I have gone through a lot since I got into the accident that left me disabled 5 years ago. It hasn’t been easy navigating this new life I have. I have gotten really sick and recovered, had issues with depression, struggled with finding a job but I have also found love. Ever since I found out that I was disabled and it wouldn’t be as easy as I thought it would be to bounce back, I had been struggling with finding out what to do with my life. This is Why I Started The Strong Spine Foundation To Assist People With Disabilities. Here is the reason we Need To Join Together To Change The Lives Of Persons With Disabilities
For people going through difficult times in their lives, it can sometimes get really lonely and wistful because you feel like no one can see you and neither can they hear you. To see someone is to understand them and being understood is belonging. That’s why it is recommended that people join support groups to engage with those who are going through the same things as them. This was suggested to me and I didn’t dare object; it had been months since I had been outside the house, it had been twice that long since I had felt like someone understood me.
Many years ago I was caught cheating on my then girlfriend. When I say caught, I mean we were seen drinking soup in the butchery together; when I say cheating, I mean I had told my girlfriend that I was busy feeding the pigs at home but I was actually buying soup and mandazis for another ( I am from the village, soup is an acquired delicacy). She didn’t make a scene, she did worse, she severed any communication with me. In the next few weeks, I fell into a hopeless pit of sadness and all I wanted from friends wasn’t mockery or ridicule, I wanted them to tell me that something like that had happened to them too. Knowing that would have eased my pain a hundred times over.
Back to the important story….
I went to the meeting and right away it felt like home to see other people on wheelchairs and with skinny, boney hands like mine. I was afraid that it was going to be all sad and pity party but our conversations were anything but. I met funny, witty and hilarious people who were comfortable in their skin and I found myself wanting to be just like them. We spoke about many interesting things; well, I did more listening than talking because I was the new kid. One gentleman mentioned his struggles with pressure sores and it was like music to my ears…..I AM NOT ALONE!!!
What are pressure sores?
Also known as bed sores, they are wounds caused by prolonged pressure to the skin. They are more prevalent to disabled/bedridden individuals who spend lots of time in one position….individuals like me. While lying down on your back, your body has four major pressure points; the back of your head, the back of your shoulders, your buttocks and the back of your heels. This is what happens if you remain in that position for too long without any movement, your skin first gets numb, then it turns red, then blue, then it becomes a wound. Simple as that.
People like me who experience paralysis in most parts of their bodies have very limited movement. Some of us can’t even toss or turn in bed, we need help. That being said, should we go for long periods of time without assistance, we start developing these wounds. Three in ten spinal cord injury survivors ultimately die from pressure wound-related complications.
At one point I had three wounds. One on my lower back and two on my heels; One on each. Another one had already started forming at the back of my head until today there is a soft patch that never grows hair. It’s impossible to know these things when we adorn ourselves in fine clothing and fat smiles, inside though, our bodies are suffering. The fact is that almost every person you see on a wheelchair has had a pressure sore at one point. Not just Spine injury survivors, people who have been bedridden for long periods of time are also at risk of the same. This why it is imperative to always be aware of your loved one when they are at the hospital or even at home. Ensure that they don’t spend too much time sleeping in one position. The recommended time to change position is every three hours.
My three wounds eventually healed after a year and to top it all off, I got an electric wheelchair, the Gods had smiled at me. It was a blessing that came at a cost. The footrest on the chair was wrongly positioned and my feet were having so much pressure exerted on them. By the time we knew where the problem was, I had already developed two sores on each foot. Its been hard for my parents because the wounds need to be treated every day, sometimes twice. Ointments and antiseptics are very costly but failure to proper treatment could lead to an infection caused by bacteria.
Disabled people, therefore, need wheelchairs that are measured and designed for them. They also need special cushions for when they are sitting for long hours. If you sit a disabled person on a normal cushion the results will be sore in the buttocks; I had one at some point.
May this educate you to know better next time your loved one finds themselves unable to move at will. Help them, turn them in bed, check for any redness or discolouring on their skin, get them proper wheelchairs and sitting cushions. To those who are struggling with these wounds, I understand you, you are not in this by yourself. One day those wounds will turn into scars.