George’s story: Discovering what is possible
8 March 2023
- Built his career as a microbiologist
- Retired with his wife Manesty
- Has made friends all over the world through work and travel
Spinal cord injury can affect anyone at any age. In George’s case he was happily retired with his wife Manesty when she sustained an incomplete C5 level spinal cord injury. The impact of Manesty’s injury was life-changing for them both, as they had been planning to travel the world and catch up with old friends.
“Manesty’s injury came right out of the blue. She suddenly passed out in our bathroom. As she fell, she hit her chin on the radiator.
“I got up instantly and forced myself into the bathroom, to find her immobile. At that point she couldn’t move below her neck.”
Their plans to travel the world that year were cancelled as Manesty faced a year of rehabilitation. Even when she left the spinal centre, George says they still often found themselves with more questions than answers about spinal cord injury.
“I went through a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. At first, I was very practical, looking for problems I could solve, but after a while I felt rather depressed.
“I now understand it’s very common to get into these depressive loops after a loved one sustains a spinal cord injury. I suppose at the time I felt that the change to Manesty’s life was so profound that we weren’t going to have the life we planned for retirement.”
Fortunately, Back Up was there to help George process his feelings and understand spinal cord injury. After learning about our mentoring service, George reached out and registered for support. We were able to pair him up with one of our trained volunteer mentors, who had experience being in a similar situation to George. His mentor showed him what would be possible for Manesty after spinal cord injury.
“We have friends all around the world, and we wanted to keep travelling into retirement. My mentor told me all about the holidays she had with her husband after his injury, and how they organised them.
“It showed me the possibility of travel was still there. We’re putting it into practice this year by travelling to Italy with family!”
Now, George is giving something back by volunteering as a Back Up mentor himself. Not only does this mean he can support others with what he has learned, but he also uses it as a chance to continue learning from others.
“Mentoring is good because it gives you a fresh perspective. As time goes on, I hope to support a range of family members with their different situations and problems.
“I’ve had a lot of training in my NHS career, and training as a mentor with Back Up was one of the best sessions I’ve ever been to. It opens a lot of doors, and gives you a fresh perspective on life.”