Before my accident I worked as a primary school teacher.  I’ve worked in various schools in Scotland, South East Asia and most recently Amsterdam.  I used to run half marathons and climb.  I have trekked to Everest Base Camp, climbed Kilimanjaro, hiked Tour de Mont Blanc and was bagging Munros.  When I had my accident, I was in the process of becoming a foster carer, I was buying a house and was booking my next adventure to the Arctic, to sea kayak, wild camp and look for polar bears!  Sadly, everything changed in a heartbeat when I crashed my car on the way to work.  I don’t really know how it happened, but the vehicle in front of me stopped very suddenly and by the time I realised what was happening, I couldn’t do much to stop the impact.  I was 2 hours getting cut out of my car, at the time being more concerned by the paramedics cutting my North Face jacket than the injury I had sustained! 

I went from Wick General, to Raigmore and eventually to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.  I had fractured my spine in 2 places and required surgery to insert metal implants.  Initially we believed that I would make a full recovery and still be able to make it to the Arctic.  I was determined to recover and pushed through the pain, desperate for my life back. After a year it became clear that was not to be the case.  I am in severe pain every day and need a lot of support from my family.  I have not been able to return to work, become a foster carer, buy my house, or return to my hobbies. I have struggled to come to terms with everything and mentally I have been very low.  But the support from family and friends has been incredible. I have started to paint which I find a very mindful activity and I now have a gorgeous puppy for company.

It was many months after becoming a member of Spinal Injuries Scotland that I engaged with them.  Initially I was too scared, I worried that everybody’s injuries would be worse than mine and they would perceive me as moaning about nothing.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  At first, I had peer support calls, which were fantastic to ease my nerves and to welcome me into the community.  I now regularly take part in the zoom meets, which always make me smile no matter how difficult a day it is.  Everyone I have met has been so friendly and supportive.  Mentally it has given me a huge boost to know that I have people who can understand and relate to my struggles, and knowing that I can pick up the phone to a peer support advisor, if I’m struggling is a great comfort to me. Looking to the future, I hope to continue to improve both physically and mentally and maybe one day I’ll make it to the Arctic!