One year.

Before we begin, this post was meant to go up yesterday (July 29th) but quite simply I didn’t know what to say. Rather than worrying about that, Sarah Amelia and I went to my mum’s house for a party of sorts, just a little gathering with family and a few friends to commemorate the day. It was exactly what I needed; just a nice afternoon with a few drinks, a lot of laughs, and making new memories to associate with the day. My sister Ciara made me one of the most incredible gifts I’ve ever had, which is a scrapbook full of photographs and messages from friends and family. I’m not going to share that on here as it is deeply personal, but I want to say a huge thank you to Ciara and everyone who was involved.

Well, that’s it. One year to the day that my entire world changed. One year since I almost died, but didn’t. One year since I became paralysed, but managed to keep pushing forward. All in all, it’s been one hell of a year.

I don’t really have a great deal to say, well at least nothing that I’ve not said before. There have been ups and downs, plenty of both in fact, but at the end of the day I’m just happy to be alive and well enough to spend every day with the people I love. I have lost people along the way, grown distant from people I’ve known forever, and have felt let down by people I didn’t expect it from. In a polar opposite to that I’ve met some incredible people I will now consider lifelong friends, reconnected with people and bonded through our respective journeys, and realised who and what is actually important in life.

By far this was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me; let’s be honest, nobody wants to become a paraplegic at the age of 21. That said, this life I find myself living is much better than the alternative of having no life to live at all. And so, with the negativity out of the way, I’d like to go forward with this post focusing on positives.

Obviously I’ve said thank you to everyone I can as many times as I can, but if we’re going to look at positives then I need to look at the positive impact the people at the start have had on me. From the incredibly kind lady (Trisha) that was in the car behind me who stopped to help, to the firefighters immediately on scene and the ambulance crew, to the doctors and nurses that kept me alive and well enough to get me to a place I can begin my rehab… there are plenty of people who were absolutely vital in those first few days and weeks. My bosses from HM Coastguard Steve and Steve were there immediately, and I will never be able to repay them for that. My mum and Sarah were in the hospital, so A) I’m sorry and B) thank you. My dad and step-mum shaz were on holiday, so sorry for spoiling that (and your birthday, thank god you’re 50 again this year). There was an overwhelming amount of support I received, most of which I have covered in previous posts, and if I said everything this post would be far too long, so here’s just a few more people: Leanne, for organising the crowd funding that allowed us to turn what was a shell into a home we now love. The Coastguard Association for again helping us financially during the initial weeks. Jonny, Corey, Isaac, and the rest of my mates that came through to see me and keep me company playing poker. My step-dad Jon, not only for supporting my mum, but for all the comforting words and doing whatever you could to help. Debi, Eileen, Amy, Di, Caroline… there were so many staff that were either directly or indirectly involved in my care but took the time to come and see me just to check I’m okay. All of the people mentioned here, and so many more, have been instrumental in my recovery, and even though it doesn’t begin to cover it, thank you.

As part of my journey I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my time in hospital, and there was definitely a lot to think about. That said, there were some stand out moments, and I’d like to share a few that I’ve already probably mentioned… Irene and her lovely dog Poppy coming to visit me first in HDU (as well as all my other furry friends I’ve made along the way), meeting my now very good friend Ify, Lots and lots of moments from the physio gym, once again the list is too long to write everything down. The point of this though is that although the hospital experience as a whole is not necessarily a positive thing, it’s important to remember that there is always something positive to bring away from an experience, and thankfully I had many positives. I made some great friends, developed great relationships with many of the staff, and with some of the opportunities I have had/ I am going to have I will hopefully be able to make a positive difference for future patients. Since leaving hospital I have continued to meet people (despite covid ruining everyone’s plans) and I have made so many improvements.

Although it is one year to the day of my crash, in reality it is one year since my recovery began and that is the important bit. Sarah Amelia and I have had to rebuild our lives, and this one year mark is a significant point in that, as one year ago everything changed. Not for the better by any means, but not necessarily for the worse. Life is certainly more complicated now, and lots of things are more difficult, but as our experience grows so does our knowledge of how to make life easier, and more importantly how to make it better. I have a brilliant trainer in Alex from Peak Potential, who pushes me to be the best I can in everything I do, and then pushes some more. I have my mum and dad, and of course Jon and Shaz, who are always there for me and do everything they can to help and make sure that our lives are as close to normal as possible. I have some great friends who, same as before my crash, are so accommodating and go out of their way to see us in our home so life is easier… what more could I ask for?

Well, one thing I did ask is for Sarah to marry me, to which she thankfully said yes on christmas morning. I couldn’t get by day to day without her; she is my rock when I need support, my stick when i need prodding to get moving, and the hand that sometimes very literally drags me up when I am down. Going through what we have this past year really makes you think about what, and who, is important in life. It may sound clichĂ©, but life really is too short to sweat the small stuff. We may not have the biggest house, or the fanciest things, but we have happiness in our lives. As such, we recently decided on a date, and we are getting married next year! I think I speak on behalf of us both when I say we can’t wait to share this day with those that matter the most to us but more importantly, we can’t wait for this new chapter of our lives together.

On that note I am ending this post, and I will be back on your web browser soon with an update on some exciting things heading our way. Until then, take care folks!

One year on, one year stronger

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