What I Now Know: Charles Manning

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 16, 2019 # What I Now Know, SCI Awareness

Dear Charles,

Today you will wake up to the sound of machines beeping, distant voices and the smell of strong chemicals. You will be dazed and confused and unable to move. Your chest will be sore from the CPR and your body will be covered in tubes and wires. You will hear the sound of your heart beating in your head as your eyes dart around the room looking for a familiar face. An angel of a nurse will notice you’ve woken and see that you are trying to communicate - trying to speak - and will grab your hand and stroke your head, assuring you everything is ok and you; you are safe... Your breathing will slow, the sound of your heart will become a distant drum and her presence will bring you a sense of calm before the biggest moment of your life.

She will hold your hand, looking into your eyes to assure you - you are ok and someone has you. The doctors will gather around you and test your responses, determining in that moment that you are paralysed. Your hands, left arm and legs have been paralysed. In that moment, your future as a musician has been snuffed out and everything you have worked for since you were eight years old has been shattered. You want to scream but you can’t. Your angel takes you in her hands and whispers “I’ve got you, it’s ok, I’ve got you...”

Your special angel will stay with you at night, watching Star Wars marathons, leaving water guns, nerf guns and lightsabers in your room so you can start fights with the other nurses on the ward. She will show you YouTube clips of inspirational wheelchair users that will fuel you to push harder and harder in rehab to the point the PT’s nickname you “The Hulk” for your strength and determination. You will feel anger, frustration and annoyance at your “new body” but you won’t hold onto that for long, you’ll turn those feelings into fuel and comedy; the two best medicines you’ll find.

You will discover new passions in activities you never thought possible for wheelchair users such as swimming, where you will find amazing friends and build a community of support.

You will discover that being paralysed doesn’t define you, it is just one small thing about you and that any life, abled-bodied or not, will always continue on incredible adventures, discovering new and exciting life-changing moments, as long as you are willing and open to them...

Continue to love yourself,

Charles