If I could turn back time

By Andrew Merryweather

When I was 24 I thought I had it all. My whole life was planned out and everything seemed to be going as planned. Then suddenly, in a moment, my world was turned upside down. These tragedies happened to other people on TV, it would never happen to me.

As I lay in my hospital bed unable to move, the events of that tragic night flashed through my mind like a horror story. It had been an enjoyable evening out, and on the way home a colleague, my brother and I decided to grab a bite to eat at a nearby petrol station. Unbeknown to me, I would never make it into the shop. A group of matric boys assaulted us; I bore the brunt of the attack. The high school boys broke my neck, fled away and left me for dead.

I spent days in ICU, drifting in and out of consciousness. Once the doctors had deemed that my body was stable enough, I underwent a five hour operation which entailed cutting out part of my right hip bone and fusing it into my neck, along with a titanium plate and four screws.

I regained full consciousness a few days after my operation and nothing could prepare me for what I woke up to. I felt like I was living a scene from a movie. My brother and immediate family sat by my side telling me what had happened. I did not want to believe it, but the fact that I could not move forced me to acknowledge that this was real life. Suddenly everything I had planned for my future, every dream I’d ever had, vanished. For four months I was in hospital, attending speech therapy, learning to talk again and trying to get any type of physical function back. My days had been reduced to being taught how to “cope” with my new life in a wheelchair.

I did not want to accept life as it seemed it was going to be. I started to research therapies that would maximise my capabilities and hopefully even get me back on my feet. This became my day-to-day routine, in and out of training, trying to improve myself. I had to keep my mind and body equally active or face the possibility of depression. My quality of life gradually improved. I became stronger and more independent. After months of hard work I had full function of both my hands. I can now stand in a walking frame and walk slowly in parallel bars.

One of my greatest obstacles I had to overcome was not only my mindset, but something that really held me back was finance. We do not think that things like this will ever happen to us, so we tend to not prepare for them financially. I can remember the conversation I had with my financial advisor several months before my accident. His words were: “You’re young, you don’t need to worry about taking out disability cover.” I will never forget these words and how listening to them put me onto a very difficult path. Needless to say he is not my financial advisor anymore. How different things would be now if I had received better financial advice. I would be able to afford the best therapies out there in my quest to recover.

Sound financial advice from an accredited advisor cannot be understated. It is so important to educate people and guide them in planning for every eventuality in life that could affect their financial situation. This needs to be done by advisors with unquestionable ethics and knowledge, that are in the industry to help people, and not, as in my unfortunate experience, an advisor that is just pushing products to earn a commission.

By autusco

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

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