As I enter the beginning of my 6th year post injury, I began reflecting on what it means to live with a SCI (spinal cord injury). Those of us that live with SCI may have similarities like Chiari Malformation and/or Spinal Arachnoid cysts and live with chronic pain, motor deficits, and must use assistive devices. Yet, each injury is uniquely different. Although we are wonderfully made and resilient, we all face different challenges in life.
Our spine is comprised of 5 parts. It starts at the Cervical level which is from C1-C8. Next is the Thoracic Spine the largest segment which is from T1-T12. Then followed by the two more segments the Lumbar Spine (L1-L5) and the Sacral Spine (S1-S5). Finally reaching the final segment the Coccygeal Spine (Co1).
The spinal cord has both motor and sensory nerve fibers that sends and receives signals to and from all parts of the body. The sensory nerves control involuntary functions of the body such as breathing and our heartbeat. Whereas the motor nerves responsible for muscle movement and sensation. So, when an injury occurs to the normal signals are disrupted rendering the patient incapacitated starting at the first vertebrae below the area of the damage.
There are two types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury would result in permanent damage to the spinal cord. A patient with complete damage has no control of their body movement and may be bedridden. An incomplete spinal cord injury is partial damage to the spinal cord where the spinal cord retains some ability to convey messages to or from the brain allowing the patient some sensory activities below the site of the injury.
My injury is in the Thoracic Spine from T-4 to T9 plus Chiari Malformation. I also have a neck fusion from C-3 to 6. I live with chronic pain, muscle weakness, loss of sensation from the waist down with the right side being more affected, and a condition called Allodynia. My injury is an incomplete SCI.
I share this with you not because I want sympathy nor am I angry about it. I share because I want to share my journey so that others may be encouraged and uplifted. Yes, I have very hard days sometimes, but I smile even when I think I can’t because I know that there is a better story to be told. I believe that I will be restored someday as per Matthew 21:22(ESV) “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Sometimes it is tough because I want it now, but I know that it is in God’s timing not mine. and each morning I open my eyes I know that HE is not done with me yet.