Zina Hermez – “Disability is a condition, it’s not who we are. Diagnosis is a prediction, it doesn’t have to determine our outcome.”

Did something catastrophic ever happen to you? Where your life changed in an instant? Did you wake up in a hospital bed, not knowing where you were, or how much time passed? It happened to me. I never thought I would be hit by a car at sixteen years old, while crossing the street on my way to school. Nor did I think once I survived the accident, it would live with me every day for the rest of my life.

I was flown to the University of Michigan hospital, where I underwent 12 hours of emergency surgery. My injuries were so severe, doctors predicted I might not make it through the night. The first several days were critical. My spine was dislocated, and broken at the L1-L2 level. I had a fracture in my C1 vertebrae. A broken left femur, a broken right tib fib, and a broken left tib fib. I was paralyzed. I’m lucky it wasn’t worse! And that wasn’t even all of my injuries.

It’s no wonder doctors were telling my family I would be paraplegic my whole life. With those injuries people do not come out alive, let alone walk.

Almost eighteen years have gone by, since that dark rainy October morning. Today I’m thirty-four, and walking everywhere with two forearm crutches. I’m practicing with one cane! It’s a miracle from the Lord I’m alive, and able to walk. Last year in 2011, was the first year I took some steps in physical therapy with no walking device!

I graduated high school on time, and walked with a walker to get my diploma. The whole stadium stood, clapped, and cheered, some even cried. I was able to get through college in my twenties, and earn two degrees. I contract for a Global Language Training company, and teach English to business people in the U.S. I also teach classrooms at a Language center. I’m able to live alone, and take care of myself.

I’m grateful to God for how far I have come.

What if it were you? What if you became Spinal Cord Injured? What if you could not walk? Could not work? How would you support yourself?

Only 26 percent of people with severe injuries are able to find work, compared to 81 percent of non-injured people. The likelihood of finding work for the able bodied is almost three times higher than for the disabled!

What if you lost your support system, family, and friends? Let’s face it, being disabled is never popular. There’s a lot that comes with Spinal Cord Injury. It’s not only physical, there are also psychological effects. It can rob you of life! Especially if you’re young, I think it’s more detrimental.

When it came time to leave the hospital, I was deeply saddened. How would life be in a wheelchair? How would I go back to school, paralyzed? What was to become of me? I knew the visits would lessen, the calls would start to fade. I feared I’d be just a burden. I was scared. I had one hope, my faith. And I held onto it.

‘Til this day, I still hold onto it

It’s never too late to heal from Spinal Cord Injury. Don’t believe the ol’ adage that you get the most out of your recovery only two years after. I’m still making progress.

You should never give up. The little things count, and can equal up to the big one! Even if you don’t see results right away, you should press on in faith.

You can visit my personal blog where I write to encourage and share. You can subscribe or leave comments. You’ll get an email each time I post. Maybe together, we can find solutions to SCI. www.zinahermez.wordpress.com

By: Zina Hermez – www.ZinaHermez.wordpress.com

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