It’s More Than Not Being Able To Walk – Part Two

Living With Spinal a Cord Injury
Part two of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

Be HappyDidn’t even realize it but it’s been 3 years since I was injured. Time flies. Whenever I’m working out my right arm (my weak arm) and my brother sees my frustration, he tells me to be happy. Reminds me that just being able to move that arm is amazing because with my level of injury I should be on a ventilator or even worse, dead. Though living like this sucks It could be a lot worse and I am happy where I am today even though sometimes I may not seem it or feel it. My injury gave me a new life. It may be Far from what I expected and had planned for myself in 2011, but I would not want to change it or what I’ve been through for anything. Be Happy.”
– David Hudgik

“Most of all, I hate how restricted the world feels. I miss celebrations because I can’t get to the second floor of a bar. I have to meet my friends’ new baby on the front lawn because I can’t get into their house. Without my legs, the world feels like a series of obstacles and barriers. It makes me feel like I can’t be a part of regular life. It’s isolating.

Not being able to use your hands is even worse. I would be happy to never walk again if I could have my hands back—just to open the door, to crack my knuckles, to scratch my dog and make her leg kick. To give you the bird when you cut me off in traffic.”
– Jimmy Anderson
From  This Is What It Feels Like to Be Quadriplegic

“Before my accident I didn’t even consider spinal cord injuries. I had a paraplegic friend and admired his strength, how he dealt with his injury. Today I envy him a little, as he can move his arms and fingers without any difficulty. But hey, I know I’m doing well compared to others. People in other WhatItsLikecountries don’t have the fortune to have access to good medical treatment or rehabilitation – far from it! Many patients still die after their injury due to a lack of medical knowledge or facilities. I’m also fortunate to have the assistance and publically funded services which enable me to live a meaningful live. Nevertheless, I cannot wait to put my wheelchair in the corner and continue my ‘old life’…
– Wolfgang Illek
From  Photo Story: Living With a Spinal Cord Injury

What’s gotten harder over time?

“The gradual physical ailments, the secondary conditions —the sores, the broken bones, those kinds of things that other people don’t experience at an age—I mean I’m 33, and it only gets worse as you get older. I know that the aging process happens for everyone, to have it start happening so young in life, is hard to deal with.”
– Megan

What’s gotten easier over time?

“Everything.  Yeah, I would say literally everything has gotten easier.  Even the simplest things like eating sandwiches and not having them fall apart.  And the big things too, like getting out of bed in the morning, and getting dressed, and driving, and yeah, everything has gotten easier.  I can’t think of anything that physically has gotten harder.
– Molly

Visit the SCI Awareness page at David’s Journey to Recovery for more stories from people living with spinal cord injury.

This is the second part of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. The series is designed to help us all understand what living with a spinal cord injury is like for David and millions of other people around the world.


It’s More Than Not Being Able To Walk – Part One

Spinal Cord Injury Basics
Part one of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

“When I first heard the devastating news about David’s accident back in September of 2011, I thought I knew what it meant to have a spinal cord injury.  It meant that you couldn’t walk.  When my neighbor (who is a physical therapist) asked me what level of injury David had, I told her it was a C4-C5 injury.  She made an “Ohhhhh” sound indicating that was really, really bad. I realized at that moment that I didn’t actually know what it meant to have a spinal cord injury.  Since then I’ve learned that it’s more than not being able to walk.”
– David’s Aunt Kristen

A spinal cord injury occurs when someone suffers a traumatic injury to their neck or back that causes so much damage to the spinal cord that some nerves can no longer send messages to the brain.

The higher the level of injury on the spinal cord, the more dysfunction can occur.  David is a quadriplegic with a C4-C5 injury level.

People often confuse paraplegia with quadriplegia.
• Paraplegia is the loss of sensation and movement in the legs, and in part or all of the trunk, usually resulting from an injury to the spinal cord below the neck.
• Quadriplegia is total or partial paralysis in all four limbs, including the trunk, resulting from injury to the neck.

We all link spinal cord injury to loss of movement, but did you know that there are many other other serious medical issues associated with SCI?  Secondary conditions from spinal cord injury include pressure sores, respiratory complications, spasticity, and autonomic dysreflexia.

Many quadriplegics die as a direct result of complications related to pressure sores.  Christopher Reeve, the star who portrayed Superman, died of complications from an infection caused by a bedsore.

Spasticity is a side effect of paralysis that varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, uncontrollable leg movements.  Although it’s embarrassing, spasticity is not always a bad thing because it acts as a warning mechanism to identify pain or problems in areas with no sensation.

Autonomic dysreflexia (Hyperreflexia) causes the blood pressure to rise to potentially dangerous levels and can develop suddenly.  Autonomic dysreflexia is usually caused when a painful stimulus occurs below the level of spinal cord injury.  Anything that would have been painful, uncomfortable, or physically irritating before the injury may cause autonomic dysreflexia after the injury. If not treated promptly and correctly, it may lead to seizures, strokes and even death.

What is it like living with a spinal cord injury?  In our next installment we’ll share stories from people living with SCI.

This is the first part of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. The series is designed to help us all understand what living with a spinal cord injury is like for David and millions of other people around the world.

Please visit the SCI Awareness page at David’s Journey to Recovery to learn more.