Monthly Archives: February 2020

Guest Post: Newly-Injured Paraplegic James Dwyer Reflects on First 12 Months

By James Dwyer

This month marks 12 months since I left hospital.

The 5th October 2018 will always be the day my life changed forever.  I never imagined when I left home that morning that it would take 4 months to get home and that  the next time I opened the front door would be so emotional. 

Rolling back into the life I’d walked out of conjured up both positive and negative feelings. I had been aiming to get home for a long time but when leaving hospital apprehension crept in. In hospital everything is made to be comfortable, from having nurses to help at the touch of a button, through to every room and corridor being wide and flat enough for a wheelchair. Going back to a small apartment, into a community as the only one using a wheelchair, in a world where everyone walks, is very different from the relative comfort of hospital.

Many who have sustained a traumatic injury that results in having to permanently use a wheelchair will say one of the hardest times is leaving hospital to your home and that felt to be the case for me, however only for a short time. 

As you learn to adapt to your surroundings, hospital life is quickly forgotten and you move on with your life, often with more gratitude for those around you than you had before.

The last 12 months have been the busiest or my life. 

I have tried more sports then in the combined 20 years since leaving school. I have rekindled friendships with those who have been there, and moved on from those who weren’t. I fit in time to mentor others through SCI as a Peer Support volunteer along with carrying on the same day job I had before my accident. –  I know a lot  of people don’t get this opportunity so I take time to appreciate it every day.

Next week I will be completing a half marathon which I am excited for having done several when I was able bodied. Later this year I plan to be the first paraplegic to take on a 100 mile off-road challenge to raise money for the Spinal Injury Association and showcase our beautiful accessible English countryside. 

Most importantly I am a husband and father again, two things I didn’t  believe would have been possible after my accident. I am the same person I was before, I’m just sat down now.

Those first few weeks at home are tough, but anyone that has gone through Spinal Cord Injury can do it with the renewed courage, strength and resilience that comes from this journey we are on.

– Follow James on Instagram @
https://www.instagram.com/jamesdwyeruk/

Guest Post: Tayla Stone Shares Pregnancy Journey After Spinal Cord Injury

By Tayla Stone

At 16 years of age the thought of having kids never really crossed my mind. I had mapped out my life plan already and children weren’t anywhere near my radar.

After learning the extent of my injury, having a family of my own was one of the very first questions I asked the doctor. I don’t know why considering I never wanted kids beforehand. In that moment after learning how much my spinal cord injury would affect my life, I felt like the opportunity, that one opportunity of starting a family of my own had been taken from me.

Physically – I could still get pregnant.

Mentally – I wasn’t convinced it was possible. I had lost the ability to walk, to empty my bladder and bowels, I could no longer move or feel half my body. How was I going to carry a child for 40 weeks max, how was I going to give birth, how would I look after a child, let alone how was I going to have sex.

Immediately I had already put barriers up. I wasn’t going to be able to have a family of my own. It just wasn’t possible in my mind. I was 16. I had no idea what being a paralysed actually meant. I didn’t know that despite a spinal cord injury having a family of my own was still very possible. Why couldn’t I see past that?
Simply because,

” People can’t see, what they don’t expect ”

It’s not expected of us to be able to do a lot of the things we can in fact do. I surprise people when I say I have two young children, who I delivered both naturally. I felt them both while pregnant. My body was able to do as it was intended that day, despite my injury, my limitations. My body took control of the situation and handled it like a boss.

The pregnancy stage was hard, it really did take its toll on my body and I didn’t enjoy it one bit. Like other women I had no idea what to expect with my first child, my daughter. I didn’t know how much pregnancy was going to interfere with everything, even down to my bowels. How hard it was to empty my bladder towards the end. The crazy amount of swelling that I experienced, the injections I had to give myself, how difficult it was to complete a lift transfer. How uncomfortable it was sitting all day long, and sleeping at night. How important it was to check over my skin more than usual. But I adapted. That’s one of the skills we are so damn good at.

My bowel routine was moved from the toilet to our bed. With my bladder it was simply adding the use of a mirror so I could see. Towards the end of the pregnancy I did require the use of an indwelling catheter. My transfers didn’t change so much, I just had to take my time, make no silly mistakes and minimise the amount of times I needed to do them – which was harder than you would think. The swelling was all about elevating my legs as much as possible. My injections unfortunately I failed at doing and due to that I suffered the consequences of blood clots after my daughter was born – which can potentially be fatal. Lesson learnt for pregnancy #2

Labour was easy in comparison to the time spent pregnant. Still something I had no idea how my body would react too. With my daughter, I was induced, and felt the pain instantly. I had no idea the amount of pain I would experience, if any at all. I asked for an epidural which worked to the point that we didn’t realise she had started crowning. The total of 11 minutes spent pushing, 5 pushes all up and she was born.

With my son, it was completely different. No epidural – I wanted one but it didn’t happen. It was just the gas until I could no longer handle it. Every contraction was more painful than the first. The pain truly felt worse than the pain I felt after breaking my back. We were slowly approaching the pushing stage, but just as we reached it after experiencing a huge contraction, I bawled my eyes out to my partner. I had enough, I was exhausted, my body was exhausted, I didn’t want to push, I was done.

Then the pain changed, a new dull cramp like pain in my right leg, it was intensifying quickly and then it happened, my pelvic region felt like someone had set it alight. Burning, cramping, aching, my son was closer than I realised. I looked up at the nurse and yelled out “He’s coming, I’m pushing now!”

The first push I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. It felt as if he was stuck, I looked at my position and noticed it was different from my daughter. My legs weren’t up in the stirrups, they were still laying on the bed, I put one leg in and told the nurse to put my other leg in as well and within 5 seconds my body took over, one huge push and he had arrived.

It was an incredible experience.

I had never been so in-tuned with my body before. Despite my injury and the whole thing about my nerves no longer being able to pass my injured vertebrae, on that day especially those moments with my son, my body and mind felt whole once again.

– Follow her on Instagram at @taylas_journey