Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spinal Cord Injury Is a Bitch - Part 1: Hope & Faith

Ok, well obviously, spinal cord injury is a bitch. But there's so much more to it that people don't realize than just not being able to walk. As if that's not enough, right? If you're reading my little blog for the first time, my husband, Shawn, has been recovering from paralysis since January 23. In fact, he was diagnosed as a quadriplegic on January 23. The details all start here. And while technically Shawn didn't have a spinal cord injury, he was being treated as such since his spinal cord had been affected by the infection.

In the days following his surgery and his entry into in-patient rehab, we just wanted to know what's gonna happen here? Does someone recover fully from a spinal epidural abscess that caused paralysis? What are the chances he'll walk again? Shit, what are the chances he'll be able to just sit up again? What else can we expect?

The hospital people gave us some books to read and highly suggested that we read them. The books were helpful but are written without hope or possibility. They are written for the reality of paralysis and the side effects of it. In fact, I'm sure one of those books said, if you don't have movement below the injury site by such and such time, like within a week or so, that's pretty much it. Shawn didn't move his toes until 6 weeks after surgery. Even the surgeon, Dr. White, was concerned about this. And mind you, he NEVER gave us any kind of chances or percentages for anything.

So, of course, in the age of the internet, I spent hours googling spinal epidural abscess and paralysis, recovery from paralysis, etc... just to have something to give a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe my husband would recover, even just a little. And I didn't really come up with jack. Mostly there are medical abstracts and papers that throw around a lot of terms that I don't understand. Even with what, hundreds of thousands of blogs, maybe millions of blogs out there, I couldn't find anything to offer any hope. So, we just had to have faith that what was happening was happening for a reason and that it would all work out the way it was supposed to.

So how do you live like that? How do you get through each day? Well, you get through it by living in the present moment. Doing what you have to do right then and not getting wrapped up in the future, in what might be. And by being grateful for every tiny little thing, even the experience itself because ultimately it's a lesson, a teacher.

But I just wanted something, someone else's experience to draw from. And I couldn't find anything. So that's why I'm writing this. So I can tag the shit out of it and the next person that is sitting there googling spinal epidural abscess and paralysis will hopefully have something to give them some hope. Because Shawn is walking now. The wheelchair is in storage and will be donated to someone that needs it. The walkers have been returned to their owners who let us borrow them. And this is where he is 10 months since his initial onset of symptoms.

Part 2 of this, when I get around to writing it, will be about all the other "stuff" that happens besides not being able to walk.


Dana Brown Ritter said...

It is a bitch! And I know about all of it! I know what it's like to search and search and not find anything that you really feel is helpful when it comes to SCI. I just took a quick peek at your blog. You are an excellent writer and what amazing photos! Stay strong, sister!

Anonymous said...


I practice yoga in Alex. VA and very much appreciate your writing and all of the gratitude posts. I am so very glad your husband recovered and walks!!! Grateful for healing love.

I am suffering in a similar grieving way about an illness that took the cognitive abilities from my intelligent,talented son. I remain hopeful for him. Yoga helps him, as well as reading this post together.

Thank you so much for all you do and write!