A while ago, I wrote out some thoughts stating that I feel my spinal cord injury has not been in vain. I ended up expanding on that thought, and the result ended up being a guest post on some blogs. The piece below has been modified a bit from the one that has been posted previously.
A Tragedy Not in Vain
In June 2012, I was afflicted with meningitis. As a result, my spinal cord was damaged. The most visible consequence was my legs inability to move, thus, my inability to walk. The literature I read implied that movement would be regained between 2 – 12 weeks of the affliction, usually 4 – 6 weeks. I hadn’t moved my legs in 7 weeks. The literature also indicated that the longer it took for any initial movement to return, the less significant the recovery would be.
Admittedly, I’ve had a remarkable recovery. I walk at almost the speed I did before the injury, and unless you observed me closely, you probably couldn’t tell that I was ever paralyzed. The adjustments I now make to other areas that were affected are minor. But I would not want to relive the experiences of the last two years.
Beginning with my time in the ICU, I lapsed into semi-consciousness, I couldn’t breathe independently, I couldn’t swallow, speak, move my legs, nor wiggle my toes. I had no control over my bladder or bowels. There was a chance I would be significantly brain damaged, and also the chance that I would not walk again. Actually, there was a chance that none of the functions I lost would return.
One by one, those functions did return – maybe not to the level of efficiency before the spinal cord injury, but well enough, if not almost completely.
I wrote a book about my recovery, Toe Up to 10K: A Journey of Recovery from Spinal Cord Injury. Initially, I wanted to write a book because I found very little information about the recovery process from spinal cord injury. However, as I recovered more and more, I also wanted to document my recovery to give people an idea of what recovering from a spinal cord injury is like.
Many times the prognosis for recovery will be bleak. But no one can predict what the outcome will be for any given individual. This is why even if one is told he/she will not walk again, it is important, especially in the beginning, to try – and to not give up easily.
I won’t be stoic and say that my spinal cord injury was not a tragedy. It was. But it also gives me the opportunity to share my story, and if I could inspire one person into not giving up, then my injury has been in vain.