30 years SCI (Installment 1 of 3):
So this month I'm going to switch it up a little bit, I'm going to talk about aging and SCI. I'm going to make this a three-part installment leading up to my 30 year accident anniversary on July 27, which I might add is also my engagement anniversary to my wife. I'm a firm believer in turning a bad shitty day into something that you can remember as a good day. So that's what I did; I proposed to my wife on the anniversary day of my accident nine years ago. I'm not going to fluff it up and say that when I wake up on that morning every year that all things are sunshine and rainbows, but the sting is not nearly as bad.
1987 wrestling season- undefeated 15-0
We all know the story and we all have a story. My journey with SCI started when I was 15 on a hot July day in 1987.
I was your typical athlete overachiever, people either loved or hated, Captain of the football and wrestling teams. Yes, I am "that guy"! Sports were my life then and still are today.
My buddy and I were out at the local lake swimming and there was a huge rope swing that we used to swing out into the lake, something we had done many times in the past.
This time things went wrong. My friend was in the water swimming away and it was my turn to jump off the rope swing, at the last minute I hesitated letting go of the rope which totally screwed up my trajectory so instead of hitting the water I hit my friends' hip. The water broke the impact for him but the impact broke my neck at C4-C5. I have an incomplete spinal cord injury and function at C6.
I am not someone that believes everything happens for reason. I believe that shitty things happen to good people every day it's just the way it is, no rhyme or reason.
My philosophy towards life with SCI is that it is a war, an ongoing war, and there are many individual battles every year, every month, hell sometimes everyday that we have to face. I don't ever profess that I win every battle but I like to think that I am winning the war. That's the way I look at the last 30 years of my life. It's a war with many hard fought battles, some I win and some I lose, but at the end of the day and moving into this big 30 year mark I do feel like I'm winning the war, most of the time anyway.
I've been asked so many times over the years what is the hardest part of having a spinal cord injury and being in a wheelchair? Well the main thing I will tell people is that being in the wheelchair is the easy part it's all of the other stuff that goes on behind the scenes that 99% of people who are not family or very close friends even know about. No need to get into the nitty-gritty, if you're reading this you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I've been very fortunate through most of my years with SCI. I hit a few major bumps in the road and they seem to come at these big anniversaries for some reason. At around the 20 year mark I had some issues, the first major issues I have had since my injury and now coming into the 30 year mark I have had a few issues in the last 12 months. They came out of nowhere; I'm happy to say that we have been dealing with them and seem to have come out on the other side. Time will tell, but I will tell you our bodies do change, let's face it SCI is hard on the body, and things really seem to start to change around 20 years and then again at the 30 so I would suggest you be ready! Take care of yourself, eat healthy and be as strong as you can be and above all stay positive! Believe me, I know some days this is easier said than done.
For me one of my pet peeves that drives me totally insane is seeing how able-bodied people take their bodies and their lives for granted. People who choose to make excuses and not take care of themselves and just go on through life like everything is going to be fine forever. Let's face it, everybody has 20 minutes a day to go for a walk or to do some cardio so that you feel better. When you feel good, you treat others better and are more productive.
Next month I'm going to talk about specific changes I could have made or I wish I would have made going through the years in this journey with a SCI. And how I feel sports are key to a healthy & happy life with SCI.
To be continued! - John