Dear Friends with a Spinal Cord Injury

Dear Friends with a Spinal Cord Injury,

Hi, my name is Samm.

First, let me tell you who  I am. I was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect. I am a T12 paraplegic. This means I’ve never walked in my entire life, and that’s OKAY. I am happy and love my life. I don’t live like society treats people with disabilities. I live like a human. I encourage you to do the same… even when it’s not the easiest option. I’m not here to tell you spinal cord injury is the same as Spina Bifida. It’s not. I’m here to tell you it’s OKAY. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to miss your old life. I cannot miss what I never had, and that too is OKAY. I will never know what it feels like to walk, and you will always remember.

New Life with a Spinal Cord Injury

Therefore, in your “new life” don’t forget to learn to live differently. Don’t stop believing in miracles. Don’t give up on what you used to love. It will be different, but it’ll be possible. You didn’t ask for this as much as I didn’t ask to live my entire life with my disability. It’s a different way of life you didn’t see coming, but just maybe it’s not the worst way of life. So when the dust settles – keep going – I don’t know what it feels like, but I am rooting for you so hard because you’re still worth what you were before, maybe even more.

The pain for you is different due to the fact that your injury is different than my defect. It’s physical and mental. People will treat you differently. Actually, sometimes is patronizing. But don’t let that tear you down. You’re still who you used to be, meanwhile your body is not. Your body will most likely not cooperate. Be frustrated. Be determined. Maybe people will stare. Be confident. Maybe people will ask inappropriate and uncomfortable questions where you may not even know the answer. It’s okay.  Get comfortable with yourself again.

Good Days

As a result of pain, Not every day is a good day. Some are painful. Some are stressful. Some are just downright mean. The world wasn’t built by people in wheelchairs. We just have to make do with what we have even if we have to make it a game, a challenge or adventure. It puts a little more fun into the annoyance that is a reasonable accommodation. Some days a good day is just waking up. Take it. You’re alive. Resting is a big part of healing. But… it will suck sometimes.

ASK

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s so much easier… but I can be stubborn too. Just don’t let your stubbornness put you in a bad situation or hinder your health, because you WILL feel it the next day… and if you need to talk to someone – do it. While I know it can be difficult, sometimes talking it out with someone who knows what you’re going through is the best therapy. I’ve watched people overcome a lot while talking in a group session. There is no shame in doing so.

Finally,  everyone is different. Furthermore, no two disabilities are the same. As no two spinal cord injuries are the same. It’s easy to get frustrated and not be understood. Be your own advocate. Find adaptive activities. Exercise is good for the soul and can bring everyone together and understand more. Certainly, there must be a hobby for everyone’s ability. I write a lot. I crochet. I hang out with my friends, go to concerts and bars. Above all else, I live.

Please, make life awesome no matter the situation. You’re in control. You’re worth it. Impossible isn’t a thing. There’s always a way even if you don’t like the way. In no way, shape or form am I trying to tell you that you’re not living right. I’m saying you’re worth it. Finally, don’t let disability define you like being able to walk defined you before. Above all, your definition is human.

XO,

Samm

 

 

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