Whilst out for a solo push on my Trike wheelchair yesterday, I stopped for a bit to talk to 2 girls.
They said they had a friend of the same age ( 20 ) who had 3 months ago been paralysed ( T6 level – diaphragm downwards – like me ) and was now in ‘ re-hab. She was talking very positively about her future, they said.
I talked to them about how it is 3 months in – you really have no clue just how paralysis will change every single thing; about how much friends matter; about how they fall away after the initial excitement is over ( the sad tale recounted by most of the Spinally Injured community ) leaving a few close ones, plus some family. I asked how close a friend she was, and she said ‘ very ‘. I did look at her closely as she answered, and her reply was sincere sounding, for sure. I said that it takes years, not months, to get past this injury, and that the real struggle may not have even begun yet – the mental one, the mental struggle to accept that the awful physical effects do not just engulf you completely. I asked her to be there for her friend for years, not months, to stay there and not to desert her, or lose interest if her friend seemed to lose her way, or her drive, or her personality – the injury takes that from you, it takes everything – and most people ( not everyone ) will fade away with those things.
I hoped I got through – I certainly don’t think I ‘ gave her a lecture ‘ I could have kept talking for hours, and I think she could have too, but I said goodbye and wheeled off. I fear for her friend. At 20 you have friends for sure, but not that many deep friendships, there just hasn’t been the time to form them yet.
Most injured that young have to start again with friends – the ones they have going off and getting on with their exciting transition into adulthood, quite understandably, and not having much time for their former friend, who can’t really join in properly with stuff anymore, so it’s easier not to invite her…..isn’t it?