As I sat staring at my computer screen with a blank look on my face and an even more blank idea of what to write this month a message popped up on my Facebook page…
Every once and a while I get an email or a Facebook message from a reader who I have never met. Sometimes it’s a family member of someone with a spinal cord injury. Sometimes a friend… usually it’s a fellow SCI brother or sister slugging it out day after day who is writing to ask a question or say thank you for the encouragement or just to say hello. Each story is unique, but strangely similar. If it’s a woman usually an automotive disaster of some kind. If it’s a man generally diving or some other reckless stunt involving a bike or skis. I never cease to be deeply touched by the subtle under-current of pain and frustration that is glossed over by a bit of dark humor and an intense hope that science will make a breakthrough sooner rather than later. It often feels like looking in the mirror as I try to encourage and support as much as I can. It always leaves me thinking and pondering afterwards.
One of the goals of this blog has been to educate and communicate to those living a normal life just how much of a life-altering and potentially life-threatening situation living with a spinal cord injury is. After all, we look fine. We’re just like everybody else, only sitting, right? We want to walk. We’re not your hero or your inspiration. When people tell me my story inspires them I want to ask “What part and why?” I’m not brave. I’m not strong. I’m human like everyone else and I want to do more than just survive. I want to change the world. I want to walk.
So last night while I sat trying to figure out what I wanted to say a message from one of my readers came down through cyberspace. Within a few minutes I was on the phone with “Mary”, a dear woman in her fifties who while traveling in a foreign country was seriously injured in a car accident. She, like the others, is waiting, hoping, trying to stay positive and make the most of the situation. She cannot continue physical therapy because insurance cut the funding. This is not unusual. The cold New York weather soaks into her bones causing aching and loss of sleep. Yet she smiles. She has got herself back to work part-time. She gets up each day and spends time with her three daughters and their friends. “They’re so good for me…” she says with a slight waiver of emotion in her voice. She is fighting and knows I know she need not state the obvious. So instead we make a joke about the absurdity of it all and share a laugh. We are waiting. Waiting, watching and hoping.
This holiday season be thankful. Be thankful, but be mindful. Be mindful of the Marys of the world you may know. Be mindful that groups like The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the University of Louisville, Neuro Recovery Technologies and many more need your help. The sooner they raise the money they need, the sooner breakthrough products like the Epidural Stimulator can be mounted on every damaged spine around the world.
Now THAT is something to get inspired about. God bless you Mary.
Thanks for reading.