Adjusting to life after a spinal cord
injury and learning to live with new limitations can be extremely frustrating.
spinal cord injury (SCI) is a life-changing event for
you and your loved ones. And getting used to a limited ability to move or feel
sensation is difficult and can take a long time. You-and your loved ones-may
grief. Although we often think of grief as an emotion
experienced after the death of a loved one, you may also grieve for your lack
of feeling or movement or for your past lifestyle.
experience many emotions after your SCI: anger, sadness, and disbelief are just
a few. Admitting to these emotions and discussing them with others will make it
less likely that your emotions will control you and your actions. Letting your
emotions control you can result in unhealthy decisions and behavior, a longer
rehabilitation (rehab), and taking longer to adjust to your SCI.
Your emotions may trigger irrational thoughts. These are thoughts that
you may believe, but they are based on lack of information, the wrong
information, or false assumptions. These types of thoughts can result in
unhealthy behavior that can hurt you.
For example, you may think
"This injury means that I will never have a job." Thinking this may result in
harmful actions, such as substance abuse ("Why shouldn't I drink? No one is
going to hire me.") or a lack of effort in your care ("I know what pressure
sores are, but what difference does it make?").
But your injury
does not mean you will never have a job. If you talk to others who have SCIs
and to doctors who work with them, or if you read research, you see that people
with SCIs work, have responsible positions in companies, and do well. This is
what you have to keep in mind.
You can help yourself avoid
irrational thoughts by practicing
thought-stopping, which is consciously identifying and
stopping irrational thoughts.
more information on grief and the grieving process, see the topic
Grief and Grieving.
Pain in an SCI can be complicated and
confusing. There are different types of pain, and they are often described in
different ways. You may feel pain where you have feeling. But you may also feel
pain in an area where otherwise you have no feeling. The pain may be severe at
some times, but at other times it may disappear or bother you only a little.
The most common
type of pain experienced with SCI is neuropathic pain around the injury area.
This is also known as the "circle of fire" or the "ring of fire." Neuropathic
pain is caused by damage to the nervous system. Other types of pain include
musculoskeletal (pain in the bones, muscles, and joints), and visceral (pain in