Christmas was something really special for me ...

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Christmas was always something really special for me. I loved the hustle and bustle, the family celebrations, and looking forward to the new year. This has, however, changed to some extent. I have changed.

Ever since my accident 13 years ago, I am paralysed from the neck down. My body feels different and so do many situations I find myself in. Christmas is no exception.

In the past, it used to be my job to wander into the woods and pick the Christmas tree. I used to buy presents myself and it was often a last minute rush. I also wrapped the gifts myself. I need help to do all these tasks now. I have to plan in advance and organise everything carefully, even though I’d much rather just decide instinctively.

I’d love to meet up with friends for a mug of mulled wine when the mood strikes us; it really wouldn’t matter where and whether it is snowing or not. However, even a little snow makes it difficult to navigate my wheelchair and my body becomes cold very quickly when the temperature drops. This means I often can’t spend a lot of time socialising at Christmas markets.

My head spins with a thousand thoughts when the end of the year draws near. I start to wonder whether I’ll ever be able to build a snowman with my little niece. I ask myself whether I will ever have children of my own and if I will ever be able to have a snowball fight with them. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to go tobogganing again or to waltz into the new year. Will I ever be able to look my loved ones in the eye when I hand them their presents? And I ask myself whether I’ll ever be able to have a relaxing bath after a day on the slopes - alone.

Despite the countless questions and doubts in my mind, I have hope. I have hope thanks to you. Your generous donations fund Wings for Life projects across the globe. This affords us an opportunity to understand spinal cord injuries better. Ultimately, it will enhance the treatment of said injuries. Your support makes me confident that my situation - and the situation of countless other people suffering from spinal cord injuries - will improve. I will never lose hope that Christmas will one day be what it used to be.

I wish you all a wonderful end to the year and all the best for 2017.
Hannes Kinigadner