An Overdue Update

A lot has been happening recently and if you told me how much work it would be, between paper work, figuring out accommodations, doctors’ visits, and much more to get back to school I wouldn’t have believed you. But believe me, it’s ridiculous. Luckily I paid my fall bill last week and ‘just’ need to pack up so I think I managed to complete it all.

Words can’t really describe the whirlwind of emotions I feel as I think about returning to school. As each day passes and I get closer to the move in date the storm seems to just get stronger. I have no way of predicting or preparing for taking on college as a quadriplegic. I’m confident I’ll make it through but I know it’s going to be rough road getting there. So bear with me out there WPI kids.

On another note, I’m very close to having a modified vehicle customized and fitted to me. Among all of the basic things I’ve lost in life, the ability to hop in a car and just drive is pretty high on the list. Anyone who’s had a license suspension understands just how terrible it is to one day be able to get from A to B in a snap and the next be completely grounded with no easy way to get around. Luckily those days are soon coming to an end. The vehicle is underway and once it’s delivered I only have to drive a few hours with a DMV evaluator and I’m good to go! It honestly feels like I’m 16 again. Except just as always with everything sweet it’s also sour somehow; a part for the car, one that I might not need but has to be installed, isn’t working properly and has to be shipped all over the place. This has considerably pushed the completion date back so it looks like I won’t have it for school…

At least there’s completely unrelated good news that I can distract myself with! One of the many great outcomes from my last visit to the Shepherd Center for a research checkup is that my injury classification has officially been upgraded! I’m now considered to have the function and sensation of a C7 spinal cord injury; I originally suffered a C6 spinal cord injury but have neurologically regained muscle function, primarily the triceps, and sensation down to my middle fingers’ tips. I emphasize on ‘official’ as this classification is based on a stringent test that works off of a standard and checks specific spots only. Basically I have muscle function and increased sensation in areas not documented by the test. The big ones are chest and left lateral muscles and pressure sensation from my waist to my knees, my left ankle and most of my feet including the bottom, top and just about each individual toe. So I’d say I’m definitely improving!

Looking at life in a more general sense, I feel great. I’m past the spinal shock phase and feel much more in tune with my body. My strength has increased heavily and I’m able to do so much more physically. I can get in and out of lower couches with no assistance, transfer into low cars without the need of the transfer board (I still need it on the way out), and move around in bed or on my exercise mat much more easily. That all seems simple but it has a huge impact on my motivation and attitude. The more I do, and do on my own, the better I feel as an individual. It feels so good to be able to say I’m fully independent with all of my personal needs. Getting up, using the toilet, showering, getting dressed and rolling out the door are done with relative ease and leaves me with enough energy to still take on the day… it just takes two hours.

Unfortunately there are still many moments that cause me to lose sight of my accomplishments and the future. There are so many variables and unknowns with this type of injury that everything might seem like it’s going great and out of nowhere it all goes to shit, literally.

I hate complaining about the immense difficulties I face most days in order to keep my body in a stable state. I don’t like worrying people by talking about the losses and issues that endure and deal with. Sometimes I guess I just feel like expressing the other side of things. I am motivated to get back to life and I want my independence more than ever but it’s easy to lose sight of those things when you can never quiet your mind and are plagued with daily issues. If you told me I’d walk in ten years it wouldn’t make the time leading up to it any better.

Worry not, for the most part I’m in good spirits and excited for the future. I’ve always been a problem solver and this injury has presented me with quite a lot of problems to figure out. Plus getting back to school, having classes to occupy my mind and returning to a much more social environment where I can meet so many new people will be monumental to my mental health. I focus on the positives and try not to let the anxiety and fear take hold.

If you’re struggling with something in life, try to look at the big picture. Don’t let the awful moments be anything more than just a moment. We only have so much time each day, don’t waste it moping around.