Some things I’ve learned…

I set out to accomplish forty minutes of straight cardio a few months ago. Twenty minutes on the treadmill, and twenty on the elliptical in one session. I’ve been successful. However, I learned it’s one thing to get to forty minutes straight, and another to maintain it! I thought once I got to it, I would easily get to 45, 50, than one hour (which would be nice). But when I miss two or more sessions of exercise, it sets me back. I know it’s the same for all of us.

Sometimes people at the gym come in and get on the elliptical and do an hour, I’m so envious ; ) On the other hand, some come in and can’t even do ten minutes. It depends on how in shape you are. It’s nice to be able to use it like everyone else. It reminds me despite my injuries, I can do something everyone else does that requires physical energy, exercise. I’d like to reach the half an hour straight mark on the elliptical, but I know it will take some conditioning. Hopefully, I will in the next few weeks. Man, that will feel good!

It’s a constant fight, well fight sounds intense I should say challenge. To exercise a few times a week, eat right and cook fresh foods. Taking care of our health can be a job in itself, but I’m getting better at this. I’m determined. I think we all should be. How we exercise, eat, and sleep really affect the way we feel.

This month I’m off teaching for my second job, because we’re in transition from summer to fall. I’m working less hours and it feels good to relax. I have more time for exercise.

I put my wheelchair away last week, and didn’t use it much for three full days so I know my cardio capability is better. A few years ago, it may’ve been hard. I try to use it very minimally, less than 1-2 hours a day and only if I have to. With my daily activity though, adding exercise sessions, and all the other chores I do I sometimes feel tired.

I think that could be the number one best physical therapy though, discombobulating that wheelchair! It’s hard to be on my feet all day but when I do take it apart, I feel that much stronger. My right side feels taller where I have weakness and I’m standing straighter.

My physical therapist and I were talking this morning about meeting at public places and not the gym like we usually do. That way, I could practice by taking my one cane out of the car and walking in. The shopping store, church, or restaurants, places where I could walk short distances to start. He says he thinks I can do it, and hopefully after a few sessions I’ll gain the confidence. I have the strength, but because of my balance I’m a little afraid.  I think it’s about practice. I pray to get really good with one cane, than hopefully walk with nothing one day!

Still asking for prayer and hoping you are doing the same, working on your health. Thank you for standing with me.. thank you for your support. Let’s encourage one another : )

“A few quick tips on how I heal”

My dad fell in church the other day. He said it happened as he was going down the steps. He felt a shooting pain in his back shortly before and there was nowhere to sit. As he walked down the step his leg gave out, he collapsed.  Other church members hurried over to catch him. He suffers from Sciatica and some arthritis. He turned 80 last July. Aging can bring about some of this. I think he’s becoming addicted to these cortisone shots. He’s had several and always seems to think that is the cure.  Once the medication wears off, the pain comes back. I was talking to him about the importance of exercise and moving around. I notice he doesn’t move around as much. Naturally, when we don’t move our body weakens.

I kept thinking, if it’s that hard for my dad to move without having paralysis. Imagine how much harder it is for the paralyzed? Well, I can imagine, because I have been. The majority of people with spinal cord injuries are told they’ll never walk again, and I never understood why. If nerves have the ability to regenerate, and muscles can be strengthened, why are people told they will always use a wheelchair? “Twenty years of study in humans has shown that the spinal cord has its own sophisticated nervous system that helps it recall how to move,” says Dr. Susan Harkema, a research leader in the field.

People sometimes turn to alternative options such as stem cell surgery. But that surgery does not fully solve the problem. It’s where they use adult stem cells extracted from other parts of the body, and implant them into the spinal cord at the site of injury. “The most important thing we’ve learned is that surgery is not enough. It has to be accompanied by rehabilitation (exercise),” says Dr. Carlos Lima, a neuron-pathologist on the Lisbon stem cell team.

We now have come out with Ekso Bionics or e-legs, the first originally of its kind out of Berkeley, California. You can visit the page here: Initially, these were used for soldiers carrying heavy cargo while going uphill. The solid legs and back helped them prevent injury. The problem is the device weighs 50 pounds, and adding that much weight, I don’t know how functional you can be. Or how much time you can spend on them during the day, I would imagine not much.

My physician of eleven years told me it would be hard for me to walk with one cane, when I told her my goal was to at least be mobile and get around everywhere with it. She said it was “possible” but not “probable” when I confronted her with why she had said that.  I told her it was something I believed was very highly likely. I never accepted her proposition.

Today I’m walking mostly all day with two forearm crutches, and practicing with one cane. Something I was told I would never do. It took prayer, lots of exercise, and undying faith.

Some quick tips on how I heal:

  • Daily Prayer
  • Exercise and Physical Therapy
  • Logs (exercise logs can be great)
  • Listen to your doctor, but don’t neglect your “own doctor within.”

Daily prayer is crucial for me. I recommend at least 15 minutes a day of talking to God. I sometimes read bible verses, and short prayers in the morning. I often talk to him while at the gym on the walking machines, this really helps.

Prayer is the pathway that connects us to the heavens. No prayer is unheard although they seem unanswered. Trust that God has a plan for you. Even when you cannot make sense of things. In time, the answers will reveal themselves.

Exercise is something you should be doing at least a few times a week. Find a PT or trainer who can design a safe but challenging program for you. “Get up close and personal with yourself, get to know yourself,” Dr. Agus writes in his bestseller, The End of Illness.  “It all starts with you.” Oh yeah, and find a PT who believes in you. Mine believes in me, it makes all the difference!

Keeping logs is great. An exercise log to track progress, i’ve even kept logs on how much percentage of the day I use a wheelchair. Logs are great because they help you see your progress.

LISTEN to and RESPECT your doctors, but don’t neglect your “own doctor within.” You know that inner voice. We all have it. The one that screams at you sometimes to take a left or right when you are lost and driving the wrong way, your intuition. It has something to say.

These are just a few ways I get better from SCI. I think they will be helpful for you. I believe these principles can apply to more than just spinal cord injury. Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the country. Stroke is the third. Cancer is another leading cause. I believe prayer and exercise, and getting to know your body can help all of us. has great information on Rehabilitation of Central Nervous system disorders, like spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and MS. If you click on the “Knowledge now” button, you can find lots of information. Best wishes in your recovery.

We are imperfect in an imperfect world

As I’ve mentioned, I teach English for a global language training company. It was a bit of a struggle to get into my student’s home tonight. There were three staircases. About ten steps to get into the old burgundy brick building’s door, once you entered, there were two additional sets of steps to get up to the condo. I held onto the railing in one hand, and one of my crutches in the other. The railing going up the second set of steps was shaky. I walked up, leading with my left leg since it sometimes dominates while going up stairs.

It took a few extra minutes. I was embarrassed. I apologized. But my student, Gabriel, assured me it’s okay he didn’t mind. His name suits him. He’s from Mexico. He works for Ford in the U.S. I’m assigned to teach him English. He’s with his three children. Sadly, he lost his wife.

It’s my own insecurity, this shortcoming. We all have them but mine is visible. God has given me students who accept me, and that is a blessing. No one ever expects to live with a disability. It’s not something we foresee as a child. It’s not how we envision our lives. It’s definitely not something we expect. But life happens, and things happen to us. Our world is imperfect, and so are we. I’ve learned to see my challenge as a part of life. This is a broken place, and suffering is a part of it.

Heaven is the only perfect place..

With golden streets and pearl gates..

Massive choirs of angels singing praise..

I’ve read in books of people who’ve visited there. -Don Piper in “90 Minutes in Heaven” writes.

Call me naïve..

I believe..

I don’t recall heaven at the scene of my accident or in my hospital bed, but I felt this profound sense of peace. In the midst of crisis, chaos, catastrophe. God was watching over me.

Why do I write? “Writing has helped me heal. Writing has changed my life.” –Louise Desalvo explains in “Writing as a Hay of Healing; How Telling our Story Transforms our Lives.” What hurts you? That is what you should write. It may not make the problem go away, but it’s medically proven writing improves the neuropath ways of the brain.

What is your pain that we can or cannot see? What are you afraid to write? Tap into that place. Feel free to share your comments with me.

Loving charities…

I went to a benefit gala last night with very good friends. It was in honor of people with Spinal Cord Injuries. What a spectacular event! I saw everything from Acrobats performing stunts to a ballet dancer, to a Michael Jackson impersonator, and even rappers. Oh yeah, and Frank Sinatra too. I even watched someone dance on stilts 10 feet tall! It was a fun night!

The D-Man Foundation was created in loving memory of Danny Kassab, a C-1 quadriplegic who was hit by a car at the tender age of ten. He reminded others life is too short to not live to the fullest. An inspiration, he meant so much to countless others. He was not aware of the impact he would leave.

It was a night of festivities and events to honor people with disabilities, mainly Spinal Cord Injury. It was a beautiful night, and there were other people with injuries there. When I encounter these organizations that reach out to people with SCI, I feel so happy. It’s amazing to me the motivation and energy that people pour out into these non-profits, that mean so much in the lives of so many.

Other favorites are Challenged Athletes Foundation, and the Mike Utley Foundation. Both support in helping others with disabilities ranging from all kinds of maladies such as Spinal Cord Injury, or leg amputation. They provide grants for adaptable sports equipment, or donate money towards funding research to find cutting edge state of the art equipment for people with SCI to join in physical therapy. They even award money to lessen the stress of the person with the disability.

The most amazing thing about these organizations is each of them has a special story, with one special person behind them. Blessings can spring forth from catastrophe. “Through tragedy comes purpose. As purpose starts with pain. Purpose does not start in universities, or with ‘cushy’ jobs. It starts with pain, and sometimes we are hurt bad enough so we can be used.”
Bishop TD Jakes

There is still not enough we can do about SCI, we are told there is no cure. The chances of walking after paralysis are often quoted as zero to four percent by doctors. These organizations offer a glimmer of hope, a light in the dark.

In what seems hopeless..

Peace of mind in crisis…

But the greatest of all, love.

“And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” –Corinthians 13:13

“Montel Williams: Climbing Higher”

I’m reading Montel William’s best seller, “Climbing Higher.” It’s a sequel to his first book, “Mountain Get Out of My Way.” He talks about his diagnosis of MS in 1999. Montel very clearly expresses his raw emotions. He describes everything from being unsuccessful at trying to commit suicide, to coming to terms with his condition and finding peace after his diagnosis.

The analogy he uses to explain MS to his five-year old son is intriguing to me, when his son asks a million questions.

He says:

“Inside everybody’s body are nerves. Along with your blood and your muscles, your nerves are what make you move, like this wire makes the lamp work. And every nerve has this stuff around it, a plastic coating that protects the nerve. If you scrape off a piece of this coating, in two or three days the wire is going to start to rust, and the light may not work when you turn it on. MS is hurting the stuff around my nerves, which is making them kind of rusty and stopping them from working right.”

I thought this was a brilliant account. I couldn’t believe how closely related it sounded to Spinal Cord Injury. As SCI does damage our nerves.

SCI refers to any injury to the spinal cord that is caused by trauma instead of disease. Depending on where the spinal cord and nerve roots are damaged, the symptoms can vary widely from pain to paralysis.

I marvel at his symptoms that sound like mine. For example, when he describes the pain in his feet in one reading. It was so bad he couldn’t even think right. But he carries on a smile so no one will worry. He pretends he is fine. Let’s not forget he is in the spotlight.

I read while I’m using the elliptical. A big improvement for me is to be able to read and use that machine. It’s the little things…“A key to getting in shape is determination and consistency.” – HealthCoach says. So I read, I train. I read some more, and train. All at the same time!

Montel’s turning point is when his wife asks him one day, “What are your kids going to do?” in Chapter 2. In the midst of his severe depression, this comment triggers something inside of him that causes him to change. He wakes up and realizes he does not want to hurt them. Nor does he want to let MS control his life any longer. He starts to see his condition as a blessing, and as a path to help numerous others with the disease. And he does.

Montel’s story is great because he rises above his condition and learns to go on mentally and physically. I admire him for that.

I think if we learn to see pain as a stepping stone to faith, then we are not bound by disability. Disability cannot bind us. It’s what we do with the disability, whether or not WE ALLOW it to disable us through our thoughts, actions, or self-belief.

One prayer that helps me:

“Heal me O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise.” Jeremiah 17:14

My article on

“Disability is a condition, it’s not who we are. Diagnosis is a prediction, it doesn’t have to determine our outcome.”

Has something catastrophic ever happened to you? Where your life changed in an instant? Did you wake up in a hospital bed, not knowing where you were, or how much time passed? It happened to me. I never thought I’d be hit by a car at sixteen years old, while crossing the street on my way to school. Nor did I think once I survived the accident, it would live with me every day for the rest of my life.

You can read my full article on Click here:

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s hospital

The University of Michigan, C.S. Mott Children’s hospital is consistently ranked one of the top ten hospitals in the U.S., according to the U.S. News and World Report for 2012.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that injuries are the leading cause of death for children and adults ages one to forty-four. Motor accidents, falls, and assaults are the leading causes of trauma.

U of M is a level one trauma hospital. Higher levels of trauma centers such as U of M have trauma surgeons on call, trained in Neurosurgery and Orthopedics. U of M is prepared to deal with traumatic situations. They were prepared to deal with me!

I was flown to U of M via helicopter, and hospitalized there for nearly three months after my accident in Oct. 1994. Daily I had help, around the clock from amazing doctors, nurses, and staff who provided the best care! When my discharge date drew nearer, I was deeply saddened. I never wanted to leave. Who is ever sad to leave a hospital?

U of M became my home. I was safe there. Being in a wheelchair was okay. Being damaged was accepted. It took two to three nurses to turn me in bed from one side to the other, and a lift to put me in a wheelchair. I was paralyzed.

I developed a system. I learned how to deal with a catastrophic situation–Spinal Cord Injury. I was getting comfortable, but it was time to go home. I prayed to God during the day, and wrote letters to him at night. I took calls, socialized, visited with family and friends, and was being homeschooled. I attended all of my physical therapies.

How would my life be in a wheelchair? What was to become of me? How would I go back to school? What would my friends think? Would I have any? I was scared. Life sometimes happens whether or not we are prepared. Life happened to me.

I’ll always go back..

I saw my surgeons that operated on me in the first hours after my accident last week. I have x-rays of my spine every four to five years. I still see my Pediatric Orthopedic surgeon. It was a team who saved me!

I walked into the new Mott, which is beautiful by the way with vibrant colors. It’s good because it keeps the kids distracted. I was surrounded by children with differences, some like mine, some different. They were all accompanied by their parents. We all shared one common goal–to achieve hope and healing there. I was the only adult waiting to be seen.

My pediatric doctor has followed up with me from day one. After all these years it is nice she has stayed with me. I was in Pediatrics when my accident happened. I’m now 34. The x-rays of my spine looked good; she said there is no deterioration of my spine due to aging. A Nurse practitioner came in who remembered me, and a Physician’s assistant came in to meet me.

I went to see the other Orthopedic surgeon who operated on me. He works with adults but my Pediatric surgeon called him in at the time because she needed “help.” I was hurt so badly. He came in to shake my hand. I hugged him, and thanked him for saving my life.

It’s interesting, usually a doctor sits and examines you and starts asking questions. This doctor just sat–I didn’t shut up. Telling him how awesome I’m doing. How I do everything by myself, take out garbage, grocery shop, live alone, pay my own bills. He was amazed. I showed him and the nurse practitioner my walking. He said my walking with the crutches looked like a “normal gate.” That made me happy.

U of M is a leader in research to improve life for individuals with SCI. I’ll be happy to participate in upcoming studies, to improve the quality of life for people with SCI.

C.S. Mott Children’s at the University of Michigan, YOU are forever written on my heart…

Be a winner!

Winners take full responsibility for everything that happens to them – even when those things seem remote and are not directly attributable to their actions. To achieve superior health, you must take 100% responsibility.–David Wolfe

This is true. But hard. It’s hard to take 100% responsibility. Even for people who walk “normally” it’s hard to exercise and always eat right. Imagine you could not walk? Or walked and it was a struggle? It’s that much harder to get up, get out. You may not even want to get out of bed sometimes.

The spinal cord is like a tree trunk, with nerves and fibers representing branches and stems. The vertebral column is a bony structure, like wood. When the spine breaks, the nerves and fibers are damaged. Just as if you took an ax to a tree trunk, all of the stems, branches, and twigs would start to wither away.

I’m up to 20 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the elliptical–forty minutes of cardio combined. A goal my physical therapist set for me several weeks ago. I’ve reached it!  Now I need to set a new goal for myself.

I’m walking faster and getting around better. It’s paying off! I just need to relax. Sometimes I get down on myself for not being able to move around like everyone else. I expect to be able to do what others are, not taking into consideration all of the injuries I had. I not only have a spinal cord injury at L1-L2. But several of my bones were broken. My left femur broke, my right tib fib, and left tib fib broke as well. I not only have a rod in my spine, but rods in my legs. My C1 was fractured. That’s not even all of my injuries. I’m lucky it wasn’t worse!

David Wolfe says, to feel like a winner you must be 100% responsible. It’s hard to feel like a winner when you can’t walk. After a severe injury, your self esteem is compromised. What makes us winners? The perfect job? The perfect mate? A nice big house? I think winning is in your attitude. We all have obstacles. Tragedy can strike all of us. I believe the winner has to be within, to not give up on life! Even on bad days, you have to bounce back.

One strategy that works for me is thanking God even when I feel bad. It’s not easy to do, but as I start to thank him for what I have, my mood starts to turn around. I feel better. The other stuff doesn’t seem so bad. Being a winner is not what you have, it’s who you are. And who you are, is what you make of yourself!

Faith can make the impossible possible!

“What is one gift that disability, in any way, shape, or form brought into your life?” This is a question I read in a blog post tonight of a friend I once wrote a guest blog for. She writes on having a daughter with Down Syndrome. I couldn’t help but stop when I read this.

Disability has brought a lot of things into my life, most of them unwanted. Pain in my legs, discomfort, weakness, the inability to move, insecurity, loss, exclusion, low self-esteem, rejection, loneliness, to name a few. But as I pondered more upon this, I knew I had many positive answers because I am happy, so there must be gifts.

Disability brought faith into my life. And I learned that faith can make the impossible possible! I have seen it work in my own life. I grew up with a big difference, since my accident happened at sixteen. I overcame a lot. For people twenty-one to sixty-four with no disability, the likelihood of getting a job is 82.1%. For people twenty-one to sixty-four with a severe disability, the likelihood of getting a job drops to 26.1%. Most injuries occur between the ages of sixteen and thirty, when people are at the peak of beginning their careers.

I was sixteen when I was severely injured but at thirty-four, I’m employed. I work as a teacher, and manage my own classrooms. I pay my own bills, and take care of myself. That is a blessing. With this economy, not all able-bodied people are able to do that. I’ve accomplished that through my faith.

Firstly though, I’m walking. I’m walking everywhere with two forearm crutches, and practicing with one cane. I’ve accomplished that through my faith! There are many things I’ve accomplished though my faith. And I have so much of it!

Disability is a condition, it’s not who we are. Diagnosis is a prediction. It doesn’t have to determine our outcome.

Oscar Pistorius holds one of the fastest running times in the 400 meter sprint in the world. He’s a favorite to qualify for the Olympic team for South Africa. The opening ceremony is just 45 days away.

He’s a double leg amputee since childhood, because of a rare condition he was born with. He says, “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” I can relate to this. Disability made me work harder, disability made me do more. Disability made me more able. Can disability make you more able? I think sometimes it can, if you have something to prove to yourself.

Oscar brings to mind two Bible verses I treasure:

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer…” (Psalm 18:33)

“For by you I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.” (Psalm 18:29)

Suffering and Joy are interchangeable!

Life is hard enough. Imagine you could not walk? Imagine you could not move? Better yet, don’t imagine. It’s one of the worst things that could happen to you. Don’t imagine. It happened to me. I was hit by a car while crossing the street on my way to school, at only sixteen.

Paralysis is eye opening. Paralysis is real. Paralysis is undesirable, a nightmare to say in the least. I’ve woken up before and thought this was all a dream, more than once. Then I see my crutches on the wall, my wheelchair in the corner–tucked in my closet, as far away as possible. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, not really.

There is loss in life. Loss of friendships, relationships, divorce, accidents! Accidents, a Spinal Cord Injury— it can take everything but your life.

I was pretty. I was popular. I returned to school in a wheelchair my senior year. When everyone was excited for prom and spring break, I was learning to be disabled. There are things we live through only by God’s grace. And only God has kept me.

At sixteen I was healing, but how would life be in a wheelchair? Our home was not handicapped accessible.  I knew when the dust settled the visits would lesson. The calls would start to fade. During my stay in the hospital, I would pick up my pencil with a flashlight in the dark at night and write letters addressed to God. I know he heard me.

I finished high school on time, even though I missed most of my junior year. I still made it to prom. My real friends stayed and I made new ones. I learned to drive, went to college, worked, and even walked! I’m walking everywhere with two forearm crutches, and learning how to walk with one cane. I’m still not walking as good as I’d like, but it’s better than using a wheelchair. I still have faith.

Thank God he replaces suffering with joy!

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” John 16:20

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“Imagination as a Powerful Tool!”

“Visualize everyday about the person you want to become. See yourself as being that person NOW. Your brain will take what you visualize and help you create it.”-HealthCoachTraining  I love this quote. I wanted to share because this is what faith is–seeing something with no evidence, your circumstances may be totally different. You can practice it in your mind. I had visions of walking at sixteen after I was hit by a car. Nightly in bed before I fell asleep, I would see myself on a walker or on a cane. I was paralyzed. I had little movement in my left leg.

I was using a wheelchair all day except for in physical therapy. My left quadricep would contract. My right leg was numb with no movement. I could kick my left leg up for a few seconds at a time while sitting because my left quadricep was firing. The following paragraph is a journal entry I wrote at the time:

“My left leg is pretty strong. I can hold it up in the air for a few seconds. My right one is coming along it’s just moving slower. I should be getting out of the hospital around early February or March. Gretchen said they will put me on braces around February. I know in time I’ll walk again. I have God on my side. It’s the best feeling. I realize how precious life is. I know what I want to do when I get older, help sick people. I want to be a doctor. I’ll never take life for granted, and try to enjoy every minute.”

I never became a doctor, I became an English teacher instead. I still think being a doctor is one of the greatest things. I have a desire to help people with physical challenges such as mine.

From a wheelchair, I saw myself walking and out of it. Sometimes we are strongest when weak. Sometimes I feel frustrated by the fact that walking with one cane is still hard. I remember that faith. I remember those visions. I practiced them throughout my twenties.

Little by little we can get better. Healing is a process. Rome wasn’t built…

What is it you want to get better from? Scars and pain are not only external. We have internal challenges too. We all have imperfections. Mine are visible. Ask yourself, is my goal reasonable? Is it feasible? Try envisioning it. It just might come true.

Moving improves our health!

“The human body is not meant to sit for long periods of time. During the day alternate between sitting, standing, and walking, or get up and stretch often,” says HealthCoach. David Agus, Lance Armstrong’s oncologist, wrote a best seller called “The End of Illness” and he agrees. He writes tips on how to prevent disease.“As Americans we don’t move around enough, most people go to the gym for an hour, go back to their office, sit at their desk jobs for hours, and they think that is enough.” “The problem is most people, when sitting at our desk jobs, sit for hours at a time and don’t move around enough,” Dr. Agus says. “Every hour you should move, even if for no reason, get away from your desk, find a reason to get up,” he advises. This was one of the first on his list to prevent illness such as cancer. He also talks about eating healthier, hard boiled eggs, fish, vegetable oil, the natural stuff.

What if you’re spinal cord injured? What if you can’t get up so easily? What if you can’t stand? What if you can’t walk? What if you can’t even sit for long periods of time, or get out of a wheelchair without someone assisting you? I believe any movement is good movement to start. Whether it’s a transfer from your wheelchair to your bed, or using the hand cycling machine at physical therapy, or standing for several minutes at a time in a standing frame, it gets your heart pumping, your blood flowing, and you’re moving. As you train your body to move with help, and hopefully eventually without, to transfer, to sit for longer periods, to stand, to walk, whatever you are able to do, it gets stronger. Over time you can become more independent.

Just be safe. When I practice with one cane, I’m almost always with my physical therapist. When I’m doing it at home, I try my best to be safe. I used to hold two canes, with the right one in the air just in case I lost my balance. Now I use one. It’s crucial for someone with paralysis to move, because they don’t do it easily on a daily basis. I believe it’s even more important for us, to get up. Dr. Agus’ advice applies to all of us, those with and without physical challenges.

For those who cannot move their hands, feet, or fingers even, it can be much harder to get up, or even feel motivated to move. My feet are weak because my s1/s2 nerves still have some damage. I can push my feet down, but that is a recent muscle that has come back the last couple years. It’s harder to pull my foot up against gravity. Throughout the day I’m wearing AFOs (ankle braces) to assist my walking.

With a spinal cord injury, you can exercise for years and years, and not fully recover. Or you can exercise for a few years, and gain a lot of recovery. It depends on different factors, your level of injury, the nature of your injury, and your faith. Exercise and movement not only improve health, but can help you regain function. The number one factor is you. It starts with you.

Now go get up!

Zina Hermez

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