My Painful Family Story
And an Incredibly Hopeful Future
I can walk.
So could my Dad…
Until one day in 1995 when he found himself confined to a wheelchair.
Yes, your imagination is right… it was a difficult experience for him.
Not just the emotional part. There were all the changes… The adaption of the house… And how can you sleep in a wheelchair?
Broken Spinal Cord
I’m afraid your spinal cord has worn severely, Mr Withington.
It took a few minutes for those few life-changing words to sink in.
My Dad was a practical, factual kind of person. He’d run a salaries & wages department, he’d been a motor mechanic, and at one stage he’d owned his own small business. So he knew how to handle life.
But how do you handle news like that?
Visitors Don’t Wait
Just a few months before, Dad had been walking.
Since childhood, he’d always walked with a limp. But now he noticed, with each passing day, that he was finding it rather more difficult to move. His legs weren’t responding quite the way they should.
It was mid-afternoon. The doorbell rang. Dad got up from the chair, walked sluggishly across the lounge, through the hall, and he opened the front door. But the visitor had long since disappeared from sight.
It was time to see the doctor.
Suddenly in a Wheelchair
Within the next few weeks, my Dad completely lost the ability to move his legs. And it became increasingly difficult to grasp things with his hands.
It’s at times like this when we really appreciate how wonderful our National Health Service is. Completely free at the point of need. They supplied my Dad with a manual wheelchair. And when he got to the stage that he was unable to manoeuvre that, they helped him with a battery-powered wheelchair.
Although Dad was never one to accept change easily, he knew he had to accept this one. He even learned how to sleep in his wheelchair. The house was adapted, a new bathroom and special shower were created downstairs, even door handles were changed.
But it still turned Mum and Dad’s lives upside-down. Sometimes it was just the little things they remembered they could no longer do… No more camping trips to Wales. No more driving Mum to the shops. Even getting into someone else’s car was an ordeal.
Still, Dad refused to sell his van.
It was his link to a hope that one day he’d be able to drive again.
He kept the van under the lean-to in the backyard, as month by month, year by year, it rusted away until it was beyond repair.
Reluctantly, Dad found a scrap dealer who was willing to tow it away.
Even after losing his beloved van – which had been one of his last hopes of returning to the sort of life he’d previously known – Dad refused to give up hope.
“I’ve seen a car,” he told me one day.
“A car?” I quizzed.
“Yes, I’m going to save up and buy it.”
Saving up to buy something was Dad’s thing. Avoid debt at all cost. Maybe I’m a chip off the old block when it comes to that sort of thing. But saving up for a car on a state pension… especially when you can no longer even drive a car, let alone get in one…
“But how are you going to drive it, Dad?”
“It’s a specially adapted car. You access the car in your wheelchair and drive it with a joystick.”
I could see the logic. But I could also see the dangers. By this time, Dad hadn’t driven for 10 years. Now in his eighties, although his mind was still sharp his reactions had slowed down. Added to that, the roads had become much busier.
Wheelchair Powered Car?
“I’ve booked a day off work, Dad,” I announced one day.
“Great, I’ll phone the showroom and tell them we’re going down there for a test-drive.”
I helped Dad get into the passenger seat, disassembled his electric wheelchair and put it into the boot, and pretty soon we were heading down the M6 motorway to Birmingham.
The salesman showed Dad the controls and let him manoeuvre the specially-adapted car along the garage floor. It had been a long time since he’d been behind the wheel, but he was determined.
Dad never did manage to buy his dream car.
But, despite my reservations about him driving, never once did I discourage him from pursuing his dream.
It was something to aim for. A goal in life. An achievement to go after.
Listen. We all need hope, no matter what age we are, no matter what our abilities are.
There’s always hope! Never let go of it!Never let go of hope. David's Dad didn't. Read his story here. #hope Click To Tweet
So Can Paralysis Be Cured?
When my Dad passed away, we chose a wonderful charity that family and friends could donate to.
Because Spinal Research aims to find an effective treatment for paralysis.
Is that possible, David?
Listen… Spinal Research works on the cutting edge of technology and medical advances that aim to make it a reality.
They want to enable people like my Dad to be able to walk again.
Granted, it won’t help my Dad now.
But it’s aiming to help those many other people who suddenly find themselves confined to a wheelchair with the devastating prognosis that they’ll never walk again.
Spinal Research gives people hope.
Spinal Research is the UK’s leading charity funding medical research around the world to develop effective treatments for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.
Happy Birthday to Me!
Just recently, I celebrated a significant birthday – my 60th.
Yes, I know I don’t look old enough! And I still don’t act my age.
Anyhow… Facebook asked me if I wanted to support a charity for my birthday. So guess which I’ve chosen. And at the time of writing, some people have already given generously.
Now that you know what Spinal Research does, maybe you too will want to support them in their research for a cure for paralysis.
And help celebrate my 60th birthday at the same time.Read how cutting-edge technology is helping a charity win the battle in fighting paralysis. Click To Tweet
Are you grateful you can walk?
Let’s celebrate that. Go out in the wide open space and take a walk. And spend a few minutes just being grateful.
Err… Not just yet… Right after you’ve checked out Spinal Research, of course!
Oh, and wished me a happy birthday!