This is as straight as I can open my hands. It often surprises people because to the naked eye my disability is only obvious when I move and unless you’re one of those weirdos with a hand fetish you will be forgiven for thinking I just have a bad hip or knee. This time of year I get a lot of; “skiing accident mate?’”or “rugby injury?” The response “diving actually” usually gets people.
A closer look at my hands will tell a different story, the reality is I’m effected from the neck down. Every now and again I’ll chat to another SCI and the conversation turns a little more technical. “What’s your level of injury or what’s your classification?”
Well just incase you were wondering I’m technically a (C6/C7 incomplete quadriplegic with Brown-Seqaurd syndrome). Can you see why sometimes “ye mate did my knee playing 5 a side” is easier? I’ve got no issue explaining it to people but there’s a risk that if I go into detail they may fall asleep or lose the will to live.
Here’s all you really need to know – No two spinal cord injuries are the same but you have probably heard the terms paraplegic and quadriplegic before. Paraplegia is an impairment of motor or sensory function of the lower limbs and in simple terms related to a spinal cord injury is caused by a broken back. Quadriplegia (also called tetraplegia) is an impairment of all four limbs and stems from the Latin and Greek words for ‘four’ and will usually be caused by a broken neck or brain injury. Simples.
In the industry I’m simply known as a ‘walking quad’, all of the other jargon is for the medical professionals. I am a quadriplegic, but the word doesn’t define me, it only describes me, the same way ‘able bodied’ did before. It’s all too common for people to live up to their label and accept that now they have to be a certain way. Whatever disability, gender, race, sexuality you are doesn’t matter, they’re just descriptions and ones you should be proud of. I like the fact that i’m described as a quadriplegic, it’s just another fun fact of what it means to be Ed + i get cheaper train tickets. ✊