18 months. Today marks 18 months since I was my able-bodied self; 18 months since my accident. In a lot of ways, I can’t even remember what it’s like to live my life that way: to walk, to leave the house without worrying about accessibility, to park my car wherever I want, to be spontaneous and not have to plan my life around a bowel and bladder program. My life was a lot simpler before this injury but going back is not an option. To think that my children are all one and a half years older than they were at the time of my accident is mind boggling. To think that only a few short years ago I had a baby, and then another baby in almost the same amount of time (19 months) is even harder to comprehend. Time feels stagnant sometimes but then all of a sudden it is gone.
For the first year, I counted down every month. When the 10th day would come around I would always have an internal battle on which way I would face it: would I find strength to face it with positivity and a smile or would I give in to the heartache I felt because every month made it feel so much more permanent? There was one month where the 10th came and went without a second thought and I actually felt really guilty when I realized it a day or two later. I gave myself a hard time for not respecting that date and the significance it held in the first-year countdown. I felt like the antithesis of Cinderella. We were both under a spell but while she waited for midnight for the spell to be broken, I waited for the one-year mark to be turned into a paraplegic forever. Certainly not the Cinderella dreams of my childhood.
After the first year, I started to forget that monthly anniversary all of the time. If I saw it obviously pointed out on a calendar then I would remember. But as I got back into life, it was harder to dwell on the fact that another month had gone by with a spinal cord injury. Because it really truly felt like one year was my mark of forever and what is the point of counting down to forever?
But today felt different. I hadn’t been dwelling on it like I used to in that first year – It was actually my husband who pointed it out to me the other day. But since he mentioned it, September 10 has been in the back of my mind. I wonder what would be different today if the paralysis was erased. I wonder what would be the same. I try to remember what it’s like to walk around our house and easily fall onto the couch or the bed (and how easy it would also be to pop right back up). But although the memories are there, it’s almost impossible to remember the feeling. Just another sign of the permanence of my injury and the ability we have as humans to acclimate and move on.
In these last 18 months I have learned a lot about life. I think I have felt every emotion you could possibly feel as a human being. I have learned things about myself that I had
never known. I learned more about the people in my life and what it truly means to love someone. While I often tease that everyone I know now has a token disabled friend, I have discovered that real friendship is far more than convenience.
18 months of life lessons. 18 months of paraplegia. 18 months.