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My Wheel Life

The stories of how I got this way, and the motivations that keep me rolling.

8 Misconceptions About Spinal Cord Injury Misconceptions

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huffpoEvery time I see a wheelchair blog titled “What You Need To know About Spinal Cord Injury” or in the case of one shared on The Huffington Post most recently, “8 Misconceptions of Life With Paralysis,” I cringe. It’s usually because the article was written by someone newly injured, emotionally charged and all “Yes! I can have sex! I can do anything!” While I can understand the intent and heart behind these articles, I also find them somewhat painful to read. Here’s why:


8 Misconceptions About Spinal Cord Injury Misconceptions

1. DISABLED SEX HAPPENS, OMG – Sure it’s a topic that’ll grab the attention of the few unicorns that post disabled blogs to begin with, but it’s much more than that. Besides the normal perks sex brings to relationships, health benefits I’ve noticed in regards to spinal cord injury include settling unwanted muscle spasms and increased results on bone density tests. So, yes, sex is definitely an issue worthy of more discussion, just not in the teenager way of “Yeah, Butthead…heh, heh…I do it.

2. ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT DISABILITY IS NOT OKAY – I fear blogs that communicate, “I’m tired of being asked these questions—here are the answers,” send the wrong message. Not everyone may be into talking about his or her disability (which you should use some judgment in the approach) but I don’t mind answering questions about it, even multiple times, because education is what evolves thought. So ask me questions. It’s how we learn; every child knows that.

3. ‘HOW TO’ BLOGS ARE AWESOME – Or not. “I’m here to set the record straight!” and “Let me tell you how to act!” are things parents scream at their children when they’re in trouble. If you want people to treat you like a normal adult, then do the same with your actions. Set the example.

4. EXTRA ATTENTION SUCKS – Maybe Justin Bieber would say this at the moment… no, nah, not even him. It’s human nature to seek attention. Call me a narcissist, but I enjoy compliments and acts of admiration. Wheelchair life is difficult, and I’ll take any and all freebies out there. Thanks in advance!

5. I KNOW BECAUSE I AM ONE – When one person speaks as an unauthorized representative of a group it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. After all, it’s one person’s viewpoint.

6. WE’RE JUST LIKE YOU – One common theme throughout most wheelchair blogs is “It sucks,” usually followed by “We’re strong!” and “Just like everyone else!” Which one is it? Until the spinal cord community comes together as a whole, let’s stick with “It sucks” –we receive more attention that way. [Refer back to #3]

7. ALL PARALYZED PEOPLE ARE GOOD WRITERS – Not every disabled person should be a writer yet it’s something a lot of us flock to because it’s accessible. However, just because we do it doesn’t mean we’re good at it. You know what I’m talking about, HuffPo.

8. EVERY SPINAL CORD INJURY PERSON CAN RELATE – Spinal cord injury is not a hereditary trait; it’s a disability. While we might collectively share similar experiences, at the core we are all very different when it comes to expressing ourselves and sharing our disability. My best free advice is to be a good human and use your best judgment at all times (and know that sometimes that won’t be good enough, and that’s okay).

One Response to “8 Misconceptions About Spinal Cord Injury Misconceptions”

  1. Gerri Helms says:

    I continue to learn from you, Jana. I will never know what it is like to have your kind of disability, but I will strive to be the best mother-in-love I can be with you. I am so grateful that no question I ask is ‘stupid’. You graciously and lovingly share your experience.

    Oh, and all life coaches are not good writers either! I see some great and some not-so-great blogs out there! LOL

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