A Letter to a friend

Over the last few years I have found myself getting contacted by many different family and friends of people after suffering either a Spinal Cord Injury or a life changing event. I am no expert though on numerous occasions I have tried to find the right words to provide them with some advice of my experience in a time of some much uncertainty.

Below is a letter I recent wrote to a guy from Queensland that suffered a Spinal Cord Injury in Canada and was just about to arrive back home in Australia. In the letter, I’ve changed his name for privacy reasons though the rest is the same.


Hi Mark

Its Alex Mckinnon here mate. I received a message from your lovely cousin Emily on Friday about your accident and just wanted to write this letter to welcome you back home.

I’m sitting here at my desk thinking what could I write, I’ll start by giving you an update I’m assuming you’re a QLD supporter and I just wanted to let you know that Greg Inglis and Matt Scott will both be out for state of origin this year due to injury which hopefully will give my Blues a chance of winning finally….

I remember Wayne Bennett saying to me in the early days when I got injured ‘you can only play with cards your dealt in life mate & unfortunately you’ve been dealt a shit hand’ we laughed and I smiled and replied in my head to myself ‘yeah but that doesn’t mean I can’t win’. For me at that stage ‘winning’ was a full recovery. Walking. Playing NRL again. Reaching my goals and captaining the Newcastle Knights. But over time that definition of winning can change in life, it can reflect where you want to be or help achieve whatever that might be you want to achieve. Every Spinal Cord Injury is different, completely different. Everybody’s support network is different and education etc so you can only worry about your own situations. So, for me I changed a ‘win’ to being able to see my partner Teigan when doors opened at 11am in hospital most mornings or when she finished work at 4pm. Or a delicious meal that mum would cook for me that I wouldn’t usually get because I would be for myself cooking. It’s up to you to find what your wins are. Mine change all the time from listening to a Podcast or have catch up with friends to helping others. Those wins are what gets me through and today that ‘win’ for me was writing this letter to you so Thank you.

Don’t get me wrong, I struggle, I miss everything about my life that changed when I got injured in that tackle but hey what can you do. It’s taken me a while to get to the mental space I’m in now but I believe you can get there.

Remember these things.

  • It can always be worse
  • Express your thoughts to your close ones as they can help you through
  • Be grateful for everything people do for you, yes they don’t know what you’re going through or what it’s like to live your life but they just want to do anything they can to help and make it better.
  • Life is tough, never give up because you never know your next ‘win’ might be just around the corner
  • And lastly there’s a big world out there and you have a big role to play in many people’s lives.

Regards Alex Mckinnon

40/40 Creative