Before my injury I was living with my sister. I had broken up with my fiancée and moved back in with my dad and would stay at both my sister’s and my dad’s place as it was becoming too expensive to rent. I ended up living with my sister after a massive argument with my dad - we are way too similar and living and working together got too much.

I was injured whilst at work in the building trade. I was lifting a huge glass fish tank with water and fish still inside. I could feel it slipping out of my hands and I didn’t want to drop it so I managed to twist my back in an attempt to keep hold of it. I immediately felt a stabbing pain in my shoulder blades but just continued working.  Afterwards, despite the pain and the massive amount of painkillers that I was having to take, the doctors just thought I had a bad case of sciatica. Months later I woke up one morning and was unable to move my legs properly; I couldn’t stand up and ended up calling the ambulance. I had ruptured a disc as well as an abscess had developed which had affected my spinal cord. 

My first thoughts were that I was not going to be able to do anything for myself - for me this was the worst thing that could happen. 

Discussions about where I was going to live happened quite early on into my stay at Southport. My sister’s property was not going to be an option as I was living in her converted loft which had two flights of stairs to get to and she sold up whilst I was in hospital. There was the option to move back in with my dad but there was no way I could do.

Straight away, my case manager found out that Aspire had an available property in Manchester. At that point I didn’t know how long I would be in hospital for but I was improving so it wasn’t long until I was assessed as ready for discharge. It came so suddenly. I realised how institutionalised I had become being in hospital. I had become so used to being looked after, nurses around, meals magically appearing. I’m a very independent person so being in hospital made me feel really low. Having to rely on someone to wash me or help me go to the toilet was difficult.

I was transferred to a step down unit for four weeks before moving into the Aspire property. It’s meant to help you become used to living more independently. I was able to spend a couple of weekends in the Aspire property before moving in for real. It is only then you suddenly realise that you have to cook for yourself and do little things like making yourself a cup of tea.

Einers in his wheelchair with tea on a tray

I often heard people refer to a ‘grieving period’ when you leave hospital. I initially thought to myself that I was past that as I’m quite a positive person most of the time. I had to rework my brain when I got home and the bills started to come in – you forget about that when you are in hospital. You have to start to think “hold on I’m in a wheelchair, how am I going to be able to do that?”

When I first got home I had no substantial strength in my legs. It’s a massive help to be able to have so much space in the property for various bits of fitness equipment so I can carry out my own rehab. Having the extra bedroom also means I am able to have family over to stay – it’s a huge help. I have a grill at the back so we can have BBQs in the summer and enjoy family gatherings. When I’m hoovering the property I am challenged to relearn things and find a way to do it myself. 

Einers sitting using weights

The accessible kitchen with a hob which I can raise and lower as I need - all these little things make a huge difference.  If I had gone to my dad’s it would have been such a struggle.

The beginning period of living with a spinal cord injury is so important; to be able to build up some hope. Anything you can accomplish yourself and do for yourself just builds your confidence. Being in the Aspire House has done that for me. 

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