The Best Way for Paraplegics to Gain Experience

Reading time: 4.5 minutes

18+ halfway through

Possibly the best advice I have for anyone in rehab. Rather, if I were asked for the one bit of advice I would give, this would be it. (if I could only give one)

I bestow upon this advice the long name of, try new things and take risks in rehab where it’s safe. But unlike many things, the title is not completely explanatory in the sense that you would be able to conceive of everything I’m about to say before I say it. So, maybe it needs a better name. No, it’s actually a good name.

This is something I really wish I did myself when I was in rehab. It would’ve prepared me for going back home, exploring, and everything else that I ended up doing. I had to learn organic and fresh – on the spot from experience. It’s great to learn from experience, it’s even better if you can plan these experiences while you’re in an environment with low risk, such as a rehab facility.

If you’re serious about making a quick recovery and getting back into the world and dominating, this is advice that you should really consider. It’ll be different for everyone given your rehab facility, how much rapport you have with your therapists and nurses, how Danger Zone you are, and the details of your injury.

Because of the wide range of variability, I’ll finally get to the point of what this is and use examples from my life and how I would’ve done this in rehab (I did this process when I got back home). At the end, you should have some notion as to how this could be beneficial for you and how to implement it.

The essence of implementing this process is to rebel. Test. Experiment. Learn. Then, remember the lesson.

Whatever you’re doing in rehab, do the opposite, or something different.

That’s very vague, this concept is harder to articulate than I presumed. It’s best told through stories.

When I was in rehab, I was on a pretty strict schedule. I had to cath every few hours, I think it was every 2 or 4 hours. I would even get woken up in the middle of the night to cath, that type of strict schedule.

It’s not a bad thing to have a schedule and I happen to have a lot to say on the subject of routines, but we can’t always keep our routines. What happens if you don’t cath for 8 hours? All night/day? Or maybe you cath in the morning and just see what happens come dinner time.

I didn’t experiment with different times between cathing in rehab. When I went home, I became free of the routine shackles and decided to sleep through the night. The issue with that was my body had become so used to my routine in rehab that I woke up feeling a little nostalgic. Bringing me back to the days before I could walk, the baby days. I woke up peeing. I was on my back and peeing upwards, there was no stopping it. Even worse was that on my bed were two mattress toppers. The ones that make your bed feel like a cloud. I also wasn’t the only one in the bed, so that didn’t make me feel much better about being 19 and waking up in much the same way as I did 17 years ago.

What did I take from this? First, that my bladder won’t explode if I don’t cath. Actually a good thing. Second, that I need to slowly change my routine and not try a rapid change. Third, boy am I grateful to of had understanding people around me.

Here’s another example, an 18+ example, so cover your ears.

When I did my bowel program, I used a laxative, the type that gets inserted into the forbidden cave. It never occurred to me to not use laxatives until I was back home and decided to see what would happen. It turns out that I’m perfectly fine au naturel.

Why does this matter so much? In rehab, I was hoping that I’d be able to take a dip and learn to swim. I eventually learned a few months later, but it would’ve been nice if I could’ve done it with therapists that teach that stuff, I remember that I really wanted to swim. Alas, I was never able to swim because of the laxatives. Incontinence – more than a fart. That’s what held me back because none of us wanted to intoxicate the pool.  

The reason for my incontinence was the laxatives, as soon as I stopped using them, I spent less time in the bathroom and didn’t have the reverberations. If you use laxatives in rehab (or out), maybe try not using them for a few days and see what happens.

Most nurses and therapists will hate and love this. They want you to be on a routine so that as much as possible is controlled and then you’ll have a better and faster recovery. If you keep experimenting, you might get hurt or something go wrong – God forbid your bladder explode – and then they’ll have legal issues or just issues in general. The ironic part is that if you end up hurting yourself when you get home, or causing some sort of issue, then you’ll likely end up back in rehab. The same place you were when you could’ve tried it.

Rehab is a safe environment because there are doctors, nurses, and therapists on the ready, right there to guide and advise you in your spunky trials and help you understand the lessons from the inevitable failures and soiled pants. I literally did the same thing as when I found out that if I wait long enough, I’ll pee, but with the worser of the two evils

Someone I briefly talked to a while ago, someone also in a wheelchair, mentioned they were currently in rehab after getting injured at home. It was just about 2 months after I left rehab and that’s when this whole idea hit me that it would’ve been so much better to break the rules while I was in rehab because if anything went wrong, I was already where I needed to be.

What is the ultimate result? If you’re in rehab and you start objectively looking at your routines and trying to take things out and maybe add some in, you’ll gain experience. Then, when you’re in an airplane for 15 hours, it won’t be your first time dealing with shitting yourself and knowing how to avoid or deal with it.

When we get into a routine, things can go awry if it gets interrupted and interrupting it in a controlled fashion will prepare you for the times when it’s completely out of your control. You’ll know how your body will react and be ready for it. This includes diet. There are some foods that I avoid because they move through me. fast.

Immediate actionable items: Make a list of what you’ll try differently and how.

Summary: When we get into a routine, things can go awry if it gets interrupted and interrupting it in a controlled fashion will prepare you for the times when it’s completely out of your control. You’ll know how your body will react and be ready for it. The best place to try these new things is the controlled an supportive environment of rehab. (yes, this is copied mostly from the last paragraph)

Overdeliver:  If you’re in a wheelchair and happen to be part of a community or are in contact with someone, ask the question of what redundancies have they eliminated since rehab or throughout life that they wish they abolished sooner.

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