Today was a very big day; it was my first day of therapy! Last time I did therapy was after my paralysis and to be completely honest that year was an incredibly difficult time for me. I had just been paralyzed and I felt like I had this constant disappointment that went along with therapy because I continued to hope that I would start to feel, start to move again and I didn’t. I went in day in and day out and I held onto that hope and it never came. Although what I realize now is that hope that I had was to simply be able to live again. At that time I believed that in order to live I had to be able to walk, but what I have learned since is that my hope became a reality and I did start to live, maybe not in the way that I thought I would but I not only started to live, I came alive.
To say I was nervous going in today is an understatement. I have these memories that come with hospitals, and no they aren’t the good kind. I walked into a hospital and I never walked out, and although it has been nearly six years that is still a hard pill to swallow. I have continued to move on with life but it is still hard to wheel through the doors of a hospital knowing that I was in a hospital the moment I took my very last steps. Although today, we started the journey towards changing that. Today when I wheeled through the doors it came with the mixed emotions of fear, uncertainty, nerves, excitement, and anticipation; but when I wheeled out of those doors the emotions I felt were pure joy and excitement for what is to come.
Today’s therapy wasn’t focused on trying to regain that feeling and movement in my legs, because unfortunately we know that isn’t possible. However, instead of dwelling on that we are focusing on what I do have, thanks to my swimming, that is an incredibly strong upper body. Today I got to go into a therapy gym and not focus on my weaknesses, but rather my strengths. I was able to put my leg braces on and work on learning how to us my upper body strength to help me fulfill this nearly six year dream of mine, to “walk.” Now as I have said before it isn’t going to be the walking that I grew up knowing, but that is okay, because it will still be me upright moving towards something for the first time in years. It will be my chance to make happy memories in a hospital and who knows, maybe even “walk” out.
For years I believed that I wouldn’t be able to walk again, because for me I couldn’t let go of what my former memories of walking were. That ever so graceful, one foot in front of the other step that I used to be able to take. Although, what I have realized now is that although I can’t do that, that doesn’t mean I can’t redefine what “walking” to me means. To the world, it may not look graceful at all, but to me it will be some of the most graceful “steps” I have ever taken, because they will be taken with passion and heart backing them, and they will be ever so beautiful.
Today as I stood in the parallel bars, with my therapist in front of me all of my fears went away, she sat there with this calming presence, and in that moment I was at peace. As I stood there I was able to think of everything and everyone that brought me there today, my loved ones who have never stopped believing in me, my supporters who have been ever so generous throughout this entire process, people far and wide, some of whom I have never had the opportunity to meet.
Now, here I am and realizing once again that everything happens for a reason. I walked in on January 21, 2008 and I can recount every moment leading up to what ended up being my last steps as I got onto the procedure table, I haven’t walked since. Although, what I have learned is that no matter what happens in life, no matter what roadblocks are placed in front of us, there is a way around them, you just have to find it.