In 2020 Tony sustained a C4 complete Spinal Cord Injury after he was hit by a car when he was at the bus stop on his way to work.  Tony’s busy job was completing ground work on building sites, a role that saw him leave his home town of Liverpool when he was 19 years old and live and work in Wales over the next 30 years.  Following his accident Tony was transferred back to Merseyside to complete his rehabilitation in Southport Spinal Injury Centre. 

Initially after finding out I had a complete Spinal Cord Injury I panicked and couldn’t really take it in - I just couldn’t accept it.  I spent three and a half months in intensive care and for most of that time I felt scared and upset.  Staff in the hospital tried to help and I saw a councillor who explained these feelings would pass and it was natural to have low moods - but honestly, I was worried I’d always feel like that. I was very confused by everything. I had a breathing tube in and a collar on and was always trying to take them out. The nurses had to put mittens on me so I couldn’t, it was a crazy time.

I started to notice a change in my emotions when I first got to Southport.  Before then I was determined to get back all my mobility and walk again - I hadn’t accepted what had happened.  I had been reluctant to acknowledge my injury and had not adapted to my wheelchair.  My consultant was straightforward with me and made me realise my prognosis. He explained that I should focus on what I could do rather than what I wanted to do, which was to walk.  He really helped me understand how accepting it would be better for me.  I think he managed my expectations and, with his knowledge and experience, made me understand things more clearly.

Tony in his wheelchair

I feel that my mood improved due to the support of the therapy team, particularly my physio in Southport whose support and encouragement was brilliant.  She kept me motivated and talked me through how to work through the pain and discomfort and that kept me going. 

I first met Aspire’s Independent Living Advisor Jo when she came onto the ward one Tuesday and we ended up having a really good chat. Jo explained who she was and how she could help, but also shared how she had sustained her own Spinal Cord Injury. 

I think talking to Jo and seeing how she has come through it helped me.  Jo talked about how she does things and it made me see it would be ok.  If I hadn’t spoken to Jo things might have been different, she put me on the right road. I looked forward to chatting to her.  She comes across so nice and I felt like I could really trust her.  I always felt happy during our chats.

Jo referred me to Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice and Money Matters services and also gave me information about a local support group called SIA Merseyside who meet on the first Wednesday of every month in the Brain Charity in Liverpool town centre.  I enjoy going to that group for the peer support and people who are living with a spinal injury share their stories and you can ask questions and learn things.  Jo also referred me to a local organisation who arrange for people with lived experience to share their stories with medical students in Liverpool John Moores University.  I have completed a teaching session with nursing students there which I really enjoyed and it was well received by the lecturer and students.  I hope to do more sessions like that in the future. 

Looking back to the first time I met Jo I remember she introduced herself when I was having a bad day. I was a bit fed up and feeling quite low, when I spoke to her she made me feel relaxed, happy, and encouraged me to look on the upside.  I am very grateful for Jo’s support and used to look forward to seeing her on a Tuesday.  Seeing her working, driving and living each day showed me the different things I could go on to do and how I could live independently too.

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