Coping with change and acceptance … SCI

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:

  1. The situation. Observation of the place I am at and that I want to change.
  2. Get motivated. Scribe my goals; maintain my diet and exercise, maintain my positive nature, stop struggling to accept our new normal.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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I sold my skis today, 2 years, 4 months and 7 days after Emily’s ski accident

The 20592 hours since 1st Feb 2012 has been a whole lifetime as Emily has had to adapt and re-learn skills, review her lifestyle and future goals. I have had to alter my life too and accept everyday caring as a major component. The interval statistics are more than just numbers they are a numerical display representing our journey; 2 years, 4 months and 7 days highlights a physical, emotional and educational differential that has transpired to date. The journey has been breathtakingly hard at times; it required more effort and endurance than we imagined or could ever have predicted or perceived at the beginning. But here’s the truth – I never envisaged Emily and I would be so positive, planning European holidays, she’s back at Sydney University and enjoying life – so soon. I can’t deny my excitement about where we will be in the future.

I acknowledge our start point 122 weeks and 4 days ago. We have moved forward but not without effort and a determination to improve. I was driven to read, research and understand more about spinal cord injury.  It was natural for me to want to improve my comprehension of carers and everyday caring practices. There has been no complacency because both Emily and I are constantly seeking to acquire further education, more experience and greater confidence. All these elements unite and are demonstrated as a life full of positive liveliness. The entire family shows an animated spirit and vigor which heartens our resolve to be resilient.

In the 858 days following the accident; I have created a blog, a Twitter account #everydaycaring, a Facebook page @everydaycaring, as part of my sharing journey. I am learning about caring, coping and social media communication. The availability of online data staggers me daily, the 24/7 opportunity to type into the search bar inquiries like days in-between calculator to get: 74131200 seconds since Emily’s fall is initially sad but also awesome.

For me it was a natural progression into social media communication. As I trawled the internet for information, fished for websites and news, an IT world opened up before my eyes on the small screen of my computer. I appreciated articles that shared empathetic stories and experiences, shared information and hope. I began to write a blog because I had too much information. I wanted to share because I was aware that the contribution of others supported Emily and my recovery, the assistance of experienced counsel smoothed issues and highlighted the better routes to travel. A few words of advice can facilitate, kind words helped us avoid the frustrations of failure. This social media communication tool can be accessed 24/7 worldwide, amazing from the comfort of my front room to yours!

I did not sell my skis because I am defeated as a skier, I’m not terrified after Emily’s accident although there is a degree of ambivalence.   I sold my skis because I’ve moved on. Life goes on, life changes and we evolve and I am looking forward to Thursday 13th October 2016 exactly 2 years, 4 months and 7 days of living!

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