Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is more than what is visually obvious. What most people see are the physically visible aspects ? weakened limbs, clawed hands, spasmodic gaits, atrophied muscles and the ubiquitous wheelchair. SCI does more than paralyse the arms and legs. Depending on the extent and level of the damage to the vertebra and spinal cord, the diaphragm right down to the bladder and bowel may be affected.
In my case, I suffer a partial lesion which means my spinal cord is not totally severed but damaged at the fifth (C5) and sixth (C6) cervical vertebra. A C5 injury affects the diaphragm which in turn affects breathing. This level of damage also affects the wrists and hands. I get breathless easily while doing strenuous tasks. I need suppositories to empty my bowels and drain the urine from my bladder every few hours with a catheter. Those are the least of my problems as I have worked them into a routine which allows me a certain degree of freedom.
Unbeknownst to many, spinal cord injury affects the body’s ability to perspire, too. As my body is unable to regulate temperature properly, any change from the usual range of temperature will make me extremely uncomfortable. This current hot spell has severely constrained my daily activities. Most days, I lounge about with the ceiling fan at full blast and generally feeling languid. The air conditioner looks inviting. On the other hand, cold is one of those factors that will set off spasms in my legs. That is why I try to minimise using it. Additionally, Detrusitol, the medicine that I am taking to alleviate my neurogenic bladder, causes drying of the mouth, eyes and skin. This aggravates the problem further. Yes, I need to be ministered to very delicately. Too much or too little from the norm and bodily discomfort will kick in. Even babies need less attention.
Being bound in lethargy throughout the day everyday is slowly wearing me down. Furthermore, my bladder spasms decided to act up the last few days. This has been a week that I wished would just quickly zip along, right up to the next rainy season. In the meantime, I am continuously hydrating myself by drinking a lot of water and cooling down by sponging throughout the day. We all know what drinking a lot of water will result in. And the cycle continues.