Chloe was very good at managing my expectations.  But when she told me that she was likely to be in Stoke Mandeville for three months, it was a very difficult conversation to have.  It was painful.  But once we'd had that talk, I could say, 'OK, let's look at what needs to be done now.'

We have three boys and it really impacted on them.  I started to run the house a bit more like a commander in charge of a submarine - we all had our duties and responsibilities to keep things running smoothly, and I made sure I made time for the lads.  It was tough, but I think it was a bonding experience too.  For the first time, I had to make decisions about the boys' lives without Chloe; I remember allowing our oldest to get started on Facebook and then going in to visit Chloe and being faced with, 'Why wasn't I involved in that decision?!'  When Chloe came home, there was a reaction from the boys - 'Hold on, you're not better, get back to hospital until you are.'  And our youngest just had the fear that his mum would be taken away again.  But children are adaptable and resilient, we had lots of support, and we made sure we worked things out as a family.

Having Chloe home was wonderful.  She had climbed the Mount Everest of rehab in hospital, but then she came home and we realised she was really just at base camp.  Where we thought things were sorted, reality in our three-bed semi where nothing was adapted was nothing like that.  It was just horrible to have to see her climb that mountain again.

Children are adaptable and resilient

I went to a Family Day at Stoke and there was a presentation on stress.  I suddenly realised that I had every single symptom that was being listed and just started crying.  I realised that I was going to have to start looking after myself; I'd put on a bit of weight and had become a bit of a slob and I needed to invest in myself for the good of the family.  I've started doing exercise, I take my holidays now so I never go three months without a week off and I've taken on a new job that has less responsibility.  That was a difficult decision; I've always looked for the next career step, but just as Chloe can't do some things now, I've realised that nor can I.

As a family, we've largely gravitated back to how things were but we've kept the good changes.  Before, Chloe had to the answer to everything but now those decisions are shared.  And we still have some of that military routine; the boys have a planner that shows whose job it is to lay the table, who is clearing away and who is loading the dishwasher.  We started it our of necessity but now there's not that pressure and the boys enjoy the responsibility.

Spinal Cord Injury puts a lot of pressure on relationships.  What's kept us strong as a family is two things - first, our ability to communicate and to be honest; if you've got that, you can work on all the other stuff.  And second, our faith in God and the strength of church community around us has been really invaluable.

Go back to the stories