I was lucky to survive the accident and I was in hospital for a long time.  When I did begin to tentatively get out of bed, simply wheeling around on smooth hospital floors was hard-going.  Just to have independence outside hospital appeared to me to be the ultimate challenge, and so thoughts of having a worthwhile job, a wife and children were almost fanciful.  As time went by, my resolve strengthened and aspirations were rekindled.  I returned to my studies, qualified and now work as a hospital doctor treating people with cancer.

you presume that you can't father children

What has given me the most joy, though, is getting married and having a beautiful daughter.  At first you presume that you can't father children, but we got specialist fertility advice, both from the Spinal Unit and from a fertility clinic locally.  The Spinal Unit were key in that they know far more about the specific issues for people with spinal cord injury.  Had we just gone to a generic fertility clinic it would have resulted in a more invasive technique and protracted journey.  The straightforward and tactful advice from the Unit enabled us to become very happy parents of an adorable baby girl less that two years later.

Spinal cord injury causes impairment and challenges you, but in many other ways you are no different to anyone else.  You have the same wants and desires for life, and like any parent you are nervous and excited for your child.  Lily doesn't treat me any differently, though if I ask her for a hand she'll proudly push me along.  Her friends just think of me as Lily's dad and I think that's good, they're seeing that disabled people can do things.  It's the adults that make assumptions about your capabilities; one morning my mother-in-law took Lily to school and one of the other mothers asked where I was.  When she was told I was at the clinic that morning, her face took on a look of knowing sympathy; then on being told that actually I was there as the oncologist you could apparently see her recalibrating her whole thought process!

Thomas, sitting on the sofa, reading to his daughter

Having an amazing family makes me very happy and my disability doesn't stop me having quality moments with them; enjoying a bit of retail therapy together, wheeling alongside my daughter as she walks to school, sitting next to her as we enjoy a film at the cinema.  I treasure these times, so ordinary yet so astounding.

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