Great, personal stories! [“SCI Anniversaries: Why Do We Celebrate Them?” August 2017]. My SCI was 39 years ago and I truly believe I’m a better person today because of that event. Kudos to all who are able to see the positive.
Susan Babcock Peters
Who I Would Have Been
Obviously everyone is different, and I think it’s great that people find ways to be positive, but I can’t even imagine celebrating a death. And make no mistake, the 18-year-old girl that I was died on that day [“SCI Anniversaries”]. Who I am today is not who I would have been. That’s not to say one is better than the other, and I have certainly had a very blessed life despite my SCI, but I still often wonder who I would have been if I had not broken my back.
Carol Arachne Hollfelder
No Need to Look Back
I just wanted to share that I am 23-plus years post-injury and rarely think about the day or [anniversary] date. I certainly don’t mark the occasion with any type of remembrance. My accident happened, I moved on with my life and have little need to look back at the event that changed the course of my future. Maybe I could look at it similarly to how I look at schools; I don’t take time or think about graduating from high school or college.
I met my partner eight years ago. She is a quad and explained how she had seldom traveled [“Finding Athena,” August 2017]. It just took so much to pack supplies, a Hoyer lift, plus stopping to do her care every four hours. I got the idea of modifying an old RV while thinking up a “mobile care center.” I got a 10-year-old unit and stripped the interior out. The price of a lift was more than what I paid for the RV, so I designed and built my own. I also designed and built a track lift that runs the length of the RV and installed two hospital beds that can lock together or slide apart to do care. We lived in it for three years (not easy in Vermont with minus 30-degree temperatures) while we built an accessible house. You can see pictures of the project at mcsele.shutterfly.com/2299. We use the RV all the time — sometimes just for a day trip, sometimes for a month at a time. It has truly given my partner and me tremendous freedom.
The Only Way to Travel
I have an SCI as a result of a transverse myelitis attack 12 years ago. I too, need a power chair. Our requirements for an RV were similar [“Finding Athena”]. Long story short, my husband and I worked out the bugs, refined our requirements, then bought a 2015 Newmar Ventana built to our specs. We love it. We haven’t gone all that far afield, but it is the only way we would be able to travel.
Mary Dodson Knight
Physical Therapy and Shoulders
The author’s experience [“Shoulder of Fortune,” August 2017] was as bad as I feared it would be. Last year I was really panicked because I thought I’d be going through the same surgery. I was even looking at shoulder replacement, as the recovery is supposed to be easier. But my doctor said surgery would be the last resort, and he sent me to physical therapy. He said I had bursitis and gave me a shot of steroids as well. I wasn’t the most diligent exerciser, but one day about five months later, I realized I was doing things (almost) pain-free! Both shoulders will flare up if I do too much, and I’m restricting my activities a bit to prevent that. But I’m now a firm believer in PT first. With a big tear, it may not help as much, but someone might be able to manage living with a smaller tear if the muscles surrounding it are strengthened.
Kathy M. Stice
Funding for Accessible Mods
I live in Massachusetts and they have a program called The Home Modification Loan Program [“Paying for Home Access Modifications,” August 2017]. You don’t have to be low income, you can get a loan for work needed, and it doesn’t have to be paid back until you sell your house.
Service Dog Training for Public
In Denver we have Domino Service Dogs, a nonprofit organization that puts you and your dog through a two-year training program [“Rescue Dog,” Outdoor Tracks, August 2017]. First thing is public behavior. We ride buses, light rail, go to restaurants, grocery stores, even the slide on a children’s playground in case your dog ever has to do an emergency evacuation from an airplane. My Hershey picks up anything I ask her to, pushes door opener buttons and pulls the door closed when we leave our apartment. I trained her to do these things one step at a time, just as the article mentioned.