Clare’s story: Wellness and spinal cord injury 

Meet Clare:  

  • Originally from America, now based in Wales 
  • Previously worked as a forester in Northern California 
  • A mindfulness teacher and practicing Buddhist   

Every spinal cord injury is as unique as the person who sustains it. For some individuals, there is no sole incident which caused their injury. In Clare’s case, an injury from an accident damaged her spine and grew over decades, eventually resulting in an incomplete injury.

“While at university I fell off a horse, landing on my back. This must have weakened something, as the injury got worse over time.

“After over a decade of paying for MRIs, trying to find the cause of the nerve pain I was dealing with, I eventually saw a neurosurgeon. It turned out I had a herniated disc that had ossified and was cutting into my spinal cord.”

Clare is able to walk, but her spinal cord injury manifests in ways that are often not visible. She deals with constant numbness, as well as having less strength and stamina in her left leg compared to her right.

As she was trying to understand her injury she often found herself feeling isolated and frustrated, which impacted her wellness. This is what led to her reaching out to Back Up.

“I felt very unsupported before I met Back Up. I didn’t have the right kind of information about living with a spinal cord injury.

“As I was in this very isolated state, I took a shot in the dark and started Googling for information about spinal cord injury. This is how I discovered Back Up’s services.”

Back Up is here for everyone affected by spinal cord injury. This includes people with an incomplete injury and people who can walk. After Clare got in touch, we paired her up with one of our trained mentors, who gave her a vital listening ear and advice from lived experience.

“I felt really connected with my mentor. I had someone who could talk to me about the physical stuff like pain and fatigue – but also the frustrations you face if you’re feeling unsupported after spinal cord injury.”

One of Clare’s main frustrations was that she often didn’t know where to begin. She did not know what support that was there for her. A Back Up mentor guided Clare to find support that suited her needs, equipping her with the knowledge needed to live well and return to her active lifestyle.

“Back Up told me about wheelchair services, and how they could point me in the right direction to get myself set up with a chair. It gave me the encouragement to not give up.”

Now, Clare has embraced using both a wheelchair and a walking stick to get around. This helps her travel longer distances without pain and fatigue, and ensures that she can live an active life like she did before her injury.

“I used to see a wheelchair as a sign of defeat. Now I see it as a tool for living life to the full. It’s fantastic.

“Mentoring has really made a difference.”

We’re glad our services helped Claralynn live well after spinal cord injury. Check out this page on our website to learn more about what we do.