Last night, Robb and I did something that I had been wanting to do for quite some time: we attended a support group for people with spinal cord injuries (and their families). The speaker last night was from Accessible Events, and he brought along a film he had made about local scuba diving opportunities for wheelchair users. We were pretty jazzed about all this.
I think we were both a bit nervous, too. Robb and I are both quite shy, and we really didn't know what to expect from a support group. We had decided to make a night of all this, and went out to dinner, which caused us to arrived a bit late. (No, the two vegetarians really don't want the beef dinner, can you please bring us what we ordered?)
Robb was the only person with spinal cord injury who was not using a wheelchair, and he was also the most recently injured. We arrived during introductions, and it was very eye-opening to see the different situations and points-of-view. We met people who had had their injuries in the 1970's, and people who were still grappling with adapting their lives. Several people spoke about relocating to the Bay Area some years after their accidents, because of the great support systems in place here. The woman sitting next to us was the director of a dance company with disabled and able-bodied dancers. Christine's friend Nadia who we met about a year ago after she and Christine went skydiving, works with them from time to time.
Many of the injuries were textbook cases (car accidents, diving, ocean swimming) and most people spoke about the long periods of anger and not wanting to leave the house that they had experienced following their accidents. We haven't had this. I'm wondering if we've bypassed all that, or if we'll get that some time later on. (I suspect the former, knowing Robb. But if he has a dark, bleak period, I certainly wouldn't blame him.)
Robb had been at the Berkeley YMCA pool yesterday, and was trying a new exercise. I think that in the weightless environment of the pool, Robb over-exerted himself, and what with sitting at the restaurant, and sitting in the uncomfortable chair at the meeting, he went into painful spasm. We ended up leaving the meeting very, very early.
Even attending for a short time gave us a lot to talk about when we got home. We really haven't had much contact with other people with spinal cord injuries since Robb left the hospital. Not surprisingly, the people at the meeting were understanding of our situation. We'll be back next month.