Improving the quality of life with educational and recreational opportunities for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

My world was forever changed on February 13, 2012 due to a motor vehicle accident. I do not remember being told that I would never walk again because I was heavily medicated due to the devastating injury that left me paralyzed from the chest down. But, the pain in my family’s faces made me realize it was very serious. Especially for my mom who, to this day, still has a hard time excepting the fact that I cannot walk.

If I was given the choice to go back to that date, erase the accident, and its outcome for my life I would wholeheartedly choose not to. Besides my mothers pain, what I lost (the ability to walk again) could never be compared to what I have gained from it. I am grateful I got the chance to realize how blinded and preoccupied I was with life, i.e. work, bills, relationships, etc. I realize that in all of my 36 years of life, I never realized the true value of some things we all can never live without. Like knowingly breathe fresh air or to slowly take a breath when outside and feeling it going into my lungs. I didn’t realize the value of this until I was stuck inside a hospital room and most days, that was all I wanted but couldn’t do for months. It is realizing things like a single breath of fresh air that proves the example of “we don’t appreciate things until we lose them” to make so much sense.

Another example I have learned to be so accurate is “never judge a book by its cover.” I have met so many amazing people while volunteering at the MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network, and elsewhere with people who survived traumas only the strongest can and that left many with invisible scars. So despite being in a wheelchair, with never ending excruciating back pain, I try not to forget that there are people among us walking with inner scars that may hurt a lot worse. My hope is that everyone realizes that it is a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering there’s no escaping that.

I never asked why did this happen to me, instead I thought why not me? Why should I be exempt from what happens to countless other humans? Happiness does not come without loss nor suffering, therefore we should accept the world that God gives us and accept it with love. Having physical capabilities intact but struggling to find a happy place mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is more paralyzing than sitting in a wheelchair.

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