I remember during that first year going through a McDonald’s drive-through and wishing I could trade places with the cashier. I would have traded places with anyone. I saw my circumstances as unfavorable. I would have told anybody that was able-bodied, “at least you’re not me.”
I had yet to adapt to my situation. Every time my leg would spasm I would get angry. Going to the bathroom was a process that I thought I would never get used to. I hated my body and I hated the fact that I could do absolutely nothing to make it better. I had lost 45 pounds and all the muscle that I built over the years was gone. My physical self was diminishing every day.
I watched kids ride by on bikes and I saw pictures of my friends waterskiing on Facebook. Up to this point the physical things in my life were what made me happy. So how was I going to be happy without being able to do what I love?
At some point in our lives we all have to adapt to a difficult situation. It could be something like losing a loved one or something more simple like failing a class. As I read about spinal cord injuries I read about how it was the most life-changing injury you could experience and how difficult it is to adapt to.
A large majority of the people with spinal cord injuries are men and they are risk takers. These are usually very active people like myself, which makes the adaptation that much harder.
Acceptance was the key to finding happiness. Acceptance is the key to moving forward out of any tragedy or difficult situation. You cannot wallow in self-pity for the rest of your life. People will only help you for so long but in the end it is up to you to find your own happiness.
Adaptation comes with time. Something difficult in the beginning will become the norm overtime. My life is very different than any of yours but I have nothing to complain about. You may look at me and you would think that you would never want to trade places with me. That being in my situation would be your biggest fear. I, however, would not trade places with anyone. I was born to be myself and nobody else. No one can be you better than you can.
I wake up every day with a sense of optimism. I’ve had enough bad days where I do not plan on having another. Although I do know some bad days are ahead of me, but for now I will continue to live in the moment.
Life can change in an instant but do not fear change. Change can make you stronger and reevaluate your life. It can make you realize what is truly important in this world. So don’t fear the future and don’t fear tragedy. A drastic change in my life I think is just what I needed. I got to slow down and look at life through a whole different lens. The view through this lens is much more clear. I like the view through this lens much better.
When someone sees me for the first time they may think I live a life of misery. That is the problem with the stigma of disabilities. Living with a disability makes you realize how much our society takes things for granted. So I cherish everything that I have left. Maybe we are useful in making you feel better about yourself, but I feel that everyone can learn something from someone with a disability. We understand perseverance and adaptation and I believe that people with disabilities are the strongest people out there and have had to overcome more adversity than a majority of the world.
I am truly thankful for my disability, something I never thought I would say, but it has given me the strength to make an impact on this world.