I was lamenting not being able to move my fingers the other day, and then I ran across Caroline Lanctot. When she was 10 months old, she was in a car accident that left her a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.
Caroline is now in 5th grade, and she has pulled me out of a dark place. It’s too easy to get caught up in our problems, especially when you have a disability. For the last year, even though I’ve been paralyzed for a very long 18 years, I’ve been in a slump. I thought I became adjusted to being paralyzed 4 years into my injury; I now know that being “full adjusted” is an old wives’ tale. Who can get used to being paralyzed when you have memories of being in a body that once worked normally?
For the last year every morning when I wake up, I think the same thing – “Why me?” I stare at my legs and try, over and over again, to make them move. Nothing happens. I started this about 7 months ago after a bone in my neck moved weird and I’ve been able to feel the bottom of my right foot. This got my mind racing, thinking, “Cool! What else will comeback?” Nothing, of course, has.
And I should, no, need to be ok with this. Learning about Caroline has helped immensely. Nothing good ever comes from crying over my old body (which believe me, I could do daily). I am no time traveler. Caroline was injured as a baby and has no memory of her old body. While this probably helped her cope, I’m sure it still bugs even her.
As a C1-2 quad, Caroline hasn’t been able to move her arms, legs, or diaphragm since her injury. Also, since her injury occurred at such a young age, talking is nearly impossible for her (stupid trach). Yet…she can still do so much.
She’s rolling a half-marathon for her SCI research charity Caroline’s Hope (coming up on November 10th in Trenton, PA. Donate/learn more), and my personal favorite, this great video of her dancing in her standing frame, in the cul de sac outside her house, with her dad in his rollerblades spinning her around like a top. Her energy is infusing me even as I write this.
Who am I to cry? To feel bad over what I can’t do? Feeling sorry for myself is one of the most selfish, pointless activities I, or any of us can partake in. I had a full childhood – climbing trees, riding bikes, dance recitals. And today, I can move my arms, drive, cook, write. The amazing Caroline can’t do any of that, yet I have a feeling her mood these days has been better than mine.
Blessings are so very hard to see. I have been blessed all theses years, despite thinking the opposite. We are all blessed. We just need to start opening our eyes.
Who’s inspired you to stop “the self-pity train?”