Jane’s story: Finding my future

Future

Jane with a friend on an evening out

Being affected by degeneration of the spine, Jane underwent an operation in 2015 and when she woke up, she was unable to walk and left with an incomplete injury at C5, C6 and C7. During her early months of rehabilitation, she found herself scared, anxious and physically exhausted from having to learn to walk again.

“When I was sent home, I was barely able to work, just hobbling about on crutches. It felt like I was starting all over again and had been dumped right in the thick of it.”

Jane’s situation was further complicated by the fact that she wasn’t referred to a spinal centre until over a year after her injury. When she was seen at Stoke Mandeville, National Spinal Injuries Centre, she received a great deal of education on things that she hadn’t received elsewhere. After feeling like she had been going it alone for so long, she found herself craving some support, especially as her incomplete injury left her riddled with feelings of guilt.

“With an incomplete injury, on the outside, you don’t necessarily look as if you’ve got anything wrong with you. Whereas, if you’re in a wheelchair, someone’s disability is more visible. During my rehabilitation, I felt guilty for being able to walk whereas other people couldn’t.”

Jane on crutches during the first few weeks of her rehabilitation

Jane on crutches during the first few weeks of her rehabilitation

In addition to battling these feelings, Jane was struggling with other practical life changes such as seeing family and driving.

“Before my injury, I was working full time, regularly seeing my grandson and I had a manual car. Obviously, I couldn’t drive it after I was injured. It was about a year later when I managed to get my driving license back and drive an automatic car. But at the time, I was so desperate, upset and distressed.”

It was at this point that she googled where she could find some emotional support and Back Up’s mentoring service was recommended to her. It wasn’t long before she was matched with one of our trained volunteer mentors.

“It was one of the best things that has been offered to me because I spoke to someone who had felt what I had felt at the time. I got so much out of it and I was so happy to talk to someone who had been in my situation and was now a few years down the line – I knew by listening to him that it would get better for me.”

Jane’s mentor even motivated her to get on public transport. “During the time that I was having my mentoring, I got on a bus and that was such a huge thing for me as I hadn’t done it for years. I actually hobbled on a bus with my walking stick. My mentor had said to me, “Listen, you can do it, walk to that bus stop and get on that bus.” He was such a lovely person and I could talk about anything, even the things that were quite embarrassing.”

Motivation from her mentor bolstered her, alongside support from her partner and children. Jane is now looking ahead to the future and seeing what’s out there, which includes thinking about participating on our Back Up to Work course in March.

“When I was at Stoke Mandeville, National Spinal Injuries Centre, I had an occupational therapist who suggested that I go on a computer course but as soon as I got home, I lost all my confidence. But now I’m definitely exploring my options in terms of which jobs would support me. I wasn’t ready for it then but I think now and next year, I’m in a better position.”

“I know there is a future out there, I’ve just got to find it.”

If you’d like to receive mentoring or would like to become a mentor, please email our Mentoring Manager, Polly, or call her on 020 8875 1805.