Being “reborn” and acquired disabilityApr 23 10:16
Tomorrow is Easter, the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. And it got me thinking about people who acquire their disabilities later in life and how they say the date of their injury is also a day of rebirth. You hear the words “reborn,” “rebirth“ and “second birthday” when people talk about the day of their injuries. It’s an epic day. A day to be reckoned with. And a day they want to forget.
The rebirth is unavoidable. When you morph in an instant, from a perfectly able-bodied person to a person who uses a wheelchair, the inner-transformation is all-encompassing. You do feel different after an injury whether you want to or not. When I was hurt I refused to accept that I had changed - I had different interests, a different tolerance for things. I wanted to hold onto the old person I used to be - hang out with the same people, keep my room (I was 14) the same. But life is the very definition of change, and the hard truth is that when you’re injured, your old-self no longer exists.
I don’t mean to say you’re no longer the person who you were, because you are, but it‘s expanded. You’re your old self with a totally new person added to it. The act of surviving - not hallelujah walking again - but living through a spinal cord injury, and successfully coping and living with it day in and day out, brings such utterly unique life experiences, perspectives, and insights into your world that you do feel like a new person. I’ll sometimes try to think of what my old-self would’ve thought of my life. She was pretty ignorant to disability, naïve, young.
Everything in life changes us - whether its divorce, college graduation, a big move, watching an amazing movie, or simply reading this blog - we are different people every day in many ways. And I think if anything, an acquired disability teaches you how to embrace the wisdom that comes with it. And it’s a big ass multi-volume book. Its not easy learning this wisdom. I mean, who wants to go through the pain of being rejected by ones peers, so they can use that as a growth opportunity to understand the imperfection of man, and learn how not to take things personally? Let me say, there’s transformation in struggle, oh yes, but sometimes a shiny life with little difficulty seems mighty appealing.
Some people with disabilities celebrate the date of their injury with awesome themed parties, taking a very Dia de Los Muertos-esque jab at the day. Others use it as a day to reflect, a day to meditate, to look back on the years since their injury. And then you have people like me, who admit that the day of one’s injury is definitely akin to being reborn, yet we hesitate to celebrate it.
Whatever you do, when you wake up with a significant disability, you‘re on a train to a new life, and you‘re expanding, learning and growing exponentially every moment. You are reborn and no, there is no Easter basket waiting for you in the ER.
Post a comment about this blog!
1. ctraynor | Apr 26 09:47
Hi ... I just wanted to offer that I couldn't agree more with you regarding your "old self" being destroyed as a result of a late-onset disability. Cheers to you for seeing yourself far sooner than most. Chris
2. michael | Apr 28 05:44
the day it all ended for me I call my death day..Ive allways wanted to make a cake frosted black that says happy death day to you...but now Im just sitting around I cant eat sweets or I wont fit in my chair..
3. Tiffiny | May 02 04:24
@ctraynor: its not easy getting there though. not easy at all. @michael: so sad. i hope you don't always think that way. *hugs*
Disability buzz, travel, fashion and dating — fun things to amp up everyday wheeling life.
Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.