To Walk or Not To Walk
Posted on 09/26/2016 by Sam & Chelsea
I have a friend that knew someone in a wheelchair, but he learned to walk again.
I’ve heard that there are rehab places that can help someone who is paralyzed walk.
It just takes a lot of determination, but I’m sure he can do it.
I’ll pray for him to walk again.
Did you see that guy on Facebook with the robotic legs?!
We get questions, statements and well wishes of all kinds from all types of people; people we know well and strangers that we have just met. We’ve gone over the “You’re such a great person!” statements from people who have just found out that we are with someone in a wheelchair, and the “Does IT still work??” from people who are naturally curious. Now that you know us a little, we think it’s time that we tackle the “He’ll walk again!” comments.
Before going any further, let us remind you one more time that we are only speaking from our personal experience and our own situations. These are our personal opinions and we are in no way speaking for anyone else, nor are we trying to discourage anyone from doing what they want.
My husband is a T4 incomplete paraplegic and although that means he has sensation (not feeling) below his injury level, it also means he has no muscle control or movement from about mid chest down. Translation:
Shawn does not and can not walk.
And this may come as a shock to some people, but he has not tried. He has not spent thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and an immeasurable amount of energy or effort on rehab and therapy in an attempt to walk again. And I am so, so grateful.
I think that some people need something to hold on to after a major life changing event like a spinal cord injury. They need something to believe in, to keep them motivated, to keep them from becoming depressed or stuck; they need something to keep them moving forward. And I think for a lot of people, that “thing” is the idea of walking again. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I also believe that there comes a time where you have to accept the situation for what it is and adapt; learn to live your life to it’s fullest exactly the way it is. Which is what Shawn has done. Instead of spending the time and money on rehab and therapy, he has spent it traveling with family and friends. Instead of putting time and effort into trying to move his legs, he put it into meeting peers and mastering wheelchair skills, like transferring into a lifted F350 truck without a lift or being able to go up and down an escalator. Instead of working out muscles that he can’t control in a gym every day, he works out the muscles he can control by playing sports and handcycling. And you know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either.
Ask anyone in a chair what the worst part is, and I guarantee you that 90% of them won’t say “not being able to walk”; in the grand scheme of things, that is the least of their worries. So why do people feel the need to tell me “He’ll walk again someday,” or “I’ll pray for him,”? I mean, pray all you want, I won’t say no, but I’m not really understanding the point. Because a friend of a friend of yours was in a chair but is now walking so you’re sure Shawn could too if he really wanted?
Do you think that our life is somehow incomplete because he can’t walk?
Let me assure you that it isn’t. I love him and his wheelchair (even though I constantly have sore toes) and the fact that he doesn’t walk does not define or limit our lives. I love that my husband spends his time with me instead of a physical therapist, that we can talk about things other than his rehab and that his biggest concern in life isn’t learning to walk again. Because the truth of the matter is that not everyone who has a spinal cord injury can walk again. Period. It doesn’t matter how hard they try, it doesn’t matter if they go to the best rehab facility and pay top dollar, and it doesn’t matter if you pray for them. I know we have said this time and time again, but every injury is so, SO different. What works for one person may not work for another. And although I’ve also already said this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So, if you are someone, or know someone who is trying to walk again, all the power to you. I sincerely wish you and them the very best. But please, don’t feel like their success needs to be my husbands as well, because trust me, he is plenty successful from his wheelchair.
Spinal cord injury research has come a long, long way in the last few years making a cure much closer to possible. There are new treatments, new trials and new types of therapy. There are also rehab centres out there that are doing amazing things for people with spinal cord injuries and we are in no way trying to belittle any of it or those who choose that path. No matter your goals, big or small, just remember that time is precious. Try not to live in the past or the future; the present moment is all we have, whether you can walk or not. Work hard but also be happy with who you are right now, at this very moment because tomorrow may never come. All we have is today. You are breathing, you are alive, you are conscious and with that you can thrive. We sincerely hope that one day there is a fix for an SCI, but until that day comes, we are going to love our men and the lives we have with them exactly the way they are.