The NZ Herald reports:
Vulnerability is an issue Suzanne Cowan is passionate about. It features in her PhD research and in the contemporary works she choreographs and performs with Touch Compass Dance Company. It is also a fact of life for Suzanne, who was “catapulted into vulnerability” when a road crash left her with severe injuries, paralysing her from the waist down.
Suzanne, now 46, had been at university in Christchurch when she went to Canada as part of the student work abroad programme during the summer holidays. “And I was into skiing and I thought yeah that would be cool. Obviously anticipating the outcome, I should have stayed home.
“I was in a collision between a semi-trailer and campervan. I had spinal injuries. I couldn’t move and there was a fire and my hands and face were burned so they were wrapped up. And my neck was broken.”
She was in hospital in Vancouver for six weeks before being flown back to New Zealand where she spent four months in the spinal unit in Christchurch.
“It was life-changing. I had to find the strength to cope. Life throws you a curve ball and you have to deal with it. They didn’t expect me to live. I guess because of my age – I was 22 – you have more resilience physically and being young and fit and being able to sustain that. And then you get the aftermath in adjusting to life in a wheelchair.”
But Suzanne is not one to dwell on matters. “Strangely, acquiring a disability opened different doors, ones I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to walk through. It’s not easy but often the real gold is where the grit is.”