Stephanie-Arrache

Stephanie Arrache sees no reason why she can’t kick in her own way, regardless of her paralysis.

Stephanie Arrache is learning to change the “I can’ts” of paralysis into “Maybe I can, if I just do it differently and am proud of what I CAN do!”

It’s May, which means temperatures are back in the 80s and 90s. (At least in California. Sorry East Coast. You’ll be there soon.) This time of year everyone is gearing up for the summer months.

Summer means warm weather and fun times. Letting loose and having BBQs, beach parties and pool parties. Going to rodeos and parades. Longer days and warmer nights. Shedding winter clothes. Shedding those last few stubborn pounds. Shedding work and taking vacations.

For those of us with mobility issues that tend to hold us back from things, I challenge us to shed our “I can’ts.” Most of us have them, even if we never say the words “I can’t.”

I find myself bragging about never saying “I can’t,” but that doesn’t mean I am fearless — far from it. Instead, I shy away from things that scare me. Last year, my husband and I were going to go white water rafting, but the thought of trying to get in and out of a boat scared me. So, instead of saying “I can’t” and being forced to face it, I jammed our vacation schedule full of other things.

Recently I overcame a big “I can’t.” My parents live in a two-story house and I haven’t been on the upper floor, which houses the living room and kitchen — two very important rooms — in the nearly three years since I became paralyzed. I found ways around it.

Because they live by the beach, we are always outside having BBQs or going up and down the boardwalk. Holidays were spent at my house or my sister’s house. We all made accommodations for me not having to go upstairs. But, last weekend, when we were at my parent’s house and it was cold, we had to go inside because I have a 3 month old baby who can’t stay out in the cold. So, I was finally forced to tackle my “I can’t” and scoot up the stairs on my bottom. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. And now I welcome the opportunity to build muscles and go upstairs there!

Another big “I can’t happened at the gym.” My gym offers virtual classes that I have been taking full advantage of. I love all the different boxing classes. I have full core and upper body control so I’m able to do all the arm/body stuff like punching, blocking, bobbing and weaving. But my paralyzed lower half means I can’t do kicks, so I changed all the kicks to their punch counterparts.

Ah. There’s that pesky “I can’t” phrase again!

Today I decided to try to move my legs. My left has slight movement, but my right doesn’t have much of anything, though I can see my right muscles flickering. So, while it probably looked weird to people passing by to see a person straining to barely flick her left leg and grunt, I felt this amazing sense of triumph that I was getting some reaction at all! Last week I would have told you I can’t do front kicks. Today I’ll tell you that in my own way, I sure can!

So with summer quickly approaching, I challenge each and every one of you to shed your “I can’t” and be proud of what you can do!