I witnessed Emily’s traumatic spinal cord injury as her mother. It was more cruel than I can express, my inner sustaining flame that nurtured my positive psyche was extinguished initially and an empty sad black hole replaced it. My black hole consumed all the daylight, consumed all my worldly understanding , all my thoughts were strained, as I witnessed Emily’s loss and grief, witnessed her gently accept that she was paralyzed, immobile, quadriplegic by an oblique sports fall.
Two years from her accident I question why is change and acceptance so hard?
I have been helped by reading the Sydney University – counselling and psychological service information sheets. One pamphlet instructed me to think about change as a process with stages:
- The situation. Observation of the place I am at and that I want to change.
- Get motivated. Scribe my goals; maintain my diet and exercise, maintain my positive nature, stop struggling to accept our new normal.
- Action – make my goals happen. By hard work I practice mindfulness, realizing the past is over, the future is not written so the present is where I should be.
- Maintenance – live. A real case of walk the walk don’t just talk the talk. I practice what I aspire to be. When I become mindful I realise that the way to accept change is to enjoy today.
- Relapse recycle. There are days when I re-evaluate our new normal post SCI in our family and wonder about life’s meaning and worth. Then I bring myself back to my goals and get on with enjoying today.
I still battle with the question “why” but due to its unanswerable nature it has to be acknowledged but placed carefully to one side, discarded in favour of better questions. Where am I in the stages of change? There is no right or wrong. It is just about being realistic about where I’m at.
Emily has returned to post-graduate studies, she travels to Sydney University on the bus. Emily continues as a volunteer at Taronga Zoo using community transport. She displays her resilience everyday. My ultimate aim is to live not constantly aware that life changed on 1st Feb 2012.
On my clamber towards acceptance of my new life, my path will alter but my journey is not toward goals that are clever or complex. One goal is simple – living post SCI, accepting the ever evolving changes, coping and moving on with a strong sense of worth, purpose and a smile! A big smile.