Looking back on all the hours of physical and occupational therapy I went through after being paralyzed and all the other rehab-related things I did to get back to living my life, I can’t think of any single thing that had more of a beneficial impact on me than the constant support of my friends. Whether it was an unexpected hospital visit, a movie night or simply a phone call, my friends were always there to buoy my spirits.
I appreciated their support and friendship at the time, but looking back I’m not sure I comprehended the impact they really had. They reminded me of all the things I wanted to get back to enjoying. They gave me a reason to keep going. In the sometimes bleak world of SCI, it’s critical to have fun escapes that shift your focus away from bladder control, pressure sores and access issues to more important things like drinks with friends, game night and having fun. There’s no better prescription for that than time with friends.
Using a wheelchair shouldn’t impede on having vibrant friendships, but unfortunately, sometimes it does. Whether it’s an old friend who doesn’t know how to broach discussing your changed circumstances, a new friend who obsesses over the details of your injury or the logistics of hanging out somewhere accessible — figuring out how to build and maintain lasting friendships can be tricky with a spinal cord injury or disorder. In this issue we’ll look into some of the obstacles that can get in the way and share some solutions that will hopefully help you enjoy all the fun on your terms.