Up until the time my son had his accident, I'd probably only ever had ten days off work sick.  But this was important and I took 12 weeks off straight away.  Iain needed support at home once he was discharged.  We didn't get much help and so my wife, Anne, ended up quitting her job to become his full-time carer; she'd been a swimming teacher and although it didn't bring in much money, it was a job she loved.  Ideally, she'd have worked part-time but job sharing wasn't really done much in those days and the Local Authority turned that down.  She felt she couldn't support Iain and do justice to her job full time and so she didn't really have a choice.  I felt resentment - not towards Iain of course, but with the attitude of the Local Authority.  Anne missed her job but where she could have spent months brooding about it, she just got on with things.

Everyone copes in their own way

Iain and I had always sparked off each other and, before his accident, we used to have tremendous rows.  When he was in hospital, I felt very protective of him and, actually, I felt very proud of how he dealt and coped with his weeks on bed rest and then the rehab.  Then he came home and the situation went back to normal; as I've heard many people say, 'I may be paraplegic now, but I'm still the same person.'  In Iain's case, that same person was someone I sparked with!  His injury certainly didn't have a deteriorating effect on our relationship - it's never taken much for us to have words, and that didn't change.  What did change was that Anne used to point out that some of our rows probably started because of Iain's situation, and the frustrations that he was feeling.  Her clear-sighted approach, and her perception, meant that I learnt to react less and less, which meant Iain reacted less and less.  He's a different guy now, of course, and so am I; we've both matured over the years and we check ourselves when we're getting irritated and don't actually have those rows anymore.

Since Anne died, Iain is more supportive of me now than I am of him.  I'm on the blind register, so have practical difficulties with some things.  My main problem is being able to read things that are sent to me, so Iain and my other son are there to assist.

A few years ago in the press there was a story of a young lad who couldn't face life and, with the support of his parents, went to Dignitas.  He'd been injured for less than two years.  I felt then, and still feel now, that was far too soon.  People need to be aware that it can take time for things to settle down and adjust.  It's not always easy; Iain used to spend a lot of time in the pub when he first came out of hospital, and occasionally he'd have too much to drink.  We appreciated why he was going out and wanted to do that, and that it might not be healthy, but everyone copes in their own way.  In time, and with support, that eased off.  You have to ride that difficult period for a time.  I can't answer for that young lad or his parents, I wasn't there, but I do know that adjusting can take a while and that you should never make hasty decisions.

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