Suddenly an everyday carer

My sudden role change and development into a carer occurred in 2012 when a surgeon phoned from America asking for my consent to perform decompression surgery on my daughter, Emily. She had fractured a neck vertebra (C5) in a fall, resulting in a spinal cord injury (SCI) which rendered her quadriplegic.

- Suddenly an every day carer

Following my initial disbelief, shock and sorrow, it was time to tell scattered family and friends what had happened and I began writing emails. I flew half way around the globe to Burlington, finally arriving at the intensive care unit (ICU) in Vermont where I began documenting everything into a journal as I watched over my critically injured daughter. My writing became a way of doing something when there was nothing to be done but hope.

After three long weeks over 16,000km from home, Emily returned to Australia. By that time, I had established a routine and friends and family now awaited my email messages. Writing was subtly therapeutic as it ordered my thoughts and concluded my day.

While resident at Royal Rehab in Ryde, Emily was busy with physio, occupational therapy, psychology sessions and vocational training, alongside I.T. meetings. I was somewhat superfluous to the professionals schedule and Emily’s physical healing process, so my writing increased as I documented SCI from a carer’s perspective.

There is a need to share our stories and as a professional nurse and carer, I am motivated to raise awareness and share information. I believe everyone can positively contribute to, reinforce and enhance confidence in people with SCI, working towards their increased self-sufficiency, enabling greater choices and opportunities. My blog, Everyday Caring, developed as a practical public filing system for SCI carers, detailing insights, recording information and saving useful website addresses for future reference.

From the outset I collaborated with Emily as her most ardent motivator as she worked hard to regain independence; applying to return to University, negotiating public transport and domestic and international travel, and embarking on new sports and relationships.

Over time, my role as facilitator dwindled and I’m delighted that my involvement has subsided, my primary aim was always to initiate independence and self-belief in Emily. So why do I still write?

Four years have passed since Emily’s accident and my desire to bolster others in their journey still drives me, in crisis our struggles unite us and peer group empathy comforts us. I have learnt we can’t fix all that confronts us in life but through sharing, and with support, we can retain perspective and manage our everyday demands with resilience.

My soon to be released book, Suddenly an Everyday Carer, was written for people thrust into a caring role through a trauma, accident or illness. The book delivers a holistic perspective, coping strategies and promotes hope for new and experienced carers alike. The book will soon be available on my Everyday Caring blog at


SCI Carers Support Group

Rachel is part of a small group of experienced SCI carers who facilitate the SCI Carers Support Group which runs programs reinforcing sustainable health, fitness and wellbeing in SCI carers. The group also invites speakers to deliver helpful keynotes for SCI carers which are reported through Everyday Caring for people in remote / rural areas.

You can find out more about the SCI Carers Support Group by visiting the website or emailing

The SCI Carers Support Group is registered with the Carers NSW together program.



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Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.