Biking enthusiast Stuart McMillan, who suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury in 2017, has set up a Peer Support service for those who have suffered a spinal cord injury in Dumfries and the Borders.
Through Spinal Injuries Scotland (www.spinalinjuriesscotland.org), Stuart now dedicates his time to supporting other survivors of spinal cord injuries in to help them find a way to embrace life in a chair.
Stuart is hosting monthly Meet and Greets throughout the area to signpost people with a spinal cord injury or have a spinal cord condition to the services which are available from different charities, grants, activities, events, shared experience and the benefits of Spinal Injuries Scotland membership.
Stuart said: “The value of shared experiences cannot be underestimated, as it gives people the chance to learn from one another’s own road to adjusting to a new life in a wheelchair.”
Stuart broke his spine, leg and pelvis after colliding with a car while on his motorcycle which left him paralysed from the chest down.
Commenting on his accident, Stuart said:
“I knew immediately after the crash that I was paralysed as I couldn’t feel my legs. I remember asking the police officer to save themselves an ambulance call out and just put a bullet in me.
“I laugh at it now because looking back I know how stupid it sounds and that it was just the fear talking. But I’ve since found ways to lead a normal life and I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did.
“The medical care really was great – by sheer chance I even bumped into one of the first responders in the street once I left hospital so I was able to extend my thanks to her.
“But once you leave hospital you are kind of on your own and I simply would not be here if it wasn’t for the love and support from my wife Lynda and the kids, and other spinal injury survivors who you can learn from.
“There is life after a spinal injury and no one should fear the chair – it’s as simple as getting back outside and surrounding yourself with the things and people you love.
“I might occasionally need help with silly things like closing the blinds but I can still drive my car or go to the pub with friends and even enjoy outdoor pursuits like sailing or hand-cycling.
“A wheelchair might change your life, but it certainly doesn’t stop it.
“As Peer Support Advisor for Dumfries and The Borders, I visit the outreach clinics with staff from the Queen Elizabeth Spinal Injury Unit in these areas and I have a series of coffee meet-ups for people affected by spinal cord injury so that everyone can get really valuable peer support.”