Illustration by Mark Weber

Don’t look now, but your body is talking about you.

As we readjust to life after illness or injury, it’s easy to lose sight of the conscious and unconscious signals we are all sending out from our chairs. How our bodies communicate and what they are revealing about us can seem like an afterthought, but there are important benefits to paying closer attention.

After my fall at age 22, the severity of my injury seemed to leave me no other option but to face the reality that, as a C4 complete quad, the silent partnership I had with my limbs was severed along with my spinal cord. Instead, a requirement to clearly verbalize my requests became the lifeline that insured my needs were met. To my surprise, once I was out of my hospital bed, I started to recognize the new nonverbal cues I could rely on to express my emotions and engage with those around me.

As a high quad without arm function, my altered body language introduced an additional pickle to my paralysis. Despite this, boundless curiosity and a slightly dusty social science degree have helped me recognize how my heavily