Wheelchair Heros Are Made Not Born

Quadriplegia – A View From The Chair

Caused by disruption or injury to the spinal cord between C1 and C7 quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia in Europe, is a traumatic life changing event. I’m Graham, founder of the Mad Spaz Club. At 26 I knew little about quadriplegia. That was all about to change. Laying in a hospital bed I remember thinking of all things I would never be able to do again. Now after living in a wheelchair for 16 years, I’ve found with determination and help from friends, there is little you can’t do. Quadriplegia is a life changing condition but it’s no barrier to living a full happy positive life.

Before Living with Quadriplegia

My Kawasaki and Suzuki Katana 650 Motorcycles

My Kawasaki and Suzuki Katana 650 Motorcycles

Like most young Australian blokes I was into motorcycles, surfing, fishing, 4×4 camping, and travel. I owned and ran a successful electrical contracting business turning over $128K/year. I had ridden a Katana 650 around Australia with my brother and two mates and spent five months on a Kawasaki 650 twin riding across USA on my own. I was athletic handsome and worldly wise.

Growing up on my loving parents beautiful farm with three sisters and partner in crime brother, I’d rolled cars, jumped cars, brother even ran me over with a car. I had been shot, blown-up, electrocuted and damn near drowned, typical Aussie bloke stuff. I was soon to find my biggest challenge when early one crisp sunday morning riding my beloved Suzuki Katana 650 motorcycle home. My life changed forever in a split second.

My Spinal Cord Injury Accident Scene

It was five o’clock Sunday morning on a northbound corner of the Gateway Arterial Highway near Nudgee, Brisbane Australia. I slipped off the highway at 100 kph (60 mph). Spearing head first toward the southbound lane embankment it flashed through my mind, “You’ve done it this time Graham.” The impact was sudden and brutal. Unconscious my limp body slid to a stop. There I lay, lapsing in and out of consciousness.

My cheekbone was smashed into 6 pieces, broke nose, mandible (jaw), orbital (holds eye in), clavicle (collar) bones, three fractured ribs, and four shattered teeth. That was with a quality $300 Shoei full face helmet on. I would recover from all these but not the badly broken cervical vertebrae C5-C6 in my neck. The vertebrae ruptured my spinal cord which leaked spinal fluid, stripping myelin sheath off nerve endings, causing quadriplegia (tetraplegia).

X-rays later revealed the full extent of impact on the C5-C6 cervical vertebrae. It was so severe it more than crushed my spinal cord. Shards of badly broken bone sliced my spinal cord open in several places. Some shards were embedded in my spinal cord and some were still floating around in my neck. C4 was also not in it’s correct position. Swelling along with these meant that my quadriplegia would be severe. I would live the rest of my life in a wheelchair paralyzed from the chest down. Never again would I feel fresh cut grass under my feet, bubbling surf around my hips, or the warm delicate softness of a woman’s body pressed against mine.

You would think being thrown around like a rag doll at 100 kph I would have left the motorbike behind. But no, the hot exhaust came to rest on my left hand and I was unable to pull it away. Watching the smoke rise from my burning hand my brain was sending, “Pull your hand away” messages. Problem was, they couldn’t get from my brain, past the damaged section of spinal cord, to action my arm and hand muscles.

I was totally paralyzed from the neck down and on the brink of life or death. The hot exhaust burnt all four fingers on my left hand to the bone. I lay on my back motionless staring at the sky for what seemed to be an eternity. Having dated a nurse for ten years, and knowing a paraplegic friend in wheelchair, I knew I would most likely be a quadriplegic for life.

Angels On My Shoulder

Thankfully two men in a vehicle behind me noticed I had suddenly left the road and pulled over to check on me. I told them I had broken my neck and suspected quadriplegia. Between unconscious lapses I asked them to lift the motorcycle off my hand, and to not remove my helmet, touch me or move me. To take my mobile (cell) phone from my belt, phone emergency services, then phone my parents. Not wanting my mother to find out I requested they ask for my father, but due to urgency Mum was told first. Mum later told me her heart sank, knees went weak, and an overwhelming feeling of sickness washed over her. I’m sure my father suffered the same.

A strong quiet man, my father phoned my brother, hitched the 6×4 box trailer onto his car and headed for me. A policeman I would later come to know as “Dave the motorcycle copper” arrived at the scene. I recall answering his authoritative voice with, “I’ve done it this time Dad.” Apparently he fell to his knees, he had children of his own. Around this time my best friend being close by had heard of my accident and shortly arrived on scene with his wife, a nurse. My best friend was left frantic and alone on the highway until my father and brother arrived at the accident scene. Because quadriplegia is so serious his wife had accompanied me to hospital.

During the ambulance journey to hospital I complained to the young rookie paramedic in the back with me that I felt like my head was resting on a steel bar. He told me to shut up and lay still. The senior paramedic driving knew full well I had quadriplegia so couldn’t move and scolded the rookie. A spinal injury specialist doctor later confirmed the incorrectly fitted stiff collar had lacerated the back of my head. I know every quadriplegic goes through feelings of “what if” but the fact is, if that idiot rookie had fitted my collar correctly I may have more function today. Stabilizing the head and neck correctly is very important. 

I was taken to the Royal Brisbane Hospital (as it was policy to go to closest hospital) where a doctor took a quick look at me in the ambulance, before ordering I be taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital Spinal Injuries Unit. This delay and further travel was of not of benefit to my spinal cord injury.

First Day in PA Hospital Spinal Injury Unit

Titanium Plate & Screws

Side X-ray of Titanium Plate & Screws holding C4-C7 and hip bone block together

In the Princess Alexandra Hospital Spinal Injuries Unit the surgeon warned, “You may feel a bump here.” I opened my eyes to see him swing a large surgical steel mallet, whack! Two pointy surgical steel bolts were hammered into either side of my skull just above the ears. Curved scissor like tongs fix to these bolts and 7.5 kg (16 pounds) were hung from a rope running over a pully wheel attached to the bed head. With early quadriplegia stretching the neck vertebrae apart relieves pressure on the spinal cord lesion and limits head rotation that can cause further damage. Injections were given to reduce swelling and for pain etc.

It isn’t so much the broken spinal column vertebrae, but the amount of damage to the actual spinal cord itself (inside the spinal column) that matters. The greater the spinal cord damage the greater the resulting paralysis, loss of function and sensation, quadriplegia. By testing what you can (or can’t)  move and feel a diagnosis of level and complete or incomplete quadriplegia can be given.

The wonderful nursing staff and support from my family and friends pulled me through some very dark days. Humor and love are great coping mechanisms. After a month in the acute ward I was diagnosed with C4 incomplete quadriplegia. The leading spinal cord injury specialist in Queensland at the time, Dr. Vernon Hill, suggested an operation to stabilize my neck. This would involve removing the shards of bone and replacing the badly broken cervical vertebrae C5-C6 with a shaped block of bone taken from my hip. All fixed in place with a titanium plate and screws.

Removing the unstable C5-C6, bone fragments, and locking C4, hip bone block, and C7, together would stabilize my neck. Making me more robust should I suffer another abrupt impact, fall or blow. Considering my wheelchair thrill-seeking lifestyle I opted for the operation. Taking ten hours it was a complete success and of huge benefit to me. During a recent annual check-up at the P.A. Hospital Spinal Injuries Unit I had the privilege of catching-up with Dr. Vernon Hill and thank him for saving my life.

3 Months in PA Hospital Spinal Injury Unit

Titanium Plate & Screws

Front X-ray of Titanium Plate & Screws holding C4-C7 and hip bone block together

My girlfriend left me, it was hard on her and my lack of will to live with quadriplegia didn’t make it any easier. I believe you need to love yourself before you can let anyone else love you. I didn’t love me as a quadriplegic. She had a gorgeous 18 mth old daughter. I sobbed, “I’ll never be able to run down the beach, pick her up when she falls or walk her down the aisle. Go find someone who can.” She did but we keep in touch.

I was moved from the 4 bed Acute ward into the nearly full 48 bed Spinal Unit. I started learning how this new life with quadriplegia might work. Overcoming the “just let me die” stage and so sick of counting dots on the ceiling, it took a few weeks until I could sit up in bed without passing out or throwing up. A wide elastic waist band helped. I began sitting in a wheelchair for 2 or 3 hours before pain and exhaustion sent me back to bed.

With no arm movement and little sensation rehab was slow. Aided by Physio and Occupational Therapists stretching muscles, weight machines, hydrotherapy, splints, sticky tape, paddle pop sticks and fish tank tubing all held new purpose with quadriplegia. I set small goals like signing my name, sitting up for 4 hrs 6 hrs, taking more food and less pills. My nights were filled with horrific dreams. Given over 900 injections in those first three months my stomach was a patchwork of bruises.

6 Months in PA Hospital Spinal Injury Unit

Clavicle & Dislocated Shoulder

Broken Clavicle & Dislocated Shoulder

I regained some limited, weak arm movements, enough to push myself one length of the Rehabilitation room. Quadriplegia is weird as no two quadriplegics turn out the same. Some with “incomplete quadriplegia” may regain a little movement and/or sensation whereas others with “complete quadriplegia” none. In rare and often inexplicable cases they actually walk out of hospital. I can say, don’t push or expect them to perform anything, all you need do is let them know you love them.

Just as blind people develop an amazing sense of hearing, and can feel the difference between a $10 and $20 dollar note, losing the use of my legs and hands sharpened my other senses. I could see hear smell and taste all the little things others wouldn’t notice. Quadriplegia had turned the volume up on my life. Feeling the sun on my face would fill me with warmth, the nervous tone in a friends laugh would make me grin all day (or maybe that was the medication lol).

My father would smuggle in a six pack of beer on wednesdays. We sat in the sun at the end of the spinal unit drinking them. Mum brought fruit and flowers, great to bribe the nurses and trade with other wheelies. But the best thing they always brought me was their love.

I had a Supra Pubic Catheter (SPC) installed. It’s a permanent silicone tube inserted through the lower abdominal wall to drain the bladder. I chose the SPC for ease of cleaning and sexual reasons. My friends were all getting married and after 16 weekend weddings in a row it became painfully obvious with my level of quadriplegia I would never regain enough strength to push a manual wheelchair around in the real world. Marriage… first I had to find someone even willing to love a quadriplegic.

9 Months in PA Hospital Spinal Injury Unit

Brain lesions and fractured mandible

Brain lesions and fractured mandible

As C4 incomplete quadriplegia left me with no finger movement or wrist extension I test drove a couple of power wheelchairs. Of course chose the fastest one. It turned out to be my best wheelchair ever. After rewinding the Quickie P200 electric motors it does near 30 kph. Being compact and turning on a dime I can easily navigate “normal” households. Also important to me, it can be broken down for transport in a standard car. My modified P200 with Jay 2 gel cushion etc. was $9500.

We had a ramp put on the back door of my loving parents home, modified my room, shower, toilet and installed an air-conditioner (with quadriplegia we can’t regulate our body temperature). We don’t sweat much so the extremes of heat and cold knock us around. The CRS (Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service) was excellent and even paid for the home renovations back then.

12 Months Post Injury Returning Home

Home again I spent most days sitting in the sun contemplating what I was going to do with my life of quadriplegia. I followed up job leads in accounting I’d started in hospital. Bought a van with a hoist in the back. Began teaching myself how to use a computer. And built working balsa-wood model planes with my four year old Nephew as therapy to tune fine motor skills.

My incredibly supportive family encouraged me to venture out. They didn’t see my quadriplegia as a disability. They didn’t see the wheelchair, they saw me as a man, their son, their brother. Early one morning I had an accident in bed. We call it a, “Kinder Surprise” (a diet chocolate egg with toy inside). It’s brown, tastes like crap and you never know what you’ll get until you roll me over. Being a real mess my mother seated me in my power wheelchair and I ventured out into the garden.

In the early morning sunlight watching my father gardening a bee landed on a flower right in front of me. It was another turning point in my life. The bee didn’t care if I was dead or alive, or that he would only live a few months. His purpose in life was to collect pollen and he was busy doing it. Should he not, he would no longer be useful to the colony, and the colony would no longer be whole for the loss, of that one bee.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. — John Donne

How could this tiny creature overpower me. Touch me so deep it would effect the rest of my life. It was just another “little thing” yet so incredibly beautiful. I was alive and there to see it. I realized then, I had purpose in life, a destiny. And only I could fulfill or waste it. On this planet I too am just a tiny creature, with the same massive potential. I felt a tear slip away and grinned at my father who was now watching me.

Life in a Wheelchair Living with Quadriplegia

Having lived with quadriplegia for 16 years now I can say, it took two years to come to terms with my new life and think, yeah I’m doing ok, have self esteem, confidence, contentment. Then at the five year mark I caught myself in the mirror and smiled nodding, “Now you’re really doing ok, and have accepted life as a quadriplegic.”

Wheelchair Heros Are Made Not Born

Wheelchair Heros Are Made Not Born

Shortly after that day I rounded the corner into our living room to find my mother with her head in her hands crying softly. When I asked what was wrong she replied, “nothing, I’m just tired.” She quickly wiped her eyes and went on with her day. It was me, the enormous strain of quadriplegia and being my primary carer had taken it’s toll. It hit me like a sledgehammer, that one person who would love me as a quadriplegic had been beside me the whole time, my incredible mother.

I applied and lobbied the government for a place of my own and permanently funded carers. My father was instrumental in cutting through bureaucracy and red tape for me building a case file three inches thick. Community groups friends and contacts made over the years all pulled strings for me. In 2002 eight years after my accident I moved into my own three bedroom quadriplegia and wheelchair friendly home.

Graham Streets founder of the Mad Spaz Club

Graham of the Mad Spz Club

I currently work part time in Accounting and Internet Technology. I enjoy creating graphics like the wheelchair heros one above. I have four excellent carers who assist in my day-to-day needs from showering to gardening, 41.5 care hours/week.

I am an advocate for the disability sector playing a keynote role in securing $4.3 Million in non-recurrent funding for the state over four years commencing 2005.

Early in 2009 I became an Ambassador to White Ribbon Day to end violence against women. A common reality kept all to silent amongst the disabled and their circle of charges.

There are many stereotypes and physical barriers ahead for those with a spinal cord injury like quadriplegia. Worsened by a lack of disability funding, public awareness and support. Hence The Mad Spaz Club. A little corner on the internet where we can get together with like-minded people to share our experiences combine our voices and problem solve.

Education and funding in the disability sector is increasingly enhancing the lives of disabled people. Find out what it is you want and don’t stop until you achieve it. You have a voice so make it count. Get out there smile bright and enjoy your life. Keep your eye out for us wheelchair users and all the “little things” along the way.

Kind Regards
Graham Streets
MSC Founder

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About Graham - Site Admin

Quadriplegic Founder and Admin of the Mad Spaz Club. Spinal Cord Injury Keynote Speaker and WRD Ambassador. I like meeting wheelchair users and sitting in the sun at the beach. Why did I create and keep this website running? The simple answer is I like to help people. To give voice to those unable to speak. As an advocate and keynote speaker for spinal cord injury awareness I am not afraid to discuss tough and controversial subjects. I have become a better man for listening to you the Mad Spaz Club members, and I thankyou one and all. So willing to bare your soul and share your precious thoughts many of you have touched me deeply. I have cried and laughed along with you, it has been humbling, empowering, and will always be my honor. To all the valued members of the Mad Spaz Club I look forward to learning more about you all for many years to come, sharing with open hearts our experiences through the freedom of speech empowering us and making all our lives meaningful positive and the richer.

231 thoughts on “Quadriplegia – A View From The Chair

  1. kati

    Hello to all. I need a little bit of advice. One of my best friends since his is now a quadriplegic. I love this man w all my heart and miss him terribly. However, when I see him, I’m nervous to as or do the wrong things. ne then I feel terrible if I act differently towards him or if I do not go c him.. which I haven’t been lately. To me this sounds extremely selfish but I just don’t want to make things worse for him by making my nervousness rub off on him. So I guess I need a little bit of a dive if u will of how to ease the anxious/nervous feeling when I visit him.
    Thank you. :)

  2. amanda

    Hi Kati,
    It can be scary when the dynamic of a friendship changes. How long ago was his injury? My suggestion is to go see him :) Start with hello and take it from there. Don’t be afraid to tell him how you feel as he may be nervous as well. Treat him as you would any close friend. Just because someone is in a chair doesn’t mean the chair defines who they are. I’m a huge advocate for open and honest communication in any relationship so keep the lines of communication open, talk about your feelings, and ask him any questions you may have. Pop back in and let me know how it goes. Many people are here to answer questions, offer support, etc.

  3. Scott

    Dear Katie,

    I , within the past year , discovered this site and presented the same question to graham and this community.
    Long story shirt, I just graduated as a CNA and was attending RN classes at the same time. My first interview as a working CNA was as with a C3-4 quad. I was so nervous as to how to even make him feel comfortable within my nervousness energy in interviewing with him. I went to the nearest V.A hospital
    And interviewed the nurses there, I did mock interviews with my nursing instructors, researched what I thought would be important to my career witht the his is client…….
    Wen all was said and done, I realized I may have been selfish in fastidiously doing all this research and such.
    Well I have now been with my client for a year today!!!!! From the beginning of my employment HE. Made me feel so at ease just by me asking what he “wanted” by responding ….”treat me with the same respect as I would you”
    We not only are employee/ employer, but the best of friends.”bible studies every Monday with a group of eleven wheelchair bound men in there group….we have also begun a business of awaking lap quilts for those who are confined to wheelchairs…working closely with wounded armor project and the local independence center……..
    I guess my best advice would be to ” treat” him as you have in the past….your friendship will grow even stronger if you just “breathe”
    Hope this helps

  4. India

    I say take Him out and party… We just need to feel like a person not a burden…feeling sorry for him will only make Him feel more depressed ..
    Q

  5. Sieglinde

    This is incredibly helpful and inspiring! I was in church last week and heard that one of the members son had and accident leaving him a quadriplegic. I was overcome with compassion but felt so inadequate when trying to offer comfort to this woman. I have only met her once and I do not know her son but I cannot get them off my mind. I want to be able to help in any way possible so we exchanged numbers. I text her yesterday and let her know that I was serious about helping her in any way I could but again felt so inadequate in knowing what to say. I offered some scripture that I had read while praying for them that morning but felt stupid for that too. So, I guess I am asking for a list of things you should not do or say to a quadriplegic just in case I do become a part of these peoples lives.
    FYI, Graham Streets you are AMAZING!!! And the quote by John Donne…. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

  6. Jennifer

    Sieglinde I am a mother of a quadriplegic who was injured nearly two years ago. In my eyes I feel worse when people walk around on egg shells around us, say they want to help in any way possible and don’t make themselves available, say that they are going to visit and don’t. It makes me feel angry and hurt for my son that they can’t see how hurtful this is. I understand people have to move on with their lives but shutting someone out of your life when they need you most is as hurtful as it gets. My brother told me that he couldn’t come and see my son because it was to painful for him and it took him nearly 8 months to even call me and acknowledge the injury. He still does not visit or call and when he seen my son at a family event he didn’t even come and talk to my son. I was angry that he made this about himself instead of thinking about how this is affecting my son or me. The worst part is that his sister-in-law has been a paraplegic for at least 20 years. My brothers family makes time for her and always have but doesn’t even acknowledge us. In order to not be angry and resentful I choose to focus on the people that have been there, treated us like we are, normal caring people who happen to take longer to get around. If you want to truly be there, than be there as a friend who wants this family to succeed to bring a joyful happy life to their loved one. Bless you for caring.

  7. Vic

    Dear Graham Streets,

    The website you manage is very informative, personally honest and carries a huge care factor. And it for these reasons that I am sending this email to you.

    I am contacting you to ask your permission to cite your work for an assignment I am attempting for my university course. In this assignment I am discussing discourse and identity and am interested to add quotes from your home page.

    I look forward to hearing from you and your response to my enquiry.

    Kind regards,
    Victoria

  8. Graham - Site Admin Post author

    Hello Victoria, I greatly appreciate that you have asked and not simply stolen our content. You have our permission for use of our content for your assignment as described, understanding it will remain our content and copyright. You may wish to retain the fo9llowing permission docket number MSC1082 for your reference. Good luck with your project. Perhaps you could let us know how it goes.

  9. Peter Bugden

    Hi Graham
    I teach a Year 11 English Studies class. We will be looking at documentaries in a Media unit this term. I am currently showing this class of 16 and 17 year olds “Murderball,” the documetary about Wheelchair Rugby. They are fascinated. As part of our study, I thought I’d also look at your website. In particular, I would like to use your autobiography with them to broaden their understanding. Can I print your account: Quadriplegia- A View From the Chair?
    Best regards
    Peter Bugden

  10. Jennifer

    Victoria and Peter,
    I think it is great that both of you are showing interest in Graham’s site to use it for educational purposes. I really think it could make a difference in the lives of our youth to understand how common spinal cord injuries are and what it is like to live in a chair. Maybe, just maybe it will prevent some unnecessary spinal cord injuries in the future.

  11. Graham - Site Admin Post author

    Hi Peter, there are nine teachers in my extended family. Your request to print our content for your students as described has been approved, understanding it will remain our content and copyright. You may wish to retain the following permission docket number MSC1084 for your reference. If difficult questions or comments arise feel free to ask or direct the student/s here. All the best to you Peter. Perhaps you could let us know how it goes.

  12. Sharon

    I don’t even know where to begin….I was searching online for a site about “living with a quadriplegic” and ended up here. My girlfriend’s husband has been a quadriplegic for 15 years….she and her husband are in their early 60’s now. She is his primary caregiver….he can do nothing for himself (or at least won’t)….she does it all….including a lot of unimaginable things…on a daily basis. She does have a caregiver who comes in during the morning to assist with getting him up for the day. Neither of them has a life….she rarely leaves him. They don’t seem to get any support from family or the community. Unfortunately for me, I live in Maine, and they live in PA. I actually met them through an online brain tumor caregiver’s group. My husband died of a brain tumor at the age of 51…..her husband’s had a botched brain tumor surgery, which left him paralyzed. I want to help her….but not sure how….I do email her every day….just so she has someone to “talk” with. As I write this, I am not even sure what I expect for a response. It seems like such a hopeless situation. My heart breaks for them both.

  13. Jennifer

    Sharon,

    My son became a quadriplegic almost two years ago. He has been home from the hospital since the end of October 2013. Before he came home I drove to the hospital to spend the day with him. I learned how to take care of him, brought him home cooked meals and sat and kept him company. I would leave late afternoon and my husband would go up and spend a few hours with him in the evening after work. I had opportunities to go visit friends and socialize after I left the hospital. I very rarely did. Going home and having a few hours to myself was exactly what I needed. Since he has come home I am his primary caregiver. I am home with his 24/7. I have an aide that comes in to help bath and get him up every day and again in the evening to do his bowel routine. I do have 6 hours of respite available every week which I use maybe every other week. I also have 4 weeks of respite a year where my son can go stay at the SCI unit at the VA so we can have a break. I have so far used one week of respite. It is not that I can’t use the respite hours. It is more that I choose not to. I find my son very good company and feel truly blessed to be able to care of him. I do enjoy the company of a friend now and then and love to be able to talk on the phone with them. Most of my family doesn’t come around (& I am from a very large Catholic family). I have a two sisters that keep in touch and my parents help when they can but they are in their 80’s so it is difficult to ask them to help to much. I wouldn’t change a thing. My husband and I are quite happy. Things might change in the future as I am sure that things will start to wear on us. I would find out if your friend gets any respite time each week. Suggest that she do something for herself each week like going for a manicure, massage, go to lunch with a friend or get involved in a class. Even getting out and taking a walk would be good for her. I always remind myself to take time for me. I go once a month for a massage. I talk on the phone with a friend or one of my two sisters when I need a break. Most of all continue to be there for her. Having a friend to lend support is priceless.

  14. Megan

    Hello Graham,

    I am extremely moved by your story and I truly admire your bravery and positive outlook on life. I have recently begun learning more about quadriplegia, mostly due to the business that I am in, and hearing stories like yours always moves me greatly.

    I want to reach out to you because I have a product that may be helpful for you since you use a catheter. It is a wireless leg bag emptier called the Freedom Flow™ II.

    This is a new product that I am just now starting to get out on the market, but it’s making big waves and so far people who can use it are really excited about it. It makes just one more thing in your life a little bit easier (especially with such a personal task).

    Anyways, please check out my website. If it’s something that doesn’t work for you, perhaps someone else you know?

    http://www.freedom-flow.com/

    Thank you!

    – Megan

  15. Ter

    Thank you so much. I have just learned of an old friend, who I had been trying to locate, who was injured and has no feeling from the neck down. I was given a phone number to contact her, but so far, no luck ( the caregiver has yet to pick-up ). When we do connect, I have a better understanding of her situation, although every person is different. As a stage 4 cancer survivor, I am well aware of positive energy. At the same time, when I was first diagnosed, positive people irked me to no end…Listening and being there are my roles right now. If she wants to tell her story, she will. Thank you for sharing yours. I felt as if I were on my knees beside you.

  16. Kristen

    Hi Graham
    Because of the sensitivity of my situation i wanted to know if we can communicate through email
    I have a friend who has been a quad. For about 10years i just met him and want to help him he is really done and pretty negative. How did you become so positive? ? What can i do or say help him

  17. Brinic

    I really like how you summarize your experience and I think this is a great website to learn about SCI.

  18. Kathy

    I have a friend that had a horse accident and became a quadriplegic less than a year ago. I’m looking for where I can get information that can give me ideas of things we can do together. In the past, she enjoyed playing games, like Scrabble. Now she is not able to use her fingers to hold the tiles and her fingers also have no strength and are in unmovable different shapes. (Not sure how to explain about her fingers) I thought about getting some glue dots and putting them on her fingers so she could just touch the tiles with the glue dot to move them. But when I tried it, I found that the tile then just sticks to the glue dot and she wouldn’t be able to release the tile. Any ideas? Right now she feels that she can’t do any of the things that she used to enjoy.

  19. amanda

    Hi Kathy,
    What level is your friends injury and how much mobility does she have with her arms? There are many adaptive devices available. Also, have you thought of online board games or a voice activated system? Let us know more about her abilities and we can offer suggestions. There are many things she can still do, it is just a question of adapting to the situations

  20. Jennifer

    I am interested in gaming information as well. My son loved gaming. He is a C5 quad. No movement from the neck down. He bought a Kinect but my husband is trying to figure out how to mount it so the camera can see his facial movements. My son said there is a program that you can use with Kinect that works like a mouse but the program is apparently quite expensive. He can’t remember the name of it or the website. Graham are you familiar with this program? If you know of this or any other information please pass it along as I am looking for Christmas gift ideas & would love to get my son back to enjoying gaming with friends & family.

  21. Kathy

    My friend isn’t able to sit up on her own; her fingers are contracted with very little movement and virtually no strength at all. She is not able to grasp anything. She does have arm movement and some strength. Below the chest, there is neither movement or strength.

    I’m looking for a way that would allow her to play card games, scrabble game, and be able to independently pick something up from the ground when it falls.

    I tried “bugger glue” and found that it wasn’t strong enough to pick up items from the floor and the apparatus I came up with didn’t work well either. Since she can’t use a grabber, I need other apparatus ideas as well.

    Does this help explain what I’m looking for?

  22. Barbara Soltis

    My son is a C5-C6 quadriplegic, living independently. His water bed is worn out after 25 years! What is the best mattress for him to buy now…with money being a concern since he lives on government assistance here in Canda. Thanks!

  23. J Brown

    Hi Graham your story is very motivating and inspiring.My husband is a quad ,paralyzed from shoulder to bottom.he can move his arms but no grip ,can’t move his fingers.we are trying to have a baby but invitro and other methods are expensive. I’m hoping that somebody can help me or give me an advise .thanks!

  24. Joan Macey

    Hello Graham My name is Joan and my brother Tim is a Quad. C4+5 motor cycle accident when he was 19. Living independently for several years now in Ottawa Ont.,Canada. He had a recent fall fell forward in his chair. I’m looking for a seat belt for upper torso. Any suggestions? people like you and my brother are the bravest people I know. Joan

  25. Bridgette

    Graham, your life story was inspiring. I have multiple sclerosis and am experiencing intermittent paralysis in both my arms and legs. I can only logically assume I will become a quadriplegic shortly and am amazed at how little is available on the internet from people’s personal experiences. I googled it in the hopes of preparing myself for what I will and will not be able to do. Yours is truly an honest depiction of the highs and lows. Thank you for sharing. Bridgette

  26. Faith Antonaros

    What a uplifting life story. My husband’s brother had a motorcycle accident 5/30/15 and did damage to the C4 and unable to speak at this time. We are on our way to see him and came across your story and found it amazing. The support and love is what has made a difference. Please, I would like to keep in touch as you sharing has affected the way we need to be..GOD we Love him so much…again, thank you for your life. In His Grasp, Faith and Dan Antonaros

  27. angela farquer

    I am a mother of a recently new c2 complete quad diaphragm Also paralyzed vent dependant 18 yr. Zak ray..ran over by a car 5 yes ago.Been a journey but now he is becoming very very depressed and I don’t know who or what I can do or say to or for him.I love him and I hurt for him he talks and eats can’t even move his plated neck.what do I do? Helpim,us plzthank u Angela

  28. Brandon

    I’m writing a story about the struggles of being a quad and also taking care of one. Would anybody be interested in talking with me?

  29. Leah Grime

    Hi there, my step son is a full quad with some movement in his shoulders. His injury was about a year ago, he is 19 years young. He broke his neck during a bull ride at a rodeo. I think he would benefit from speaking with other people with quadreplegia as he is a bit isolated now he is out of rehab. Please feel free to email me. I would love to get him in contact with someone that can relate to him and help him through those tough times.

  30. Laura

    I am engineering support for an amazing Air Force Major who was involved in
    a devastating auto accident with her husband this past Sunday. Although we
    (the engineering group) are told he will eventually make a full recovery,
    she is now a quadriplegic. Cards are being signed and visits coordinated.
    Does anyone have any suggestions on what to say in either realm? I
    desperately want to her to know that she is in my heart and thoughts, but I
    am at a loss on how to convey those things – in a way that could actually be
    helpful for her. I appreciate any wisdom.

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