My name is Alexandar Campion. I sound like I’m starting a bloody Alcoholics Anonymous meeting but I’m not; I’m telling you who I am and why on this God’s green earth I have any reason to offer advice. Well, I’m coming up to my tenth year on wheels. (Actually, I am finishing this in late 2022, so it has now been a decade)
I am a category A T-6 paraplegic, which in-short means I can feel everything above the bottom of my ribcage/nipple area upwards.
I can’t use or feel my legs, but I can feel them with my hands(!) and I use them to get up off the floor – don’t worry, I will explain that later.
So I ended up in a wheelchair from an 8mph tip off a motorbike. Yes, not 80 or 180… 8mph. (Grrrr)
You know, I was more pissed off with that than actually breaking my back, but that’s the way it goes. Ironically and funnily enough, it’s actually called a chance fracture.
I was wearing full gear, e.g. helmet, leathers, boots and a spine protector. Where my back actually broke was T12-L1, but the lucky man I am, I hit rubber and also broke 13 ribs, crushed T6,7,8,9 vertebrae, sliced my liver and got a good bump on the head giving me a subdural haematoma (brain bleed). I was told by the surgeon putting me back together that if I had only hit the curb, I only would have broken a collar bone. I believe I said, “Good to know that for next time.”
Subsequently, this is why I cringe at cyclists and motorcyclists not wearing the right gear… 8mph!
Yes, I had every intention on getting back on a bike and getting back to university, and I did but that’s a story for later.
Why have I written this? Well, I have found that people are either too scared to say what I am going to, or won’t as they live in a bubble of what they have been told that they can and cannot do.
Now this, from a medical perspective is kind of true and sort of a way of locking you into a way of thinking and also a set lifestyle, which it doesn’t need to be.
In no way am I saying all guidelines are wrong, I just think some of it is outdated and now not very relevant. It’s a hell of a lot of red tape, ass-covering within that system. Also the fact that once you’re in your lovely wheelchair (yes, a tone of sarcasm) there are ways to stop yourself getting ripped off left right and centre, and YES living life again with a strong dash of being independent and free.
About me; I’m 36, I work in design and engineering, and I’ve been exceptionally lucky with my life and found out the short cuts to use with my wheelchair – sometimes the hard way! But also, by asking older wheelchair users the best or easiest ways to live in a wheelchair.
I don’t view myself as disabled or “handy-capable” (whoever made up that dumb-ass term isn’t ‘handy-capable’!)
I get on with it and find ways of doing things. I am just me; my perspective has changed not just because of my height since being in a wheelchair (lol!). Well maybe on a couple of small things, but I am pleased to say I’m still the same stubborn, slightly crazy git I was before my accident, and I’m OK with that.
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