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You Before Me

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
08/14/17  1:56 PM PST
Spinal Cord Injury Caregiver

You Before Me – By Laquita Dian. Dian is the Co-Founder and President of C.O.R.E. Centers, as well as the mother of Wings for Life World Run Ambassador, Aaron Baker

The moment I walked into the ICU room that held my son, Aaron, I knew our lives had forever changed. His catastrophic spinal cord injury, rendering him paralyzed from the neck down, did not only happen to him — I was included in the ripple effect as though it had happened to my body as well. Within hours of his accident, I was receive a horrifying prognosis from the doctor — and it didn’t take me long to realize that without my complete commitment to his well-being, that prognosis would come true.

It’s been eighteen years since Aaron’s accident and I now have eighteen years of of experience working with my son, along with others we now work with at our restorative exercise center. At the center,  I hear (all too often) “I just want to get my life back.”  The truth is, life will never look like it did before the injury or whatever other life fracturing experience you may have had.  That does not mean your life will have lost the color and vibrancy it once had: it means it will be different. I have found peace and satisfaction in the company of devastation by redefining life — not looking back but looking straight ahead. I was looking onto a blank canvas that beckoned form, a form that began taking shape one moment, one hour, one day at a time. I recognized very early on that everything I thought was important to me in my life was, in fact, not. What was of tantamount importance was doing everything I possibly could for my son’s recovery and future. In helping him, I helped myself, our family and our friends.

I thought I knew what sacrifice meant, until I truly had to sacrifice. I had to make choices that were either going to support our process or divert and dilute my valuable time and effort. I previously thought of sacrifice as demoralizing, giving up, resigning … once I truly engaged and embraced what sacrifice actually was, I found it to be supportive, embracing and empowering. By identifying the “things” in life into categories of “wants” and “needs,” you can begin to give up what is not necessary or supportive to your main goal.  I encourage taking a personal inventory of everything you own, everything you spend your time and money on: are these things supportive or are they anchoring you, forcing you to spend your limited time and resources keeping them up instead of allowing you to “keep up” your loved one? You will be surprised at how little you actually need when it is decided that what you love holds more power than any other “thing” in your life.

When life presents you or your family with catastrophic injury, illness or event, suffering is inevitable.  Through thoughtful sacrifice, however, that suffering can be minimized by your actions. I have ultimate peace in my heart knowing I do not look over my shoulder and wonder “what if?” or feel regret because I did not. My truth is I gave it everything I had. In giving I gave myself the greatest gift of all: turning sacrifice and suffering into satisfaction.

Laquita Dian

 

Ms. Dian’s story of sacrifice is an amazing and inspiring story about knowing how to identify the most important parts of life. But we ask that caregivers not confuse prioritizing their life with self-care. Learn more about self-care here: How Caregivers Can Find “Me” Time

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I have progressive MS and I find it hard sometimes to have a positive attitude. How do you reach out to others?
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The psychological roller coaster of life can be dramatically amplified by a physical condition like MS or spinal cord injury - no doubt! ...

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Comments

1 Comment

  1. Janice Dickhaus
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:52 am PDT

    Your words ring so true. I had a C56 injury many years ago. I am one of the lucky ones and can walk and work. I worked in a SCI rehab in Charlottesville for 6 years and never dreamed it would happen to me. I felt so terrible because it did involve the whole family. I can’t thank my mother and brother enough.

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