For ten years now, I’ve been living with a spinal cord injury. It sounds scary, but it’s easy to understand. May doctors excuse me; I will explain it in my engineering terms.
The spinal cord is like a highway with many high traffic lanes through which all the signals of the brain travel at full speed to all parts of the body and vice versa. The spine is what surrounds the cord, and when the spine breaks… Mayhem! It’s like blowing up a bridge immediately interrupting traffic flow. Most cars collide, they get destroyed, and it’s an internal catastrophe.
The authorities do everything within their power to repair the bridge and return everything back to normal, but none of the government engineers is as awesome as the engineer who designed and built the highway… some repairs are made and maybe some cars can pass through, but it is no longer the same.
After the initial chaos, cars stop driving that highway; one or two dare to cross through the rubble, yet not as many to carry everything that used to travel through there. And the government has to reinvent itself; organize and manage things differently. The area where it is located continues to function on a regular basis, and the disconnected area also works, but without communication. And since they are all still one nation, despite the division, it is important to be creative in order to function and live the best one can.
My injury is in T9, right in the middle of my back. Below that section, I have no sensitivity or mobility. I recovered a bit of both thanks to a treatment with stem cells, but not enough for my spinal cord to function as before; and since November 21, 2008, the wheelchair is my mandatory day to day companion.
And so, 10 years after my accident, I have learned to live with spinal cord injury, to invent and discover ways to lead a regular life: study, work, enjoy myself, travel, and do whatever I want. I have good, regular and bad days, like anybody else. There are days when the wheelchair opens doors to different experiences and there are others when the barriers that I face make frustration win.
I discovered that there are many other people like me, who live with some disability either by accident, from birth or because of some specific health condition. I discovered a world of empathy and inclusion. Every day I meet new people, with and without disabilities, with huge hearts and brilliant minds. What at first seemed like a horror story, today I can say it’s a blessing.
To read this post in spanish, follow this link: Mi historia de la lesión medular.