What I Now Know: Codi Darnell

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 23, 2019 # What I Now Know, SCI Awareness

Dear Codi,

I know what you’re thinking. What kind of bizarre and unexpected nightmare is this? You’ve only had a few days to wrap your mind around what this spinal cord injury means but you are long into the list of assumptions as to what life with paralysis is all about. You are skeptical; you are scared. You know exactly who you are on the inside—that hasn’t changed—but while your body still looks like yours, it feels as though it belongs to a stranger. And you wonder how you will ever reconcile these two integral pieces of yourself.

The fear that you will no longer be enough for your children interrupts every single thought you have. You know that there are three tiny humans relying on you to care for them and you’ve been a parent long enough to know exactly what that entails. You wonder how you could possibly be what they need now that you have been sentenced to life in a wheelchair. While you’re right about one thing—your kids need you—you are wrong to think a spinal cord injury will render you unable to fulfill those needs. They needed you before this accident and they still need you now—just as you are. You will figure that out soon and motivation will push you to accomplish more than you could imagine. And I promise that you will, once again, be the one to put your children to bed.

You will question why you deserved this and sometimes get lost in the unfairness of it all. Don’t spend too much time there. You know that nobody is immune to grief or trauma. Accept yours for what it is and work with it. You will get angry and experience sadness that is different and more intense than you’ve ever known. You will spend many nights crying on your husband’s shoulder as he lays next to you in bed stroking your back and holding you until your eyes run dry. But know two things: You will always wake up with a renewed sense of purpose and those nights become fewer and further between as time goes on.

Find comfort in the fact that your husband is the amazing man you always knew him to be. You will lean on each other through this journey and, while I know you don’t believe this is possible, will come out the other side with a deeper connection than you had before. Trust him when he tells you he loves you. Trust him when he tells you he isn’t going anywhere. Trust him to help you.

Don’t set time constraints on yourself and your recovery—you will regret it. Healing and independence take time, patience and a whole lot of work. You may not accomplish everything as quickly as you want to, but you will get there. And on the way, you will surprise yourself with resiliency you never knew you possessed.

Right now, you are surviving. The road ahead looks impossibly long and incredibly daunting. And I’m not sugar-coating it for you, it’s tough. But one day, somewhere in-between dropping the kids off at school, going to the gym and packing up for a summer vacation, you will realize you are no longer in survival mode. Your wheelchair will become an extension of your body—your lifeline. You will be wearing a real bra and acknowledge that your pants don’t all have elastic waistbands (don’t worry you still wear yoga pants). But most importantly, you will have reconciled the physical and emotional pieces of yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin. You will be living.

xox

Future You