I am 35 years old and live in Scotland with my husband Colin and our three children, aged 3, 8 and 10. Our lives were turned upside down in 2009 when Colin sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI) at level T2 in a motorcycle accident and is paralysed from the chest down. When Colin returned home I could see that he was really struggling to adjust to being a newly injured parent in a wheelchair but Colin is very stoic and was reluctant to accept any offers of help at that time.
I was also finding it difficult to adjust and had some real concerns. I had lots of questions, such as whether we would be able to go away on holidays and how Colin and I could have an intimate relationship. I was feeling very insecure about our future and quite isolated when I became aware of the support available from Back Up for parents and partners of people with SCI. I didn’t feel that I had anyone to talk to who could truly understand what we were going through but Back Up put me in contact with a mentor called Sara who had a young family and whose husband also had a SCI.
Speaking to Sara really helped me to gain a sense of perspective about what had happened, not only to Colin but all of us as a family. I was able to talk through all of my hopes and fears with someone who had ‘been there’ and she helped me realise that with a little planning and a few tips we could still travel and do all of the things that we had previously done together as a family. Since speaking to Sara we have been on holiday as a family and Colin and I have been out as a couple to the theatre and cinema. The positive effects of mentoring for me have now also had an impact on Colin. I feel much happier now and understand what we still have as a family. I also do more things for myself and don't feel guilty about spending time on my own.