Going with the Flow

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on February 13, 2021 # Lifestyle

Is it really almost Valentine’s Day! I see tons of sweets and teddy bears in all the stores.

This means we, meaning the whole wide world, has lived in COVID-19 style for almost a year now. Where does the time go! It seems to speed up as I get older, I’m close to 50 now and it seems like yesterday my kids were making leprechaun traps on St. Patty’s Day and setting cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Now my youngest of four children is about to drive. My oldest is Zack. He is a decade post-injury. Zack is a C-4 Quadriplegic at the age of 15 when he dove under a wave at the beach and broke his neck on Memorial Day, 2010. This can feel like yesterday but at the same time feel like an entire lifetime ago.Zack holding adaptive controller

Life & Time. Time does not stop for anyone. No matter what the circumstances are, time will just keep ticking on. Life loves to throw all kinds of things at you, some good, some amazing, some challenging, some devastating, things you never dreamed about one way or another. We never know when life will throw us that curveball. I’ve certainly had a few in my lifetime. More than a few, actually. I was raising my four children and running a small business when Zack was injured, everything changed. We had to navigate life in the very unfamiliar paralyzed world. I was Zack’s primary caregiver for eight years, the first three I was a force to be reconned with. I was more than determined to help my son have a good life. I talked with every spinal cord injury person I could. I asked them what their story was and how long they had been injured. I learned more from these folks than anyone else. Getting Zack independent to the best of his ability was my ultimate goal.

We achieved that two years ago when he moved out to an apartment and after meeting his now fiancé Bree. Zack hired outside caregivers, which freed up my schedule to focus on the other kids and stuff. Then the coronavirus showed up and I was back working with Zack part-time since March. Earlier this morning, I helped with his bowel program, shower and getting him ready for the day. I was back home for less than an hour when Zack called. He was at home alone. Zack has been playing video games on a new adaptive set up he’s figured out and has been loving it. He was quite the gamer before his injury. With a break in school the last six weeks, it’s been a great way to fill time staying at home. He has met a few other quadriplegic gamers online.

Zack in wheelchairAnyway, the phone rings and he asked me where I am? He goes on to tell me his whole game system has fallen to the floor and he can’t pick it up. Bree is gone for a few more hours. I feel lucky to live just six minutes from Zack’s apartment. When I get there, he’s fine. Zack is like that, learning the patience of a saint. Seriously! So here he is, all tangled up in the cords. It takes me a few minutes to untangle him. Some of the cords got wrapped up in his wheels. It really is something that nothing broke. How he managed to get so twisted up in the cords is actually quite funny. We have a good laugh about it. You must have a good sense of humor when it comes to this kind of injury. I end up getting some lunch for us and we sit outside on his small patio in the warm sun and I enjoy some quality time with my boy. It is times like this I realize how much it helps if we can learn to go with the flow. You don’t have to, of course, you can plow your own trail. I make plans and I have goals, but I stay as flexible as I can. I’ve learned to live more in the present moment. Enjoying those little things that bring me joy in life. It has taken me a while. I am a list person and love crossing off what I have accomplished, but I want to relax and laugh more and continuing to turn negative situations into positive ones. These things happen daily. Today was a good reminder of that.

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

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.