Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries

Thinking about the future

After an injury people may have to rethink their plans for the future and how they will manage daily life, including work, family life and relationships, driving, travel and many other aspects of life. A key issue for many people we talked to was trying to keep optimistic, enjoy life and make new plans at the same time as living with uncertainty about their future recovery.  
People talked about balancing living in the moment with thinking about the future, and making plans and setting goals. For some it was important to have definite plans and targets, like going back to work. But for others taking each day at a time and focusing on what they can do was the best approach.
While for some it was a question of getting back to their old normality as far as possible, others felt they wanted a new start.
People often made more progress than health and social care professionals thought they might. This was heartening and reassured them that there was hope for future recovery. Jamie felt that if he continued to work hard he would be able to walk again. But Amy said it was important to decide what it was worth working on, and accept that certain things could not be changed.
Part of people’s expectation for further recovery involved hope that advancements in treatments would improve their prospects. But they were warned to be cautious about unproven treatments. Juri was advised by his doctor not to trust anyone who said they could fix his damaged eye, because “they would just get my money.” Aids or assistive technology could also help.
People of course wanted to become more independent in the future as their recovery progressed. Nick Z hoped the level of care he needed would decline. As well as physical improvements, having enough money was an important factor in becoming more independent. Like some others, Wesley was currently living at home with his mum, but wanted to get his own place.
Jane would like to start a new relationship now she is feeling better. She would like to have children, but suspected that because of her injury, she will be very protective of them. Rob and his wife were expecting their first child. He knows that parenting with a visual impairment will be hard work, but he can’t wait for the baby to be born.
People also anticipated they might be at greater risk of other problems because of their injuries. Some of their concerns included future pain, infections or illnesses. They put in place strategies to prevent or postpone them, which included adopting a healthy lifestyle, exercising and having a good diet.
People who’d had a leg amputated said they tried to take care of their good leg because they feared it would be damaged in the long-term from increased use. Jack said this was “just one of the limitations” of his condition. Nick Y tries to minimise the damage to his good leg by sometimes limiting what he does. He said, “I actually do less. I tend not to push it”.
After injury the future can seem worrying and uncertain, but it can also be a time for discovering new aspects of yourself. Amy felt she’s done lots of things since her brain injury that she never would have done before. She said that injury is “not the end of the world”.
(See also, ‘Recovering and establishing a new identity’) 

Last reviewed May 2019.


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