The day that changed my family’s life:
“I’ll never forget the knock at the door at 9am on the 28 December. There were two police officers asking to come in. I’ll never forget them telling me that my wife had been involved in an accident and it was serious and she had been flown to hospital in the air ambulance.
Since that time my mind has been a roller coaster of emotions from guilt (I should have been driving), to joy that she is still with us. The surgeon explained to us that my wife had a complete lesion of the spinal cord at T4 level.
It meant nothing to me at first, until he explained it was permanent and she would never walk again.
My wife was then put on the waiting list for a bed in the spinal cord injury centre. We were told that it would be the place where she would learn to cope with her mobility issues and other things. This took six weeks altogether with her spending three weeks in an Exeter hospital and three in Barnstaple. During this time I was travelling as many times as I could during the week to visit her in Exeter. Then at weekends I was taking the children Tom 8, and Andrew 4, by train, staying in hotels for the weekend, so we could spend as much time as we could with her. The hospitals in Exeter and Barnstaple were brilliant allowing us to visit at anytime. But, obviously, the boys get bored very quickly, which upsets us both as we have to make the visits shorter than we would like.
During this time, I was constantly looking for information on the rehabilitation centre where my wife would be going. As it was a three-hour drive away we couldn’t just pop in to see where she was going.
We run our own business so trying to juggle visiting, with looking after the children and running the business was, and still is, a big strain on me.
My wife was eventually moved to the nearest spinal cord injury centre, which we thought was going to be the next step towards coming home, but sadly it was not to be. We felt as if we had gone back four weeks as she was put back on bed rest for three days, for no apparent reason.
Being so far from home and having no visitors all week, my wife felt that she was being punished. This made me feel useless and that I was not able to help my wonderful wife in her time of need.
Eventually, we persuaded the rehabilitation team that it would be best for my wife to be moved back to Barnstaple Hospital to continue her rehabilitation there with a care and rehab package arranged and supervised by the SCI Centre. My wife has now started to come out for the day or for an evening so, fingers crossed, we can hopefully get back to being our own little family again as I miss it so much.”
“In the early days after my son’s accident, I really didn’t have much time to think about anything. I decided to stay near the hospital and my husband took compassionate leave in order to look after our other children.
Looking back on those days I remember feeling extremely low and very tearful, but things have moved on so much now.
“I just wish I could have known what the future would be like for my son. He has achieved so much despite everything.
He is going to live with us for the first six months, but then he is hoping to get his own flat and get a job working with computers. I thought his life would stop and I felt so fearful for him, but he seems to have so much energy and drive.”
“When I got the call telling me that my daughter had broken her neck in an accident, the first thing I felt was terrible grief and disbelief. She had been in the sea when a wave hit her, sending her crashing into a sandbank which broke her neck. She had severed her spinal cord completely at level C5/6. She then came back to the family home for two and a half years.
“We had been told by another SCI person at the time that it would have been better for her to go into a semi-independent home, but she is our child and we wanted to pick up the pieces. It did have an impact on the family, particularly my younger daughter who could see the effect it was having on me and my husband. My husband was very angry about what had happened and didn’t realise he was taking it out on our daughter until I pointed it out to him.
“It is very emotional to think of what she could have done if this hadn’t happened, as she had the world at her feet. However, I also think of all the things she does now (like skiing) that she would never have done before. She now works as a Freelance Interpreter and does private French, Spanish and German tuition. She got married 18 months ago and is expecting her first baby.
“I think the most important advice I could give is to stay positive and keep focused even if you don’t feel like it.”
Reading stories about other people’s achievements and triumphs can be inspirational to us all. Here are some you might enjoy…
|A Matter of Courage by Joann Hakala,
Published by Beaver’s Pond Press (Feb 2004)
The story of one man’s determination and one family’s commitment
|Looking Up by Tim Rushby-Smith
Published by Virgin Books, April 2008. ISBN-10: 0753513862, ISBN-13: 978-0753513866
“This book is a must for anyone who has a friend who has suffered a spinal injury caused by an accident as it helps get into the new world which has been forced upon them and answers questions you would probably be too embarrassed to ask! Above all it reiterates that they are still the same person!”
Walking on Water: A Voyage round Britain and Through Life by Geoff Holt
“This is a true story of how one man overcomes adversity following a swimming accident which leaves him paralysed. He then goes onto achieve more than most do in a life time, but not just for himself – he contributes hugely to improving the lives of others”.
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