It was three years ago, on March 10, 2016—in this very spot—I became a paraplegic. Today, it looks nothing like it did on the day of my injury; there is zero indication that this was a place of a life-altering accident. The dirt has been replaced with carpet. Drywall and paint covers the exposed cement foundation and the staircase fills in the dark emptiness of a basement-in-the-making. But one thing remains—framed in with wooden trim—and that is the hole I fell through.
Coping & Grief
This Spinal Cord Injury Journey Isn’t Just About Me—Inside the Trauma and Grief of a Family
From the beginning of this injury, it was never just my journey I had to concentrate on. It was never just my grief, my trauma or my transition to a new life. My accident happened to my entire family. All five of us—myself, my husband and our three children—were there as our life took a sharp turn in an unexpected direction; we were the only ones there. Our daughter—too young to understand what was happening—has no memory of it. Our boys however, can vividly recall their versions of the story and it breaks my heart. No, it was never just my journey I was worried about.
It’s the end of January—the month so many people feel is never-ending. While I’m fairly certain it’s rare for anyone to be living their best life in any given January or February, these two months carry weight for me. This is the time of year I reflect on what were my final weeks before my accident. They weren’t extraordinary by any means, but they were real, simple and honest moments of our everyday lives.
It frightens me to say that I’m excited for 2019. It scares me to say that 2018 has been good to me and that I’m looking forward to what 2019 has in store. Why does it scare me? Why does the admission make me want to take cover? Because I’ve felt this way at the year’s transition before—settled, happy, optimistic—and it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. You see the last time I put my faith into a new year, it was 2016. And 2016 let me down—2016 left me paralyzed. So I am skeptical.
Have you ever cried after sex? How about in the middle of it – bringing the entire sweaty, messy thing to a crashing halt? I cried last night. It wasn’t the first time – I’m sure it won’t be the last – but it was the first time in a long time and it caught me off guard. Sex after spinal cord injury isn’t something I’ve talked a lot about. I’m not sure why, as it seems I’ve talked about everything else. But for those of you hoping this is some sort of paraplegic’s guide to sex, I’m sorry to disappoint – may your Google search take you to a different corner of the internet. This is a little about sex, a little about loss, a little about adapting and, quite simply, another little piece of my story.
It’s 10 AM and I have yet to eat anything besides Halloween candy. I haven’t showered and the ridiculous night sweats I recently developed makes this all the more problematic. Last night’s episode (along with the sports bra I wore to bed) left my skin a lovely shade of hot pink – and yet I still haven’t showered. And the last thing I have time for right now is writing. So why am I here? I’m here because tomorrow we are leaving for Hawaii and while I was extremely nervous to book this trip when it was proposed a year ago, the changes in me since that time (especially over the last few months) have recently stood out to me and I wanted to share.
I want my body back.
This is all I can think about as I blink back tears in the dark and quiet of the night. I always feel a pang of guilt for admitting it out loud. But I need to take a moment and allow this longing for my old self without shame.
Do you have a favourite place? Somewhere that holds a special place in your heart? A place you return to knowing it will look the same and feel the same every time you go there as though it stays frozen in time during your absence? The first time I came here, I was sixteen years old. It quickly became one of my favourite places.
There is a quiet knock on my door. I convince myself it’s nothing even though I know you’re out there. But, you see, you’re very controlling and the last time you came in it took me years to fully recover. I’m going to try and ignore you – pretend you don’t exist – but I’ve dealt with you enough times to know you don’t leave on your own accord and will manipulate me until I take a stand. Even from the outside you have begun to entangle me in your own version of my reality.