It’s been 18 months. Eighteen months ago today I drove up the mountain to spend the morning skiing. They tell me that I ended up riding down from the mountain in a helicopter that headed straight to the hospital emergency room.
It didn’t take too long for the doctors to figure out that I’d broken a few vertebrae. It took a couple weeks for the doctors to start talking with any sort of certainty about the extent of my spinal cord injury. Even then they were reluctant to say much definitively or to make prognoses.
Within a couple weeks, I was told that the extent of my injury officially put me in the category “quadriplegic” … which confused me (and I’ll never use that term to describe myself) because even by then I’d recovered probably 80% of the movement in my one hand, and the other never did seem to be affected.
About the same time I received this information, I was also told what a general timeline for recovery might be. In short what I heard was that the first six months were critical – that I should work as diligently as possible in those first six months in order to realize the greatest gains.
What I heard next was that while gains might not be quite so obvious, that I might expect to continue seeing improvement for as long as 18 months.
I’m thankful that the past eighteen months have proven that prediction right. Early on, the gains were obvious to me and to everyone who watched me move around. Recently, though, the improvements are much more subtle – probably not noticeable by most people, but enough for me to know that I move a little better today than I did a month ago.
One thing I don’t remember anyone saying when they talked about a recovery timeline was that I should expect after eighteen months. Will my recovery and improvements stagnate? Now that it’s been eighteen months, should I not expect any more improvements?
It’s been eighteen months. I feel lucky that I’ve regained as much mobility as I have. I’m grateful that I can move around mostly normally.
It’s been eighteen months, and I get frustrated that I can’t move around as smoothly as I used to could. Just this morning, I almost yelled and threw things when I stubbed my toe on the (smooth, even, predictable) floor, because that leg doesn’t work right any more.
It’s been eighteen months. I don’t know the future, so there’s no way for me to know today whether I’ll continue making mobility improvements tomorrow; or next month; or next year; or five years from now. But I’ll keep working at it, doing my best to be more capable every day than I was the day before.