When I was first injured there was no Internet. Let me explain what that meant exactly. For any direction post-injury, whether it was how I was going to live on my own or go to college, or even if I was going to date again, it was all learned in-person.
There was a couple of books they had you read, a really creepy video on sexuality post-spinal cord injury to watch too, and I even met an older woman with a spinal cord injury who was living on her own. They brought me to her house. It was all depressing however. None of it was doing the trick. The books, the meet-ups, they were all scaring me. With so much of it antiquated, it was not quite up to speed for my teenage self.
It’s really no wonder, looking back, I had a such a hard time the first four years of living with a spinal cord injury. I really thought the future was going to be pretty boorish, and not the shiny and bright light I had envisioned as a girl. And the reason I thought this? I had no way to access the greater SCI world; one full of positivity, beautiful things, technological advancement and more.
See, with no internet, you simply had a limited knowledge on everything. Your only option was to subscribe to a disability magazine, go to the library, travel the world visiting rehab units, interviewing people as you go, but let’s face it, no one would have been able to do this unless you were a millionaire with too much time on your hands. I think it’s hard for people to grasp sometimes how much the internet has changed the way living with a spinal cord injury happens.
Before, people lived in bubbles, not knowing anything except what they were taught in rehab or learned from friends in passing. There was simply no sharing of knowledge on such a mass scale worldwide. For example, the fact that I now know how some guy in Sweden transfers onto his boat is pretty cool. This is only possible because of the Internet. And I now know how to position high heels on my foot plates. Craziness! When I broke my neck, I didn’t even think wearing high heels would have been possible.
It’s amazing to think where I could’ve been in my teens had the Internet been around in the capacity that it is today. My confidence would’ve skyrocketed knowing that such a thing as wheelchair fashion could be taken seriously. To read another girl’s trials in the dating world as a wheelchair user, that would have blown my mind too. Unfortunately it took several years for me to have the “ah-ha” moments, that many new wc-users now have much sooner post-injury.
Nowadays, people who are newly injured can access social media, which can change their perspective completely on their new life. From Instagram and YouTube to Twitter and Facebook, the sharing that is going on is astounding. Everyone wants to share their life experience in all kinds of media formats, from articles and photograph to videos. I love love love the sharing.
I may no longer be newly injured, but the internet is still helping my life in big ways – employment, directions, making friends, seeking advice, shopping and more. It really is one of the biggest things to happen to people on this planet, and that includes people with disabilities.
So the next time you log on, take a pause to savor how miraculous it is we can connect with one another in such an insane way. People with SCI have never had it so good, and that is the honest to God’s truth.
How has the internet helped your life post-injury?