At one time or another, most of us have used a crutch or have used something as a ‘crutch.’ Whether as a prop or for support, I think when our lives are newly interrupted by disability, denial is as good a crutch as a crutch.
In the beginning—the first ten years—I used it (denial) to my advantage. I wasn’t going to be in a wheelchair the rest of my life and tried to live as if I were still able-bodied; but, obviously, needed help because of my disability. Others telling me how I inspired them wasn’t a help. My wake-up call, out of denial’s slumber, was realizing my pride and stubbornness.
Yes, I charged back into work, and being independent, but I look back at the foolishness of thinking I was more capable than I was, putting myself, and others, at risk.
There were several falls: a back flip off the toilet, a nose-plant onto my pantry floor, a “…tilt me over and pour me out” in my carport, and a semi-twirl off my back porch. The law of universal gravitation is especially cruel to those of us with effected muscular function/responses. Dead weight falls hard. Why hasn’t someone invented an ‘Iron Man’-like rocket boost for wheelchairs?
Anyway, the most dangerous denial was ignoring signs of autonomic dysreflexia (also known as hyperreflexia). http://calder.med.miami.edu/pointis/automatic.html
Autonomic dysreflexia in the SCI has numerous stimuli but most commonly results from an extended bladder or UTI (urinary tract infection), over-exposure in hot weather, constipation, and pain. I would ignore symptoms until a rocketing blood pressure-induced migraine escalated into distorted s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n speech, always requiring emergency assistance. If not treated, stroke, coma, and death can result.
Time, experience, and gained confidence work out the need for ‘crutches,’ but facing the truth on the wings of hope deals with denial.
Whether we improve physically or not, emotionally we can get better, day by day. If you lean on a crutch in the transition, that’s okay. If you’re honestly seeking to fit the puzzle pieces together for adjustment, this fellow SCI even recommends it. A little propping up, a little assistive support, goes a long way on the flight of optimism.
After all these years, those initial ailments have either changed or improved. More importantly, I’ve become wiser dealing with new ones.
I’ve learned: that opportunities are peeking out from under every weight of limitation, and that some things are “in our head:” Possibilities.
“The Law of Possibility:” the unaffected space of weightlessness in the aerodynamic mind where possibilities abound, and gravity has no influence!