Help people living with spinal cord injury get the critical support they urgently need
Your monthly gift of £10 could:
- turn a life around with practical advice and a positive insight into life after injury from someone who’s been there
- connect people like Trish to essential spinal cord injury (SCI) support and services, helping them adapt to their new way of living
- provide a course of professional, peer-led counselling sessions for a person with SCI or their family
Be a life changer today
I’m Trish – mum, wife, and office manager. Swim fanatic turned shark fancier. Walker and wheelchair user.
I celebrated my 50th last year, and our silver wedding anniversary the year before. But what happened in between those milestones almost broke me.
Your regular gift of £10 could help people like Trish rebuild lives devastated by SCI.
I was just having a shower. Ours is one of those above the bath, and I was inching closer to the tap end so I could rinse my hair. Suddenly, my legs just went from under me and I collapsed onto the taps.
It took half an hour to get me out of the bath. I could walk a little, but my legs kept collapsing. Scared and desperate, we called an ambulance.
In hospital, x-rays showed a chip on my hip. Doctors treated me for the fall and sent me home. I could walk with crutches, but it was difficult and painful. I’d been diagnosed with osteo-arthritis 20 years ago, had spinal surgery in 2016 and numbness in my legs for 18 months or so before I fell in the bath. Now the numbness had risen up my legs to my torso.
Suddenly, someone must have listened or made the connection. Because the next thing I knew – I was being blue-lighted to hospital for emergency surgery on my spine. It was scary and surreal. Not knowing what was going on. Wondering why my local hospital couldn’t care for me.
When I came round, nurses were with me. I could tell they were touching my legs – but I couldn’t feel a thing. I was distraught. My whole world came crashing down.
I spent 10 weeks in hospital. By week 7, I’d hit my lowest of lows.
It was no-one’s fault, but they were so under-resourced and had such limited equipment. My wheelchair was too big and uncomfortable. My life seemed an endless round of hoists, bowel care, then lying in bed. And I just thought – if this is going to be my life now – what’s the point of being here? I messaged my husband to say ‘please stop messaging me – just forget about me’. It was my first rock bottom.
SCI can feel terribly isolating. And Covid made everything more difficult – no visitors, restricted rehab, resources diverted. I was one of the fortunate few referred to a specialist spinal injury centre for rehab. But I just wanted to get back home to my family, my life, and normality. Southport was the wrong direction – even further from home.
A watershed moment for me was a Zoom session arranged by SIA.
The host was a mum with a SCI like me, who’d gone back to work and was driving again. That gave me hope. I’ve been driving since I was 17. I kept thinking I’d never be able to drive again, but I didn’t want to voice the fear. I kept it to myself, so it seemed less real. Now, thanks to SIA, I suddenly realised ‘there are other ways I can do it’. It’s life-changing that sort of insight. Putting people into that positive mindset is priceless.
You could help turn a life around with practical advice and a positive insight into life after injury from someone who’s been there.
But when you first come home – and I was so desperate to come home – it’s a shock to find you come from one hell to another. You’re still stuck within four walls. They’re just your four walls now – and now you’re on your own. It takes a while to get your head round that too.
I’m not someone who thought I’d ever need support with my mental health. But the lows are low. It’s so important to talk.
SCI affects everyone – you, your partner, your family.
We’re all different – but we’ve all got something inside us that makes us who we are. I remember saying to myself – ‘Trish is still in there. It doesn’t matter about the bits you can’t do – focus on what you can do.’ Relationships change too – but you have to let them evolve to survive.
Before my injury, planning for day-to-day stuff and special events like holidays and birthdays kept me busy alongside work. But after an injury – everything becomes a challenge.
I remember saying to my husband, not long after I got home, ‘let’s pop out for a bit of fresh air’. But you don’t really ever just ‘pop out’ when you’re living with a SCI. Everything takes planning and coordination (although you can’t plan for everything; people parking on the pavement, for example). You get used to the mum mindset, packing everything for the children when they’re little. Now you all need to adjust to this totally new way of life.
Could you help families like Trish’s adapt to life with a spinal cord injury? Your gift could provide essential support and services during their rehab and when they’re back home.
Now I’m back at work, swimming every week and driving again. We’ve been on holiday, I’ve completed a 5K and even faced my fears to dive with sharks.
Whether you’re a walker with SCI like me, who uses a wheelchair, or you’re a full-time wheelchair user, there’s still so much we have to give and that we can still do. We can still enjoy life. I want to raise awareness to normalise SCI. We should be able to speak about every aspect of SCI life.
Please give a regular gift of £10 a month – or whatever you can – to help people like Trish get the support they urgently need when their world is turned upside down by SCI.
Be a life changer today.