top of page

The truth is, you don't know how you would respond unless it happened to you.

Updated: Mar 31

Over the past week, I have spent much time thinking about the darkest times following my spinal cord injury. Caroline March's decision to end her life shook me and I truly felt her pain. I never want to feel like that again. Ever. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

If I was asked before my accident whether I would rather survive an accident but be left paralysed or die, I am not sure which I would have chosen. Obviously I didn't get the choice. I do remember, early on after my accident, that I wished I hadn't survived it.

Unless you have experienced something totally life changing then it must be hard to understand or know what you would do if you were put into this situation. Caroline and I had both competed in the sport of eventing to a high level and we were both in our late 20's when everything came to an abrupt end, yet our decisions have been very different. We are all individuals, our minds all work differently, we all have things happen in life that shape our future. That is why we mustn't judge- no one knows everything about someone else's life.

I think having sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury through sport had it's positives for me, I received tremendous support from my eventing family and all the character traits the sport taught me were exactly what I needed to get through it. The down side was the void in my life and finding something that even came close to it.

When people choose to retire from sport they can find it understandably tough but when everything is swept from under your feet it is pure agony. Equestrian sports add in another dimension because your best friends, your team mates, your therapy.......yes, your beloved horses, continue competing with someone else. You are sat in a wheelchair watching from the sideline, longing to be back in the saddle and knowing you never would be doing it again. The sport does not comprise of a few hours training a day, it consumes your whole life. My word, it is a massive gap to fill, that is if you ever can. I sold all my riding gear eighteen months after my accident, when I wanted to buy some skiing clothes. I couldn't sell my horses when I felt mentally ready, it was very quickly after my accident. It felt so final. Saying goodbye was heart breaking.

It was my passion from the moment I could walk. I had never considered much else to be honest. I had trained to be a Chiropractor which I worked part time from home and it was good to have a back up in case things didn't go to plan, however, my goals and ambitions were to ride around the most challenging cross country courses on horses I had produced . Five years of hard work, perseverance and achievements became a distant memory as I painfully watched my top horse compete at the highest level with another rider. That should have been me. I couldn't find a way to escape this nightmare I was living.

Well, life certainly didn't go as I hoped, and I couldn't even use my back up plan. Then a few months after becoming paralysed I split from my four year relationship. That sounds bad enough but the changes to life as I knew it went far further than that, everyone can see that I could no longer walk but add into the equation a bladder and bowel that let you down- you can't even feel when either need emptying and the process is one you would certainly rather never have to do for the rest of your life. Blood pressure and temperature regulation are affected, and you have no sensation from your injury level down. Quite a lot to deal with.

I had days when I punched my legs for being useless, I cried until there were no more tears and I just didn't know what to do with myself. I was beyond sad and I was scared to a level I'd never experienced before- I felt totally robbed. Life felt cruel.

Everything I loved doing had gone in a blink of an eye. There were many occasions that I didn't think I could get through this. Assisted suicide was something I had thought about and in the early days after my accident, I would think 'at least I have an option if I don't make any recovery and if I hate living like this', it made me feel better if I thought I didn't have to cope with this forever. I was never close to going but I had fleeting thoughts.

I spent time working hard on my rehabilitation with the tremendous support from the equestrian community but no matter how hard I tried there was no reward, I was stuck with this useless body. I received endless messages with links to news articles about people who had made an amazing recovery after a spinal cord injury, initially this gave me hope but latterly, it made me feel a failure.

I often felt embarrassed and very unattractive. If I got dressed up to go out, sitting in my wheelchair felt like putting on muddy wellies with a dress. My body shape changed and if I went shopping and tried clothes on in the cubicle surrounded by mirrors, I saw a figure I just didn't recognise as 'me'. I hated it.

This was my reality and I needed to learn to love my body. But would that be possible when it was so broken?

I worried I would put weight on as my life had gone from incredibly active to painfully stationary. I am still careful what I eat, however I exercise most days now using my hand bike.

Thankfully these incredibly tough times were interspersed with laughter with family and friends, hope and gratitude for what I had- I guess that is what kept me going.

I also know that loved ones can make a huge difference but ultimately it is your choice and Caroline's decision was right for her. No one would make her change her mind, this is what she wanted and for things to improve, you do have to really want to take that route because it can take a long time and a willingness to be open to things you had never thought of doing, and didn't have a passion for. Others wanting it for you is not enough.

Nothing compared to the buzz of competing my horses for a long time, I feared it never would. It did and I have been lucky enough to go on and live a life full of adventures and love since my accident.

I am worried that last week's news could influence newly injured and their families. I have already received quite a few messages. Always remember it takes time to adjust and dark days after such a dramatic life change are inevitable.

As time past, the bad days outweighed the good days, leading me to live a life very different to what I thought a paralysed person could ever live.

There are many people who will go on and live a fulfilled life following paralysis, sadly others may not but research is advancing and one day it will be an injury that is reversible. In the meantime, sports (depending on injury level and severity), successful careers and family are possibilities. So if you are newly injured, please don't lose hope.

My goal is to raise as much as I can to make this happen- if you can help the exciting research that the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation fund, please donate on the link below for an upcoming team challenge where I will push my everyday wheelchair.

Please help me rewrite the future of a Spinal Cord Injury. I am grateful for any support and I am also grateful for the use of my arms to be able to do challenges like this.

If you would like to join me on the 10k please get in touch. Together we can stop the suffering a spinal injury can cause.

Caroline, I will push extra hard for you and for people who suffer from a catastrophic spinal cord injury in the future. Thoughts are with all Caroline's friends and family at this tough time.

3,024 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page