’t fit it in, I need to get some rest. I often forget to plan my vacation. My biggest opportunity is my company, there is a lot of inspiration and satisfaction in it.
In terms of motivation, I always look at; what else can I do? I try to put as little energy into things that I have no control over. What can I still do, no matter how small it is. The key is to keep it very small, small and manageable. A teacher once said – we are not here to inspire people to do things, but to have them actually doing things. And I also use that in my workshops. Take people along with your story and in the wheelchair and let them experience it.
Looking back, what are you most proud of having done? And why?
I am very proud that I have created a life for myself, where I can pursue my passion every day and that is wheelchair rugby.
My sporting achievements contribute a lot to this, for example looking at a sporting moment from my career. I think the semi-final in the B Division against Russia in 2018 is the highlight of my career. We had a very difficult time in this match. Through a certain action I managed to change things. We ultimately won that match. Because we won that match, the relief was so immense we had so much confidence in the final, and we won that final with great ease. That was actually our return to the top 6 countries in Europe. A year earlier we were still at the bottom of the world rankings. At that moment, that match ensured that we are now a real team again.
You use intermittent single-use catheters to empty your bladder – which product do you use and why?
I use the Liquick X-treme Plus because it is a nice catheter to use. At the spinal cord injury centre I first received the Liquick X-treme, so without a urine bag. When I had to start catheterisation, this was the best catheter. I have tried almost all other brands. And now I use the Liquick X-treme Plus, because the urine bag is attached to it.
What are your wishes for the future?
Participating in the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris with the Dutch Roller Coaster Rugby team and being able to make a living entirely from my company as a full-time job. And after my sports career as an athlete, I hope to pursue a career as a coach.
Do you have any tips for everyday life, work, travel and leisure with respect to intermittent catheterisation?
Not really practical tips, but make sure that intermittent catheterisation becomes a routine in your daily life.
Do you have any personal closing words for our readers?
There are two things that I would like to repeat and that come back time and time again in my life, my sport and my work:
Thinking in possibilities.
Don’t just inspire people, get them doing things themselves.
Reda, many thanks for these interesting insights, and all the best for the future.
The provided product information is the personal opinion of the interviewed person and is not a substitute for the product instructions for use. Please always contact your doctor when you have medical problems.