When Jan was in rehab, I learnt to avoid the relatives of other patients if they were being negative.  You've got enough to deal with without other people dragging you down.  It was really noticeable that there was a link between how positive the relatives were and how positive the loved one they'd come to see was.  And that's not me judging them - God knows, you can't judge someone in such a situation, only they are living through it.  But my energy was for me and for Jan and so I'd be polite but go out of my way not to spend time with anyone that wasn't going to help.

Driving back from Cornwall it was a beautiful sunny day.  We rounded a corner and there was a car on our side of the road.  Jan swerved, we were clipped by another car and rolled.  I was lucky and only broke my pelvis; Jan broke her neck. 

I had to take charge

Jan was in intensive care and on a ventilator.  I was in a trauma ward in the same hospital.  My main incentive was getting out of bed so that I could visit Jan and, after a few days, I was able to be wheeled up to be with her.  That time when you've come in after an accident, you've got nothing.  I'd salvaged our handbags, but nothing else.  And my glasses had broken so I couldn't see much for a few days until a spare pair was brought down.  I was being bombarded with information and I couldn't take it all in straight away.  I spent two weeks in hospital treating my hospital bed like an office; I had to engage a lawyer, the police wanted to talk to me, I suddenly had to take charge of our finances, which Jan normally did, and pay various bills.  I was dealing with the accident stuff, but normal everyday life stuff too as things don't just get put on hold.  We've always had a very equal partnership but suddenly I was having to do everything and, with Jan on a ventilator, we couldn't even talk through everything the way we would do normally.  It was a very hard time for us.

Jan and Lynn at home with their dog

Initially, I didn't try very hard with my physio as I didn't want to be discharged before Jan was ready to be moved to a hospital closer to home.  But then Jan was moved and I wasn't ready and I suddenly had to put all the effort in; I managed to leave a few days after her.  A friend came to take me home and we drove past the spot where we'd had the accident; my friend chatted non-stop the whole way to distract me.

Because of my injury, I had to use a wheelchair when I first went out; it was really scary contemplating leaving the house.  I knew that Jan would be facing this and I worried that people would be rude and I'd know what was coming for her.  But in the end I was reassured; people were kind and helpful.

We've always had quite adventurous holidays and we weren't sure what would be possible.  It's incredible how many hotels don't provide what we need.  We've heard of people that decide never to go away because it is too much hassle.  It's such a shame as it definitely is possible to have a great holiday.  With a bit of experience, our holidays now are pretty much everything that we'd have done before.  It's just that now we have to plan and book ahead, and have to take carers with us so we are never truly alone.  That might mean there's less spontaneity, but it doesn't mean it's not still amazing.

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