We went on a bike ride to the forest. It’s not far from our house but I’d never been there—Ian and the kids always go without me to ride their bikes and play tag. It isn’t the kind of terrain appropriate for my regular set of wheels, however now that I had a bike of my own, I could join them. When the gravel gave way to dirt and fallen branches, I realized the forest was smaller than I imagined it would be—one side clearly visible from the other. The tall trees blocked the cold wind that stung my face on the ride over but the clouds, scattered and heavy, still loomed above us. A network of trails criss-crossed through the trees and I followed Ian around to a clearing in the middle where the kids dropped their bikes in a place that was obviously The Spot.
Daylight hadn’t reached our backyard. But a blanket of untouched snow—the first snowfall of the year—couldn’t wait for the break of day. By 7:30AM—the time we would usually be getting out of bed—our kids were all ready for school. They were layered up in snow gear and were outside rolling giant snowballs. Ian and I watched them out the french doors of our bedroom and couldn’t resist calling it an unofficial snow day. The cheers came one after another from outside as brothers told sisters and sisters told brothers, “No school!”. They were excited but I was left feeling indifferent due to my love/hate relationship with snow.
There was a playground a block away from the rehabilitation centre. Like most kids, our boys couldn’t find their socks in the morning but could spot a park from a mile away. One afternoon when they came to visit, they begged for us to take them. I was hesitant—I thought about letting Ian take them on his own—but I went. I expected to feel left out—what use could I be at a playground?—but I wasn’t prepared for the harsh realization that hit as soon as we arrived.
September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness month and for whatever reason, I’ve been struggling to say anything about it. With dozens of accounts posting about everything SCI from daily realities and accessibility to fertility and equal rights, I have mostly remained silent—struggling to offer a fresh perspective. But to provide some insight into my current frame of mind and resulting hesitancy to share, I’m going to tell you this: I’m feeling privileged. And because of that privilege, I’m questioning the validity of my voice.
Imagine you could re-write your life.
Would you do it?
Would you remove your struggles and omit all of your sadness and pain? Would you remedy every regret—every bad decision? Would you take more chances—different chances—or try harder? Would you sift through your life, altering details and discarding parts of your history onto the cutting room floor until ultimately editing all of the pieces together to create your one perfect story?
Don’t give up now
your best kiss
your hardest laugh
and your greatest day
are still yet to come.
But what if they aren’t? What if everything in my life was better before paralysis? Maybe I had my best kiss, my hardest laugh and my greatest day—all of my best memories—before this injury became a part of who I am. How could I possibly have a best-of-anything-moment now that I have this disability? Everything was better before.
What if I believed all that?
Can you send me a picture of your feet?
Confused? So was I. The first time I got a message like this—yes, there have been multiple—I had no idea why this person wanted to see my feet. But I didn’t like it and, of course, did not oblige. In fact, I blocked them. And I blocked the person after that and the person after that and every person since. While I knew sharing my paralysis journey publicly would leave me open to a higher level of scrutiny, I never once considered it might subject me to a wave of sexual objectification and introduce me to a world where disability is fetished in such a way that it dehumanizes and exploits individuals. And yet…here we are.
I miss the days when I peed on sticks to test for pregnancy instead of bladder infections—a positive result was so much more exciting. When I discovered this latest infection my words to my husband were I really don’t have time for a bladder infection right now. But whether or not I have time for it, it has arrived.
My 12-week transformation challenge is complete and I know what you’re thinking: She’s not skinny yet. I get it. You hear transformation challenge and expect a huge reveal Biggest Loser style. But as I said in my very first post, the main focus of this challenge with True North Strength and Fitness and Westcoast Nutrition wasn’t on the reflection in the mirror. This wasn’t about finding a quick-fix to achieve dramatic results in a short of amount of time in order to garner attention based on unbelievable before-and-after photos. This was about making a start.
May I ask how the wheelchair happened?
Getting this question from strangers still throws me off my game. I wish it didn’t. I wish I could respond with some wild fictional story like I worked in a zoo and a gorilla threw me against a wall, and then watch their curious eyes go wide. When they inevitably say Wow, really? I would smile and just say No, not really, and go on my way. But that is not how I function. I’m the kind of person who thinks of great comebacks in the shower, days after they are relevant. I’m the kind of person who feels like I would offend these curious strangers by not offering a truthful answer when, in reality, they have just invaded a random person’s privacy by asking said person to share the most complicated and traumatic event of their life. I’m the kind of person who recently reacted like this.