Last year I broke my neck in a mega way and became tetraplegic… complete!  I fell off a little paddle boat and landed on my neck. 

I was taken to King’s College Hospital where I was in Critical Care for three months, and then I was transferred to the Spinal Injury Centre at Stoke Mandeville.

It was there where I was referred to Aspire’s Assistive Technologist, Alison. My life had always involved writing and lecturing so electronic resources were something that I would need, almost as an extension of me. 

Alison did a whole host of things but what was most important was that she understood that my disinterest in technology would pass as I became I stronger, her sense of timing meant she knew when that would be.  Her expertise was really very precious.

When I was at Kings College staff had recommended that I get an iPad but I hadn’t got a clue how to use it and I thought it a frustrating and expensive waste of time. Alison introduced me to many things, such as a little button on the iPad which meant that I could always get myself ‘home’ and meant that I didn’t get lost in all the fantasmagorical things that the iPad can do. She also gave me a Flic Switch which I press as an easy way for me to wake up my phone so it’s ready for me to use.

Alison would be absolutely delighted to see me in my room now!  I have an electric desk which rises and falls to accommodate my wheelchair. I don’t just have an iPad but also a laptop and I have been able to go back to being Company Secretary for a small charity. After my injury I didn’t think I’d be able to go back to this, but I’ve just produced my first set of minutes, and it brought huge joy to the other trustees to have me back.

Ann in her wheelchair at her desk using a computer

I now have my old laptop with me, and I can even now use the Trackpad with quite a lot of accuracy. I use voice control for dictation but I also have a little splint that Alison got for me so I can resume my two finger typing but my hands do get painful and easily tired.  I’ve come to realise that my stamina isn’t what it used to be, but my progress continues.

When I was discharged from Stoke Mandeville I moved to the British Home in South London. Here I am able to get physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Even more importantly, here in Streatham I am close to my wife and to friends. I can visit home regularly as well as go to my lovely church, St. Leonards.

It was good to find out about Aspire, including the legal sides of things from Aspire Law, who were our first contact with Aspire.  Those visits from Aspire solicitors, in the very early days were very positive and encouraging. To have an organisation just committed to helping people with Spinal Cord Injury is fantastic, because I’ve grown to realise just how exceptional spinal injury is, and to have a bit of solidarity with a law firm and a charity is very special, otherwise it could be very lonely.

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