10 years and kicking

How does one summarize a major life-changing event 10 years post injury. An event that has changed the way I eat from how I hold my silverware, cups I drink out of cups I can’t drink out of, how I drive my car, how I get in and out of a car, the inability to tie my own shoes, the way I use the restroom, how I shower, what leisure activities I can, and cannot do, and impacts to relationships. 

10 years ago, I completely dislocated my C-5/6 vertebrae, resulting in complete paralysis and began a journey that nobody I think will ever truly be able to put into words. The emotional, physical, and mental journey, that you go through when an injury like this happens is so unique to each individual. Even for those that are injured it’s really hard to tell another injured individual when certain thing will hit you, what you will, or will not experience and when you experience it. The longer your injured you can give ideas of what to expect but there is not order of events. For myself, I feel like I kind of came out of the gate strong and was doing really well, and then, as the journey went on, I got tired. And then, as I got tired, we rolled into Covid, where in a world already not designed for the disabled stop, the isolation became very heavy. And as much as I hate to say it, I gave up, and fell into a very dark place, where it was filled with anxiety and depression. 

I am happy to say that I have officially given up giving up as of about eight months or so. It has been an amazing journey of reconnecting with my faith and reconnecting with who I am. And not only connecting with who I am, but coming to a place of trying to accept where I am and that as much as I may or may not like my physical condition or where I’m at, that fighting it is not a valid option. So, I’m working on excepting me. I am determined to be the best version of me, and accepting that in life, there are many things that I have no control over.

I was watching the show “Shrinking” and Dr. Paul Rhoades (Harrison Ford) said, “no one gets through this life unscathed. Are you going to let grief drown you? Or are you going to face it?”.

When I heard this, it really resonated with me because I know it’s the truth. I have friends who are in the same boat that I am in, that are fighting cancer, who have lost a child before they should, houses have burned down, and the list goes on and on. And I have allowed myself to drown in my own grief, and I can tell you that it is not the option that you should choose. However, to face something head-on is very daunting and scary and made me recently think of something I read the other day.

Colorado is one of the few places in the world where buffalo and cows live in such close proximity, also making it one of the few places to witness the “buffalo in the storm” phenomenon. When storms come over the Rocky Mountains, they almost always brew from the west and roll out towards the east to the great Kansas plains.

And when the cows sense a storm coming, they begin running east to avoid it. Makes sense right?

Two problems…

1. Cows are slow.

2. Once the storm inevitably catches up, the cows stick with the plan and keep running right along with the storm.

Enter the buffalo…

In the exact same plains during the exact same storm, you can see the buffalo get in position and wait for the clouds to roll over the mountain ridge.

Once they do, the buffalo turn and charge directly into them.

Instead of running away from the storm, they run straight through it.

Between the cows and the buffalo…

Which group was able to effectively prevent the storm?

Which group spent more time being wet and cold, the ones avoiding the pain or the ones attacking it?

Knowing that none of us can get through this life unscathed. It is more important for us to support those around us with love. We truly never know what one is going through as there are many things that people are battling that are unseen. As I continue my journey with a new frame of mind and a renewed energy and vigor for life. And given up, giving up, I encourage all of us to always remember to reach a handout to those around us. This last year plus, I can honestly say has been possibly harder than even being paralyzed but I can also say now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting brighter every day. That I’m coming out, happier and stronger than I ever thought was possible and though I don’t know what tomorrow holds I have hope.

When we were in Colorado at Craig Hospital for rehab Sarah had a saying that she would always tell me, do today well. I now understand what that means. And today I want to encourage you, to do today well. We are not promised tomorrow, and there are always two days we can never do anything about, yesterday, and tomorrow.

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