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How SCI Changed My Life for the Better

25 August, 2015

This time last year, I may have been upright, but I was not happy. I was in a funk and struggling to find my joy again. I had trapped myself in a job I used to love, and I lived to work. I let my work become my identity rather than something I did Monday to Friday. I was so exhausted by the end of the week, peopled out, that I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. There had to be more to life than one great big Key Performance Indicator.

So I started a 100 Days of Gratitude challenge. Every day for 100 days, I had to find something to be grateful for and post on my Face Book page and it wasn’t easy for me. I reached post #52 before I became ill. A few days before my 40th birthday, I started to get a pain in my left hip and lower back. 

"...the MRI results returned showing an spinal abscess starting at my L3, and it was gradually making its path to my brain. A plane ride to Melbourne and x2 spinal surgeries left me paralysed from the shoulders down."

I thought it was just muscle strain that later resembled sciatica, and when I went to my GP the day after my birthday that is exactly how it presented. That was on the Friday. That Sunday I lost sensation in my arms and legs and was found on the floor of the living room when hubby came home from work. I wasn’t scared at this point, but more curious as to what my body was doing.

Fast forward to A&E and ICU in Shepparton hospital, undergoing every single test you can imagine and being seen by every ‘expert’ from every department. Finally the MRI results returned showing an spinal abscess starting at my L3, and it was gradually making its path to my brain. A plane ride to Melbourne and x2 spinal surgeries left me paralysed from the shoulders down.

The prognosis was initially “let’s just keep her alive and go from there” which isn’t the most pleasant of things to hear. I was grateful to be alive. That was eleven months ago. Six months in rehab at Caulfield got me to the level of independence needed to go home. I have been home just four months, but I am settling in to the world of SCI. It took two weeks of crying and eight weeks before I truly felt like ‘I can do this’. Today in physio I walked 80 metres, my personal best. This time last year, I truly believed my time was up. This time last year l couldn’t even scratch my own nose, let alone even contemplate taking steps.

"I was grateful to be alive. That was eleven months ago. Six months in rehab at Caulfield got me to the level of independence needed to go home."

"I promised myself that IF I woke up, my life would be different. I would do things differently. The things that are truly important to me are my family and friends. People are the jewels that make me fill rich and fulfilled. I feel like I have been given a second chance, and I have grabbed it with both hands."

My point is, that after the turmoil, came the purpose. I lost my funk, found my Mojo and my joy. I have stopped worrying about the future, and relish the NOW. Lying on that bed before my first surgery, I promised myself that IF I woke up, my life would be different. I would do things differently. The things that are truly important to me are my family and friends. People are the jewels that make me fill rich and fulfilled. I feel like I have been given a second chance, and I have grabbed it with both hands. I laugh every day, loudly, and even snort on occasion.

have had to be brave and find the courage to stand up for myself and from that self advocacy I found a voice for others. I have recently completed a leadership course through Women with Disabilities Victoria, to become an advocate for women in my local area. I have been invited to join the Advisory Committee for Goulburn Valley Health, and attend my first meeting this Wednesday. I am giving back and the reward for me is tenfold. 

 

I am not the person I was eleven months ago, and I am truly grateful.  

Jacinta Burnicle resides in regional Victoria and has been living with a spinal cord injury since October 2014. Currently on the journey to weight loss in a wheelchair and some form of walking,  Jacinta enjoys films, novels, writing and all things science fiction.

Tags: Blog, Health & Wellbeing