I always assumed — as it turns out incorrectly (the assumption thing, I guess) — my disability would be stable (you know, aside for those first couple of years where I was convinced my paralysis was just a hiccup). I figured, I broke my neck, I’d get back what I’d get back and that would be it. Science, might one day move things along, and I’d certainly bust my ass and make the most of what I had through strengthening, but I was pretty much under the impression my paralysis was locked in.
I never in a million years imagined — despite many spills out of my chair and wipeouts on the slopes — that things could actually go backwards; that it was possible to lose all I’d gained without, like, you know, breaking my neck again. Because, really, c’mon, what kind of crap would that be?
Now admittedly, I was a bit “focused” back in the day when I broke my neck (some might call it stubborn) — still am, I suppose — and my lack of foresight, and grasp of my own mortality probably rivaled that of your average house cat, but even still, it wasn’t like I was warned about said possibility and flippantly disregarded it as somebody else’s fate. No, because even as things were changing, it never crossed my mind they actually could… or would.
And while this last decade has been all about change (when isn’t it, really), and I’ve become quite adept at handling it (even relishing it, on some level), I’m not going to lie; this slow, perplexing loss of sensation, mobility and range of motion (not to mention the silly pain) is proving to be quite the bitch. And as strange as it may sound, I almost feel if it were to happen over night it might be easier to wrap my head around. Because, quite frankly, there’s a reason conventional wisdom says to just grab the Band-Aid and rip — it’s painful, but at least it’s not drawn out.
(Note to whom it may concern; if you have any control in this matter — God, gods, Cosmos, existence, what have you, you know who you are — sit back down and relax, I’m not trying to tempt the fates here, I’m just saying.)
Look, losing the use of my arms terrifies me, I’ve got no problem admitting that. I’m a high enough quad as it is. I’m able to eat by myself, write, do my graphic design work, push my chair, etc., I don’t know anything different. But like it or not, change is coming down the pipe… for all of us. Sometimes it’s welcomed, sometimes not so much. And while it’s been tempting to label this particular change as bad, the truth is, I know better.
I’d hoped surgery would arrest this problem, but thus far — for whatever reason — it hasn’t. I was cautioned from the beginning things could possibly get worse before they got better, and perhaps this is the case, I don’t know. I certainly hope so. But either way, life will go on. Differently, yes, but for certain just as miraculously.
Given this, it’s impossible to reflect back on 2009 and not reflect on what it all will mean for the future. Large elephants, I guess, have a way of demanding that kind of attention. But that’s just it — the future — despite how things may appear now — and they do appear a bit sketchy — I don’t know what the future holds anymore than I did back in 1980 when I broke my neck, which arguably seemed like a bad thing at the time and turned out to be quite the opposite.
So sure, the word for 2009 will probably go down as being syringomyelia, — in my life, anyway — but that just means the word for 2010 will probably be adjustment.
And I can certainly hang with that.