The Seen and Unseen

Posted by Tyra Randle in Life After Paralysis on September 29, 2022 # Lifestyle

Tyra RandleBefore my injury, I worked in the medical field for a decade as a CNA. I always had a place in my heart to help and care for others. I had the compassion, I had the empathy, and now I have the shared experience of not only being a patient, but a disabled one due to a traumatic spinal cord injury.

What you see is an African American woman in a wheelchair. I see a survivor. I get a lot of questions like, what did you do to yourself, or you must have been in a car accident? Or even statements like, I thought you’ve been in a wheelchair your whole life. John Hopkins has listed 6 common causes of SCI. 1. Fall, 2. Motor Vehicle Accident (struck as a pedestrian), 3. Sports injury, 4. Trampoline Accident, 5. Violence (gunshot, stab wounds) and 6. Infections that form an abscess on the Spinal Cord. I’m not going to turn this blog into a history lesson on SCI since most of you have been there and done that. I’m just going to stick to telling you my experience about the scars you can see and the ones you can’t.

Being shot 8 times with a .45 millimeter gun (or any) leaves you with visible scars. Not only do I have to wake up every morning to see my chair as a reminder, but I have scars on the outside of my body as well. I can honestly say that I have turned my pain into purpose. Living with a traumatic SCI doesn’t mean your life is over, even though, at the beginning, it may feel like it.

Tyra RandleFor some people I know with SCI, their lives didn’t begin until after their injury. After my injury, I think the best thing I did was follow people living with a SCI and wheelchair users on Instagram. They gave me motivation and hope. They showed me that you can still have a full life, you just must make the proper adjustments.

Now, am I saying that every day is going to be easy? No, I’m not. My pain from being shot will be different from someone who got in a car accident or was born with a disease. You can visibly see where and how my spinal cord injury happened. Sometimes, you can’t see the scar of others with an SCI, but this scar gave them a new life.

Every year around the world, between 250,00 to 500,00 people sustain an SCI. So, there I go again, talking statics, now back to what we are all here for. I wonder what the quality of life for SCI 10 years from now will be. Will people ever get a chance to walk again? Will technology advance enough to give people a second chance and be affordable for the average person, or let’s say, a person on disability?

My spinal cord injury has changed me so much as a person. I’m more compassionate, sympathetic, appreciative, grateful, humbled, aware, sensitive, and the list goes on. The change has been for the better, and I’ve seen so much growth in myself mentally and spiritually. Even though something traumatic happened to me, I decided to turn a negative into a positive and turn my pain into purpose. The future is so bright; I can’t wait to experience what all life has to offer while living with paralysis.

Having a spinal cord injury isn’t a death sentence, it’s like everything else in life, it’s up to you and what you do with the new life that you have. So, with some of us, you can see the scars and pieces of our story, but the most important and most intimidating ones are the ones not visible.

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.