February 17, 2013 will be the 14TH anniversary of the “accident” which left me a C6 quadriplegic. Early on, after returning home from rehab, I began seeing a psychiatrist in a town near my home. In all fairness to him he had had little experience with anyone in my situation. One day, I was taken aback when he asked me to identify some of the positive things that I had learned as the result of my quadriplegia. My first thought was “Are you nuts?” Then I made a real attempt to answer the question. The only thing I could think of was that I had met some very nice people I otherwise would probably not have.
I have thought about that question over the years and have decided to list some of the answers I would give today. Several of them I was vaguely aware of before my “accident” but their realization has been driven home by my new lifestyle. They are in no special order.
1. Life is precious, each day is a gift (that’s why it’s called the present) and one should take some personal time each day to enjoy it.
2. The most powerful “tool” we have for adjusting to our situation is our mind/attitude.
3. Most people are good and want to help but some just don’t know how to go about it.
4. It may be difficult, more so for men, but to ask for help is not a sign of weakness and there are a lot of people who wish to help but you must
take the initial step.
5. Life can be good again; enjoyable again but it will never be the same again. The sooner a person realizes and accepts that the better off they
6. Love is an amazing thing and the more one gives the more one has to give.
7. A pet can play a major role in an individual with a disability’s life.
8. Man was never intended to be celibate. The greatest thing that has been taken from me is physical intimacy (not sex).
9. Everyone “carries a cross” some are just more visible than others.
10. Love makes everything easier.
11. Caretakers have an amazing amount of demands placed on them.
12. You can’t do it alone. Friends make our lifestyle much more bearable.
13. There is a solution to all most all of the challenges one faces. It’s just a matter of how much thought, time and effort you are willing to
commit to finding it.
14. Frustration and struggle will always be part of this new lifestyle.
15. Nothing comes without sacrifice.
16. Your life can be changed forever in the blink of an eye.
17. Life is not fair and owes us nothing.
18. Anger, over time, is detrimental to moving on.
19. Advice is easy to give but much more difficult to take and act on.
20. Laughter is essential.
21. Disability does not mean inability.
22. We are all stronger and more capable then we believe.
The question does not seem so foolish now and as I look back on what I wrote much of it applies to able-bodied individuals as well.