Author: Codi Darnell

Spinal Cord Injury 101: Talking to Kids

One of my favourite things to witness is the look on a parent’s face when their child starts asking me questions about my wheelchair. As a parent myself I know the exact feeling of dread that they are experiencing. The unpredictable nature of a child’s curious mind can be a stressful thing. I am not easily offended and love having children ask me questions while they try to wrap their brains around what they are seeing. I have yet to meet another wheelchair user who discourages questions from a child. Even so, I’m sure a lot of people have walked away from me wondering exactly how to explain a spinal cord injury to their child and answer their questions in a way they will understand. Continue reading “Spinal Cord Injury 101: Talking to Kids”

An Uninvited Dream

I had a dream a couple of nights ago – a dream I’ve had before. I was still in a wheelchair but could easily walk when I felt it necessary. For instance, I would wheel up to a staircase, proceed to stand and walk up or down the stairs and then continue on in my wheelchair. I’ve said before, the inability to walk is the easiest part of dealing with a spinal cord injury (it really is!). However, the sense of relief I feel in those dreams is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It’s like realizing you can breathe just when you thought the oxygen had run out. And for a few moments, while I convince myself that I am not dreaming, life becomes easier. Continue reading “An Uninvited Dream”

It’s All in the Lyrics

If you know me or have followed me on social media you have probably seen that I like to play around with singing and music. Considering I focused on Music when I was in high school, you would think that I know my stuff but I really don’t. I enjoy it and I manage to be in key slightly more often than I am out of it, but I am far from the most talented musician I know. I’m not even the most talented musician in my marriage! Even so, music has been an incredible outlet for me since my injury. Continue reading “It’s All in the Lyrics”

Reclaiming My Anonymity

Every so often I find myself contemplating whether or not this blogging thing is for me. This past week has been one of those weeks; I had to take some time to regroup. My latest post got some attention and, for the most part, it was all really positive. However this was the first time that I also received some really negative feedback. I’m a fairly sensitive person and while I knew that it was bound to happen eventually, I still found myself reeling from the few personal attacks on my character. So instead of concentrating on all of the messages from people who found my post so relatable, I instead found myself focusing on the few who really hated what I had to say. I started to question, once again, why it is I’m sharing my life in such a public manner. And I determined that one of the biggest reasons is this: to reclaim my anonymity. Continue reading “Reclaiming My Anonymity”

See My Abilities Not My Disability

The world is full of well-intentioned people. I try to remember that. I really try to remember that. Understanding that an offer of assistance is packed full of good intentions helps me keep a smile on my face and annoyance out of my voice when I politely decline. But seriously. Saving everyone else’s feelings while my self-worth steadily declines isn’t really working for me anymore. What I want people to understand is that every offer of help is a reminder that my disability is seen before I am. Every question of “can I do that for you?” makes me think that you don’t see my capabilities; it makes me think that you don’t see me as an equal. So please, see me! See that I am capable. Being in a wheelchair does not mean that I am helpless and lacking in self-sufficiency. Continue reading “See My Abilities Not My Disability”

Taking Time for My Grief

Every morning when I wake up, I feel a few moments of normalcy.  Not much has changed in the way of opening my eyes and saying a sleepy “good morning” to my husband and whichever child has decided to take residence in our bed during the night. But when Ian stands up and easily walks the few steps to the bathroom, I feel a familiar wave of grief. There is not a morning that goes by where those few impossible steps to the bathroom don’t taunt me. I push myself up to sit in bed and look at my wheelchair. It doesn’t get easier. I look at that chair every morning and take a few moments to acknowledge that having a spinal cord injury really sucks. And then I make a choice, every day, to get into the chair anyway. It is so important to make the choice to keep living but it is equally important to allow yourself the losses and the pain; give yourself permission to wait in your grief when it comes. Continue reading “Taking Time for My Grief”

Mind Over Matter – Getting out of My Own Way

I have never been one to venture very far out of my comfort zone. I’ve always preferred to blend into the crowd and let other people attract the attention. From high-school to dance, I was always a back of the class kind of girl. Since being in a wheelchair, I don’t necessarily have the luxury of going unnoticed (and if stairs are involved I also don’t have the luxury of going to the back of the room). In the beginning, it caused me a lot of stress to know that people saw me and that I could no longer feel completely anonymous within a group of people. I was constantly self-conscious every time I went out in public but, somewhere along the way, I stopped noticing the stares. Continue reading “Mind Over Matter – Getting out of My Own Way”

18 Months of Paraplegia

18 months. Today marks 18 months since I was my able-bodied self; 18 months since my accident. In a lot of ways, I can’t even remember what it’s like to live my life that way: to walk, to leave the house without worrying about accessibility, to park my car wherever I want, to be spontaneous and not have to plan my life around a bowel and bladder program. My life was a lot simpler before this injury but going back is not an option. To think that my children are all one and a half years older than they were at the time of my accident is mind boggling. To think that only a few short years ago I had a baby, and then another baby in almost the same amount of time (19 months) is even harder to comprehend. Time feels stagnant sometimes but then all of a sudden it is gone. Continue reading “18 Months of Paraplegia”

Mommy Is Still Mommy – How Our Children Have Coped with My Spinal Cord Injury

Every year I dread Labour Day and the blunt transition it brings: summer vacation to the school year. On the last Monday of summer holidays, as I was getting my boys ready for bed, that all too familiar feeling of bewilderment crept up on me as I thought about how quickly they are growing up. They are beginning to leave interests and other aspects of their younger years behind them. I have mixed feelings of excitement, trepidation and longing as I think about the new school year. I’m excited for the adventures they have yet to embark on but I’m nervous that they will stumble down the wrong path. I long for the simple days of toddlerhood, which admittedly were not without many challenges, but I was more in control of their worlds and what they were exposed to. Their questions could be answered simply without the constant noise of the world around them and the knowledge that quickly comes to them when they have the ability to read. But as I sang them a song before bed, the same song I have sung them almost every night since they were born, I started to think about the small amount of time they have been here on this earth and how much life they have already lived. When I think about the challenges these two boys – at six and seven years old – have already overcome, and the way all three of my children have handled themselves since my accident, I find myself amazed by their resilience and capability. And I realize my children have taught me about what is truly important in life and what is truly important in people. Continue reading “Mommy Is Still Mommy – How Our Children Have Coped with My Spinal Cord Injury”

Our Summer Mountain Getaway

Life is busy and I think everyone looks forward to an escape. Travel was the furthest thing from my mind for many weeks after my injury. Initially, I assumed that it would be too difficult to travel with a wheelchair and a spinal cord injury. What I have learned about travelling in the almost 18 months since my accident is that it is different and there is more planning involved, but it is most definitely not impossible and can still be awesome. I have travelled by boat, plane and car since my accident and while we come up against big and small hurdles almost everywhere we go, there hasn’t been much we haven’t been able to overcome. Continue reading “Our Summer Mountain Getaway”