I was 29, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I was out mountain biking with my mates. I’m not sure how, but I came off my bike. My head hit the floor and I broke my neck. It was as simple as that. I passed out, but I remember the air ambulance and how incredible my friends were. I spent the next seven months in hospital and then came out, knowing that I would use a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
Up until that point I had been working full time as an accountant in industry. My employer was great, in that they kept my job open for over a year, until I was ready to start working again. But obviously I wasn’t earning during that time. Also, I knew I could never go back to my own flat again because it was on the first floor – so completely inaccessible. My mum and dad moved my stuff out for me. They turned their front room into a bedroom and my girlfriend and I moved in there.
We had some very dark days. It was a lot to adjust to. Before the accident my girlfriend – she’s a chartered accountant – and I had been looking for a place to buy. We’d been planning on setting up home, starting a family, all the normal things that people our age do. For a while we were just in shock. But little by little we started to realise that all those things were still possible. We started to look at bungalows, thinking that if we could get something accessible, we would be alright.
Bungalows were a lot more expensive than the houses we had been looking at due to the demand and we couldn’t find anything accessible. We approached the local authority, but to be honest, if you’re not on benefits, there’s not much they can do for you. It was around this point someone suggested that we approach CABA.
CABA said ‘find a bungalow you can afford, and we’ll see what can be done to make it accessible.’ That gave us a lot of confidence.
When we eventually found somewhere, CABA were as good as their word. They helped us work out a plan for the alterations and they have funded the wet room, the ramps and for widening the doors.
I’m not sure what we would have done without CABA’s help. Maybe we’d have tried to borrow the money for the adaptations, but it wouldn’t have been wise. I’m only working part time at the moment. This accident has been a huge financial hit for us and more debt probably wouldn’t have worked out well.
We’ll be moving into our new home soon – it’s nearly ready. And I’ve been trying new sports – table tennis, javelin, things like that. We’re doing everything we can to rebuild our lives – it’ll be a different life, but a good one.
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*Some personal details of this client have been changed to protect their identity