One of the most common comments I get from people is that my story reminds them to be thankful for the little things—the things that are so easily taken for granted. I would love to say that I’ve learned that lesson for good and always remember to thank my lucky stars for the simple things I am able to do but, alas, I am human. I am eternally thankful that so many of the struggles I faced in the beginning have become ordinary once again. However, as things became easier to do, they also became easier to take for granted.
Living With SCI
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.
Want to fly to Calgary with Megan and I on January 4 for the day or maybe overnight? To go wedding dress shopping with Jenny.
I had to read the text message twice to fully compute what my mother-in-law was asking me. Was she crazy? Did she really think I was going to get on an airplane with her and my sister-in-law to an unfamiliar—usually snowy—city without my husband, my right-hand-man, there to make sure nothing absurd, dangerous or embarrassing happened to me? Did she forget for a second that I’m in a wheelchair now?
I said I would kill myself when I turned 55.
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.
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.
I’m just waiting for someone.
I was only gone for five minutes.
I’ll move if somebody comes who needs it.
These are just a few of the excuses used to justify illegally parking in a handicapped parking spot. Out of all the things I expected to struggle with when I was told I would never walk again, parking my car was not one of them. And yet, here I am. And I am frustrated. I am frustrated with the lack of accessible parking and with the people who don’t think they are causing a problem by abusing the spots that exist. I am tired of people using tags that don’t belong to them, tags that are expired or no tag at all. I’m not a confrontational person and I do like to give people the benefit of the doubt by thinking that they are unaware of how crucial these spots are for the people that need them. So here is my attempt at spreading some awareness.
I had my period the day of my accident. I remember laying in the trauma room asking little to no questions about my injury but telling every single nurse who would listen that I had a tampon in. I didn’t stop until I was sure they had taken it out – it seemed unnecessary to add toxic shock syndrome to my list of current complications. Looking back, it was probably one small thing I felt I had control over. But, as all women know, we don’t really have control over our periods.
Spinal cord injury awareness month is still on my mind. My last post talked about the aspects of SCI that I struggle with the most: bladder and bowel control. But I was thinking about what awareness really means and how shining a spotlight on only the challenges can draw focus from the accomplishments and the awesome lives people with SCI are living – it can skew people’s perceptions. And while I think it is incredibly important for everyone to understand the struggles and barriers that someone with a spinal cord injury comes up against, it is equally important to understand that so many of us choose to face those challenges because we still want to live our lives – spinal cord injury and all. There is happiness, adventure and so many amazing things still possible and bringing awareness to SCI means showcasing that as well.
September is spinal cord injury awareness month and today, September 10, happens to mark two and half years since I suffered my injury and became all too aware of this condition. Seconds after I fell I can remember repeating to myself It’s just your legs. It’s just your legs. In that moment, I was comforted. Reminding myself that it was just my legs was reassuring me that I was going to be ok – I was going to survive and still be a mom and a wife and everything else that meant the most to me. I just would do it without walking. And frankly, I truly thought it was just my legs. It didn’t even cross my mind that there would be more to my injury than the obvious physical damage. As it turns out, the legs are just the beginning (and the easiest part).
While everyone’s injury is different, there is a long list of complications resulting from SCI that range from body temperature regulation to muscle spasticity to blood pressure issues and beyond. But the most difficult and devastating aspect of this injury for me (and for many) has been the loss of control over my bladder and bowels.