Hi there! I’m Mary. I’m 25 years old and live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In July 2017, my world was flipped upside down when I suffered a serious spinal cord injury. I had just graduated from college less than two months before and started my first ‘big girl’ job in public relations. Everything was going according to plan.
So, what happened, you ask? I had a spinal stroke (infarction), which, one: I didn’t even know was something that existed, and two: is extremely rare, especially for someone so young.
At just 22, doctors told me I was paralyzed. I might never walk again.
My stroke left me with an incomplete spinal cord injury around the C4/C5 level, meaning I have widespread paralysis below my chest. My right side was affected much worse than my left, so I’ve had to learn to do everything with my non-dominant hand. I spent the summer after graduation in the hospital for three months — sad, scared, and learning to live in my newly paralyzed body.
Since then, I’ve come to realize that you can’t plan life. Sometimes bad things happen without a reason or a warning. You can choose to shut down and give up or you can adapt and try to make the best of it. I chose the latter. Of course, I still have bad days where all I can feel is what I lost, but most of the times I try to remind myself of what I still have.
Although I’m in a wheelchair now, my chair does not define me. I’m the same Mary I’ve always been — just with a new set of wheels and a new, unique perspective.
Now, let’s rewind a tiny bit. Before my injury, I was living in Philadelphia where I graduated from Temple University. I’ve always had a passion for writing. Coming into college, journalism seemed like the perfect major for me. During my sophomore year, I started taking business classes as well, and that fueled my interest in public relations. If I wasn’t busy on campus, you could most likely find me at the gym. There’s (almost) nothing I miss more than the satisfaction and bliss you feel after a super sweaty workout. I miss it every day and channel it into my physical therapy sessions.
I was always on the go, whether it was exploring the city with my housemates, running to Fairmount Park, or catching the subway to an internship. Like any other twenty-something, I loved my freedom and independence.
Right now, I’m living back at home with my parents, my two younger sisters (when they’re home from college) and my two pups. It kills me that I’m not as independent as before. But I know it’s not forever — I like to remind my parents of this whenever the opportunity presents itself. I’m working hard in physical and occupational therapy to become as independent as I can be. I still have dreams and goals — getting my own apartment, working full-time again, traveling — that I’m determined to achieve. I’m not sure how long it will take me, but I know it’s possible.
Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you come back soon and follow my journey.