Friday, September 27, 2013



If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. ~ Gail Sheehy

Someone once asked me how long it took me to accept my disability. My response was that you never really accept it; you just learn to live with it. Because of this, I realized early on that I was not a great peer counselor for a person who had experienced a new injury. After a spinal cord injury, there is a long period of denial. The adjustment is even longer if your spinal cord injury is an incomplete injury, one that generally involves the gain of restored function sometimes for several months afterwards.

Many who have experienced a spinal cord injury have been fortunate enough, with a lot of rehabilitation, to walk away from their injury. For this reason, it is good that an individual does not lose hope. They may walk, but usually their entire perspective on life has changed. Until you have had to relearn how to scratch your nose, and to retrain your bowel and bladder, you have no idea of how important those functions are.

Life is not fair. Life can be flat out cruel, and loved ones die too soon. It is of no surprise that very few people want to hear this initially after they have experience any hardship. You can try to justify this with your personal religious beliefs, faith or whatever. Justifying why things have happened doesn't make life any easier.

I once said that I had heaven on earth. Several weeks later, I broke my neck. Oh, how that perspective changed very quickly. On top of all that, my life continued and real life issues started happening. (Many events that were way more painful than my neck injury.)

My house actually blew up. My hot water heater relief valve did not relieve. The explosion literally picked up my 1850 Greek Revival house and dropped it back down on its foundation. I went from feeling as if I was on top of the world to being a homeless, dependent quadriplegic. With a blink of an eye, life can change. That is simply life. Finding the strength to keep moving forward is the tricky part. Somehow, I did.

As I grow older, I try not to let the simple fact that it is taking me longer to take care of myself get me down. I have reached a point where I have to say no more frequently about traveling and going to special events. I am also at a point where I have to re-examine what I may need to maintain my independence. None of this is easy.

Why do I advocate for better transportation? Because I know firsthand what it actually feels like to lose this freedom. You feel trapped. After over a year of rehabilitation and a long struggle to regain my independence, I was also able to relearn how to drive a car with handcontrols. I enjoy this freedom but I also know the reality that lift equipped vans can occasionally breakdown and uninsured motorists can sometimes total them too. This I know from what was supposed to be a fun Thanksgiving trip to Florida.

In our lives, we survive through one tragedy to the next. In between, we try to embrace many happy moments. It is in those moments that things make sense. Life is not always a garden of happiness. Our gardens grow, produce and delight. They also get eaten, diseased and die. If we can focus on what we can successfully grow, we are good.


  1. All photographs are mine on my blog. I think that this too is awesome!

  2. Very well said Brenda. I particularly like the part about justifying things doesn't make life any easier. How very true. You have experienced such a wide range of emotion in your life, and are an inspiration to so many people, me included. I'm going through one of those crappy phases of life right now, and my grief feels overwhelming; but reading this blog makes me realize that we ALL must experience the bad in order to appreciate the good. I still think it sucks but I think it's true, and the more one suffers, the stronger one gets. Bright Blessings to you're awesome!

    1. Please stay in touch! Miss you tons, but understand you need this time away from the social media drama. Take care my friend!