Adaptive Adventures and SCI Realities

As I sit down to write this, I have a choice: give you the highlights or give you the truth. I want to go with the highlights—it would be much easier to go with the highlights. It would be much easier to give you the inspirational you have no limits #yolo version of my weekend (note for my mom: YOLO = you only live once). But I can’t give you the highlight reel because the highlight reel feels dishonest. Because in the less than 48 hours I spent away this weekend, I experienced awesome highs and terrible lows and the most confusing part of it all is that spinal cord injury was at the root of everything.

The weekend was about adventure. We signed up for Spinal Cord Injury BC’s annual adrenaline weekend in Whistler, BC to experience water sports, mountain biking, rock climbing and more. It’s an opportunity I never would have needed or even known existed had I never been injured. I was nervous but excited and even though the focus was on adapted sports and I was surrounded by other people with an SCI, my injury was the furthest thing from my mind—but not for long.

The first afternoon was about kayaking and paddleboarding. We had been on the water in kayaks for maybe ten minutes when my body chose to remind me that it does what it wants. I have written before about the loss of bladder and bowel control with spinal cord injury. The bladder thing I can handle—its annoying but manageable. But bowels, well that one is more difficult. And sitting in the kayak, in the middle of a lake in Whistler, with my injury far from my mind, I was quickly brought back to the shitty reality of SCI—pun very much intended.

What did I do? I rallied. I jumped in the lake. We got back to the dock and were thankful for staff that know the injury all too well and gave us space without judgement or ridicule. Ian sprinted to the car and back to get supplies and we figured it out. We were back in the kayak in 45 minutes and spent the next hour and a half on the lake in kayaks and on paddlbaords.

I allowed myself a short pity-party as I fell asleep that night but was determined to move past it and move on with the weekend. I put it out of my mind: the embarrassment, the frustration—all of it.  It happens. Often months go by between incidents. Saturday meant mountain biking and rock climbing with no time to spend thinking about SCI.

Mountain biking did not disappoint. Getting off-road in a wheelchair isn’t generally Adaptive Adventures and SCI Realitiesattainable and the bike was able to take me places I wouldn’t usually get to see. Being active and out on the the trails while realizing that I can experience more with my husband and kids than I had imagined I would be able to with a spinal cord injury was everything I needed that morning. I would have kept going all day if I could. But I needed to climb a rock face.

Adaptive Adventures and SCI RealitiesRock climbing is so not my thing. I did it once and I’m glad I did but I don’t need to do it again. It was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done and my muscles are still angry at me. I did not make it to the top but I still climbed a rock face so that’s something.

By the end of the day I was exhausted, happy and pretty damn proud of myself. But as I went to crawl into bed at all of 9:30PM, my body betrayed me yet again. Maybe it was because I had let my guard down and assumed it wouldn’t happen again or maybe it was the exhaustion, but I had no fight left in me—there would be no rallying. I dealt with it while anger, frustration and silent tears replaced the happiness and pride, and we packed up and drove home early.

Now, two days later, I’ve had some space, clarity and a chance to reflect. And the harsh truth is that I can do everything within my power to live the life I want, but the injury exists inside of me. And I am at its mercy. I am at the mercy of a condition that just is. It isn’t spiteful. It doesn’t somehow take into account where I am, who I’m with or what I’m doing before causing a problem—it just is. I have some ability to control it but it has the final word.

Carrying around the realities of an illness—physical or mental—like a secret you don’t want exposed only makes it harder to deal with. Holding the truth close to me only makes the burden feel bigger. I am lighter when I share the truth even though the truth is uncomfortable.

Last weekend was not everything I wanted it to be. The emotional highs and lows were exhausting to keep up with. But what’s the alternative? Never experiencing the best of life because you’re constantly fearing the worst of it? I’d rather experience the ends of both spectrums than live constantly in the middle. I’d rather shit myself in a kayak than never get in the kayak at all. A perspective I never thought I’d have.

***A huge thank you to Spinal Cord Injury BC and Whistler Adaptive Sports Program for putting on this awesome weekend***

Would I Change It If I Could?

Imagine you could re-write your life.

Would you do it?

Would you remove your struggles and omit all of your sadness and pain? Would you remedy every regret—every bad decision? Would you take more chances—different chances—or try harder? Would you sift through your life, altering details and discarding parts of your history onto the cutting room floor until ultimately editing all of the pieces together to create your one perfect story?  Continue reading “Would I Change It If I Could?”

Finding Your Good Life After (Insert-Your-Tragedy-Here)

Don’t give up now
chances are
your best kiss
your hardest laugh
and your greatest day
are still yet to come.
           -Atticus

But what if they aren’t? What if everything in my life was better before paralysis? Maybe I had my best kiss, my hardest laugh and my greatest day—all of my best memories—before this injury became a part of who I am. How could I possibly have a best-of-anything-moment now that I have this disability? Everything was better before. 

What if I believed all that?  Continue reading “Finding Your Good Life After (Insert-Your-Tragedy-Here)”

Don’t Sexualize My Disability

Can you send me a picture of your feet?

Confused? So was I. The first time I got a message like this—yes, there have been multiple—I had no idea why this person wanted to see my feet. But I didn’t like it and, of course, did not oblige. In fact, I blocked them. And I blocked the person after that and the person after that and every person since. While I knew sharing my paralysis journey publicly would leave me open to a higher level of scrutiny, I never once considered it might subject me to a wave of sexual objectification and introduce me to a world where disability is fetished in such a way that it dehumanizes and exploits individuals. And yet…here we are. Continue reading “Don’t Sexualize My Disability”

One Last Dance and 13 Years of Marriage

The day I got married—13 years ago today—I knew that growing old with someone wouldn’t always be easy. I knew that in order to become a couple who celebrates 50 plus years of marriage, we would need to withstand some storms. But I never imagined those storms would get so strong before the first decade was even behind us. Continue reading “One Last Dance and 13 Years of Marriage”

Trigger Warnings

It caught my eye out the front window—an ambulance pulling in to the driveway across the street. My brain said trigger warning,but if you’re anything like me and possess an incessant curiosity, trigger warnings only work to peak your interest. So even though my reactions to ambulances haven’t been great—the worst being a full-blown panic attack after seeing one race down the road with its lights flashing and sirens blaring—I couldn’t look away. I thought let’s see what happens this time. Continue reading “Trigger Warnings”

A Stranger’s Story at Starbucks

A woman came up to me in Starbucks the other day. She smiled and asked, Are you Codi? The sarcastic side of me always wants to respond with Was it the glasses that gave me away? But as my husband has pointed out, people may not see the humour and instead simply think I’m an asshole. So I smiled—mostly at her, but partly because of my husband’s lecture running through my head—and I said hello. Continue reading “A Stranger’s Story at Starbucks”

Yes, It’s Another UTI. From Prevention To Diagnosis—My Tips And Tricks Of This Common SCI Annoyance

I miss the days when I peed on sticks to test for pregnancy instead of bladder infections—a positive result was so much more exciting. When I discovered this latest infection my words to my husband were I really don’t have time for a bladder infection right now. But whether or not I have time for it, it has arrived. Continue reading “Yes, It’s Another UTI. From Prevention To Diagnosis—My Tips And Tricks Of This Common SCI Annoyance”

From Cupping to Cannabis—Exploring Pain Management After Spinal Cord Injury

How much of my life am I going to dedicate to managing pain? 

This is the question that ran through my mind last week as I laid on a therapy bed for what felt like the millionth time, while the physio poked needles into my forearm in an attempt to relieve some of the tension and pain (it was a nice change from the needles in my shoulders and lats). Once that question came to mind, I did the thing that my counsellor and my husband have told me time and time again not to do: I spiraled.  Continue reading “From Cupping to Cannabis—Exploring Pain Management After Spinal Cord Injury”

12 Weeks Later—Final Thoughts on My Transformation Challenge

My 12-week transformation challenge is complete and I know what you’re thinking: She’s not skinny yet. I get it. You hear transformation challenge and expect a huge reveal Biggest Loser style. But as I said in my very first post, the main focus of this challenge with True North Strength and Fitness and Westcoast Nutrition wasn’t on the reflection in the mirror. This wasn’t about finding a quick-fix to achieve dramatic results in a short of amount of time in order to garner attention based on unbelievable before-and-after photos. This was about making a start.  Continue reading “12 Weeks Later—Final Thoughts on My Transformation Challenge”