Life has had so many twists and turns and my new path is just beginning to unfold. An update is long overdue. When I last posted, I was struggling with returning to being a full-time chair user and not quite sure if I was emotionally ready or willing to take that next step. I held on to the hope that two total knee replacements would solve the problem….they don’t. My knees are not the cause of my falls, just a nagging source of bad AD and a huge reminder that I am aging. Read More
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." - Alan Watts
I haven’t posted since late 2010, silently disappearing in the hope that life would resume to the way I knew it in just a few weeks, perhaps a month at the most. I stopped my blog anticipating that I could return as the “Walking Quad”. Instead of a return to what I embraced as “my life”, I have been confronted with physical changes, each one slowly removing my ability to walk and erasing how I had come to define myself as, “Walking Quad”. Read More
I received this private message that got me thinking about what to write next.
“I hope for once, someone might be addressing the different ways people with paralysis are affected. I know, from my own perception before sci, I had no idea there were complete or incomplete injuries. No idea how painful sci could be and how many health issues (ex: AD, Hypotension, B&B problems, pressure sores) people with sci have to deal with. I thought, you couldn’t feel anything or move, period.” T.M. walking quad Read More
Anyone who knows me very well, knows that cheesecake is my first dessert of choice. Not just any type, it has to be New York style cheesecake. Hard to believe that a simple but delicious piece of cheesecake could cause a spinal cord injury. It was my 33rd birthday and a small gathering of friends met at my best friend Stephanie’s house to celebrate over brunch and to chat, eat, drink and be merry. The highlight of the meal was a New York style cheesecake with a turtle topping—it was decadent. Even better, I was sent home with what remained of the cheesecake. The temptation of a second piece was simply too hard to resist so I went to get a late night snack. In the process of getting a plate, I took a seemingly benign fall on the kitchen floor, landing hard on the metal strip. As I tell everyone who looks at me with a perplexed expression—no I was not intoxicated. I simply fell less than 5 feet, landed perfectly and became an incomplete paraplegic.
Funny thing about spinal cord injury (SCI), it can happen to anyone, any time, any where. I drew a lucky card, I had a congenital spinal cord injury defect, totally unknown to me that resulted in a more complicated injury. Add the facts that I did not seek immediate care, I was uninsured and in big time denial, and you have the perfect recipe for paralysis. Diagnosis: T-12/ L1 contusion injury.
I was luckier than most, I spent 3 years using a manual chair and eventually was able to walk with platform crutches. The sage medical advice I received was, “You can walk, what more do you want?” I left that medical appointment and did not return to see a physiatrist for almost 11 years. I considered myself lucky and moved on with my life. I had married, finished graduate school, had two sons and life was good. Why see a doctor?
Fourteen years after my initial injury, reality came to roost again. I began losing function and could simply no longer deny what was going on. Walking became harder, my hands and arms didn’t want to work and I always seemed to be falling. I sucked it up and saw one of the best SCI doctors on the East coast. My ASIA scores showed that I was a quadriplegic with central cord syndrome but what was the cause? After many battles with my insurance company, tests were finally completed that showed spinal cord compression at C3/4 secondary to my initial spinal cord injury due to my walking.
Last week I celebrated my birthday along with the 20th anniversary of my SCI. Yes, I did say celebrate! Despite continued loss of function, Life Is Good. I have a job, a family and for the time being, I am still walking. I was injured the year and the month the ADA was signed into law and I have seen many changes. I have been fortunate to work in the disability community, met many great folks, including Christopher and Dana Reeve. I have learned a lot along the way and hope to share some of what I have learned thru my blog. I hope you will join me on this next phase of my journey.