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.
I’m officially half-way through my challenge with True North Strength and Fitness and Westcoast Nutrition and the first six weeks has disappeared incredibly quickly. I’d love to say time flies when you’re having fun but I think the more accurate representation would be time flies when you’re busy taking care of a family while attempting to eat well and get to the gym three times a week. The time-management struggle is real. However, taking this time for myself has absolutely been worth all the extra scheduling and calendar confusion. At the mid-way point in this challenge I have had good weeks and bad weeks and wanted to share a little update.
We all have aspects of our lives that we can and cannot control. Sometimes—at least with me—we forget that some things are within our power. While attempting to control my injury would be about as successful as trying to control the weather or my firecracker of a 4-year-old, I can actually control how I protect my body—how I fuel it and how I strengthen it—and I have not done that. It is time for me to stop making excuses. Starting this week, with the help of Sasha at True North Strength and Fitness and Michelle at WestCoast Nutrition, I’m going to make a change.
It’s Time to Represent Everyone—A Paraplegic’s Perspective on Successfully Integrating Diversity in the Media
Do you feel well represented in the media? I did for the first 28 years of my life. Yes, the Caucasian, heterosexual, able-bodied female demographic isn’t usually ignored. But when I added disabled to the description, my representation all but disappeared from the airwaves. The lack of diversity in the media is an ongoing issue that I became well aware of after I traded my legs in for wheels. However last week, two posts appeared on my social media feeds—one local and one viral—that really got me thinking.
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.
Today, December 3, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for 2018 is about empowering people with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. It’s a tall order for just one day. I’ve been somewhat privileged since my injury to be in a bubble of inclusiveness. I’m surrounded by family and friends who make it a priority to include me. I have a husband who does everything in his power to make sure I experience all that I can. I have this blog that is followed by people who take an interest in disability, accessibility and equality. But lately I am seeing through my bubble. I am noticing how foreign disability still is to so many who don’t have personal experience with it. I am noticing how quickly my concerns are ignored and how accessibility issues are disregarded. I am noticing how much work still needs to be done.
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.
Most days I feel like I have found my place. I have purpose, independence and feel grounded in my sense of self which reaches far beyond the simple terms of mother, wife and paraplegic. I find safety in our routines and notice that I laugh far more often than I cry. My injury, like everything else, exists only as a part of me and I venture through the days and weeks much like anyone else. It’s as though I’m following a trail through the forest, not quite sure where it leads but enjoying it knowing I will come out the other side. Then there are days where I reach a breaking point. The days where I take a wrong turn and lose sight of the trail. My injury fuels my anxiety until I’ve blurred my reality enough to believe that without it I would never have to deal with anything difficult. And that is when I struggle to see anything except my injury; That is when I struggle to get out of bed.
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.