Rob: I don’t believe that… I don’t know, maybe it’s the way I was brought up, the way I think, the way I’m wired, I don’t know, but the situation is, if you say to me I can’t do something, that really isn’t in my vocabulary, and it wasn’t in my vocabulary when I was able bodied so why should it be in my vocabulary now.
Alex: Yeah, in fact that reminds me of something I wanted to ask you about that I thought was, when we spoke last night, to me was so interesting, you said that ‘some people…’ I think your words were ‘are a miserable git before they’re in a wheelchair, they’re a miserable git after they’re in a wheelchair.’
Rob: [Laughing] It was something… it was a comment that was made to me when I was in one of the hospitals one day and I turned around and said something to somebody who was in a wheelchair and he was really miserable in the reply and one of the family members said ‘don’t worry, he was a miserable git before he started,’ and I went ‘oh, ok,’ and then I suddenly… it made a lot of sense. I mean, yeah, ok, you could sit there and go ‘why me, why me,’ but why not you, why not everybody else because it could be happening to anybody, especially from the accident point of view. If it’s at birth and stuff, ok, I can understand that’s a situation which you have to deal with, [turning to Jennie] and you were saying the guilt trip situation that everybody else feels in… you know my dad’s giving me ‘oh this is terrible,’ and there’s the two ways; that’s not the situation with my case. It happened. I could say ‘oh well I was stupid I did what I did, I shouldn’t have been there.’ In some ways there was some resentment from the family saying ‘well you had all these people working for you, why were you doing it.’ Well why not you know. I said to you the other thing that it gave me solace after the event, I mean I know it sounds a really weird way of looking at it but it’s probably better that it happened to me because if it had happened to somebody that had been working for me, I would’ve had to deal with that, and I know someone who did run a company, an ash felting 15.19 company and somebody fell off one of his buildings, to this day he still feels extremely guilty. Now there’s nothing he could have done to prevent it, but it’s a problem.
Alex: Yeah, I was also interested in the impact of those around you, you talked a little bit about it, but with this massive transformation that you were actually really able to embrace and say ‘this is where I am, what do I have that I can focus on,’ but I know for some people around you that was much more difficult.
Rob: Yeah, I think that a lot of people around me felt that I’ve got to go back to doing what I was going to do, and that’s the only way I’m going to be a complete person again. I actually could more like deal with it I suppose in my head, a lot easier. I did I think retract inside myself, and did a lot of contemplation about what I wanted to do in the future and I’d never really done that, I’d spent from the time I was fifteen, sixteen working, I think I had a Saturday job when I was thirteen and I never stopped up until the age of about thirty-four, I just… that was it, seven days a week as far as I was concerned. I loved doing work, I was a junkie for it, I was terrible, and it was the first time in my life I went ‘stop.’
Rob: I mean, my… at the time my ex-wife, one of the biggest things she would turn around and say to me was ‘you go on holiday, you don’t wind down for two days and then you wind up two days before we go home, what’s the point of going on holiday,’ and yeah, I suppose that was the case.
Alex: Yeah, I was also… and I wanted to bring Jennie in here as well that I think one of the things that’s really interesting is how when people are faced with very difficult situations, how people respond differently you know, and I think for both of you, you’ve found a way to take a situation and to focus on what you can still do in your life and how you can make something positive out of it, but I’m curious as to both your thoughts about that?
Jennie: Well obviously our situations are so different because like Rob said it happened and then suddenly you’re faced with it, whereas with my situation, what you see isn’t wasn’t you get you know, and if you meet me now, in ten years time you’ll be meeting a very different person and I have to know, even when I meet say a partner for example, at what point do I explain to them that I’m a hard of hearing lady, that I’m probably going to become a deafened lady; that’s a very, very big deal and I think that you have to be comfortable with that before you can expect anybody else in your life to be comfortable with that and that takes, and I think you probably agree, [looking at Rob] that takes a lot of work because you can’t put those issues… and I think you said to me, once you had your accident , you spent a lot of time looking after your family rather than your family looking after you…
Alex: What are your thoughts about that?
Rob: I think it’s the mental frame, I mean I got to a situation where I suddenly realised ‘look…’ when you then start getting the truth from the doctors which is not necessarily always the case, and it’s not that they’re trying to tell you a lie, it’s they don’t know. I mean there’s a lot of that going on; they really don’t know. And I’m fairly forthright so I said ‘look, can we do this, can we do that, what’s going to happen in the future,’ and they’re going, [rolls eyes up head with a blank expression] and it’s like scared headlights. And I said ‘look, that’s not enough, I need some answers,’ [and the doctors said] ‘why’ [and I said] ‘well, I need to make plans for the future, I need to be able to make some decisions now,’ and I couldn’t get them, and that’s I think when I think the change for me came from there, it’s like ‘I’ve got to make some changes, and I’ve got to set up some situations in the future. Very much like Jennie said, I mean I’m single, I’m obviously from the point of view when you meet somebody you have to think ‘alright, I’m like I am now, I know that as I get older I’m not going to be able to use a manual chair, that’s going to be a problem. Flying off at moment’s notice, you have to think of things through, everything has to be pre-planned, but you pre-plan it in your head, it almost becomes autopilot, you know where you’re going. Jennie said to me the other day about ‘well what happens if you go out and do something.’ You’ve pretty much over a period of time in your memory, I know I can go there, I know I can do this, I can go there,’ and then the places that you don’t, you do the investigations beforehand, but you learn for other people.
Rob: And that’s something that if you can do it on a day-to-day basis, and you can incorporate into your life, it makes life so much easier. At the beginning, that was the hardest bit people don’t know what to do with you. It’s like ‘oh God, we won’t invite him because…’
Alex: Well yeah, I was also going to ask about that. I think often human-beings generally often have a fear of the unknown and a fear of being in a situation where they’re not going to know what to say, they’re not going to know what to do, they’re not able to be with something, and I think for people that are watching this that are… know people with disabilities or come in contact, it’s often, it’s not that they don’t want to connect, they just don’t know how to be with it. I’m kind of curious as to your thoughts around that.