Grace Spence Green: The Medical Student Who Was Paralyzed by a Falling Man, is Now In A Wheelchair – and Found New Purpose
Grace Spence Green became paralyzed and must use a wheelchair now because a man who threw himself off a building (and survived) landed on her, causing spinal damage to her. (I am guessing the man was trying to commit suicide, though the article doesn’t really state this clearly.)
Rather than indulge in endless anger, bitterness, fury, or self pity (that she at first felt when she realized she’d never walk again), Green went on with life, she chose to move on, and says she’s happy.
Interestingly, Green says she’s run into people who are angry with her for being happy in spite of what happened to her. They apparently want or need for her to be angry, upset, still (emotionally) hurt and bitter, or to believe that she is angry or bitter.
Her life changed instantly when she was crushed at a shopping centre. But through radical acceptance she gained friends, greater empathy and a passion for changing people’s perspectives
by Emine Saner
May 26, 2021
‘I still think it really shocks people that I can be happy’ … Grace Spence Green. Photograph: Dolly Clew
It helps to think of it as the day she saved someone else’s life. That it has brought Grace Spence Green many other positives – increased empathy, good friends, a new perspective – is what she thinks about often, even if she also describes it as “the most traumatic day of my life”.
On an October afternoon in 2018, she was walking through Westfield shopping centre in east London at the precise moment a man three floors up decided to jump. He landed on Spence Green, breaking her back, injuring her spinal cord and fracturing her neck. It was surreal, she says, to wake up “when I didn’t think I was asleep”.
…There was the denial: “You never think you’re going to be the one that gets this sort of injury. I just felt like: ‘Well, no, this isn’t me, I’m not meant to be in a wheelchair,’” she says.
….She sparkles [during the interview from her apartment] with a kind of calm but intense energy, even when remembering what she describes as her lowest point, when doctors told her she would not be able to walk again.
“I remember getting out of that meeting and just crying, folded up on my lap. I went outside, because I wanted to breathe, and it was pouring down with rain.”
Her family went home and she remained in hospital, dealing with this news and contemplating a future that felt extremely bleak – because this was what she thought life as a wheelchair user would be.
In the two and a half years since, Spence Green has had to unpick a lifetime of negative messages about disabled people. Now, as one of the hosts of the podcast This Is Spinal Crap – all about people living with spinal injuries – she is focused on showing that the very fact of her “existing – living a happy, normal life – is activism in itself”.