The other side of the fence

By Brett Henman

Hi, my name is Brett and on April 30th 2013 my life was changed in ways I could never have dreamt.

How could we possibly understand what it would be like not being able to operate our own body, we may think what it could be like for a fleeting moment as we pass someone in a chair, but that’s as close as it gets right?I was about to discover just what that feeling was like!

On the evening of that otherwise ordinary day I made a mistake that has now changed my life forever! I over looked the most important thing you could possibly do in climbing, attaching the rope to my harness, I climbed and fell, 7-8 metres approximately. This fall shattered 5 vertebrae and damaged my spinal cord, leaving me a L2 paraplegic.
I was to spend the next 8 months of my life going from surgery at Westmead to Royal North Shore, from Royal North Shore to Royal Rehab at Ryde, from Royal Rehab to the most anxious time of my life……home!

I’m writing this one year to the day that I moved into my new place. Life has defiantly had its ups and downs and at times I feel completely alone, frustrated, sad or pissed off, but not often. In rehab you’re a part of a club, not one you join by choice mind you, but a club none the less. Life outside rehab can be a very scary place, a bit like being a kid in a big new playground, once you discover it’s not going to eat you up it’s a great new adventure. This is how I try really hard to think about everyday life now, don’t get me wrong it has its shitty moments and can get as frustrating as hell, here’s a tip “buy a vacuum cleaner without a bloody cord and be prepared to shave some paint of your architraves” but most days I get through with a smile on my face.

I have met some wonderful people over the last year or so and they will remain friends for the rest of my life, it’s that club thing that I spoke of earlier and I guess life for me wasn’t meant to end for me just yet, it was just meant to take a different path. I’m now doing a job I love, I’m studying to be a youth worker and I play some great new sports.

So I guess if I was meant to sum up my new life there would be a whole lot more positives than negatives, I’m not saying it’s easy by a long shot but when is life ever easy? So today, like every other day both before and after this day I will continue to live my life to the best of my ability, working, playing and watching my children grow………oh and wrestling with the damn vacuum cleaner!!

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
― Albert Camus