When lying in a hospital bed motionless after breaking your neck, in the middle of a hospital team’s huddle, while there telling you you’ll never walk, feel, and be the same way again it can be difficult to rummage up gratitude for your life. BUT this doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for all the amazing things I have going on in my life. And with Thanksgiving of upon us…
Here are, in no particular order, 10 things I’m grateful for after my spinal cord injury (SCI):
10. Awesome concert seats- almost every concert, festival or comedy show I have been to; I get upgraded to much better seats. That’ll it never happen as an “able-bodied” person.
9.Voice recognition- without this technology I wouldn’t be able to do certain things. Things like dictating to my phone/computer to type things like this… would not be possible. Being able to yell across the room to tell my phone to call 911 (thankful this tech I haven’t had to use yet). Are just a few things that voice-recognition empowers me to do.
8. Facebook forums and YouTube- has answered so many questions for me over the years. As well as giving me an outlet when I need to vent about things only other people with a SCI would understand.
7. Caregivers- also known as PCAs, CNAs, and HHAs. I literally wouldn't get out of bed without them…. They help me prepare my food, they bathe me, wipe my butt, they clean my apartment, they drive me places, they listen to me complain on bad days, they listen to my foul mouth, they watch the crazy movies that I watch, they help me with everything and anything during the day and night. They are almost always underpaid and underappreciated. Like many careers they do not get the wages and benefits that they deserve. If you know a caregiver thank them for all that they do.
6. Medications- without Baclofen, Tizanidine, and the host of other medications that I take I wouldn't be functional. In some cases people wouldn't be alive without medication. My body is constantly riddled with muscle tone and spasticity and without medication I wouldn't be able to function throughout the day, even things as simple as brushing my teeth on my own would not be possible. Hell, I don't think I'd be able to safely sit in my wheelchair without Baclofen.
5. Suppositories- this is a subject that not many people like to talk about, yet it is one of the most important things that we do during our day. Most people with spinal cord injuries uses a suppository in order to have a bowel movement. So I am very thankful that they help me poop everyday!
4. Spasms/tone- despite what I said about medications...not all people with SCIs have spasms or muscle tone. But for those of us that do, at first it is very frustrating and you wonder if they'll (the spasms) ever stop or get better. For some of us it doesn’t and for people like myself they get slightly better, but stick around. If it weren't for spasms or muscle tone I think my muscles would not be as strong as they are, I would probably be more atrophied, my bone density would probably be far worse and my circulation wouldn’t be as good. So even though they are frustrating they have great benefits and I personally would encourage anyone that has manageable spasms to keep them around and not try to overmedicate against them.
3. My wheelchair-over the years I've met many people have been injured for 20, 30, 40+ years and hearing stories about when they were first injured and the equipment that was available to them, or not available to them, makes me so grateful that I was injured when I was. My wheelchair allows me to be comfortable for very long period of time all while being able to access many things around me because of the amazing functions that my chair has.
2. Students- I'm lucky enough to know a few people that are employees at various colleges around the Boston area, which has opened doors to me to work with various types of students that are learning from the professors that they can't just design for “able-bodied” people. Their learning that inclusivity and end-user product designs are just as important as making something look good. It's also refreshing to know that these young minds are being exposed to all manners of ability. Hopefully, it will teach them to be more open-minded and accepting in all aspects of life.
1. The Americans With Disabilities Act- this is a doozy! Without the ADA my life would be very different. I wouldn’t be able to go to the places that I typically want to go to. Curb cuts, ramps and elevators, my service dog, my van, my apartment, and so many other things would not be readily available to me. Though I don't think I would be stuck inside or considered an invalid (which would have been the case years ago) I still wouldn't have as many opportunities as I have now.
So there they are and I know that there are many more things that I'm thankful for, but I think this blog post does not need to be that long. I'm of course thankful for friends and family and all the support and love that they give me. I am thankful for all of you readers and Internet friends that also give me lots of love and support. So thank you for reading! In the comments tell me what you are thankful for.