Thinking Out Loud

Hansa World Championships

World Championships in Holland

It’s 17 weeks until we get married. 17 WEEKS!!!! How did that happen?!?
We’ve still got so much to organise, but recently life has been revolving around sailing and our trip to the World Championships in Holland. David finished in 7th overall (pretty amazing stuff! He thinks he should have done better…) in some of the hardest conditions he has ever faced.  It was great fun, but we came home exhausted from long days on the water and a few too many late nights thanks to our amazing friends and a seemingly endless supply of booze.

Our heads were full of plans to make, wedding things to organise, diets to start….but we were side-lined by another thing on our endless list of things to do; we’re working on a top secret project! I can’t wait to tell you about it, and I will as soon as I’m allowed….it’s VERY exciting!

In between all that, we managed to find a few hours to sneak off to the cinema and see ‘Me Before You’. I told you in an earlier blog about how much I loved the book MBY Film(written by Jojo Moyes); I read it just before I met David coincidentally. Anyway, if you haven’t read it, you should. Or go and see the film. Or do both actually, because the book is so beautifully written, and there is much more in it than the film.
If you know nothing about it, I’ll try to give you an outline without spoiling it for you. It’s a beautiful love story about a dashing young chap (Will) who has a high level spinal cord injury. His wealthy parents employ a woman (Louisa) to help with his care.  They become friends.  That’s all I’m going to tell you!

Anyway, we loved the film. But we found lots of good things and bad things in it. It would be impossible to make a film that showed the gritty reality of a daily routine including bowel management, pressure sores, endless transfers from bed to chair to car etc, and make it pretty and appealing to the general population. As much as I would love to, I don’t often have time to put make up on in the mornings, or brush my hair, or even get dressed.  In the movie, Louisa appears every day at Will’s luxurious home resplendent in her fabulous collection of “interesting” clothes, and with immaculate glossy lips and shiny hair. Reality check; her fabulous high heels are impossible, it’s insane to wear short skirts when doing care work (lots of bending, no one needs that in their eye-line) and I doubt she would have been hired to be in sole charge of Will with absolutely NO training or experience.
And as for Will; well, he’s all kinds of gorgeous. We see him without his shirt on. Perfect muscle tone, not even the vaguest sign of skin breakdown.  He has something resembling a six-pack and sits beautifully upright in his power chair. No sunken chest, no sagging stomach from the muscles that are completely broken and no longer work.  His shoulders are rigidly set, almost a miracle given that the muscles around those joints would be pretty much useless. No hint of scarring on his throat or neck; yet another miracle when having suffered such a high-level break in his neck, he would almost certainly been ventilated (breathing tubes would be have inserted through his throat) after his accident.  And the house is perfect; we see a glimpse of his immaculate bathroom and his shower chair.  In the background we see twin high-level basins, round and shiny, like the ones you see in fancy-pants hotels. Completely impractical.  Nowhere do we see a ceiling hoist or boxes of rubber gloves.  Will is too good to be true; if you know anything about spinal cord injury you will notice lots of minuscule things that will have you raising your eyebrows and squeaking with astonishment in the cinema.  Don’t get me started on how Will magically appears in the aeroplane seat with a fixed table in front of him….

But 99% of people won’t see any of those things. It doesn’t matter; the fact that someone has finally made a film about a paralysed man and a pretty glossy-lipped girl, is enough. We watched it knowing how it would end. We laughed, we cried, we empathised, we criticised.
We left the cinema with me snotty-nosed and puffy eyed. And with David quiet, reflective and highly emotional (I am apparently not allowed to mention that he might have been a teeny-weeny bit moved by it!). He ‘got it’ more than most of us possibly can; and I can’t tell you much more than that in case I give the ending away!

(If you happen to be reading this lying flat on your very-broken-back in a spinal cord injury unit, wondering how the hell you will ever manage to live your life, please, please, please don’t go and watch the damn film. Or let your significant other/family watch it either. It’s not real: your life can, and will be incredible if you choose to let it be. Go outside, breathe in the sunshine, and know that you can live a normal life. You can love and be loved. It really is ok to believe that.)

Boy meets girl stories are always gonna make us laugh and cry. We all ache for their perfect shiny love, we dream of their sunshine smiles and straight white teeth. But I don’t think many of us dream of our perfect sparkle-filled person being 95% paralysed and not brilliant at dancing, rock climbing or bungee jumping. Does it matter?

No. It doesn’t. The film shows us that people can find a connection, no matter how great the odds. And I’m one hell of a lucky little monkey, because I am bouncing proof that it is absolutely, totally possible. And not only possible….the bestest, most incredible, perfect, life changing love that I have ever known. And in 17 weeks (eeeeeeeeeep!) I get to marry my 95% broken, paralysed man.

If you go and see the film, you will have questions: How would my life be if I were in that situation? Would I cope? Would my person love me? You cannot answer that, because you are not, and hopefully never will be in the same situation that Will finds himself in the darkest moments of the film or the book. David dragged himself through the blackest of times with a courage and propensity that will never, ever cease to amaze me. As we make plans for the happiest of our days (did I mention it’s 17 weeks?) there are a million and one things we have to consider because it just ain’t straightforward when you’re planning a wedding in a wheelchair. Least of all, the first dance. You crazy able bodied people with all your working limbs can flounce about to Robbie Williams crooning about Angels, or smooch to some old rocker begging us to stick together. We can’t. All we can do is hope to God that one of you reading this knows Ed Sheeran personally, and could invite him along to start our first dance (which won’t actually be much more than me sitting on his lap and kissing/squashing him for a few minutes) with the words of this beautiful song:

MBY 3“When your legs don’t work like they used to before, and I can’t sweep you off of your feet….”

They used it in the movie. We earmarked that as our “first dance” a million years ago (pretty sure they stole the idea from us actually!).
Go see the film, read the book, form your own opinion about the love story that unfolds; and chant the mantra in your head that Will tells Louisa: Live Boldly.

And remember this; you can find fulfillment in life, even with a Spinal Cord Injury.  You can live your life with or without love.

But it’s a whole lot better with love.


  1. Love this blog again Nicola. I started reading this book three days ago. I am really enjoying it.

  2. Another fabulous post! Yes I’ve recently read the book and yes you two were very much in my mind as I sobbed my way through the last couple of chapters. Keep on bouncing out your amazing love story you guys!

  3. Again, what a read. I become an emotional wreck everytime. 17 weeks i think you said lol! Cant wait to share your happy day. X x x

  4. This made me cry what a beautiful person David has found! Hope you both have a wonderful day and a lifetime of happiness!

  5. Carole Pangbourne

    I have actually read the book twice. Loved it. Second time was much more emotional because I kept thinking of you and David and wept more than the first time. I think you are both wonderful. XXX.

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