Do you know anyone with paralysis?

Hi SD,

I am paralyzed myself, due to a drunk driver from about 10 years ago. I am curious as to whether you guys know anyone who is paralyzed. I’d like to know how their paralysis has affected your opinion of other disabled people, or even of other able people? What have you seen in your own interactions with them and others’ interactions with them?

I’m specifically talking about paralysis here, though feel free to mention related stories.

On another note, I was lucky enough to be a victim of someone else’s callous behavior. As tragic as my own situation is, I go to bed every night knowing that what happened to me is NOT MY FAULT. I can blame someone else. I was hit. I was a victim. While it’s not fun being a victim, it’s certainly easier than being one of those unfortunates who breaks their back or neck doing a risky maneuver like diving headfirst into a pool, etc. I can’t imagine having to know for the rest of your life that you did it to yourself.

I wonder how these particular people deal with their own mistakes? How much can positive attitude really help?

Even eleven years into my spinal cord injury I still have mental trauma–fear and trust issues that affect my ability to get around. Do the paralyzed people you know express these issues to you? If so, how do you and they handle it?



Paralyzed from the neck down, no. I know a person who has one paralyzed arm. It doesn’t really affect my interaction other than I often stick around when leaving places to see if he has things I could carry for him.

I have a spinal cord injury and am paralyzed from the waist down. I sustained this injury in a car accident/emergency surgery nearly 16 years ago.

To me, the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ have no place in my mental landscape. It’s simply irrelevant to me why or how I became paralyzed, the fact is that now I am paralyzed, I’ll always be this way and life continues.

Not quite the same thing: I used to know (she passed away some years ago) a very nice woman who was in a wheelchair from a birth defect. She could move her legs around a little, but they wouldn’t support her weight. She was as limited as if paralyzed.

I knew (he also passed away some years ago) a guy who had some sort of progressive failure, so that he went from a cane, to crutches, to a walker, to a wheelchair. By the end, his legs were totally useless.

Each of these two friends, at some point, moved up from old-style wheelchair to motorized wheelchair, and they were delighted by the extra mobility. It was just the niftiest thing in their lives.

(Someone on a public street once reached into the backpack on the back of her wheelchair and stole her stuff. What kind of creepy puke would steal stuff from someone in a wheelchair? That beggars – and buggers – the imagination.)

Back when she was in a non-motor wheelchair, I took a class with her, so I could learn to be a “pusher” so we could go to Disneyland. I passed the course, but I was so pooped out that the instructor advised me not to actually go to Disneyland with my friend. I was simply not sufficiently strong and fit.

I’ll always regret that I didn’t get to wheel her all over the Magic Kingdom, but it was probably wisest for me not to over-extend my abilities.

Anyway, two essentially paralyzed people, and very good friends, and very much missed.

My husband (C5/6 quad) resisted getting a power chair for over 30 years. OTs, physios, his doctor, me - we all tried to get him into one, telling him much more independent he’d be with one. He never actually came out and said why not but I got the impression it was because it’d make him seem ‘more disabled’ or something.

Anyhow, about four years ago, he suddenly changed his mind. Best thing ever etc. To hear him go on and on about it, you’d think he invented the damn thing.

I used to know a woman who was paralyzed and blind due to polio; she died a few years ago. Nowadays she would have had a wheelchair, but I knew her bedridden. From age 15 until the three of them moved into an old folks’ home, she always lived with her sister and the sister’s husband (they didn’t have “children of the body”). She would ask to “let me see you” meaning to touch you, and loved it if other people initiated touch.

Anti-vaccination people ought’a spend some time caring for people disabled by an avoidable, vaccinable illness, preferably before it turns out to be their child. Hers was a case of bad luck, the polio vaccine hadn’t reached her hometown yet.

A very good friend of mine has a younger sister who has been paralysed from the waist down since the age of about 4, due to a car accident. She has mainly used a motorised chair from a fairly young age. Recently I have been seeing her socially with my friend, and I simply interact with her in the same way as anyone else. But I think it does make me a little more considerate of the issues chair-users face.

My paternal grandfather was paralyzed on one side of his body from a very bad stroke. I was six when he had the stroke and 32 when he finally passed away. We were pretty close during my childhood and teen years. His paralysis was just a fact of life.

My best friend was paralyzed from a heroin overdose at the mid-chest down. He died about 8 months later from another overdose.

I guess you could say it was 100% his fault.

I was pretty involved in his after-care. I went to some of his PT and OT appointments to learn to do transfers. Helped him shop for and pick out all sorts of DME for his apartment (shower/bathroom chairs, stuff like that).

Didn’t exactly change my “opinion” of the disabled or paralyzed. I’m not sure I even really had an “opinion” at all. Still learned a lot about all the little challenges that most people take for granted. I didn’t know bowel control (or re-learning bowel control) was a thing. Navigating a wheelchair outdoors in the winter in Minnesota is… I don’t even know how to describe it. Walks are shoveled but any little ice bump is a barrier.

Not sure what else I could add. Feel free to ask any questions.