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Little victories.

Before my spinal cord injury, it never crossed my mind whether or not a place was wheelchair accessible. Why would it? It wasn’t something that affected my life (or hardly anyone I knew). But now that I’m in a wheelchair, I have to think about it all the time. Are there stairs to get in the place? Are the tables too low? Too high? Will I be in the way? Will someone have to help me get out of my chair? Every time I go somewhere new for the first time — the dentist, the hair salon, a doctor’s office, a restaurant — it’s an adventure. And sometimes it actually gives me a bit of anxiety.

Well, the other day I did something I hadn’t done since before my injury. I got my nails done! My cuticles were in serious need of some TLC. I was a little nervous that it might not work out but had been wanting to give it a go for a while. Like I mentioned in my about me page, my right hand does not like to cooperate (yet). I do have a bit of finger movement, but I also have a lot of tone (tightness) and spasticity. So my hand is typically clenched shut. I like to call it my little claw, or paw hand.

On the way to the nail salon, my mom helped me put on the splint I wear at night to stretch my hand out a bit. I crossed the fingers on my good hand and hoped for the best. Luckily it was a pretty quiet day at our local nail salon — just the way I like it. Much to my delight (and relief), the manicurist, a nice lady named Amy, showed no hesitation and was confident she could get the job done. We ended up using toe separators — you know, those things they use when you’re getting a pedicure — to keep the fingers on my right hand from touching and getting all messed up. As any of my SCI friends will attest, sometimes you have to improvise, but where there’s a will there’s often a way. (And good thing because my nails look great!)

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Going to get your nails done is a little thing that to the average person wouldn’t mean much. But it’s little victories like these that make me feel less paralyzed, more normal, and like the same old Mary again.

So thanks to my girl Amy for hooking me up with some nice Thanksgiving nails. This Thanksgiving, we’re trekking up to New England to visit some family and friends — something we haven’t done since before the wheelchair. It’s another new adventure. And when we get back, I’ll have a furry little surprise to share with you … stay tuned!

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