What I Now Know: Suzanne Edwards

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on October 29, 2019 # SCI Awareness

Dear Suzanne,

Don’t panic…I know there is a lot going on around you and you have no idea what to think, but just don’t panic. The last thing you remember is being up on the roof terrace looking at the ocean, and now you’re being told that the railing gave way, and you fell quite a long way and fractured your spine. Just focus on what you do remember… you’re in Morocco, you spend every day on the beach, surfing and exploring – what will happen now?

What you don’t know is that the next few years will take you to the depths of despair and to a place where all you want to do is give up, scream and cry. But, your family and closest friends will stop you from tipping over the edge, and these people will become your strength. They will pick you up (sometimes literally), they will let you cry and tell you things will be ok, and they will be so patient with you and never push you to do things before you’re ready.

And just when the darkness seems like it will never disappear, there will be a small light. You will find something that reignites your spark in the form of sport. You’ll remember that exhilarating feeling of moving around a tennis court, striking the ball and wanting to get better and better. You’re moving around on wheels rather than using your feet, but for the first time, it doesn’t matter.

Your confidence will grow, you’ll meet people in a similar situation to you who also love sport and you will learn so much from them about how to be ok and how to start enjoying life.

With your new found confidence your mindset will start to change and you’ll start seeing the world as a series of opportunities to embrace rather than shy away from. And then everything will change again in a way that you never would have dreamed…

You’ll discover the world of work and end up working for one of the biggest travel platforms in the world. In this work environment, you’ll get the chance to learn from incredibly talented and creative people, and they’ll see you as another colleague rather than ‘that person in a wheelchair’. For the first time, you’ll meet people who didn’t know you before your accident, and your disability won’t be ‘a thing’. Some of your colleagues will become your friend, your ally and your confidence to push the boundaries to try and change the world of accessible travel.

Through the work you do, you’ll discover that there is the most incredible community of people who are all passionate about making the world more accessible for others. And what once seemed like a completely inaccessible world will start to open up. You’ll start to travel again and explore new parts of the world, which won’t be easy, but you’ll get used to the logistics and start to be able to enjoy these trips.

And as for enjoying carefree days on the beach…that longing will probably never go away - there is no getting around the difficulty of wheelchairs and sand! But you will get to feel the rush of catching a wave again when you try adaptive surfing. And that will open up another amazing opportunity that you will embrace and take you to the World Adaptive Surf Championships in California.

So as you lie there in the hospital feeling so alone and helpless, and worrying about what happens next, please don’t give up all hope - it won’t always feel like this.



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