Paraplegic

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I am a paraplegic.  I guess the place to start my story is to explain a little more about my particular injury.  I have a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and am completely paralyzed from vertebrae T7 down. Occasionally I have heard my injury described as a total lesion.  That means that from about my nipples down, I have neither any sensation nor any motor control.  I can't voluntarily control my bowels or bladder.  A consequence is that my kidneys can be become damaged from reflux of urine.  My skin does not sweat.  So my skin and other tissue is subject to decubitus ulcers.  Osteoporosis is another issue.  I have significant osteoporosis in my pelvis, hips and lower spine. 

The simple task of sitting is more complicated than it may seem at face value.  I can sit only though the miracle of "gravity" because I have no control over the muscles in my torso.  If a well-intentioned person came and gave me a good old-fashioned slap on the back, I would be pushed forward to the point of falling unless I could respond fast enough with my arms to stop the motion.  I do have substantial upper-body strength with no impairments of hands or arms (other than the beginnings of arthritis in my hands). This is a great asset.

I cringe when I hear the “talking heads” blither on for a ratings motivated, feel-good story on a newly disabled person.  They don't get it.  They concentrate on the person walking again.  They seem to think that walking, or some facsimile of walking, is the measure of the person's will and that walking is the single metric for success.  What a load of crap.  As if you could somehow magically regenerate the dead nerves and muscle tissue; it doesn't matter how hard or how long you work, it just isn't an option, and they don't get it.  Rather the goal should be how to accommodate and how to manage, to the extent that you can, the effects of the injury: physically, mentally and emotionally!

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This page was last updated 12/03/2011