Lina Nguyen: What I Now Know

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on October 15, 2019 # SCI Awareness

Dear Lina,

Right now, you may be confused about how you ended up in the hospital. The first thing you want to do is move your arm, but nothing is happening. The feeling of panic will rush through your body as you try to speak but you are muted due to the trachea placed in your throat. Mom and Dad are standing by your hospital bed in relief to see you awake. They are trying to reassure you things are okay, but you know it’s more complicated than that. As the doctor tries to explain to you about what’s going on, all you can think about is the last thing you remember.

After watching the guys race down Emigration Canyon everyone decided to part ways and head home. A moment before things become a complete blur, you were jamming out to, “One Time” by Justin Bieber. Didn’t life seem so simple at that very moment?

Just a 16-year-old girl wondering if the window is still open, or if her dad found out she had snuck out again? These are the thoughts roaming through your mind as the doctors tell you the result of your injury.

At this very moment, I know you feel even more lost after hearing doctors tell you the car crash you endured caused a few fractures to your neck from cervical vertebrae 4 – 6 resulting in complete paralysis below the neck. They gave you a small percent chance of gaining any movement back and predict you will be living your life on a ventilator. I know you’re feeling a world of emotions as you lie there and wonder what kind of future you’re going to have now. Well, I’m here to tell you this is going to be a tough journey, but the life you’re going to be living will be great.

Your strong mindset is going to prove to others that you are so much stronger than what they give you credit for. It may seem out of reach right now, but your strength is going to help you do so many amazing things. You will go to school dances, tell your story in front of 400 people, graduate high school, go to college, be on TV, become a leader, an advocate and a mentor, and much more. The path that you’re on and your love for helping others is going to open so many doors for you.

Now do yourself a favor and let yourself feel all those emotions. You are allowed to grieve your old life and able body. It’s a very tough loss, so it’s going to take a long time for you to completely heal. Don’t hide your emotions or tuck them away because eventually, the more emotions you bury the harder it is going to get for you to come to a place of acceptance. There are going to be many bad days before the good ones come along but know this: as long as you keep fighting the good days will overcome the bad ones. Therefore, your family and friends are going to be with you every step of the way, they will be your support on those bad days.

Another thing you should remember is that you are beautiful. I know right now you feel ugly because you don’t look like those other girls in society. Your body may be different, but you will always be beautiful. Always tell yourself that every day. Don’t worry about other girls and hide your appearance from the world. You’ll soon discover your own beautiful standards. That smile of yours is going to gravitate people towards you and your warm heart is what makes them want to stay in your life. Yes, there’s going to be people who will stare but don’t mind them because they are only staring at your amazing sense of style. You’ll show everyone that you may have a disability but it’s one of the many things which makes you unique. Not only are you going to be able to have the resilience to bounce back from this you will be able to bounce forward and become the woman you’ve always meant to be.


Lina Nguyen

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.