DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

Who I Am Without You

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

April Otwell

My Childhood

I was raised by my mom while my dad was overseas for work. My mom was my best friend and we were extremely close all throughout my life. Where I was raised there was nothing but country for miles and miles around with hardly any neighbors to play with so I basically had to entertain myself. It was just me and my mom for 12 years. When my mom and dad's divorce was finalized, we decided to move to Texas out of nowhere. I was uprooted from everything, but I knew everything would be OK because I was with my mom.

February 2009

A year after we moved to Texas, two weeks after I turned 14, I was involved in an ATV rollover that left me a C3, C4, C5 quadriplegic unable to move anything from the neck down. It was a very tragic event in my life because I went from being a very independent young woman to someone that relied on someone 24/7 including a ventilator to breathe for me. My lung and diaphragm collapsed during the accident so I was no longer able to keep my lungs inflated on my own and had to put a tracheostomy in my neck in order to put me on the ventilator. I started doing physical therapy and within the last eight years I have been able to regain the use of both of my arms my right hand, my trunk function, some use of my legs, and the use of my lungs back. I was able to get my tracheotomy out a year after my accident. I've had my trials and tribulations but my greatest one was to come.

January 2016

My mom unfortunately was an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, and the divorce was very rough on her. It was something that we didn't notice until it was too late. While visiting my family in Louisiana, my mom found that the voices in her head were too great to deal with and she decided to end her life. During the middle of the night I was awoken to a gunshot and I knew immediately what had happened. My mother had shot herself in the head. I do not think she was selfish for this decision because I do not know what was going on inside of her head. I wish I could go back and get her the help that she needed. She did what she thought was best for me which unfortunely was to be without her. It took several days for me to cope with what had happened and to this day I still do not understand why she decided to take her life instead of getting help. I had to bury my best friend a week later. During the seven years since my accident we have never been apart more than 24 hours so being without her It's very difficult. I'm having to learn who I am without her. She was such a big part of my world and now she's gone and it's difficult to think about her because of what happened.

Today...

It's been a year since my mother took her own life and I have to say I am better than I figured I would be. I have gained so much more independence and I have started to search for who I am without her which most people go through when they turn 18, but unfortunately for me I could not do because of my accident. I love & miss her every single day but I know she is in a better place where that disease cannot affect her brain anymore.

To learn more about my story please visit my website: Aprilotwell.com or my Facebook: facebook.com/Aprilotwell123

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