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***New Career After Spinal Cord Injury...?***

WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 384 Moderator
100 Awesomes 100 Likes 100 Comments First Anniversary
Hello everyone,

My boyfriend, Dan, is coming up on 4 years since his accident. Dan was a stone mason by trade his entire life. He missed but two days of work since he was 16 years old, purchased his first home at 21 from holding down this career. When Dan become a C5-C6 quadriplegic, he lost both of those things, his job and his home...

As most of you can attest, the first couple years post SCI can be tough. Finding balance within a new life, re-introducing yourself to a new body and all its needs, limitations and functions, and of course adapting back into society. Dan decided to go back to university about a year ago to pursue an education and training to become a Recreational Therapist. For those of you who may or may not recall what that is, they are basically the fun guys in rehabilitation who try to encourage the patients to get up and out of their rooms. They plan activities such as going to sports games, having pool therapy days, or just getting out of rehab and enjoying some sunlight. Even though most days, Dan was the only one participating and leaving his room to try these activities, he grew fond of the work that the Rec. Therapist were doing. 

So, he went back to university eager to learn and possibly make an impact on someone else life down the road. He actually truly enjoys learning and has a knack for being quite competitive in doing well in his classes. This makes my heart full, seeing him have a new passion for a new life. 

I am wondering how many of you have either considered going back to school to gain a new skill set or more education after spinal cord injury?

If so, what made you take the brave steps to do this? I truly am inspired and honored being able to witness my partner create a new identity and skills for himself. He has even said that had he not had an injury, he would have never pushed himself to learn and grow the way he has now. And even though this adjustment has been tough, he believes that this is a second chance at life and possibly a chance to do something he loves vs. something that fell into his lap. 

What are your thoughts? All are welcome so please do share and thank you for reading. 

Elena Pauly
WAGs of SCI
Your WAGS of SCI
(Elena and Brooke)

Comments

  • stephanie426stephanie426 Moderator Posts: 43 Moderator
    10 Comments First Answer 5 Awesomes Photogenic
    Hi Elena, 
    Thanks for sharing! I've grown up with my disability, so that definitely gave me a different perspective than people who acquire their disabilities later in life, but I can relate with Dan that having my disability really pushed me to my career path and I'm so thankful for it! I come from a town where most people don't graduate high school, much less college.  However, my dad, who was a high school drop out, saw how much discrimination I faced as a disabled person and encouraged me to use the law to fight back.  I knew from a really young age I'd be a lawyer.  I'm the first in my family to go to college (and the only to finish my degree), and the only one in my family to get a master's and law degree.  I know that if I didn't have my disability, I never would have become a lawyer and while other jobs are okay, I absolutely LOVE my career and the financial stability it provides for me and my extended family. 

    Furthermore,  my career has connected me with many other people with disabilities, including people who have acquired their disabilities later in life.  I love seeing newly injured people discover new passions and new careers,  and helping them navigate the laws and systems.  
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 384 Moderator
    100 Awesomes 100 Likes 100 Comments First Anniversary
    @stephanie426
     Thanks for your comment - it will bring hope and inspiration to a lot of people!!

    B
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • ambercollieambercollie Moderator Posts: 130 Moderator
    100 Comments 25 Likes First Anniversary 5 Awesomes
    @WAGSofSCI
    I like this post. I definitely remember the recreational therapist that would come in every day to encourage Zack to get out of his room and try Hard to get him to participate in group therapy etc..As mom I had very mixed feelings I liked the guy and could see how hard his job would be at times, seeing Zack (15) in a paralyzed therapy group made me rush out of the room fast so no one would see me cry but it was always good for Zack to get out and being just a teenager he was ok with that.
    although he always said “mom the groups ok but everyone is SO old” haha
    I believe Zack is still friends with Trevor on social media to this day...
  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 239 Moderator
    100 Likes 100 Comments 25 Awesomes First Anniversary
    @WAGSofSCI Hi Elena, I can totally relate to this post. Before my accident happened I was a very active, strong, and physical teenager. I never planned on going to college and figured after high school I would find a job where I could use my physical strengths. After my accident I knew I had to switch my thought process and start utilizing my brain more. I was never an academic person growing up. One of the hardest things for me to figure out after my accident was what am I going to do as a career and be able to support myself. It took many years to come to the realization that I wanted to go into the field of mental health. There are many reason for me but I want to give back and help make a difference in others lives. I am currently in my 2nd year of my master's program studying counseling. I can't wait to finish and start working in the mental health field!  
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 384 Moderator
    100 Awesomes 100 Likes 100 Comments First Anniversary
    @ambercollie Yes, totally!

    I feel the same way you did. Having a rec therapist coming into the rooms and encouraging people to get up and get out and try new things or even just wheel around outside their rooms, made it feel like there IS a life after the injury. Going through the motions with our guys and families as they recover takes a huge toll on us but something about seeing them push forward and try hard is really inspirational. These rec therapists truly made us see that life was possible. Great response!

    Elena
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 384 Moderator
    100 Awesomes 100 Likes 100 Comments First Anniversary
    @Zcollie
    Wow, wow, wow!

    What an incredible accomplishment Zach! Counselling skills whether a career choice or not are such a huge asset to have. Being able to listen, be attentive and response accurately with compassion is amazing. I wish we could all take some sort of these courses. You're totally right, after Dan lost his physical, academics were where it was at. Your mind is who you are, and your personality. I think our world has really confused on that. I have no doubt in my mind that anyone who has a change of physical adaptability can teach us all so much, especially in a counselling field where you can demonstrate that you are a product of perseverance and resilience. Congratulations and I cannot wait to see what the future holds in store for you. 

    Elena
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 239 Moderator
    100 Likes 100 Comments 25 Awesomes First Anniversary
    @WAGSofSCI

    Thank you so much Elena! I am so happy I ended up where I an today and pursuing a masters degree in counseling. Yes you are right those skills are great to have in general and helps me in my personal life. it is funny I chose this career because I am not an emotional person and something I am learning to get better at. We are taught that we need to be in touch with our own feelings so when we are working with clients we can understand theirs. I always focus more on my thoughts than feelings but this program has been teaching me a lot. I wish everyone could take these classes. Like you said it would be so beneficial for anyone. I cant wait to start working in the field and getting real life experience! 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
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