Advice from an old mate.

When I started university , I heard that a former school mate (2 yrs older than me) that I’d played 1st team school rugby with, had been involved in a horrific car crash and was now paralysed. He had lost all use below the waist and had significant loss of arm power too. 
Ian was a tough lad, who I had a lot of respect for. He was also a very good rugby player. As I was fairly good myself, I played for the senior under 18 team when I was 15, so ‘Math’ and I were team mates. It was an era of respect and I had plenty for all the older lads in the team, and they looked after me as a talented but still young, player. 

I’ve seen Ian on and off since, as he lives in the same village as my parents. He’s lived an extremely full life, is married, and successful, and has a fine son. 
He’s lived with his disability and in my experience is nothing but positive. 
I emailed him yesterday ( see below trail ) and I’ve published his response. 

Ian, I hope you don’t mind..

Hi Russ
Great to hear from you and you seem pretty positive which is everything at this stage. Sorry to hear about what happened and I’m assuming what I’ve heard is correct i.e. that you’ve had a complete T12 break plus plenty of other bangs. Again I’m assuming that the other injuries are hopefully transient. From my experience after 29 years the spinal injury ain’t going away. The number one thing you need to know now is that this is the hard part. Things get much easier with time but you need to be patient. The psychologists say it’s like a bereavement and takes 3 to 5 years to “come to terms” with it. It is amazing that for such a physical injury it’s all about mentally coping with the life change and your new physical situation. This spinal injury isn’t going to kill you or even effect life expectancy. When I first had my accident, I remember another patient, called Dominic, saying that you need to go for it, be very positive about things or we might as well kill ourselves because the worst, third option, was to sit around being feeling sorry for ourselves, being miserable for the rest of our lives, waiting for an unlikely cure. Very hard hitting stuff but the best advice I ever had. (Dominic, who became a good friend of mine is dead now. He went for it, had an affair and his wife murdered him – true, honest.)
Of course I’m available anytime to answer any questions. Because of my degree and what I’ve read over the years I’m fairly well informed. As for the personal experience we are all different so you may feel later that some of my advice turned out to be total bollocks. Depending where you are (time post-accident) different issues have different importance and so I need to think back e.g. I suppose it’s all bladder and bowels at the moment. Also I need to remember that you will become mentally very tough about this but this will take awhile. I am that cynical old bastard so I apologise if some of my advice and humour comes across as too hard hitting. I can remember putting a brave face on things initially (telling everyone you’re ok)because it made people more comfortable when they first meet you. You will be pleased to know that that bluff does become reality though as I’ve said it takes time. Seeing true friends again was fine after the very first minutes of contact. Meeting strangers was no problem. I hated meeting acquaintances for a few years. They often visited you because they thought they should and so making them feel comfortable was a pain. Then after a year or two you still meet people who say what the fuck has happened to you. After awhile that doesn’t bother you and it’s fun making things up.
Just to end with a few positives. It’s massive to have supportive friends and family. It’s great you already have Danielle and the kids (I hear she has been amazing), it’s a pain messing about with women as well. Your fitness life-style will be useful with the rehab and the fact you have an established job where you use your brain (i.e. not a manual job like the roofers I used to meet). All very positive and will make the future a lot easier eventually. When discussing these positives you will probably hear people say that “you’re lucky……….”  Just tell them to fuck off and point out how statistically how unlucky you have been to have a spinal injury (I used to know the figure) it soon shuts them up.
keep in touch

—– Original Message —– From: “Russ” 
To: “Ian Matthews” 
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2013 3:14 PM
Subject: Hello mate.

Ian me old chum,

Just bade farewell to my folks here at Stoke Mandeville.
They gave me your email address.

So …. Now we’ve got something else in common it would seem!

I keep thinking back to that time in that pub near Twickenham when we hoisted you up in your wheelchair above our heads, and you stuck a naked lady postage stamp on the ceiling of the bar. You know it was still there ten years later, when I last went!

I wonder if anyone’ll ever do that for me, or whether I’d want them to!
Was pretty reckless, come to think of it.
But funny. 😉
If there was a wheelchair hall of fame, that day’s antics might just qualify.

Anyhow, after this initial contact, maybe i could ask you a favour in terms of answering a few questions I might have about life as a disabled person going forward..?

Would that be ok buddy?

Look forward to hearing from you.


Sent from my iPhone 7 prototype. = 

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