Following spinal surgery previously in 2018 my mobility slowly began to deteriorate, leading to more surgery in June 2022 to alleviate the pain and free up space in my spinal cord. However, there were complications following the surgery and it was a huge shock when I awoke from a second emergency surgery to find out I was paralysed from the chest down. 

Head and shoulders photo of John

The six months I spent in hospitals were extremely difficult and the enormity of what had happened affected all aspects of my life. When I moved to Musgrave Spinal Injury Centre the care I received from the nurses there was amazing; they are fantastic at their jobs, great people working in very difficult circumstances. The physio team were also very helpful and their knowledge, expertise and kindness gave me hope that I could recover while also giving me the confidence to be as independent as I could be, given my limitations. 

All through this traumatic time I received massive love and support from my wife Mariea and two daughters Cara and Meaghan as we try to build as normal a life as possible. Even my granddaughter, who is only three, helps out and keeps me going too in her own way.

My spinal cord injury has not only affected me but their lives too, as my care needs suddenly became much more intense and they had to adapt and change to help and support me.

I am fortunate to have some very good friends that are supportive and will contact me to catch up and socialise but, also give me space when I need it.

John with his wife

I first met Alan, an Aspire Independent Living Advisor, during one of his weekly visits to the rehab centre.  He introduced himself and explained his role and the various services Aspire offers.  He also gave me details of other services and charities he thought might be of use to me. During our many conversations we discussed lots of topics, such as home life, family, wheelchairs, our injuries, therapy and the different support that is available.

Alan’s referral to Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice service was a huge help as I was able to get some expert advice on completing my PIP review application. Colleen and Michelle were brilliant and so knowledgeable; they provided essential advice and guidance to successfully complete the review application for PIP.  Anyone completing these forms knows how stressful it can be, so their help was really appreciated.

I feel if I hadn’t met Alan life would have been much more difficult.  Talking to Alan has been very helpful and a great benefit to me as a new wheelchair user.

As well as the referral to the Welfare Benefits Advice service, Alan also suggested joining the mentor programme Back Up runs, which I did and it offers great support.  

It has been hard since returning home but I am slowly adapting to my new life and getting more confident. I am working on increasing my independence and feel it would have been so much harder without Aspire’s assistance.  I would like to thank Alan for being there and for all his help as well as our weekly chats.

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