Gareth Cahoon, who has no movement from the shoulders down, said his wife Jennifer had kept him going through the worst of times.
The 37-year has just returned home after a spell in intensive care, following unexpected complications from what should have been a routine bladder operation.
He said, “She is my full-time carer and whenever I am in hospital she stays with me. I mentioned to her recently that she must worry about what will happen to me if anything should happen to her, and she said she already had it sorted with the family. It makes me love her even more.”
They had first met while working in Wee Barney’s cafe - Jennifer as manageress and Gareth in the kitchen - and about four years after his accident, she left her job to become one of his carers.
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He said, “We started going out together afterwards and I asked her to marry me.”
They were married in 2008.
Gareth had just turned 18 and was a front seat passenger in a car which crashed on the Gilford Road, Portadown, sustaining catastrophic injuries.
He said. “I had been out for the night and I remember being in the car driving down towards the College. After that, my memory cuts out. We must have been speeding because the car was a wreck.
“An off duty policeman who was on his way home pulled me out of the car, which was in flames. If it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t be alive.”
Gareth has previously taken part in the PSNI’s road safety show designed to bring home the human cost of road accidents and make motorists, in particular young people, think about the consequence of their actions.
He said, “I spoke bluntly about my injuries. I told them I have a catheter which comes out of my belly and a titanium plate in my neck, and I talked about the risk of sores and urinary infections.
“Jennifer doesn’t know I am doing this, but she is my best friend, my soul mate, and I am a better man for having known her. She has made my life complete.”
Read Gareth’s poem for his wife on page 24.