How to Stay Positive After Being Paralyzed by a Spinal Cord Injury

I always believed that I was unbreakable. Before the accident, I had actually never broken any of my bones.

Now I’ve broken my neck. Irreversible paralysis. All four limbs affected. It really couldn’t be much worse. Just three more vertebrae to go. No breathing on my own, no head control, neurological damage, stroke, coma, death.

However, I am a survivor and my brain still works. Still, it is a hard time to stay positive. This is why I started listing all of the things that have changed in a positive way after my spinal cord injury.

It would be much harder and probably a never-ending story to note all things which aren’t working for me (anymore). But hey, maybe that’s the same for everybody.

Here is the list, sorted by category:

Social Life

  • I am getting lots of visitors. I need an online calendar to manage appointments. You are welcome to join.
  • I really like staying at home for Christmas while everybody comes by. No more traveling around the globe to visit every possible family member.
  • The most important item in my list: I have reached a new level in my relationship.
  • I rediscovered my friendships. Extreme situations like mine really show you the difference.
  • Home office accepted, no commuting necessary anymore.
  • Most of the time I am invited to go out for food.

Logistics and Events

  • All my package deliveries from Amazon arrive directly to my room. No more picking up packages from neighbors or standing in the queue of the local post office required anymore.  At least while I am staying in the hospital.
  • Public transportation is free, forever. Almost every vehicle, but unfortunately not the ICE/IC/EC trains. Thank god I live in Berlin, one of the top cities in the world in terms of accessibility.
  • Better parking places. I am always very close to my destination.
  • A big, fat, shiny new car subsidized by the government, without the need for excuses. Sorry mother nature.
  • All kind of tickets for events and concerts are much cheaper. Also most of the time my companion receives free entry. This easily adds up to 70% discount for two people.
  • No queues anymore at the entry to events. I always get priority boarding.

All Day Activities

  • Better day rhythm, as every activity is well planned and scheduled. I divide the 24 hours by every possible number 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12 to create certain schedules for major body functions.
  • Breakfast, lunch, coffee and dinner are made for me. Never again will my time be wasted on preparing or cooking, however, I still miss the activity. What remains is the ability to order food, dictate recipes to others, and to complain about the result.
  • Being a boss every day, having your personal team of assistants, telling them what (not) to do, hiring and firing your caretakers.
  • I find plenty of time to meditate and think about my life and the universe. My injury taught me both patience and willpower.
  • Also, I have a lot of time for enjoying movies, television series, and audio books.
  • No excuse needed to stay in bed for half the day.
  • I receive physiotherapy and massages on a regular basis.
  • Fewer drugs. My body can’t take it anymore. I am also more conscious about any bodily input, such as my diet and drinks.
  • I really focus on the most important things. No distraction or stress. Everything is much calmer and still productive.

Lifelong Extras

  • New big flat, a smart home with all things voice controlled.
  • My pension is safe, not much but enough to survive.
  • I do not notice the pain of syringes, flexulas or blood drawing.

I know nobody wants to switch to be in my wheelchair position. This list is for me and all the other paraplegic and quadriplegic humans out there to keep on smiling.

To be continued…

7 thoughts on “How to Stay Positive After Being Paralyzed by a Spinal Cord Injury”

  1. You have a great philosophy to focus on the positives. You are right about Berlin. I visited there a couple of years ago and I was very impressed with the accessibility of the city. I can’t wait to come back!

    1. Hi Alex,

      thank you. With my accident my philosophy didn’t changed, but the things I focus on.

      Btw – Thanks for sharing your insights, I really like your blog.

      Best

      1. In fact, you wrote a similar blog post about the top perks being disabled and it’s pretty cool – http://quadlifeblog.com/2016/01/18/10-perks-of-being-disabled/

        My favorite one:

        “Nobody Complains When I Run Them over: if an able-bodied person stood on your foot you would probably be rather aggrieved, and you might expect an apology. However, when I run over people’s feet THEY apologise to ME, even if it was blatantly my fault. People seem to feel guilty if they don’t get out of my way fast enough, which is a good job because running over people’s feet or bumping into them happens quite a lot especially in crowded rooms.”

  2. Jan, I admire your optimism and sheer will power so much! What a great list to motivate yourself and others – even people not in a wheelchair to show them how much they have and much they should treasure things like ability to cook. People take way too many things for granted. Thank you for showing the way!

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