(Denise Rogers is a wife, mother and grandmother with an incomplete spinal cord injury from California)
My name is Denise Rogers I have had an Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and Chiari Malformation for nearly 4 years. My life changed forever when I lost all feeling from the waist down after my 7th surgery to remove the arachnoid cysts compressing my spinal cord. Unfortunately, the cysts kept growing back requiring additional intervention. The last surgery placed a Cyst(s) to Plueral Shunt, to drain the CSF from the arachnoid cysts to my left plueral sac.
Since that time, I have worked to regain my balance, proprioception (ability to know where my legs are in space) and have relearned how stand and walk using assistive devices. I also had to learn how to drive using hand controls as well as being able to get in and out of the vehicle safely. I spent approximately two years in physical therapy going three times per week for 45 mins each session.
After about a year of PT, I also began going to the local gym and worked with a trainer twice a week for a year and a ½ until Covid. About 6 mos. before Covid, I found a yoga instructor that came to my home and began working with me slowly. I still do yoga twice a week via zoom. Currently, I still use a walker for stability when walking. I am working on using a cane, but because of balance and proprioception deficits this is much more difficult and not safe.
I am a wife, mother of 3 adult children, stepmother of 2 teenagers, and grandmother to 4. Prior to my injury I worked in Health Care and have over 26 years of experience. I worked in public health as well as in long term care and acute care. I have a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work. Now, I stay at home helping to homeschool 2 of my grandchildren which is more complicated with my Incomplete SCI. It requires extra planning, patients, and less of the old perfectionist me.
Prior to my injury, things like cooking, cleaning, driving, and shopping were easy. I enjoyed dancing, running, and playing chase with my grandkids. I would even venture to say that I took my legs for granted. Now getting around is much more difficult and things like cooking take more planning to make sure everything I need is within reach.
Yet this is such an improvement from where I started. For the first year after my injury, I required a care giver full time during the day to help with the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and driving to appointments. There was little I could do on my own except for my self-care.
This injury has dramatically changed my life. I live daily with having to take medications multiple times a day to control pain, spasticity, muscle spasms, and sometimes to help with anxiety. But in many ways, it has changed it for the better. It has caused me to slow down, not to take any part of life for granted, and to have patients.
It has also taught me how to receive and given me precious time with my grandchildren allowing me to teach them so many things including tolerance and acceptance. Plus, I have also the time to maintain my blog, to create fun crafts, garden, and to share it all with my family.