I believe it is important to live in the present moment as much as possible but it is necessary to think about the future somewhat in order to succeed in our society. I admit that I have trouble thinking about my future and what it has in store for me. I honestly have yet to accept my paralysis even as I sit here so accepting a future state of paralysis is even more difficult. But at some point I must make the decision to stop waiting around and find a way to succeed in life so that I may overcome the situation I have been given. I believe it is possible to wait for miracles while moving forward.
Moving on with my life is not going to be an overnight process. It is going to be a gradual and slow process of steps, each one being a learning experience to be absorbed as it unfolds. Each step may be scary, intimidating or embarrassing but I must strip away my ego and let the course of my life flow smoothly towards the direction I am chosen by God to lead.
The latest step on the horizon in my life is a pilgrimage back to the land of spinal cord splendor. Back to the mecca of rehabilitation and community integration, the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. I departed from the Shepherd Center back in October of 2004, leaving with high hopes of recovery and the goal of returning once my trace muscle movements gained strength. My thought was once my wrists were at full strength and my scapulas stopped winging so much then it would be time to return for more rehab. The time frame would be no more than four months tops. But life never goes according to plan especially when it comes to time and my perfectly planned out scenario of recovery has not occurred. The months past with trace movement becoming stronger trace movement and only continuing signs of future recovery. Each sign seemed to tell me, any day now, but any day did not come.
It has now been a year since I left Shepherd Center and my current state of recovery is nowhere near where I thought it would be. However, over the past year I would say I have probably tripled in strength as well as gained some weak but functional movement in my wrists. My scapulas still wing but have shown significant improvement and I believe will continue to do so. A year ago my mental approach to the situation was completely focused on recovery, putting goals of independence on the back burner. I am now more mentally prepared to tackle goals of independence such as self cathing and community independence. Going back to Shepherd Center was a step I told myself I was going to take and even though life has not gone according to plan I think this is still a step more than worth taking. I’m hoping a stay at Shepherd Center can energize and motivate me to accomplish small goals in life that may be difficult and tedious but have the potential to propel me forward.
It would have been smart if I had made this decision earlier than now for the next slot open for the day program isn’t until after Thanksgiving. I don’t particularly want to be staying in a tiny apartment, once used as a hotel, during the Christmas holiday. This leaves me thinking I could go down in January but I did have plans of trying to take classes so I might have to make the choice between class and Shepherd Center. There’s also the problem of insurance and questions of whether or not it will pay for another visit to Shepherd. So there are some slight conflicts to deal with but I’m confident the pilgrimage will take place soon.
Another life-changing step which has been taking place recently is my dealings with the Community Assistance Program of North Carolina or CAP. This is a program which provides assistance to people who cannot take care of themselves and helps them maintain a certain level of independence so that they can remain in the community. The service would help me by providing nurse aides to assist me in my daily living. A certain amount of hours will be provided for me and I can pretty much use those hours however I please as long as the assistance I’m asking for falls under the guidelines of the agency being used. Since the middle of August my dad has been handling most of my care, getting me up in the mornings, giving me showers, helping me work out, and driving me to my various appointments. In the midst of all that he does for me, he continues to work from home. This arrangement was supposed to be a short-term deal until we could find other options. We sort of got comfortable in how we were doing things and grew slack in our plan of action. Getting strangers to help me with my daily life is not something I am jumping up and down about but I believe it is a step I need to take in my process of moving forward.
Last week my parents and I met with my caseworker and social worker from the CAP program and discussed what my options were. Both women were very nice and seemed excited about working with me. The meeting was very comfortable and actually went much better than I thought it would. Rumors I have heard of limited care from people provided by the program turned out to be false and I learned that nurse aides provided by CAP can almost do whatever I want. They can help me with everything I need in the morning as well as take me to my appointments and assist with my therapy out in the community. It is up to me where I would like to focus their assistance towards.
I really have no idea how all this is going to work out but again I believe it will be a process to work through. It may take a while to find the correct person who suits my needs best and it also make take a while to find the direction I wish to point my needs. It may never completely work out but if anything it is providing a change in my life. To me, change is a wonderful thing because change leads towards creation. Performing the same routine every day, waiting around for lightning to strike leads you nowhere.
I’m also working with Vocational Rehab and Independent Living of North Carolina. Vocational rehab focuses on bringing people back into the workforce and Independent living much like CAP, focuses on people becoming independent in their home and community. Right now these two organizations will be working together to provide some modifications in my home. One modification will be a ramp leaving off of the back deck and connecting to a sidewalk which will go around the house and connect to the driveway. They will also be working on the ramp leading to the front door and modifying the door handles so I can open and close the doors. The focus of these modifications is so that I can get in and out the house freely to improve my independence and to ensure my safety in case of a fire. There also going to be modifying my bathroom some to hopefully improve my independence. The idea is to provide a workstation of some sort so I can access and prepare necessary items for bathroom care.
Shepherd Center, the CAP program, and the home modifications are three major events occurring in my life at the present moment. I would feel much safer and secure if I explored none of these options but I must push past my fear and find ways to create wonderful experiences in my life which lead to spiritual growth and understanding. Part of me believes physical recovery may actually improve as I push forward in life and find happiness beyond my physical limitations. Refocusing my mind on other areas of life so that the natural process of healing can occur without my scatterbrain conscious getting in the way. Only time will tell.