The other week I was watching my fiancé wake up in the morning to get ready for a trip he was preparing to embark on. As I watched him bright and early in the morning I thought how seamlessly he could get ready as compared to myself. When he felt the need to go to the bathroom, he simply went; when he wanted to brush his teeth he just grabbed a toothbrush and started brushing; when he was ready to put his clothes on he picked up both his legs, put them in his pants, and zipped up his fly. These may seem like trivial things, but I was watching in complete amazement because these are things that I need help with on a daily basis, and will continue to need help with for the rest of my life.
There is a topic, however, whether you are paralyzed or not, that is just kind of taboo to talk about in society. Bowel and Bladder. Going to the bathroom is such a natural function that we all go through every single day and many of us do not give it a second thought. When you feel the need to pee you sit down on the toilet and go. When you have to poop you sit down on the toilet, push, nature takes its course, and you’re done. These are not things you generally want to think about as many couples who have been married for decades still close the door when they go to the bathroom. I, on the other hand, need help with these functions all day long.
You see, when one sustains a spinal cord injury the nerves that control how you go to the bathroom are wrapped around the coccyx area of the spinal cord. This means that no matter what level of spinal cord injury you sustain whether you are a quadriplegic or paraplegic, your bathroom functions will be impaired — No matter what! However, there are some folks with spinal cord injury who do have some control, but if you are a quadriplegic like myself, it is likely that you have pretty minimal control of going to the bathroom on your own, feeling when you need to go to the bathroom, or are able to do it by yourself.
What does this actually mean? Continue reading