There are a whole range of people who are affected by Spinal Cord Injury. For the individual themselves, of course an accident or injury is life-changing. As too are the lives of those who surround them, particularly family & friends. In the lead up to International Day of People with a Disability (3 December 2018), with the theme this year being “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’, I was keen to chat to people who play a crucial role in empowering those who sustain a SCI, to fulfil their potential!
Meet Clair.. The Good Scouts captain, mother of two and wife to co-founder, Scott (you can read Scotts story here). Clair shares with us how her life has been affected by SCI.
Tell us a bit about your life prior to meeting Scott?
I’m the middle child and only girl. Growing up we moved interstate a few times, and if we weren’t driving back and forth from Ballarat to Brisbane to visit family, we were packing up the trailer and going camping. Including lots of beach holidays as we all had a love for the water. I was completing my university degree and had just been over to Europe for the first time with a good friend, just before I met Scott.
How did you two meet?
We met in 1999 through a friend from University, and the rest is history.
What do you remember from the time of Scott’s accident?
It was summer here in Australia and I was on my way to the movies, when I received a call that Scott had had an accident and was in hospital. I then remember sitting at the pub with some of Scott’s close friends being in a state of shock, thinking the worst, but hoping for the best.
How did you react to the outcome that Scott would need to use a wheelchair?
I don’t remember the exact moment I found out that Scott would use a chair, I just remember visiting him in rehab thinking, it’s still Scotty, cracking jokes and making a go of the situation he found himself in.
Are there any key points in Scott’s recovery that had a significant impact on him and you?
As Scott says, meeting some para athletes early in his rehab significantly helped him come to terms with his SCI. It gave him a focus and channel for his energy as he was coming to terms with his injury. And his sport also created some unreal opportunities down the track like representing Australia in both wheelchair basketball and para-triathlon.
How was life moving forward in the early days?
Scott was so determined to adapt to his new life, like relearning to drive a car and finishing off uni, he kept himself moving forward, taking the challenges as they came. I had planned to go on a working holiday to London for a year around the time of Scott’s accident and contemplated cancelling it. But I decided to go ahead with the trip as I knew Scott had a good support network around him and that he needed time to adjust. Scott and I keep in regular contact whilst I was away and he didn’t want to be the reason I cancelled my trip.
How did you manage your own emotions and actions in supporting Scott and were there any aspects of life you focussed on to help?
Honestly, Scott’s attitude made it easier. He just wanted to relearn the life skills so he could literally get back on with living his life, before we knew it we were back going to the movies and pubs like everyday 20-something year olds!
How and why is travel such a big part of your life?
I absolutely love to immerse myself in new cultures and try new things and eat new foods! I always try and do some research before a trip so I can make sure I’m going to see the best of the destination. However, the most spontaneous travel moment was when I was in Spain with a good friend and we weren’t sure where we were going to go next and just arrived at the airport and took the next plane to Morocco! So I wasn’t exactly prepared, but it was incredible all the same. Spontaneity is something I miss since Scott’s accident. We can’t afford to just go somewhere new on a whim anymore, we’ve been disappointed so many times, so we plan as much as possible.
What are some of your favourite travel experiences?
Scott played wheelchair basketball for Padova in Northern Italy in late 2010 so we lived in a little country town for about 9 months. It was unbelievable, we were able to make some fantastic friendships, eat some incredible food and as I had never had the opportunity to learn another language until now, I carried my Italian dictionary around everywhere and taught myself some basics. I also attended a local cooking school and travelled to some of the best spots around Italy. I caught the train to Venice for a day during Carnevale….it was amazing, Venice is such a magical place. We also made it over to Istanbul and Warsaw on basketball trips too, this was an eye opener, travelling with a whole wheelchair basketball team…definitely proved to me that patience is a virtue when travelling with a disability and customer service makes (or breaks) the experience.
How would you describe your life now?
Fortunate. We have two small children and have been married for 8 years. Scott has created some awesome travel opportunities for us, through his sporting achievements. And his positive outlook and fun nature makes people gravitate to him wherever we go. Working on The Good Scout is a dream come true, and I am incredibly excited about this phase of our business and really look forward to continued success.
Knowing what you know now, is there any advice you would give to yourself to assist in dealing with Scott’s accident or to other support people/friends/family going through a similar thing?
It’s ok to go through a full range of emotions to come to terms with a new situation, but knowing that there is a whole community that have gone through similar experiences that go on to lead normal lives is comforting. You won’t always have the answer or know what to do or say in certain situations, but just being there makes all the difference.
Clair once said to me that she knew Scott was the one for her when she couldn’t imagine her life without him. Clair is a fabulous human being, she’s fun-loving, adventurous, cares deeply, family orientated, loves a good coffee as much as she loves planning the next getaway.. and I’m sure Scott agrees, she also makes a pretty great partner to be doing business with!