Gratitude Challenge Day #21

Day #21- Gratitude Challenge- Living beyond the diagnosis!

This past Sunday made 3 years since my failed back surgery which left me with a spinal cord injury, 14 level fusion, paralysis, mass medical complications, and sadly a major change in my family dynamics.

I decided to extensively read how people get thru these milestones, and prayed for the strength, courage, wisdom, and ability to integrate what I would read, and somehow learn to come to terms with this life changing catastrophe.

A team of researchers from the psychology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has put forth a theory known as Posttraumatic Growth, which explains such counterintuitive behavior. The simplified version is that facing trauma and surviving personal catastrophe can provide us with opportunities to appreciate life and be grateful for what we have, even if it takes years of struggle, frustration, and periods of depression. In fact, the greater the struggle, the more fulfilling the ultimate reward can be.

According to spinalcord.com: “At least 265,000 Americans are living with spinal cord injuries, with between 11,000 and 12,500 new cases each year. The challenges of life with a spinal cord injury can lead to depression and anxiety. Changes in your body may exacerbate these issues. For instance, some medications may change the way your brain processes certain neurotransmitters, or the adjustment to the SCI and its impact on your new life may bring about anxiety, depression and other emotions”.

Everyone experiences changes in their life. Adjustment is how you adapt to, or become used to those new situations. A few examples of exciting changes in life are starting a new job, getting married, and having children. Losing a job, getting divorced, and losing a loved one are examples of changes that can be challenging.

Having a spinal cord injury (SCI) is without doubt a new and challenging situation. SCI affects almost every aspect of your life when it happens, and it can be hard to put your life back in order and adjust to living with SCI. This initial adjustment period may be hard, but most people learn to adjust in time. Then, they continue to adjust to ongoing changes in life similar to those that everyone experiences.

Have an effective coping strategy, and maintain a “fighting spirit” by using every means necessary to overcome challenges and setbacks.

It is recommended that people View their injury as a challenge and see the potential for personal growth to make their life better. Lastly, accept that your injury has happened and decide the best way to live and come to terms with it.

Resiliency: bounce back when you experience difficult times or changes in your life. You can make use of some common traits that people who are resilient have.

Seek purpose and meaning. Think about what you want in life. The key is to set the goals you want to achieve and relentlessly strive to reach those goals.

Stay connected with your support network. Your family, friends, faith, and others in your community can be a great resource to help you adjust to life after injury and reach your goals. Seeing a Licensed Therapist or seeking out Holistic modalities can be an added support system and aid in coming to terms and learning to cope more effectively.

As a chronic pain warrior this post is VERY personal. I would like to tell my fellow warriors and those in their lives: We don’t have to embrace the devastation in our lives, but we can rise above it. So live for today, prepare for the future, and never take a single moment of your life for granted. 💪🏻

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