DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

Life Is Crazy- Road to Recovery after SCI

Mackenzie Wollenzien

Road to Recovery

Hi everyone, my name is Mackenzie and I am a spinal cord injury survivor. On April 23rd, 2016, I fell 24 feet from a second story balcony and fractured my C6 vertebra, compressing my spinal cord, and paralyzing me from the chest down. I don't remember anyone ever telling me that I was paralyzed, and if they did I blocked it out of my memory completely. My injury is incomplete, so I still have feeling everywhere, which I think was what made it so hard for me to realize that I was actually paralyzed. I was also in a leg immobilizer from other injuries I sustained in the fall, so I just figured that was why I couldn't move my legs.

It took several weeks for me to fully comprehend what had actually happened to me and I still remember the first time I used the term "paralyzed" referring to myself. I cried and cried and cried like there was no tomorrow. But this was when I was finally able to accept what had happened to me and I was able to begin my road to recovery.

I'm now a year and a half post-injury and still have my days where I struggle more than others, but those days are becoming less and less frequent. I now live in my own apartment and am almost completely independent. I've found that doing my makeup and dressing up makes me feel better about myself so I try to do it as often as possible. Being a young woman in a wheelchair I tend to get a lot of stares and weird looks while I'm in public, so I figured the better I felt about myself the less it would bother me. Right after my injury I kind of gave up on how I looked and avoided mirrors at all cost because even the sight of my wheelchair was a reminder of what happened and I would end up crying. Now I've learned to embrace my wheelchair. It makes me unique and I've grown to love it.

Recovery from a spinal cord injury is a long process and I'm still learning that patience is a virtue. Life is crazy and will throw unexpected curves at you, but it's all about your perception. Yes, being in a wheelchair sucks, but I try and look at it as I'm alive and trying my best to get better every single day and that's all that matters!

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