How Did This Really Happen

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on May 18, 2021 # Lifestyle

If you are paralyzed, you have a story to share. I sometimes forget the impact that the disability community has. Before my son Zack was injured, I did not have the correct knowledge about the disability community. I did not know what life would look like after Zack’s injury. In the beginning, life seemed uncertain. There were many unknowns. But with time, you learn, and life starts to have a “new normal.” I can say that this is true. I have experienced my “new normal.” It may not happen overnight, but life, after all, is about perspective and what you chose to focus on.

I’m going to bet you have been asked /approached by total strangers asking you what happened? Over the years, I have met about 100 people with spinal cord injuries. Personally, I have always been interested in hearing their stories—many car accidents, beach and pool diving accidents, which happened to my son Zack. When we were at the rehab hospital, we met a guy who was injured three years before Zack was. His accident had happened exactly where Zack’s happened, same beach, street, and even time of day. A year later, almost to the day after Zack’s injury, we were introduced to another boy who was Zack’s age. He was also injured at the beach and ended up at the same rehab hospital Zack had been. They had the same doctor and even the exact room Zack had been assigned.

Sadly, some injuries happen due to gun violence. I have met several people who were shot. Many of them were mistaken for someone else... I remember being in Solvang, a Dutch tourist town, at a small toy store. I spotted a lady in a power wheelchair and started up a conversation. It turns out her younger brother was injured as a teenager, and she was his caregiver for 14 years. She was in her 30’s married with kids. She slipped in a grocery store and broke her neck, also becoming a quadriplegic herself! Did that really happen! Two quads in one family. I also know someone who has two nephews; one is a paraplegic, and the other is a quadriplegic. I have met many women that have been injured in different ways. One fell climbing up a bunk bed ladder, another tripped at a campsite, and one dove off her bed dreaming (she was really diving).

I am telling these stories because these stories stood out to me. They are the stories people remember. What makes these stories and these people inspirational is the outlook on life all these injured people have in common. They were all faced with a new scenario, but they survived; they persevered. Each of these stories was told to me by people that still had a smile on their faces. Remember to keep smiling. I know I am.

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.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.