Returning home was all I wanted since my injury. I even tried to run away from the rehabilitation center with my cousin. However, now that that day was upon me I was completely confused by my mixed emotions. “I’m happy to go home but I don’t know what to expect,” I was actually scared. So many concerns ran through my head. “How am I going to get in my house? How will I move around? How will I get upstairs to my bedroom? Where will I sleep?” were just a few of the many questions I asked myself. All of which I would soon have answers to.
During my time at the rehabilitation center, unbeknownst to me, my dad had been preparing our home for this day. With 20 plus years of carpentry experience, he was adding a ramp outside, building a two-story extension on the back of our home, as well as having an elevator installed. This task should have required a home makeover; however, it didn’t because we had a patio and large enough yard space to permit the necessary alterations.
While my house was under construction, I slept downstairs in our family room in a similar bed I had in the hospital. It was weird, despite being home, the only thing I was comfortable with was that bed. Having to interact with my once comfortable environment, now a quadriplegic this was truly life changing.
According to Merriam Webster a quadriplegic “is one affected with partial or complete paralysis of both the arms and legs especially as a result of spinal cord injury or disease in the region of the neck.”
Now back to the story…Despite my parents’ best efforts to make me comfortable, I was still completely dependent on them. Often times I couldn’t help but to think, “They must feel like they have a new born baby…a 16 year old baby!” It also didn’t help that we used a baby monitor so that they could hear me if I needed assistance at night.
Despite my vulnerability, I tried my hardest to maintain positive thoughts. However, the feeling of being a burden was growing extremely fast. One of my parents had to get up and rotate me side to side multiple times throughout the night and day so I wouldn’t get a bedsore. Someone had to cook for me…feed me...groom me…bathe me…dress me…AND transfer me to and from the bed EVERYDAY. And that was just to get my day started.
At the end of a long day, often times I would over hear my mom say how bad her back was hurting. “I can only imagine”, I would think. My mom is 4’11 and I’m 6’1. Adding to the burden I felt I was, my mom’s life revolved around tending to my every need. During this time, I also started losing friends. Additionally, even family members stopped coming around. The phone conversations, visits, and check-ins all gradually stopped, except for a select few. This constant reminder of the burden I was, hurled me into a state depression. As a result, I became extremely angry with God and eventually lost my faith and sense of self-worth. “Does anyone accept me anymore? Before my injury I had a great social life…invites to the parties and sporting events. I received a lot love and had a lot of friends.” Now I felt used, alone, and angry. “How could people who called me a friend or family leave me during the worse time of my life?”