Before my Spinal Cord Injury I worked as a builder for many years and had a very active lifestyle.  Surrounding my house are three mountains which I regularly walked and rode my mountain bike through.  In keeping with my love of the outdoors, I had just taken up paddle boarding which I really enjoyed. 

I was injured in 2021 when I fell down the stairs at home in the early hours of the morning and knew instantly I was in trouble.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get to the phone so it was 12 hours before the window cleaner thankfully heard me shouting for help and raised the alarm.  Those were the longest 12 hours of my life.

When I was told I had a C3 incomplete injury, I was determined to complete my rehab as quickly as possible and determined to get ‘better’.  Thankfully, the medical and rehab team in Cardiff Spinal Injury Centre supported me and didn’t confirm or deny the progress I might make.   It has been a slow process for me to accept what happened and how it has affected my life but I feel I am in a good place now and still making progress.

Nick walking with a crutch

My time in the centre seems like a dream and everything during that eight month period is a bit vague, although, I do remember my chats with Matthew, Aspire’s Independent Living Advisor.  I remember being on the corridor and he stopped me to say “hello” and introduced himself. After that he would come to see me each week and we talked about lots of different things. 

A big part of our chats was about self-care and he would share his experiences to show how things can be achieved.  He used to make me really laugh and was brilliant to talk to.

Matthew was able to refer me for advice from Aspire’s Welfare Benefits service, who I spoke to for a while.  They gave me good information and with help from them and my daughter, I was able to get all that sorted out which was a big relief. 

When I was injured the Covid restrictions affected family and friends visiting, which was very difficult.  Thankfully I was permitted to have one family member sit with me each day during meal time so my children were able to help me.  Having their support was so important, and this has continued since I was discharged. 

NIck surrounded by friends and family

I was really excited and looking forward to getting home but at first I didn’t like it; I felt very anxious and nervous.  It took time getting used to being at home and being on my own, but it helps that my son lives with me and is on hand to help when I need it.  My oldest daughter lives close by and visits every day; she helps with all my cleaning and food needs. My youngest daughter lives in Cheltenham so we get together less regularly, but having them all means everything to me.  My children found it really hard when I had my injury as they had only lost their mum, my wife, a few years previously.  It has been very hard on us all and we are still adapting to everything. 

18 months since my injury and I feel like things are settling down and I am getting used to things and continually adapting.  I still make improvements and take time to look at photographs and videos of my rehabilitation to appreciate how far I have come, I like to look at what I have achieved.

I was introduced to accessible cycling by one of the physiotherapists in the centre and am pleased to be taking delivery of my own trike in the next few weeks.  Having the opportunity to get out in nature and participate in a physical activity is something I worried I would never do again so it feels really positive and something I have to look forward to.

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