spinal-cord injury

My week in brief


  • Teaching Trinity at Parramatta with Simon Bartlett as a student. Simon was part way through his degree when he broke his neck in the surf and was left a C6 quadriplegic. He is an inspiring young man who is always giving me encouragement. I am ostensibly his teacher but this week he got talking to me about the “footprint” of my wheelchair, looking for sneaky ways to make it shorter. Walls and doors would appreciate the change, as would my wife and my builder brother! His lessons on living with SCI probably more useful than my abstract metaphysical discussion of the Trinity…
  • Opening of new Alphacrucis College building in Parramatta. This is a brilliant facility and if anyone is nearby you should take a look. During the celebration I spoke at the launch of Jacqui Grey’s new book, Three’s a Crowd.
  • Taught a class in Brisbane, using Skype from my home.
  • Emma Maharaj from the spinal outreach service teaching my carers how to give me an assisted cough (without stomach muscles my cough is weak and when I suffer from a cold I need help getting up the flem – disgusting I know). It was amusing having five people pounding on my stomach. Emma is brilliant at her job and a great teacher.


  • During a meeting at college (I am back at work part-time) I noticed the unmistakable smell of urine. Discovered that the tubing from my SPC to the catheter bag had pulled out. This meant that, unawares, I had been sitting in piss since early morning. Took me about an hour and a half to get home. I felt a little like a drunken old man whose clothes had not been washed in months – imagine the poor people on the train. By the time I was showered and dressed I had been sitting in wee for about seven hours.

More highlights

  • Narelle Melton, a colleague and friend from work, prepared to get her hands dirty and help me out when I needed it.
  • Elly Clifton for being willing to laugh as she had the “joy” of washing wee from the nooks and crannies of my chair.
About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on


  • Renee Hyratt
    March 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks fro sharing Shane, I hope you didn’t get any sores. Urine doesn’t help with pressure sore! BTW have you heard of Christy Brown? He was an interesting guy born in Ireland during the 1930’s, an artist, author and poet. He was born with cerebral palsy and only had the use of his left foot, a movie was made in the 90’s about his life, ‘My Left Foot’. Im reading a book about him at the moment.

    • Shane Clifton
      March 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      That is a famous movie staring Daniel day Lewis but I have not read or seen it. You have inspired me so I wll


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