(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
Six months had passed since the accident. Beth’s glass cuts healed and left small scars. She approached her new normal hour-by-hour and day-by-day.
Beth had no expectations and no destinations.
I had definite expectations for my first counseling session. When I fell asleep at the wheel, my identity as a mom had shattered along with the bones in Beth’s neck. I thought that my psychologist would bestow a smidgen of peace, with more mending on the horizon. In reality, my first hour of counseling simply tore off the scab on my guilt.
After the session, I sat in the car in the parking lot and sobbed, haunted by Beth’s fragility and my own. Tears offered no redemption. Afraid of every aspect of the future, I waited for her outlook to cloud and crash. And selfish thoughts: when it did, could I function? I hoped for help at my next counseling session, or the one after that.
We found a community of support in an unlikely place.
I encouraged Beth to go with me to Toledo on a school night. When we entered MCO rehab, the look we shared spoke volumes; we were glad that she had moved to Green Springs for rehab instead of MCO. In the therapy room, we met the awesome members of the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NWONSCIA) for the first time. Family centered, the large group included all ages and abilities, as well as several Laraine alumni. Deb O., our friendly favorite, extended a warm welcome and introduced Beth to the other teenagers. Most had spina bifida from birth, making them wheelchair masters from an early age.
We listened with interest about annual events, including a summer fishing trip and the wheelchair games. I also overheard a hushed conversation between two parents about a young man with quadriplegia who died on the way to the hospital from a stroke caused by autonomic dysreflexia.
On our way home from Toledo in the dark, Beth watched the road nervously.
A new anxiety surfaced with night driving, regardless of who was behind the wheel. Still, I felt the need to reassure. I told her that I must be the safest person to drive with; I knew what it felt like to be too tired and would never let that happen again. I offered again to find a psychologist for her to talk with, and she declined, again. Driving at night would continue to trigger anxiety. However, it would not prevent Beth from traveling where she wanted to go.
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