After my spinal cord injury, I have come to the understanding that it’s very difficult to take in the reality of my situation. There’s no doubt that many of us experience severe emotional reactions after a SCI which require long-term psychological adjustment. Getting back to work sometimes is the last thing on your mind. You have no idea where to begin.
Still being acclimated to my injuries and the changes in my life it took me months, if not years and during this time. I kept saying I need to heal first before returning to work. First, I walk, then I go back to work. It sounded like a real possibility. Most newly paralyzed people are unable even to imagine the prospects of job hunting because you merely concentrating on one thing. You forget to dream.
In all honesty, at some point this starts to frustrate you. Not knowing what to do with your life. The moment you try to imagine going back into the world, it scares the hell out of you. This gets you back in the shell, in the safe zone. This happens back and forth for greater part of your life. I came to the realization that it’s because I had been looking down on myself, telling myself I’m not good at anything anymore. I will not be accepted back into society. All of this coming from a misconception. You have led yourself to believe that your life is over. This happens to a lot of people. I think by doing that you are really letting yourself lose before you even try.
Well, the moment you figure out that you at least have to give yourself a fighting chance. That life is not yet over. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. In your heart, you know you have to find that which rocks your boat. As for me, when I got to that point, I knew I had to step up. I couldn’t wait anymore. I then started to panic, not knowing where to start from. I knew life walking, but then in that moment I guess the universe heard my cry and worry.
I got a call from an old friend of mine who I had worked with years back, asking if I was strong enough to come to work because they needed a clerk. I couldn’t believe it for a second. I just immediately knew this was a prayer answered. All that was needed was to just say yes. A part of me was really scared. I almost chickened out. But I also knew it was exactly what I needed I needed to challenge myself, so I took the job.
I think taking the job was the coolest thing I have done since my injury. I really enjoyed my time there and every bit of it. I eased into work mode quite well since I had done this kind of job years before when I was still able bodied. I didn’t have trouble catching on. The environment wasn’t new at all. Taking this job gave me the opportunity to interact with others and to improve my self-esteem. It gave me overall life satisfaction. It really showed my strength. I took it as real life test. In fact, I called it a test run to see how much my body can endure.
In as much as it was fun, there were so many challenges which made it hard to just be a normal person. My chronic pain would kick in every now and again. In the eight hours of work, it’s so hard to act normal while dealing with excruciating nerve pain and trying to give a good performance. My position was production clerk, weighing and recording every lint bale, and taking note of everything from downtime to production, during the shift. You are required to be alert the whole time.
Despite the pain, I would like to believe I gave it a good run. I was put on night shift only. I freaked out a little bit at first. But it turned out to be ok. Nerve painkillers came in handy. I would take them one hour before work. The only problem was that they make you drowsy and I was not supposed to sleep on duty. I still wonder how I never dosed till the last day. One thing I know got me through most nights was the listening to music. I would put on headphones while doing my job. It made everything fun. Before you know it, you are down to the last hour.
I found myself dealing with profuse sweating. Not because it’s hot, but just because my body decides to start irrigating. It is usually triggered when emptying my bladder or sitting in the same position for too long, as well as when I have nerve pain. After sweating, I would get shivers, which would take a long time to calm down. You can imagine the clothes you are wearing getting wet, and it’s also cold.
I have been trying to get as much info as I possibly can about why I sweat a lot. I found out that it’s a common condition experienced by some spinal cord injured patients. I have gone to the doctors about It for a long time, but I haven’t found any who really tells me how to fix it. Hopefully, one day, I will get an answer. This is sure was one of the hardest things to do. A clammy skin is never comfortable.
The only way to get around it was to carry extra change of clothes, which made it much endurable. Due to loss of bladder function, I self-catheterize. It was hard considering work pressure, and heavy clothing to keep warm. Since it was night shift, I had to train myself to do things differently than I normally would. You always figure it out in the end.