A couple weeks ago I needed to pick up a prescription refill, so I drove myself to the drug store. This was the single most freeing event I’ve had since becoming paralyzed. For the first time in nearly two years, I didn’t have to ask someone to do my boring chores. For the first time in nearly two years, I didn’t have to wait until someone wasn’t busy. For the first time in nearly two years, I went somewhere BY MYSELF.
I don’t think I realized quite how much I missed my old self until I could drive again. I used to love driving! I loved making last minute plans or meeting up with friends for lunch. If I needed to go shopping or pick something up, I could just drive myself to get it. I’ve missed that freedom.
Getting hand controls installed in my car was the final piece of the puzzle. I’m still working on getting my chair in and out of my car and some other logistics, but that will come with time. It’s taken longer than I’d hoped, but I’m finally feeling like myself again.
Prior to the collision, I would silently judge when moms referred to their child’s age in months. If they’re less than a year old- I get it. 1-2 years? A stretch. Once they reach 2, it’s just plain unnecessary.
Prior to the collision, I didn’t realize how significant a month can be. In a baby’s life, so much change happens in such a short time. A month can mean learning to eat, sitting up, talking. That’s how my months have been since paralysis- every month a milestone. I’m getting to the point where marking time in months seems superfluous, but every month is still so significant! So, here’s how month 13 and 14 went.
I don’t think I’ve stopped moving in the last 2 months. This summer has been dedicated to travel and figuring it all out. Let me tell you- it’s been a lot of trial and error! Speaking clearly and intentionally has never been a strong suit of mine, but I think I’m starting to learn the lingo.
I spent just under a week in Washington DC over the 1 year anniversary of the collision. I survived my first solo flight as a wheelchair user, and was able to navigate a 5 night hotel stay (albeit with lots of hurdles). It was great to just hang out with Sarah and spend time with a lot of my teammates- most of them I had not seen since our last ride together. They are some of the most genuine people I’ve met and I don’t know how I ever lived without knowing them. When my wheelchair broke, they stepped up to fix it. When my bed was too high, they took the frame off. It was great to have that constant supply of laughter and support. My teammates are what I’m not and everything I need. Alright, that’s enough of that…
We were also able to meet up with Anne’s parents and share lunch with them!
A few weeks after heading back home, I was able to go kayaking, which was much easier than I thought it would be! I’m anxious to go more next summer. I had outriggers on since it was pretty windy out, but other than that it wasn’t super adapted. I loveeeee finding things to do that don’t need to be modified for me! I had a lot of fun!
One of my best friends from college had asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, so we had a week of fun! I love weddings! Everyone was so great and super helpful. Most of the activities were outside, so I feel like I squeezed a good workout in! It’s a miracle, but I was able to keep the floor length dress clean all night! That deserves a medal. It was great to catch up with my college friends and celebrate the bride and groom.
I closed out August with heading to Colorado for Camp Discovery! Camp Discovery is a 3 day camp for women wheelchair users focused on fitness and overall health. It also aims to foster friendships and help build confidence. I had a blast! I had never been exposed to many of the sports and activities that we were encouraged to try. I went sailing, hand cycling, rock climbing, ziplining. We were taught a hip hop dance routine by The Rollettes and had a mock biathlon. I had my hand at aerial yoga, and relaxed in the pool. It was one of the best weeks I’ve had since last summer. My favorite part about the whole experience was just being around other female wheelchair users. Prior to camp, I had met very few women that I could relate to (since the accident). Most spinal cord injuries occur in men, so women with SCIs are hard to find! I had always felt so behind from where I should be and was really struggling with that before I went to camp. It was a sigh of relief when I was at Camp Discovery and didn’t feel out of place. For the first time in the past year, I felt like I fit in. I hadn’t even realized that I felt that way until I was there. I just felt lighter. It was so nice talking to the other participants and learning tips and tricks of the trade.
When I was in Colorado, I stayed a few extra days and met up with some teammates! We went to The Lumineers concert, saw the Rockies play the Tigers, and climbed a few mountains (okay, we drove up them…).
While I love traveling and was able to figure out a lot of the logistics of doing so, I was so happy to be back in my own bed! It’s great to be back in my routine. I’ve been trying to figure out transfers without my slide board and will soon be working on driving again. I’m anxious to hit these last major milestones and start working towards bigger things. So, while marking time in months still seems so superfluous, it feels justified as I’m so much stronger than I was. A lot can change in a month. Stay tuned!