Every Eight Hours

Today is Spinal Injuries Awareness Day, so no surprise that my own spinal injury is on my mind this morning….

Apparently every eight hours someone suffers a spinal cord injury; in the summer of 1990 I was one of them. I had been diving off rocks into the sea and in one unfortunate second I struck my head on a rock that was submerged beneath the waves. I was fully conscious throughout and was acutely aware that I had injured myself fairly badly but had no real knowledge of the actual extent of my injuries.

The impact to my head had cut my scalp, crushed my spine and I suffered a cervical fracture at C7 causing permanent damage to my spinal cord. I was lucky to be alive.

I’ll never forget the realisation that I couldn’t move my legs, nor the 30 minutes that followed, even typing this now I can feel my heart beating faster. I shan’t go into graphic details now; those of you who have been there will know the quiet, internal chaos that follows a life changing trauma.

The first week was a blur of hospitals, consultants and airplanes and I was finally admitted to Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit seven days after my injury. I can remember still feeling fearful but with a sense of calm and reassurance that I was finally in the best and safest place I could be. Over the next 10 months the nurses and physios were incredible, always dedicated to getting me fit, strong and independent; I couldn’t have received better specialist care.

This isn’t a post to detail my rehab experience, but for anyone in the early stages of recovery from a spinal cord injury I want to assure you that it does get better and life gets much easier. No, it will never be the same as it was prior to your injury, but that doesn’t mean it has to be worse. However, your own attitude and approach to life will figure in this hugely. Without a doubt the people I know who have succeeded post injury are those who are optimistic, ambitious, tenacious and positive; (a dark sense of humour is also hugely beneficial).

Coincidentally on the news this morning there was also a report from The Lancet medical journal revealing that a young man from Oregon has been able to stand and control some lower limb movement after an electrode was implanted in his spine as part of a research programme at the University of Louisville.


I like to see stories like this to inspire hope, I don’t really ever think about walking or regaining movement in the future, partly because currently it’s such an impossible dream, partly because I have no desire to stagger down the street with a battery pack in my spine and 100 electrodes stuck to my legs, (not a good look!) but primarily because I prefer to spend my time living life and enjoying all it has to offer in the here and now.



About Shannon Murray

I am an actress, broadcaster, writer and lawyer; not really that unusual but I am also paraplegic as a result of an accident as a teenager. This is the place where I ramble on about random stuff.
This entry was posted in Body Image, Disability, Events and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Every Eight Hours

  1. Hi Shannon, i wanted to read your blog and it made me feel good to see how you went through your lows and came out with acceptance and a new perspective on life and i found it very inspiring, it seems no matter what we go through in life it is our mind that decides if we live happy or sad if we are to be victims or survivors…i dont know what it is like to have gone through what you did but in my own life there has been highs and lows and through my own doing i have damaged my life in my own ways and dissabled myself with bad choices and ignoring what i was doing delayed my rehabilitation process and in doing so delaying the acceptance of the choices we make and the repurcusions it entails….you are incredibly beautiful and i alwasy found you to be very intelligent and strong but strength is learnt through time and time heals to some degree but not always the way we expect but needless to say whatever life throws at us whether it be good or bad its how we deal with it as individuals and the love of the ones closest to us that helps carry us through it and it may sound like a cliche but life really does go on……i have had a bit of a tough time lately not the way you did all those years ago but still hard enough for me to put life into perspective and i see that we have to make the best and the most of what we have and even though we may wish for more what you want is not always what you need and that suffering is part of life but its how we choose to get out of the pain of suufering that makes us who we are and this usually depensd on how we look at events and how we react to them….i am in awe of such a beautiful strong talented woman as yourself and i commend you for your honesty and sharing your thoughts and i hope you dont mind i decided to share my own. May life keep blessing with you with love and happiness.


  2. Steve Schmidt says:

    Hi Shannon,
    You might just remember me. I played with the Physicals , managed by your dad., and we have met a long long time ago.
    I just just want to let you know that I admire your courage and spirit to deal with this tragic accident and want to give you my sincere wishes to continue to be as happy as possible.
    All the best


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