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Reflections from Gary
or, How I got Here & a bit of from Where...
The where: Living on a 50 acre piece of land consisting of meadow/dry grass lands and forest; a lover of hiking, novice snowshoe user, a dancer, a practitioner of yoga. Oddly as it may sound I was working as an electrical maintenance person in a lumber mill. I was 39 years old, had finished 3 full years of college 3 years previously, with a heady portion of my life's experiences behind me, or so I thought.
It was a beautiful late September afternoon in North Eastern Washington State 32 miles below the Canadian border. It was 1979. I had just fallen about forty feet, hitting my back on the iron railing of the 'man basket' that fell with me when the braided steel cable it was attached to broke. I never lost consciousness, there was no pain at all; my body and mind were both in shock. I knew immediately that I was paralyzed from the waist down. No doubt at all.
Laying on my back, looking up through the green Tamarack and Fir trees into the white billowy clouds, I knew that my life was going to be different. At that moment I turned off a switch in my mind, my only concern was getting to a hospital before the pain kicked in. One ambulance, one local clinic, one airplane, one helicopter, two operations, and three months in the hospital later; I was out in the world again on my own. It was then that I turned the switch back on; my new life had begun.
There were angels there to help me through this time of transition. They had bones, flesh and blood, hearts strength and concern; they were human beings that loved and cared for me. They were the reason that I survived, not just physically, but emotionally. The question remains; what is the more difficult struggle; the physical or the emotional? For me it is the physical. Several years later the Internet opened it's door's to us ordinary folks and shortly afterwards Netscape appeared. A friend taught me HTML and Paralinks was born. A vehicle to be used to pass on viable information regarding Spinal Cord Injury to those that live within it and those connected to it; family, friends, caregivers.
I had a dream recently a few years ago. My body was walking. These dreams have occurred before; usually the legs are weak, and walking is precarious. Last night was different in that my legs were much stronger. In these dreams, sometimes my mind 'knows' that I 'cannot' walk, but I walk anyway. I say that my mind knows, because in the dreams I am in a wheelchair, yet get up and walk. In other dreams however, my 'mind' doesn't know that I cannot walk, in those dreams I am walking not knowing that I cannot. In this recent dream, my mind knew that I could not walk, but it also knew that I could walk. So, it seems that the mind was communicating with the muscles and nerves in my legs telling them what to do, how to act! Are you still with me?
At the bottom of a flight of stairs that I had to get to the top of because that's where I saw where life was happening; I got up out of the chair and proceeded to drag it up behind me. All the while thinking that I could walk, yet surprised that I was. I woke up with these thoughts in my mind. Before trying to move my legs, I reflected on the dream. For about 30 seconds after waking--before trying to move--I believed that I could walk. Those were an exciting few seconds.
How does one look at something like this happening to ones own self? Think about that. What do you think you would do? How would you handle a situation such as suddenly finding yourself paralyzed from the waist down, or chest down? So much of our time is spent dealing with a physical body that aches, pains, cramps and burns. Then on top of that, having to carry around some 50 pounds of legs......Other things too. Like how the mind gets confused, and thinks like a walking person. Perhaps never accepting that the body can not walk. My mind never stopped walking. This can be awkward. When a lot of time is spent struggling with the pain, and struggling with these kinds of thoughts, very little else gets done, time is wasted. There is a lot to do during this lifetime, and wasting time is wasting life. What ever is at hand at the time, go beyond the paralysis and do what we are actually capable of. What my intentions are and where this paragraph is leading is that I along with you am aging. Aging in the chair will be my next NOTES,
Life is suffering and a struggle too. Life is so much and too much at the same time. Life is temporary; passing so quickly. Life is intense yeah? But it is also a playground; sometimes. Look at life as you would an easel; paint your picture now or leave before knowing who you are! Absorb life's goodness, appreciate the wonder and beauty of the creation and feel the experience of living!
Gary - September 1st 2007
Gary's NOTES #1 "Wear Gloves"