(Beth is a 34 year old, T4/C7 paraplegic who’s married to her bestie and is mom to 3 dogs. She also loves crafting, Jesus and is customer service rep for Amazon)
At 21 years old, my whole world changed after crushing my spinal cord in a car accident while leaving the beach on April 12, 2008. I had no idea just how much life would change after that. I never realized I was losing so much more than just my ability to walk after my injury. Health issues like bladder infections, perforations, kidney failure, pressure sores, blood clots, gastroparesis, uncontrollable spasms and more almost became life for me.
I lived in the hospital pretty much. There was so much about my spinal cord injury and being able to live with it after 12 years completely paralyzed from my chest down that I’m still learning every day.
It’s been 13 years now since my injury and boy has it been my biggest challenge but its also taught me just how strong I truly am. I had no idea what I had taken for granted until I lost the ability of being able to even sit up on my own. Just peeing or getting dressed is quite a task at times. Everything is done so differently now. Its all been a learning process of lessons and what works best for me as each spinal cord injury is so different. I have zero sensation below my injury from my chest level at T4.
My limitations have also kept me from being able to do so much but I’ve learned so much is still possible after paralysis; marriage, kids, college, employment, traveling, cooking, cleaning and more. I’m very grateful and proud of the independence I’ve gained throughout my journey so far. Support is vital though. Between my husband, family, friends and God, they’ve never let me give up and have been by my side through it all.
Things are way harder now no doubt but between my story, successes and struggles I’ve faced since joining the disabled community I’m hoping to educate and help others see just all we face being paralyzed yet are still able to overcome. I’ve still got a long way to go and a lifetime of learning about this paralyzed body of mine but I try to never forget just how strong I truly am when things seem too tough or scary.
Sometimes things can feel hopeless and impossible but I promise you if you don’t give up and give it your all you can accomplish and get through almost anything. Sure I miss being able to stand and walk, but I wouldn’t be where or who I am today without all I’ve faced and learned throughout my journey as a paraplegic. There are so many warriors in chairs and I’m just so proud to be a part of this community of the strongest in this world.
No doubt we have such a long long way to go when it comes to inclusion for those of us reliant on our chairs but each story shared to educate others helps more than you realize!! Never forget to encourage, educate and advocate for those who can’t because you never know someone else’s struggle. I honestly didn’t realize all I took for granted until I lost the ability to do so much. But I’m still better off than most and for that reason I’ll never stop fighting. The struggle and fight living with paralysis is never over as every day is taken one at a time.
And the good news? I’m thirteen years into my paralysis and I feel better than I have before. My health is finally better and I’m down 40lbs, trying for a child and hoping to continue this journey of health and supporting and encouraging every person I can in the disabled community we live in.
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