800.765.8775

Spinal Cord Injury Community

Getting My S.P.I.R.I.T. Back After Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury Survivor, Advocate, Beauty & Fashion Influencer
07/10/18  3:19 PM PST
spinal cord injury

Happy Anniversary to Me. It’s been ten years of fighting the hardest battle of my life.

Ten years ago, a car accident left me paralyzed with a low level spinal cord injury (SCI). I still get asked, “How do you do it?” or comments like, “If this happened to me I would never be able to live through it. You are so strong.” The truth is, it can happen to anyone and it happened to me.

I also believed I could not live through it, especially for the past 10 years. No one can prepare you for this type of life-changing traumatic experience. Neither myself nor my family were ready to deal with my new situation. I was now someone with special needs, with a disability, and I had any clue about the care I needed. The reality of it all was too painful for me to bear. I faced the brand-new challenges of a world previously unknown to me.

Like many newly injured individuals, I felt terrified, embarrassed, angry, depressed but most of all, I was lost. There is no SCI handbook to explain all of the hardships someone like me will go through. I got a few weeks of basic self-care training, some pamphlets with community resources, then I was sent back into society. The rest was up to me to do my own research, find ways to learn to move, adapt in my new body, and design my own self-care and support system. I had to make a physical and mental effort to get back to myself, back to being a mother, adapt fast and survive.

My answer to the question, “How do you do it?” It’s my S.P.I.R.I.T.

My main focus was to build on my my strength; physically, mentally and spiritually. Slowly, I began to put my life back together by staying focused on these six aspects my life:

Strength. Perseverance. Independence. Rehabilitation. Inspiration. Triumph.  

Strength

Within the last ten years I have been able to build on my physical strength, by staying active and keeping up with physical therapy and exercise. I have learned how to adapt in my new body. It is important to keep the body conditioned and ready for the latest treatments and breakthroughs in spinal cord injury therapy.

Perseverance

Living with SCI is overwhelming; this injury has tested all my limits. But perseverance is key!  There are days when it’s so much easier to quit the fight, but I am not a quitter. Instead, I allowed myself the time to rest and refocus. I never lose focus of my goal to strive for a little more independence each day and live a healthy, productive life.

Independence

Pushing myself out of my comfort zones has helped me to care for myself independently. I can now shower without a caretaker, cook and drive a vehicle, but most importantly I’m able to continue to care for my daughter. With exercise, small personal goal-setting and a strong support system, I’ve gained more independence. The more independent I become, the more confident I am to handle more and more each day.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation should consist, not only of physical activity, but social outings as well. Most of my days used to consist of long visits to outpatient therapy, followed by long naps, with my only outings to the backyard to catch some vitamin D. I realized this was not me, this was not living. I needed to be more social and unafraid to face the world. By forcing myself to attend social outings and connecting with friends, my self-esteem improved as I engaged more with the world. I’ve learned so much about myself, my capabilities and new ways to function in my new environment.

Inspiration

I have been inspired by the strength and determination of others living with disability. These individuals are some of the strongest, most determined motivators and influencers I’ve ever met. Some have become close friends, others personal, professional mentors and are a significant part of my recovery. I feel motivated to do more for my disabled community. With my personal experience and  knowledge, I feel as if I have now something to offer. I hope I can be the inspiration, the light to someone else going through a dark time and feeling lost. I read a quote the other day that really resonated with me, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  — Mahatma Gandhi

Triumph

Surviving through SCI  has been the most difficult, humbling experience I have ever been through. Challenges and obstacles arise every day, but it has also brought forth my finest abilities. On many levels, I feel that I’ve triumph over my injury. Focusing on these six building blocks has helped me to become a strong, working woman, mother, teacher and influencer to my community. If someone can learn something from the way I have lived my life or by words I’ve said, I have TRIUMPH over my injury in the best possible way.

“When you feel like your body is betraying you and you’re losing control despite your best efforts, the only way to find any sort of strength is within.”  — Jamie Lynn Sigler

Find your S.P.I.R.I.T. Work on this on a daily basis. YOU GOT THIS!

 

Cynthia Ramirez is a Spinal Cord Injury Survivor, Advocate, and Beauty & Fashion Influencer

Discover her adaptive clothing designs at Moving Evolution Adaptive Wear 

Read her beauty and fashion blog on Push Living

 

More Articles Related to Spinal Cord Injury:

Strategies to Improve Your 2018 Star Ratings Webinar: September 26
I have progressive MS and I find it hard sometimes to have a positive attitude. How do you reach out to others?
Mary
The psychological roller coaster of life can be dramatically amplified by a physical condition like MS or spinal cord injury - no doubt! ...

Follow Shield HealthCare
SHIELD NEWSLETTER
Subscribe now to be the first to know about what’s new and community updates.