Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The best advice I’ve received since my accident so far came from a woman I met after I modeled for the TRCIL Benefit Dinner. She was a designer who put out a line of clothing made adaptable for the disabled woman. I made her acquaintance while putting my feelers out to all the designers after doing the show for Chloe Magazine. Her story was so touching and inspiring that I just HAD to talk to her and we became friends. She even offered me a job as a model for her line, offering me a free trip to New York City but later reneged after learning my age. But all that negativity aside she did leave me with some words of wisdom, strength, faith and hope that changed my life forever.
Her name is Latrice and was made a quadriplegic as a child by an abusive parent. Through sheer will, unwavering faith, regular prayer and a lot of help from her extended family, she was able to rehab herself back to a paraplegic which if you don’t understand the significance of this accomplishment please allow me to explain.
As a quad she was paralyzed from the shoulders down so her spinal cord had to be injured very high; the trauma probably occurred around the 3rd or 4th vertebrae. To have recovered enough movement to be considered a para she would have had to regain full use of her arms, at least partial use of her hands, and most if not all of her trunk (chest, lungs, stomach, oblique and back muscles) control. Latrice gives credit for her recovery to God, her family, and the fact that they never let her give up trying to get better. And those were the last words she left me with; NEVER give up trying to move your hands no matter what the DOCTORS said and praise God for your glorious body which no doctor yet has completely mapped and unraveled the puzzle to. These two phrases stayed with me because after my last stint at outpatient occupational and physical therapy when the doctor told me point blank that I HAD reached my potential that I would NEVER progress beyond this point…I BELIEVED him!
But I found out the human spirit is a miraculous thing that can’t be recreated as a pill or shot in a lab and even though you may not use it for while, it never leaves you. It’s like a loyal pup waiting at the door for you to call on it and it WILL spring into motion. So every night when I’d lie down for the night I tried to open my hands and spread my fingers. I pictured myself opening up my hands, fingers splayed wide and I tried to pray. I haven’t exactly been on speaking terms with my maker since the accident, but I tried. Eventually, I moved my thumb…just a little but I willed it to move and it did!
Each night I laid there and I’d start with my toes and try as hard as I could and imagine I was spreading and straightening each and every toe on one foot and then on the other. Then I would try to lift and visualize it in my mind my knees as high as could off the bed again one at a time. Next I would arch my back and squeeze my buttocks and back muscles with all my might and think about my muscles actually flexing and getting stronger. I always ended with my hands adding an extra exercise just for my newly mobile thumbs.
One morning while my attendant was dressing me, I asked her to wait a minute before putting on my socks and watch my feet for any movement. By God, I could move my big toes! She ran to get Eric and we all celebrated the tiny movement of my toes…the very furthest part of my body from where my spinal cord is severed. That is day Eric agreed to purchase new parts for my TENS unit and I went on an internet quest to gather information on the proper way to use it to rebuild and stimulate paralyzed muscle tissue.