Life as a Quad
Adjusting to life after spinal cord injury is as unique and complex as the individual. There are no manuals or recipes to follow that will make it easy. It is a journey through the unknown, where doctors and others in the medical profession become your advisers, right or wrong. You are clueless as to your future and your best source of advice will probably come from others who have preceded you in this venture. Unfortunately, access to others with SCI may be limited, thus leaving you virtually on your own. You rely mainly on the support you receive from those around you who, with good intentions and true sincerity, have little insight into what you are going through.
SCI is something that affects every aspect of your life. It also significantly affects the lives of those around you, particularly your family and close friends, the very people many with SCI draw their strength from. For them, seeing someone they love sustain an SCI can be a double-edged sword. They need strength of their own, while also needing to stay strong for the injured loved one. The stress that SCI causes and the pressure it puts on the injured, and those close to them, comes from all angles and is impossible to escape.
For the injured, the changes in their physical abilities are the most apparent. Ironically, those can be the easiest to adjust to. It is by far the psychological adjustments that are most complicated and challenging.
After your injury, society looks at you and treats you differently, even though it is only your physical abilities that have changed. You are often treated as though your whole being has been transformed into something that others don't know how to deal with, as though your new condition might be contagious and happen to them. Others may be intimidated, afraid of, or simply curious of what they feel you have become. Even though, for the most part, you are no different than before.
Some people shy away from you while others avoid you altogether, simply because you may no longer be able to use your legs and/or your arms.
Nonetheless, it is you, the injured individual, that has to ultimately work through, adjust to, and deal with every aspect of your newfound life on a daily basis. It is something that will never go away and that you cannot escape. You can't take a day off. It is what you have become, like it or not.