Over the course of the past month I’ve pretty much been on a hiatus from life, work, writing, posting blogs, going out, and enjoying life. For the first time in my spinal cord injury career I developed a severe case of Bronchitis. As I’ve previously mentioned time and time again being physically paralyzed can pale in comparison to the secondary complications we face with spinal cord injury. For example, pressure sores, respiratory infections, sepsis, urinary tract infections, etc. are just a few of the major culprits that can take many of us out for the count for weeks, and months on end.
Generally folks with spinal cord injury suffer from just a few secondary complications on a regular basis. I have always been Princess and the Pee when it comes to severe skin issues with pressure sores and osteoporosis. Knock on wood I have not suffered from many infections, respiratory issues, urinary tract infections, etc. However, this past month I was surrounded by a myriad of sick individuals in my household, which finally did me in. I started with a small cold that developed into bronchitis.
I have many spinal cord injury friends who suffer from upper respiratory infections all the time and I could always sympathize with what they were going through, but I could not empathize because I did not know what it felt like. I do now! The challenge with spinal cord injury, especially when you are a quadriplegic with paralyzed abdominal muscles and use your diaphragm to breathe, is that coughing, breathing, blowing your nose, etc. are tremendously challenging. You don’t have the core strength to bring up all of that nasty phlegm that gets stuck inside your lungs.
So, when you’re stuck with mountains of dark green phlegm in your lungs you literally have to have someone push on your stomach, lean forward, and hack up what feels like all of your internal organs coming out at the same time. It’s quite a process and extremely exhausting to cough to get the phlegm up & out. There are, of course, machines that can help with this, but they can come at a pretty hefty price.
Years after my accident I had regressed to a point where I just didn’t want to go on anymore because I had completely skipped over the phase of grieving for the fact that I had broken my neck those many years ago. I worked very hard at trying to deal with my feelings and eventually I thought I had healed. For the most part I wake up pretty happy every day, appreciate that my circumstances could be way worse, and really don’t complain about much of anything. Many compliment me on my positive attitude, my perseverance, my determination, etc. While I appreciate so many of these compliments more than words could do justice, this past month I realized something quite profound with the help of my therapist. By the way, I think everybody in the world should have a therapist. … We all need help in some way on a regular basis 🙂