People have said that my positive outlook and stubbornness got me through; my own thinking is that being a little thick and not being able to comprehend the seriousness of the injuries had just as much to do with it!  In those first few weeks I was convinced that I would recover totally and be able to look back on that period in hospital with my injuries no longer a problem.  I've since had to change my opinion.

My spinal injury is high-level but incomplete and, as such, I have been able to recover the use of my legs.  Even so, the injury has still had a huge impact because although my legs have recovered enough to be functional, my upper body, arms and hands are still significantly weaker.

Stubbornness got me through

I am an advocate of goal planning.  I have always liked to have a target to aim for, and it's something that I've always done, particularly in my professional life.  So I related that to what I was facing after my injury.  I work with short, medium and long-term goals; regardless of the time frame, if you've set a target you have to be positive if you are going to get there, you can't be flippant.  Right from when I was first injured I was seeing progress towards and beyond the goals that I was setting, and the satisfaction from that helps push you on.Andrew jogging by a wallI'd love to run a marathon, but a goal like that would do me more harm than good.  So you look at things realistically and you readjust your sights.  I do run and I completed a 10km race, although I wouldn't call it running, more like a fast shuffle - it was still rewarding and I didn't come last!  Most of my goals are about achieving normality, but there are times you have to accept getting as close as you can.  You compromise, you change what is normal.

Inevitably, you start to plateau in your progress at some point.  It doesn't mean that you give in, though.  So I still get frustrated and angry at not being able to complete the simplest of tasks but I've become rather adept at problem solving and finding other ways to do things.  I've had to come to terms with the conflicts of everyday life, such as choosing between my work as a police officer and the need to look after myself.  It's a balancing act, reducing my work hours, going to the gym every day to keep myself fit and mobile, allowing for the effects of medication.  Ultimately, those daily acts and efforts lead to the long term goal of living a good quality life.

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