A DIFFERENT LIFE - WITH A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE.
It was 1989, and I was lying on the ground, crumpled and broken with a crowd of people standing and kneeling around me.
I wasn't in pain at that point in time. Instead, I felt like I'd been cut in half as I could no longer feel anything below my waist.
The May sunshine was burning my cheeks. Above me, an open window was flapping as if it was laughing at me.
Next door to the property was an almost identical building - a large nursing home.
As it was a hot day, the manager was beginning to get the back garden ready for a tea party. She turned to the right and saw the top window of the house next door being opened, followed by a figure stepping out "as if she was walking into the air" and immediately drop at speed out of sight. She raced around and found me unable to move on the ground.
As she relayed what she had witnessed to the others who joined the scene, a memory flooded my brain - of being higher than even the most majestic trees, of a moment of slow-motion falling, before I caught sight of the ground hurtling towards me.
I had landed with my heels hitting the ground first, the shock and damage going up through my body stopping at mid-lower back.
As well as breaks to bones in my lower body on both sides, I had burst unstable L1, L2 breaks, with spinal cord damage, that required emergency surgery. A year later I needed another big operation on my back.
LIFE GOES ON (part one)
So began my challenge to create something positive out of a collection of 'life-changing' injuries that included spinal cord damage at L1, L2.
I had a lack of feeling and mobility below the waist with bowels/bladder and other internal organs affected.
While I spent months in the hospital, I decided to work with people who for whatever reason were left out of the main society.
A throwaway comment by my surgeon, to do as much as I could while I could - proved to be true. Ten years after my original injury I began to deteriorate with an amputation (and spinal cord injury-related osteoporosis to come.)
This decline would be to such an extent I could no longer work and required care at home.
I became one of the people left out of society, increasingly reliant on the threadbare social care system, that had been systematically starved of funds.
Again, I tried to find a positive and the only one I could find was my position - working in service provision and then being reliant on care providers gave me a vantage point from which to tell the stories of those who are suffering under this system, those whose stories normally wouldn't be heard.
An idea that had been floating around my head, turned into The Single Feather. During that period I was also studying for a more suitable Arts-based degree.
I followed my degree with a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism.
I am finding practical day-to-day life a struggle, with pain, isolation, and the depression that results from those two aspects constantly dragging me down.
I don't think I will have much longer left either due to my conditions or through my own hand. Either way, I want people to know I tried my best - and I hope they will understand. Ruth