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Discovering New Abilities After Spinal Cord Injury

Arash Bayatmakou
Spinal Cord Injury Survivor and Author
05/10/18  10:14 AM PST
spinal cord injury

I’m Discovering New Abilities After Spinal Cord Injury

From the moment my spinal cord injury occurred, my entire life completely changed. I had to give up my job to relearn how to take care of myself and to focus on my recovery. It took almost two years for me to begin to think about my professional pursuits and even then, my interests and passion had changed. I knew I wanted to channel my efforts to try to make a change in how SCI is treated and to help others deal with the many significant challenges that come with this life-changing injury. That’s when I began to do more writing, speaking, and pursued the idea of starting a non-profit.

 

I’ve dealt with many of the secondary aspects of spinal cord injury on a daily basis; body temperature regulation, spasticity, incontinence, to name a few. Beyond that, there have been so many adjustments to life after SCI that it’s hard to single out one. The inability to hike, bike, and be out in nature in the same way has been a difficult challenge. Additionally, the social struggles have impacted me profoundly. I used to love parties, concerts, events, and being among large groups of people but now I generally avoid those situations. I was a super extrovert who is now more of an introvert and that was a change I never expected.

spinal cord injury

Unpredictability and unknowns are simply a part of life post-spinal cord injury.

I don’t think I have a specific method of dealing with them beyond just trying to become more comfortable with the unknown. I’ve found that the saying, “necessity is the mother of invention” holds true. I’ve encountered many situations with unforeseen problems in which I simply had to find a solution. Once I did, I used that new knowledge to make larger changes in my life. For a long time, I was scared and unsure of how to get from the floor back into the chair. One day, I was on the floor without anyone around to help me and had no choice but to figure it out myself. It wasn’t pretty, but I found a way to get myself back into the chair and I built upon that experience and gradually became more comfortable and effective at doing a floor-to-chair transfer.

 

Post-spinal cord injury, I find I have some new hobbies, including swimming, cooking, and reading. Being in the water is a transformative activity for me, as it reduces much of my pain and allows me to exercise and push myself athletically, which I love. My hands are too weak to play guitar (one of my lifelong passions) but I can still cook and this has become a larger part of my personality. And my pursuit of learning has led me to devour books both by reading, and by listening. Since it’s not always easy to hold a book with my hands, audiobooks have become hugely helpful to me!

 

After spinal cord injury, when encountering challenges or new situations, I continue to thread a fine line between ensuring safety and security while also pushing my limits and discovering new abilities.

 

spinal cord injury

Arash Bayatmakou is a Spinal Cord Injury Survivor, Author, Motivational Speaker and Entrepreneur.

Follow his blog, Arash Recovery.

Discover his book, Little Big Steps.

Watch his TEDx video.

Check out his nonprofit, No Limits Collaborative.

 

More Articles Related to Spinal Cord Injury:

Spinal Cord Injury: Taking Recovery into My Own Hands

Access Unlimited – Making The Great Outdoors Accessible

SCI Panel Discussion: Spinal Cord Injury Roundtable Recorded Webinar

 

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