Read their story
I served as a Captain with the 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets. Following operational tours in Iraq and Northern Ireland I attended the Special Forces Selection course in January 2006. During the night navigation, high up on a peak in low light snowy conditions, I walked off an unseen crag and fell over 100 feet down the mountain side. The impact immediately severed my spinal cord broke my neck. Following 12 weeks at the National Spinal Injuries Centre Stoke Mandeville and a further 2 months at Headley Court I was discharged from the services to face an uncertain future.
Without experience of paralysis, it is normal to believe it is simply the inability to walk and reflect on how limiting that immobility and wheelchair use must be. Unfortunately, that is simply the visible tip of the iceberg. The severing of one’s spinal cord leads to a complete loss of bladder, bowel and sexual function, loss of sensation and a reduction in blood flow to the affected regions. For me, not being able to walk only creates about 5% of the barriers I face.
The smallest cuts and blisters that would take a few days to heal normally, persist for weeks and months with that comes the increased risks of infection and wound breakdown. In particular, I suffer from pressure sores caused by poor circulation and tissue damage. These have led to me spending 5 years, out of the last 10, lying in bed. It is impossible to convey how devastating this is for my wife, my children, friendships as well as being terminal any form of career progression. It permeates every aspect of life and is akin to forced incarceration in one’s own home.
This all leads to a very inconsistent life where one must seize the healthy periods not knowing when months or years of bed rest will return. Supporting Wounded Veterans are like no other in their approach to understanding the unique challenges of the individual. The mentoring approach provides a vital outlet to express and share all manner of frustrations and worries without fear of them leaking back into your family or friendship sphere. With such protracted periods of in activity this has been a real like line. After my latest bout of incapacitation, SWV is supporting me to re-entry the work place.