The road to recovery after a spinal cord injury can seem very long and arduous. Time may fly when you’re having fun, but it can also fly when you’re frustrated. It is not always easy for others to understand that the injury has not gone away, even though time has passed. Likewise, it is not always easy for someone with an injury to remember that others do not live the daily details of spinal cord injury.
What about living with a spinal cord injury? For most people, a SCI affects everything. I am very grateful to see returns coming more than four years after the initial accident. Still, even with such return, functional changes do not necessarily come quickly. In the meantime, there are many unseen issues to be dealt with - for instance, temperature regulation, especially as the weather grows warmer; skin protection, since blood does not circulate properly and tiny scratches can become problematic; or osteoporosis, when lack of weight-bearing or body function/ awareness causes bones to become weak. Temperature problems mean being careful to avoid heatstroke or frostbite in the most unlikeliest settings. Skin care involves being aware of bunched clothing in the day and getting up every few hours to move around in the night. Osteoporosis potentially leads to broken bones. (Unfortunately, I have more to say about that: another post and another time.) Temperature, skin, and bone concerns are only three of those that come with a spinal cord injury. Others are much more personal and require time, energy, and attention to scheduling. In other words, mobility is one challenge among many.
No, the point of this particular post is not to a) frighten, b) discourage, or c) disappoint. It is d) none of the above. I hope that this blog offers realistic information and practical insight about these challenges. Awareness goes a long way. I always intend each post and every part of this blog to be a source of evidence-based encouragement. Toward that end: it has been a while since a compare-and-contrast post. Exactly four years ago, I was learning to take small steps backward (on carpet) using ACL leg supports and a rolling walker. Backward movement was easier and my hip muscles were only beginning to respond again. Today I walk at least a mile each day, and am on the cusp of switching from long knee brace and ankle brace to AFO/ ankle bracing only. Every day is another step in the right direction.