Monday, January 7, 2019

Chapter 8 - Forever First Love

Since the football game, Matt and I had become inseparable again and I was over the moon. We texted and spoke on the phone constantly and made sure we met at least once a week for tea. Earlier on in the week we had met up in my local pub for our tea and to play the quiz, when Matt let it slip that he’d been playing wheelchair rugby for the last six months. I pestered him to let me go watch him so tonight I was meeting him at the local sports centre to watch him play and then we were going out for food.

As I approached the sports centre I could already hear noises from inside. I slowly walked to the gymnasium door and pushed it open into a room full of men and women in wheelchairs. I noticed the wheels on the chair were different from a normal chair. They were slanted inwards and none of the spokes were showing. I looked across the court and I instantly spotted Matt who hadn’t seen me but looked like he was warming up. I headed towards the pulled out benches where all the other spectators were sitting.

Once I was sat down the lady to my right turned to me and said, “Hi! I’ve not seen you before, who are you here to watch?”
“I’m friends with Matt Hopkins so I’ve come to see what it’s all about,” I replied.
“Aww Matt’s a lovely lad. How do you know him?” she quizzed. “My name’s Anna by the way.”
“I grew up with Matt,” I said. “I’m Chloe, it’s nice to meet you.”
Anna’s eyes opened as if she was shocked and then she said, “oh Chloe who went to uni with Matt? I’ve heard a lot about you. It’s nice to finally be able to put a face to the name.”
“Oh I hope it’s all good things you have heard?” I questioned.
“Now that would be telling,” Anna replied with a smile on her face.

A couple of minutes later the game began and I quickly realised the game was lethal. The players ran into each other at full speed and the sound of the metal wheels colliding with each other sounded like a car crash. Each time there was a collision I cringed and covered my eyes. “It’s not an easy watching sport is it?” asked Anna in a rhetorical way.
“OMG it’s brutal how do you watch?” I quizzed.
“Time!” Anna replied. “You will get used to it soon.”

The next thing I knew another player collided with Matt and sent both their chairs sideways. The opposition player landed on top of Matt and instantly I had a flashback to his accident. Panic set in and I stood to my feet ready to go down to him. Anna swiftly took hold of my hand and said, “sit down! He will be fine and this is one of those times they all still feel like men. You going down there to him will only make him feel incapable.” Reluctantly I sat down and started to bite the end my fingernail. Within minutes Matt and the other player were up and seated back in their chairs smiling at each other.

Once the whistle blew for fulltime, I breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t witness Matt in any more brutal collisions. Anna told me that the lads would all get changed and then go to the bar area for refreshments so we both headed up there.


“Fuck that hurt,” I moaned to myself as I carefully took off my T-shirt and noticed that my shoulder was already beginning to bruise. I rolled over to the mirror wincing in pain and also noticed that I had a little cut under my eye and I was sure I’d end up with a shiner.

I called over to John and Mark, the physio and coach, and explained about my shoulder and how I was going to need a little bit of help transferring. When I was in my chair I secretly thanked God that I had Gemma at home because the next few days I was going to need some help.


I rolled into the bar trying my hardest not to show the pain on my face because I knew instantly Chloe would see it. I looked around and saw her sat on the bench with Anna and another lady who I briefly knew called Lauren. I rolled up to Chloe and asked, “so what did you think?”
“OMG Matt that was brutal. I couldn’t watch half of the time and I was worried you would get seriously injured,” she explained with a worried expression on her face.
I laughed, “well I’ve already broken my neck Chlo, what’s the worst that could happen?” Chloe instantly laughed and gave me a little punch to my shoulder. I instantly winced and I saw Chloe’s expression change. “You ok?” she asked.
“Yes I’m fine,” I lied. “Just banged my shoulder but I’ll be fine by tomorrow.”
“Don’t give me the macho attitude Hopkins. I can see you were in a lot of pain then,” she said. “I know these things, I’m a nurse remember!”
“Honestly I’ll be fine Chlo,” I replied in more of a stern voice. I knew Chloe didn’t believe it but she didn’t say another word.

Before I knew it, it was time to leave and I was pleased to see that Chloe had gotten on so well with everyone. “So will you come again?” I asked as we exited the sports centre.
“Yes I would like to, but I think I might sit with my eyes closed for the whole time,” she laughed.
When we got to the car I got ready to transfer but I remembered my shoulder. I hesitated and Chloe instantly knew what was wrong. “Ok I don’t want to hear any complaining because it’s going to happen so tell me how to help you. I can tell you are in pain now and transferring on your own is only going to make it worse,” demanded Chloe.
“Ok I’ll get as close to the car as possible and wrap my good arm around you. I need you to hold onto the waistline of my pants and on the count of three lift me and place my bum on the seat.”

The lift was successful and I could finally relax for the journey home. There was a comfortable silence until we were nearly home. “Same again when we get back, no arguing, ok?” said Chloe. “And when we get inside I need you to have a proper look at your shoulder. Ok?”
“Ok, whatever,” I moaned.


“What’s put you in a foul mood?” Gemma asked Matt as soon as he rolled into the room with a face that looked like thunder.
“He’s hurt his shoulder and I’ve told him I want to see it to assess the damage,” I replied.
“I said I am fine!” snapped Matt.
“No you aren’t,” I argued back.
“Ok I’ll tell you what Matt come with me and Chloe wait here,” said Gemma whilst mouthing ‘I’ll tell you why later’.

I sat in their living room for what must have been at least ten minutes. I flicked through every channel on the box and when I finally got comfortable watching an episode of Friends Gemma walked into the room. “Ok, Matt is in bed. You were right he’s hurt. The game has really knocked him for Six,” she explained.
“Am I ok to go assess him? It’s either that or he’s going to the hospital,” I said.
“Yes of course, he’s all yours,” she replied.

After following the instructions I walked up to Matt’s door and froze. I had to give myself a little talking to because I was reacting like I did at the hospital two years ago. Before I had any more time to think things over I gave a light knock on the door and walked inside.

Matt was propped up on the pillows and I noticed he was wearing a blue string vest top. I thought it was a strange item of clothing to wear for bed but didn’t question it. “How are you feeling now?” I asked.
“Truthfully, like shit, but I’m sure it’s nothing a good night’s sleep can’t fix,” Matt admitted honestly. “I’m sorry for snapping at you earlier. I just hate feeling useless but I know that’s no reason for taking it out on you.”
“No worries,” I said. “Now let me have a look at that shoulder of yours.”

I spent the next ten minutes assessing Matt’s pain levels and his range of motion. I had to rely on Matt being honest about what his previous range of motion was like, but after the assessment, I came to the conclusion that he was just bruised and the likelihood was he had pulled his ligaments on his rotator cuff muscles. I insisted he rest for at least 24 hours, but ideally 48 and for the next hour or two to spend 20-minute intervals icing his shoulder.

When I left Matt I explained to Gemma what I had found and what I needed her to do. “Ok, for the next 24 hours’ minimum don’t let him do anything. He’s going to hate it, but feeding, cleaning himself and everything else is out of the question,” I demanded. “If I was you I’d hide his chair so he can’t attempt to get out of bed.”
“Ha, I can’t see that going down very well,” Gemma laughed.
“Well just make sure he doesn’t use his shoulder at all,” I said. “Also what’s with the string vest top. Does he normally wear things like that for bed.”
“God don’t let him know I’ve told you this but no, he always sleeps naked apart from his boxers,” explained Gemma. “He was self-conscious about you seeing him with no top on so there’s your reason for the vest. Let me give you a little bit of advice for when it comes to Matt. If he ever gets suddenly quiet or is off with you the likelihood is it’s something to do with his body or disability.”
I sat there thinking about what Gemma had just said and knew that would be constantly at the back of my mind from now on.



  1. I’m surimi’s to see how the bed rest goes over with Matt. I also look forward to the conversations that will likely pop up between him and Chloe the hopefully result with him being less insecure about his body in front of her.

  2. I’m curious, curious... not ...whatever the heck that that typo was lol! *makes mental note to double check before posting!*

  3. Surimi is a molded, flavored fish product, eaten world wide, developed in Japan. I love that Chloe has to close her eyes during the wheelchair rugby.