10 things ...


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... to learn from people with spinal cord injury.

At Wings for Life, we are in daily contact with people who live with spinal cord injury. One of our colleagues has been quadriplegic for nine years. It’s fascinating to hear the lessons the rest of team has learnt from being a part of their life.  

Patience

“Being a rather fast-paced person, I admire my colleague’s patience. Nothing can ever be done in an instant. Everything — even the most trivial daily acts, like going to the bathroom, showering, brushing teeth, eating — requires more time, effort and proper planning.”

Appreciation

“I appreciate my healthy body way more! I love doing sport and cannot think of life without. Since working in the foundation, I have realized how quickly this ability can be taken away from you.”

Equal treatment

“Before working for Wings for Life, I often wondered how to treat a person with spinal cord injury. How can I shake the hand of a quadriplegic? Can I speak frankly to them? Well, of course. You can give a quadriplegic a high-five. You can talk about your great weekend of sporting activities with the same enthusiasm as you can with a person without disabilities. They do not want to be treated differently.”

Everyday Consciousness

“I'm basically free to go wherever I want, whenever I want, without being dependent on anyone! I tend to forget that from time to time, but whenever I see someone in a wheelchair, it's a great reminder of how lucky I am.”

Responsibility

“Seriously, I used to be a very aggressive driver. Since I've got to know that car accidents are responsible for roughly 50 percent of all spinal cord injuries, I’ve really tried to change that, and now drive responsibly, considering the safety of others and myself.”

Humbleness

“Witnessing what people with spinal cord injuries have to endure day by day makes you humble and puts your own 'problems' into perspective. Most of us complain about silly, small things in life. After meeting and talking to a lot of people affected by spinal cord injury, all these problems seem completely insignificant to me.”

Gratefulness

“At our Christmas dinner, everyone said what he was grateful for in 2013. A person concerned had the longest list.”

Sensibility  

“Wherever I go, I wonder if the place is wheelchair accessible and suitable for my colleague. Believe me, wheelchair accessible places are not in the majority.” 

Caution

“Damage to the spinal cord can happen in a blink of an eye –- often in a situation that you would never think of. Because of all the stories I’ve heard during my job, I’m a lot more cautious today.”
 
Cohesion

“Today, I appreciate family and friends even more than before. If you sustain a spinal cord injury, it is crucial to have them by your side to help and motivate you.”