A TEENAGER who faces spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair after an horrific accident said he is grateful to be given a second chance at life.
Tristan Green, 18, has been paralysed from the chest down after diving into a shallow swimming pool and breaking his neck.
Speaking from his bed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, Tristan relived the accident and thanked family and friends for their support.
He said: “Some days I don’t like the sound of being in a wheelchair, but at the end of the day, I have been given a second chance in life. I could have died.
“It is hard keeping a positive attitude and sometimes I have down days.
“I want to be the big brother my little brother can look up to and I feel like I am not going to be that big brother anymore, but that is life.”
Tristan is hooked up to a ventilator after undergoing a tracheostomy to put a hole in his windpipe.
In the last week has been able to use a speaking valve. He remembers exactly what happened on the fateful day on July 26.
Tristan was at a friend’s house with his girlfriend and they had been swimming in a pool in the back garden in Thaxted Walk, Colchester.
Tristan, of Prettygate, Colchester, said: “I climbed the ladder up the side to dive into the pool.
“My head hit the bottom of the pool, I jolted my neck, that’s when I broke it.
“It didn’t hurt. I floated to the top of the water face down and was shaking my head to try and get some attention.
“I couldn’t move, I thought I was going to drown.”
Tristan’s girlfriend Lauren Faulkner, 18, turned him over and along with her friend and his mum, pulled Tristan from the water and put him in a garden chair.
Lauren’s dad arrived, and spotting a lump on the back of Tristan’s neck, decided an ambulance was needed.
Medics called the fire brigade because Tristan was sitting in a chair and needed to be moved on to a spine board. They cut him out and he was flown to Addenbrooke’s.
Cracking a smile, Tristan said.“The best part about it was having a helicopter ride up to the hospital.”
The full extent of his injuries, which included breaking his neck in two places, and a bruised spinal chord, will not be known for about a year.
He is on a waiting list for Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire where he could spend up to nine months on a rehabilitation programme.
He is being fed liquified food through a tube and admitted he cannot wait to eat a Big Mac as soon as his body is ready to take solids.
His weight has plummeted 22lbs to 9st.
Tristan, who can drink his favourites – Dr Pepper or orange Lucozade – also undergoes daily physiotherapy and is visited every other day by parents James, 38, and Dawn, 42.
He also has four siblings, Scott, 25, Zoe, 23, Jodie, 22, and Harvey, two.
Tristan said the nurses have come to be more like friends, keeping his morale going on the days his family have not been able to visit and occupying him with banter, TV, music and DVDs.
The Facebook page his family set up, Tristan’s Road to Recovery, has more than 2,000 “Likes” and has had global messages of support.