LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY
LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY, oh why Oh why do we have to always learn the hard way!
“Once you choose HOPE, anything’s possible!”, Christopher Reeve
Hey, YOUR BACKUP PLAN TRIBE! Welcome to our awesome show our awesome podcast this week with Ms. Exceptional, beautiful guest that, of course our title is Lessons learned the hard way.
Yes, we always learn difficult lessons. And we always seem to learn them the most difficult way that there is. I’m not sure why. There must be a theory around that somewhere, of course. But if you are new here, welcome. Welcome to YOUR BACKUP PLAN TRIBE. Talking Taboo with Tina. It’s always so difficult to say, brought to you by YOUR BACKUP PLAN if you are a returning subscriber. Thank you so much for watching our shows. My name is Tina Ginn. I am an Emergency preparedness coach, a Best selling Author of in the blink of an eye.
Yes, everything happens in the blink of an eye. That’s right. Everything seems to do that. I’m a Financial expert, and an App Developer of YOUR BACKUP PLAN APP. And I’m located here in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
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So welcome, welcome. You know, we we what do we focus on on talking to boo with Tina, of course, REAL RAW conversations that are real with our listeners about the guests journey from a life changing event in their life?
LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY. Yes. So I am so excited to let you know that our guest today is going to be really delving deep into spinal cord injury. And what that looks like for individuals. It’s quite common. And I’m surprised that there isn’t more discussion around that. And I’m so thankful and blessed to be able to bring that to our listeners today to be able to hear the other side of what it’s like. Your backup plan app puts your life all in one place. So that it’s for any unpredictable circumstance. What could that be? It could be a car accident, it could be hearing the cancer word or heart attack, or stroke, or a disability or coma, or wildfire, which is just unbelievable in the Pacific Northwest, all the way from California, to Oregon to Washington State and to British Columbia and Alberta right now. It’s crazy with the amount of crazy wildfires that are going on. People are being evacuated. People are losing their homes, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, as well as I’d like to say I’m send out my prayers and my love to all those in the surf side. Condo collapse in Florida in the last month. That was a horrible, horrible tragedy.
And I would like to also put out my wishes to all those affected by the awful, awful floods that have been happening in China, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany. All around the world. It’s, it’s, it’s a crazy, crazy world out there this summer. And if I didn’t have enough with COVID, they just threw us some more stuff that we have to deal with. So I would like to move on and bring on our special guest. Your backup plan will help you put all of that stuff into one place so that it’s accessible for you when you really, really need it the most. Because you never know what the expect unexpected. Expect the unexpected, because that’s really what life is from one day to the next. So on that note, I would love to bring in Marjorie Ono’s she is from beautiful Montreal, Canada. Not very far from me, actually.
Yes. Hi, everyone.
Hi, Tina. Hi, Marjorie, I am so excited to have you on our show today. I’m just going to give everyone a little beautiful introduction from from us here. Marjorie honest, is a Ph. D is a psychologist, inspirational speaker, author and researcher from Montreal, Canada. Her expertise is working with parents with patients with I’m going to put my glasses on that will help who have intellectual disabilities. In 2012. She sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident, mother to a 16 month old at the time, the accident and subsequent injury gave her an instant interesting perspective on parenting, and having a disability. Marjorie believes that focusing on our strengths of character can lead to living a fulfilling life. With her family, she learned to be a solution finder to make her world more accessible. Isn’t that the truth? Her memoir, with lessons learned will be published in 2022. You can follow her and listen to her inspirational speeches on her social media accounts. And they’re all linked down below in the description box. And before I forget, I didn’t mention to any new subscribers, please like, share and subscribe to our channel.
Because I always get our out our hand. Our hand is going to tell us here somewhere down below to press the subscribe button. And of course the like button. If you enjoy this broadcast, I would be happy if you could like, share and subscribe to those that you love and care about because Marjorie has a great story for us today. Where did it all start? Marjorie for you did you find in your life?
Um, well, the first thing that I would say is that I always was someone who is very active and physical. I’d love to play, you know, different sports. And I had the belief that I could achieve and do anything that I put my mind to. So you know, with just plain grit. And you could see behind me there’s a wall of inspiration and greatest part of it. And perseverance is part of it. Because I really did feel that I was someone who, you know, like a dog on a bone would just like, work through anything and achieve everything that she wanted to. And so that was my mindset. And so it happened then, you know, I turned 30 I was in a relationship. He didn’t want to have child and I really wanted to become a mom. So I’d love that man. And, you know, with grit and determination and perseverance. Realize realized that I could do it on my own. So I became a single mom by choice a few years after that. And so, you know, I mean, we talk about backup plan here. So I was I thought I had it all. And so I I was like you know I’m a single parent, I need to have a will in case I die. It needs to be super clear. Who’s going to take care of my child who’s going to you know, how he’s going to get my money, my house and so forth. So I thought I was like, you know all prepared because I knew I had my backup plan in case I died. And then when he was 16 months old after a week of super a lot of fun with my whole family and my parents cottage, I was going back to work. So back to Montreal, my son was staying a little longer with my sister and my parents. And on the way over my car had black eyes. And at the first sway I, I knew that was it, I knew I knew that day was my day to die. And at first, I felt very okay with that. I was like, You know what, we all die someday, today’s a pretty good day the sun is out, I spent a whole week have so much fun with my most favorite people in the world. My son is safe with my parents and my, my sister, you know, they’ll take care of him, and every thing will be beautiful for him. And as I set that, or thought that in my head, I realized, well hold on a second, I sort of like, created him on my own. And I had made promises, you know, in a way to him, just to say that I was going to be there to make sure that he’s safe and that he grows up, you know, fully loved. And supported.
And supported. Yep. And so I said I can die. I just can’t, I have to live. And that’s when you know, it’s really amazing how all of this goes through your mind in seconds.
Oh, quarter of second. I don’t even think that it was a few seconds. But it’s crazy. And I could go on because it was like so clear in my head. And I just know that, you know, it ended with me thinking about Thomas and saying his name. And I then lost consciousness and I was hit obviously. And I woke up according to that papers, you know, like the the file that they have from from the car accident. I woke up probably 20 minutes after the the impact. And when I woke up, I I could barely see my vision was very blurry. My hearing was very muffled. So I couldn’t like hear very much. And my legs felt like marshmallows. And I was like, I had pins and needles. And it’s funny because I mean, spoiler alert, or alert, I have a spinal cord injury. And right now as I’m talking about, like, what it was in the car, and how like my legs felt like, like pins and needles, my whole legs are right now feeling like pins and needles up to like my toes. A similar feeling that I had in the car. But um, yeah. And so then I realized that I couldn’t move or feel my arms. And that’s when I really got scared. Because I was like, Well, you know, dying, would have been okay, because I had a will. Right? So I didn’t, I wasn’t scared of dying. But then all of a sudden, I was scared of like not being able to move my arms. Because what would that mean? How, how could I take care of my son if I couldn’t move anything below my neck? And really it was below my neck. And yourself and your and myself? Yeah, exactly. But I think at that point, I was very, very focused on Thomas. And so I was like, I need to have my arms back. And like, right before the impact, I had sort of like, asked for God to live. And I’m not very spiritual. But at that time, I you know, I called on on God. And when I realized that I couldn’t move my arms, I called on God again. And I sort of said, like, you have to give me back my arms, because I need to be able to hug him. And then I said it again, you have to give me back my arms because that’s the only way I could hug him. And you have to give me back my arms because I want to raise him. And so and the last time that I asked, I said please, please give me back my arms. I’ll promise I’ll make it okay. And so I sort of made that promise of being okay. Which I have to say. I wasn’t very, very good at keeping that promise. I’m struggling every day. Certainly at the beginning was harder and there’s moments in the past 10 years because it’s been 10 years where I wasn’t able to fulfill that promise. But my arms came back. And they came back like fully so I have full strength on my arms. And I got my spine got hit in the neck, but not as severely as it got hit in the middle of my back. And that’s why, you know, below my armpits to my toes, I’m paralyzed. And that’s how it started. Really? Yeah.
When did your arm feelings start coming back right away? Or if that slowly?
No, it came back, like right away? After seeing it the fourth time? Yeah, I felt my fingers move. And right away, I said, Oh, you have to stop moving. Because obviously something really, really bad happened. And, you know, if you move, you might injure it again. And you don’t want that.
So did you? Do you know what you did? When you slip? Did you go straight forward and keep going around in a circle? Or did you go off? Or?
LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY. Yeah, I went off. So I went. So I went, there’s a sway to the left. And that’s like, often when I tell the story, that’s the first thing, it starts with a Sway on the left. And that’s when my thoughts start. And then there’s a Sway on the right. And as I suede on the right. So I knew there was a car behind me. And I knew that from before the the I hit black ice. And I knew that because I felt like they were like, really too close to me from like comfort. But I was, I was driving at 80 kilometers an hour on a road that I could go up to 90. And I knew there was a pickup truck coming the other way. Cuz I had also seen him. And then when I did the sway to the right, I realized that there was sort of like, a little hill. And so basically, my car would it would have been, it couldn’t go anywhere on the right because of sort of that hill. And what the car did is a 90 degree turn as if I was turning. And so basically the pickup truck hit exactly in the back of the car, and hit exactly where my son would have been if he had been with me. Uh huh.
And then spun you around, I guess once a year, right?
Yeah, well, I don’t know after that, because, yeah, I was unconscious. During that whole impact?
Yeah. So, um, the seat belt is supposed to save you. What do you think happened? Was it just the impact from the side that you think did it or?
Well, actually, and I can’t prove it, but my thought has always been that, because I was hit so hard. On the side, you know, like, the seat belt is there to protect you like from coming forward and backwards? To sort of hold you there. In my case, I got hit. And so the impact was on the side to side. And I believe there was also a how do we call them? airbag? Yes, on the side of my door, and an airbag in my, in the wheel. And so I think it’s a combination of all of that it was it just like, prevented me from doing a, I guess, normal movement, or it pushed me further. And the, the spine, you know, with the sort of got severed to a point or got hit that way from side to side. And our bodies not that’s meant to move that way. Right is the high impact. So yes, it’s very surprising when you see some vehicles in a car accident, and they basically walk out and then some of them don’t even look that bad and they pass away. You know, none of it really makes any sense sometimes know that. Yeah. So you just laid there and waited for the emergency to come and you didn’t wake up until they were there.
Well, actually from my memory when I, when I was in the car. And I was like getting, you know, like doing my diagnostic, in a way, I heard a man’s voice. And in my memory, this is the driver of the pickup truck. And in my memory and don’t ask me how I know, it’s maybe like things that I’ve heard but didn’t realize, I think he was sort of a paramedic, who had just finished his shift, and he was going home. And so he actually called I guess, his colleagues to come. And as I was doing the diagnostic, I could hear him sort of say, Oh, don’t worry, don’t move. I called 911. Everybody’s coming. And so I know that we were three cars. So the car behind me also got into the car accident. And he was basically sort of walking between the two cars. I don’t know, you know, I know that he’s fine. I don’t know what happened with the people, you know, in the other car. But I don’t think they were hit as badly as me. Because when, when you get hit like that in in Quebec, and my province, there’s, you know, pretty much like one trauma hospital. And so I was the only one that day, so I know that the other person, like didn’t get hit the same way. So he was telling me like not to move, and then I would come in and out of consciousness. So to prevent myself from moving, and from injuring myself further, I felt that by having my eyes close, it would prevent me from having sort of, like, you know, officially something Well, yeah, and if you see something like on the corner of your eye, you’ll want to turn your head and I didn’t want to turn my head, because I sort of figured, you know, that it had to do something with my spine. And I’m not a doctor, but, or a medical doctor. But in psychology, we do study, you know, anatomy to some extent. And so I knew that much, right? That I needed to be careful. And so when, when the firefighters and the ambulance came, I was basically sort of lying on my side in the car. So I was really like my head was resting on the passenger seat. In my car, my legs, were still on the pedals. And yeah, and then they open like the door, my door. And then they opened the passenger door. And I had an ambulance worker there. And he put sort of like something around my neck, he asked me questions, and I answered. I told them about my legs that, you know, they felt like marshmallows. And I had you know, the the arms and he was basically coaching me and sort of telling me what the other guys were doing.
They didn’t have to cut you out or anything they could pull a whole year out.
No, I think I think we had to work a bit on on the car to get you out.
Yeah. And that’s why that’s why this guy was beside my ear and sort of telling me not to worry.
Not so nice. They’re so good at what they do. I don’t know how they do it. Even even with mine, they they were I’m trying to make her laugh. They kept saying to the other guy I’m trying really hard to make like to Yeah, you change change it they’re just very very good at trying to get you to calm Yeah. and not be scared I guess.
You know, Marjorie, I it brings back all those same feelings but of course, you know they there’s nothing worse than sliding I find because you have absolutely no control. And you’re not sure what it’s going to do. You don’t know what your tires are going to do or what the road is, isn’t going to get better as you know that you’re going to keep sliding or it’s it’s just awful, awful feeling and watching basically watching your life in front of your eyes. And I think for me, I don’t know about you, but I can see how you are positioned all cockeyed in the car, of course. But this smells, I, I think you remember the sounds of the people talking, but the smells is what got me to that you can’t get that out of your mind.
Well see, that’s interesting, because in, in some of the speeches that I do, there was one, I was called Love, and it was really recounting the last those minutes that I just shared with you guys. And as I was writing the speech, I was trying to, to put in as much details as I could, so that whoever would listen to the speech would sort of like really feel like they were in the car with me. And the smell, I got nothing. Nothing, it smell nothing. It was like that sense did not exist in the car. Yet, I, I knew a lot about my eyes, I was very aware of my hearing. And of course, like anything, sensory in terms of like, my arms. And my legs what I was feeling, but nothing, nothing about the smell. So I have no idea. I don’t even know, you know, like, because I knew the firefighters were there probably to get me out of the car. So they’re the one who usually sort of destroy the car to make it open and stuff. And you know, I was there fire? I don’t know, was there gas? I have no idea. I? Yeah, smell was just not there for me.
Well, that could be a good thing. Because I’ll tell you, you can’t, you know, that smell of that. Memory in my mind is stuck in there. Yeah. And it’s kind of eerie. It’s an eerie. It’s a combination of the Arabic powder, and the motor. And that it’s a very eerie, dark smell. Yeah. And so thank goodness, you didn’t have that. Because, yeah, when you close your eyes, it’s, you know, what you would feel?
LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY. Well see, for me, it’s the wash. It’s that feeling of like that first, like losing control, that has been haunting my dreams. And that have been haunting part of my life. So, of course, after the the injury when I was ready to like, I mean, I’m talking months after, to be, you know, in a car again. You know, every time like, if there was a little bush, I like I was back in my car, reliving it, which was very difficult, because there’s a few times, you know, my dad was driving, and we were going to see my sister who lives about seven hours away from us. And it was like winter, and if there’s a little bit of wind that makes the car to just like, you know, and the tires are still like on the road. But it’s sort of like that gusts of wind just makes the car move a little bit. And I’m like back, like, if that was like my traumatic trigger. And, you know, if my mom was driving, and, you know, again, sort of that whoosh or turning left, I couldn’t turn left for like, a minute years. I think it’s just in the recent years that I can turn left when you have to cross another lane, because every time I turned left, I could see the car sort of coming. And I was like my other trigger, which was you know, that so every time that I was in Montreal, and I needed to turn left, I would just do like a roundabout in terms of like, doing blocks, turning right. Right. Right. So that I could like go to the slot that I needed to. Yeah.
Yeah, so it’s interesting. Yeah, it is. It’s funny what our brain sticks with us. And yeah, and you can’t get it out after
I get it out there. Yeah. So how long were you in the hospital for?
So I was in the hospital for a month. And then I was in rehab for five months. In the hospital, I had amazing, amazing care. For the first 10 days. I was in the ICU unit, which meant that I had a nurse, just one nurse one patient because they wanted to make sure that we breathe properly and that everything because I was I underwent surgery that evening. They had to consolidate my spine in both my neck and in my back. And so I was in surgery for about eight, nine hours. And then as you did they fuse it.
They did. Yeah, exactly. So I have about three vertebrae fused in my neck. And four in my back.
Yeah. And then you went into rehabilitation after that after you got?
Yes. And so rehab was was an interesting time because in between ICU when rehab, I had a few weeks on the floors, where there are too few nurses for too many patients. And that was like, the, there’s part where I have trauma also there. When they sat me in the wheelchair and positioned me and the pain. It was like torture, and you know, like those movies where you see like torture scenes in them, you know, middle ages, you know, and where the they tried to dismember people. That’s how I felt on the wheelchair. And they could leave me in the wheelchair for two hours, because they were doing their rounds, and they couldn’t get to me. And so you imagined that really incredible pain for that time. And so that was the hospital. And when I left the hospital, I was sort of happy because I was like, Well, maybe you know, it’s not gonna hurt as much when I’m in rehab. And I’m lucky, because yes, that’s exactly what happened. So rehab was a place where I felt I was regaining some control. So from a woman who was controlling pretty much every aspect of her life, to someone who loves controlling the car, who had no control in the hospital, all of a sudden, I was empowered again, in terms of like, figuring what’s next. And the hour that was the most precious to me was the hour that I had with my physio therapist. That was like the hour where, oh, my god, like, I would grant I would swear at him, I would like just give it all, you know, it was like back at the gym. Where, you know, he would say, you know, jump in, I would say how high obviously, he wouldn’t say jump because I couldn’t jump, but he would tell me like, okay, we’re doing pull ups and, and, you know, I have a great story actually with pull ups cuz he made me do 101 just out of pure motivation, and wanted to see what my grit was how, how far I could go. And, yeah, and so that was like my saving grace, that was like my, my precious hour.
Some of the other hours were painful, some painful in a way that I needed to go through them to grow. And so those hours were with my occupational therapist, because with her and her aid, they had to put me in situation where I would get scared or where I was scared, scared of falling or scared of facing sort of like the emptiness and I have an example where at one point, I’m sitting sort of on a on a bed. And they put Kleenex box on my feet, and they asked me to go and pick it up. I was telling them, I can’t because I can’t feel my legs. So I can’t sort of like, go forward. Because I feel like I’m going to fall and I don’t have any abs. How am I going to do that? And they said, well just figure it out pick up the plane on Xbox, and one of my biggest fear is heights. And on a trip, like years before I had like tried to conquer my my fear of heights by doing by rappelling down a 60 foot cliff. And it was exactly the same feeling I was facing like, this is like a 60 feet. Cliff that I have to go over to get that Kleenex box and oh my god, I cried like I think all the tears that I had in my body I did it because again, like they knew like I was someone very strong on grit. And that if I was put in front of a child I would sort of like, get it. But it was really, really tough. And they put me that in a situation in that situation in front of my sister. And so I didn’t want to show weak. He didn’t want to show weakness.
Yeah. And so I just, that’s hard. That was hard. You know, and so physio was great. Yeah, ot hour wasn’t so great. Well, it was great, because I could regain. That was sort of the way that I needed to regain sort of some of my autonomies that was great in that in that space. And then the set me to psychology, and that was not great. I fired my psychologist after the second hour. And oh, my whole staff said, Oh, but you need to, and I was like, Yes, I do, that there’s no going back there. And the reason why is that, I felt like my life was dark enough. And I lived my whole day, you know, my whole 24 hours was darkness all the time. Except for that hour in physio. And for the time that I had with my son, my parents were amazing. And so they would bring Thomas to me every day after his nap. And so I would see him and so those were the two, you know, sort of things in my day that were that brought lightness, everything else was like, as if we’re turning the light off. And, you know, our work, yeah, to look forward to it.
Exactly. So, but psychology, they wanted me to talk about like, the accident and what that meant, and my losses and whatever. And I was like, Fuck, no, I live my losses every single minute. Except for those two hours that I have sort of light a little bit. I’m like, I’m not doing that. I’m not like rehashing darkness over darkness. And that is something that’s profoundly important in my story, because a few years ago, so we’re talking like eight years after the accident, I learned about positive psychology. So even being a psychologist, I didn’t even realize that there’s there was sort of this thing called positive psychology. And I didn’t know about character strength either. And it’s when I started learning about that, that I realized, that is what I needed in rehab, I would have needed someone to talk to me about my strength of love, you know, I survived the car accident because I loved my son so much. And I was working so hard in physio, because I love my son so much, right, I wanted to regain as much autonomy as I could. And so that was very empowering to, to see or to feel like, Hey, I’m, you know, I have strength in me. And we all do, we all have 24 character strengths that we could tap into, when we need and every day, we actually tap into, you know, some, some of our strengths, and we each have a different profile, but it was like, very empowering for me to, to feel like, you know, my love for my son was something that could get me out of the hump. And that, you know, my love of learning could get me hope, because I was learning about all these things that I was actually powerful, or, you know, capable to tapping into.
LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY. And so it was very Yeah, it was, that was something that changed. I think, my whole perspective, your whole
outlook. My whole outlook. Yeah, I don’t know why some counselors and that sort of thing, bring up all of that. It’s like they bring it in a half to hash it over and over and over. Whereas, like you said, when you start looking at like, I always talk about when something like this happens, you feel like you’re in this horrible, dark room with no light. And I feel like I’m walking around this room trying to find something, something that’s gonna open or like you feel so trapped,
trapped blind. You’re going in blind and you don’t know. And the fact that I was a psychologist didn’t help me. You know, like, it wasn’t like because I was the One going through it, so is very different. And, you know, you mentioned serve, you don’t know why psychologists or counselors, you know, sort of do that? Well, because a good chunk of us are trained to do exactly that, you know, you deal with trauma by by talking about it by, you know, sort of going through it. Except that for me, that was way too soon. I couldn’t, I didn’t have distance from that story. And so, you know, for sure, if there was like something that I could do to change the system, I would say that psychologists who work in the acute care at that point, they need to just learn about positive psychology and use that and use those tools and just, you know, empower me and not disempower people. Hmm.
Yeah. Because I found, personally, with that same kind of story, that when you’re in it, you don’t know what’s wrong with you. You know, you just know how you feel. And all of these exterior things coming at you, whether it’s a counselor, psychologist store, rehab, you need it to be positive to be able to tap into that strength that you have, because you don’t need to be brought down anymore. You’re already in this dark space. Yeah. And that that’s what I found, anyways, that.
And for me, I felt like, my whole life had crumbled. You know, I was, I mean, it’s, it’s crazy how, like the dichotomy or like, the I had my house, I was a homeowner, I had my career I was doing, I taught in universities in two different universities. I was, you know, a manager, I was working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I was a single parent, I mean, you couldn’t be more, you know, achieved. And because I am white and well educated, and I was able bodied, and so forth. I was pretty high on the, you know, social status, you know, stairs, yeah. And the accidents are brought me down, because that’s when I realized shit, you know, when you have a disability, you’re, you’re not so high on that status anymore. You go down a few steps, and you go down a few steps, because sometimes people don’t even acknowledge me. So I’ll take like, for example, a COVID situation where I was going to get vaccinated. And I, I had heard that I could go for my second shot. And I’m in the, you know, waiting line to get the second shot. And I have a question, because they’re pulling out people from the line. So I’m like, Well, why are they pulling up people?
I need to find out. Well, the man who was basically answering everybody’s question answered every single person’s question, he would sometimes look at me straight in the eye, and still not asked me if I had a question. Even though I had, I was in front of him for like, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. And it was like I was, you know, invisible. And he could just look through me, not at me. And that was very difficult for me. And still sometimes very difficult, because I get like, Hey, I have the same values. As anybody else. I have the same, right. Why aren’t you acknowledging me and sometimes be acknowledged is also, you know, like, don’t don’t stand in my parking spot. My parking spot is there for a reason, because it’s dangerous for me to be in a wheelchair. I’m short. So cars don’t see me if they back up, they get, you know, into me very easily. Yeah. And so it’s sort of like, my parking spot is right beside the entrance for a reason. Don’t take it, you know, and I feel that there’s a lot of things that people don’t realize, and that’s why they do it. And that, you know, I hope that if they knew they would change their behavior, but so for me, it was difficult for that reason to because I felt like I couldn’t, you know, pick up my career the same way I would have. I mean, I really felt like I was destined for great things, and then the accident happened, and I really do feel like my career stopped. And, you know, maybe I’m destined to do great things, but it’s going to be different. And I think at the beginning, it was very difficult to sort of go through through all those secondary losses that you don’t imagine after an accident,
you don’t realize you have to grieve.
No, I didn’t realize I had to grieve. And so the tsunami of emotions for me, you know, happened to five years after my accident. And that’s when I really sort of like a god hit a second time. It I call it my mental health crash. So I had my car crash, and then I had my mental health crash five years later.
What do you think brought it on? This realization?
Yeah, the reality realization and the fact that I was, I mean, something was happening at work. And I realized that I couldn’t keep up. And work had been the only role that had not changed since the accident. So I held on to that role, you know, with both hands, because it was sort of like, that’s the one thing that is exactly the same, you know? And when it wasn’t possible anymore, that’s when I went, I lost everything. Yeah, that was
everything that was normal.
Everything that was normal, exactly. Yeah, quote, unquote.
Yeah. How about now? How has it shifted? Was this dark space that you went into kind of like mine?
Where he described it dark room? It’s exactly that you described it? Exactly. You know, I have a similar experience, for sure. It was exactly like you’re in a dark room, and you’re blindfolded on top of it. So there’s really like nothing that you could see.
And there’s so much fear, I found so much fear in the room, almost like if somebody had a strategy to a chair and blindfolded you and put you in this dark room. That’s kind of how you feel. Yeah. And, and you’re still trying to make it around the room, trying to find that little, little smidgen of light that you can kind of access. And one side, I was able to grab the door handle and feel that I could pull the door open and there was light in the cracks. That’s when I finally could feel like I could move towards the light. Yeah, kind of sounds kind of corny. But it is true. Yeah.
No, it’s a similar. Yeah. I think it’s very well said or well described for sure. For me, you know, that door handle was learning about positive psychology, certainly felt like, you know, there was not just light, but you know, like how you feel the sun on your skin. You know, like when it’s like worm, when it’s like springtime and gets like super warm. I mean, that’s what I felt. And I felt like maybe there was, you know, light at the end of the tunnel. And it was difficult because I had to manage like, major depression as I was still raising Thomas, and I didn’t want him to be affected more than he had already been affected. And so I was I was looking okay in front of him. And I was looking, okay, I think in front of a lot of people, not many people knew that. All the struggles that I had in my head. And for me, it was, you know, all my life. If I wanted something, I worked hard at it. And I was a hard worker. And I would get to like the goal that I had. And in this case, no matter how hard I worked, I was still paralyzed. You can change it, I couldn’t change it. There was nothing that I could do. And I remember having conversation with my physiotherapist. And he was saying to me, like, if there was one inch of a chance that you could walk, you would have been the one to make it to walking. But it was just, that’s how spine spinal cord injury works. You know, once it’s bruised, it’s bruised and doesn’t grow back. And so it’s done. You have to put your energy somewhere else or else you’re wasting it to some extent.
Because once it’s there, it’s there. You can’t It doesn’t get better or worse, I guess is how to speak. No. No. Um, What do you think that changed it? Now? What what has given you this positive outlook? Because when you felt prepared for death, you obviously weren’t prepared for this long journey. Um, and in your backup plan we talk about, are you prepared for the unexpected? You could have your house ripped away from you in a instant, you could have your body change in an instant. But did having who was paying your bills for you while you’re going through all this? Like, it’s such a difficult journey, if you’re not prepared? You know, where’s the key? Where’s the cat food? Where’s, who has the vet or, or whatever your life consists of?
Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, ironically, when I had signed, you know, my mortgage for my mortgage in my house, I took in insurance, obviously. And there was one box that I forgot to tick. And that one box. Yep. And that one box, you see me coming, was in case of a severe injury. And so they couldn’t do anything. So I still have a mortgage. And, yeah, that was like a, an interesting twist of this story. I was lucky, again, enough that I have parents who just like love their children more than anything in the world. And so they moved in my house. I’m also lucky because I had work insurance in terms of my salary. So there’s, you know, there was still income coming in, which allowed to pay for, you know, all the big things. But they basically raised my child for like, the first six months when I was in rehab in the hospital. And after that, there’s a lot of bills that they paid until I was able to go back to work.
And to figure out what bills there are, I mean, that’s a challenge. That is a challenge. And again, you know, like, in Quebec, we’re lucky and it depends on you know, which province, because we have an automobile insurance that we have to take, and it’s mandatory, everybody who drives has to have that. And so, the, the society who holds the, the insurance pays for certain things. And so for sure, in comparison to any other person who has gone through spinal cord injury in a different way. I’m lucky because there are certain things like adaptations in my house that are paid for by the auto insurance, but there’s a lot of things that are not paid, and that are not considered and one of them is your parenting role. And so when I was telling, you know, the insurance, well, my, my mom comes to see me every day, she has to drive, and she has to pay for parking every day, because she brings my son every day, because my son who’s 16 months old will forget me if he doesn’t come every day, and I will, you know, I’m gonna, like it’s gonna be it for me if I’m not a mom, after all of this. And yeah, and so it was like, No, and I had to fight every, for every single thing that was related to my parenting role, I had to fight. And sometimes, you know, I stopped fighting because it was just too long. I remember when Tom is like, when to school, start school. For me to drive him to school, I needed to go into, you know, in street that is blocked off, usually.
And I went to the ombudsman of the city to ask for permission, and I was still rejected. But yeah, you can only fight for so long. And it’s really hard to fight against insurances. You know, and, I mean, in my case, I thought I had everything prepared. And then you know, it’s like you say, you have to be prepared for even the things that you don’t think of, because in all my life, I knew I could die and I need to, you know, organize my affairs for that. But I never realized that I could actually live but live differently to a point where every Everything. I mean, we had to sell my house, I had to move into a new house that we could adapt. You know, and those have cost and they have cost also for my family. I mean, my parents, you know, sold their apartment in Montreal, to be able to come and live above me so that they could, you know, take care of me and my son, if I needed to. They had to sell their cottage because nobody wanted to go back there. Certainly not me. It didn’t want to take that road again. And so there was cost there. And, you know, there’s cost in terms of like, they were both retired, but they could have been working. And then, you know, my mom was basically, you know, she was doing childcare and Marjorie care, pretty much all day, every team. Yeah. And so in a different situation where she had been working, then what would have happened, then, you know, and if I hadn’t had my parents, what would have happened to my ability to maintain custody of my child, I worked in, you know, in the system, where I advocated for parents with intellectual disabilities, and saw all the discrimination that there was in systems. And I felt like it could happen to me. You know, when I was in the hospital, I was always looking to see who was coming in my bedroom, my hospital room, because I felt like anybody could be someone from Child Welfare coming to assess if I can raise my son. And any any new professional, I felt like I also had to scrutinize a little bit to make sure that they would be the one calling child welfare. And in my head, and so I mean, I’m talking like, seven days after my accident, I had an intervention plan organized in my head. Because I had that fear was true and real about like, I’m a single parent now with a physical disability with a house that is not adapted. And so raising my child in those conditions are impossible for me, they’re even dangerous, because I can’t serve like, you know, he could go into the stairs, but I can’t, I can’t follow him, I can go pick him up.
My most fav movie:
And those are things that you don’t think about, right? Sort of how you organize things around your child. Yeah, so, you know, certainly in terms of like having a backup plan, you have to think about all those details.
Well, and unfortunately, everybody thinks it’s not going to happen to them. So they’re not going to worry about it. But my sense is, why not have the photos of every room in your house? Why not have the receipts if you have them? Why not? Put those little few documents together in one place, so that they’re all together when somebody needs them? You know, it’s all of these kinds of little things. And I’m not sure how to help people who think it’s not gonna happen. Because, of course, in our podcasts all the time we talk about something will we know something? Will you just don’t
know what, that’s right, or when or when, but we know it well. So why don’t we prepare? It’s like, you know, it’s like once you get engaged, you know, you’re going to get married. So you start preparing. Yeah. You went you book a trip, you know, you’re going on the trip so you start preparing, but we don’t talk about death. We don’t talk about sickness and we definitely don’t talk about loss and it’s an it’s really unfortunate because thank you for being so open and talking about your feelings about this horrible horrible spinal cord injury affects so many people athletes accidents you know, it airy military Yes.
And, and it’s a real change of your whole life. It truly is life changing. Totally. And a car accident can be a slight as not being able to walk the same or, but it’s the emotional part of the whole section. That’s even, like only we see things that are physical, that it’s what’s going on in your head? is even more powerful.
Yeah. I want to say like, you know, I’ve been living with a spinal cord injury for 10 years, I don’t want people to sort of like, and, you know, listening to this and sort of say, Oh, poor, her poor her, you know, it is definitely a change and definitely like it, it totally reshaped my life, and my family’s life and so forth. But, you know, I’m here and I, I’m engaged in what Thomas does, and I’m engaged in, you know, my family and what they do, and I have a lot of loving people that surround me. So I don’t want to, you know, people to sort of go and think that people with spinal cord injury can’t have beautiful fulfilling life, because that’s not true. We can’t and so, but it is, you know, sort of a huge, huge adaptation, for sure.
Absolutely. What kind of final message would you like to tell the listeners, you know, that anything can happen at any point to be prepared doesn’t make it so or make it true, it’s just because it is true. And, you know, tick all those boxes, don’t forget really verify, because that could have also a huge impact. And, you know, I think, over the, the years, we’ve we’ve gotten people aware of sort of having a will and testament, you know, in case of death, but do know that other things can happen, you know, it’s not just about dying, that we get ready for, for different things. And then the rest, you know, it makes you not have to worry about it so much. Because certainly, like, in the first six months, I couldn’t deal with any other like bad news. So it had to somehow run smoothly, and I was lucky that my dad could pick up and I mean, you know, he was able to he was a cosigner on my house, and he was a cosigner on some of like, my, my bank stuff. So, you know, that worked out smoothly. It worked out, you know, I didn’t have to like, because I was I could have been in the coma for, you know, days and months, just months. And my parents, you know, we’re we’re grieving also, and my mom didn’t sleep for like days, neither did my dad, my dad, you know, got old, faster because of the accident, I’m sure of it. And so you know, when you have to deal with somebody else’s sort of accident and so forth, and you’re the one who has to pick up sort of the slack, then the pieces, the pieces, you need to have information and sometimes, you know, having that backup plan would certainly be helpful for them.
Yeah, a family conversation, we have worksheets on just having those family conversations of not just about death, but it could be well, what kind of care would you like to have? What where would you like to live? Do you want to be staying with a family? Do you want to go into a home like, all of these different topics that can be talked about like it? You know, if you’re left alone, where would you like to live? What you know what your kids? Yeah, what? The kids? All all of those things? What what do you want it to look like? Yeah. Because it might not be that you’re not here to to answer. You might be here but still can’t answer. So Right. Yeah, thank you so very much. Thank you so very much for being open and honest and the courage to rehash this every single time. It’s a beautiful, beautiful story of if people would just listen. I think it’s taught you to be better prepared for the unexpected, but I see in you that it’s prepared you to be present in the moment. More so to treasure every precious moment. Yes. And that’s what we talk about. Yeah. Because it means everything.
Yeah. It’s a beautiful summary actually, because that’s exactly what it did. It made me grateful and appreciative. And I do notice you know, beauty, a whole lot more than I did before, and I often, you know, use the the metaphor of a high speed train that I was on before my accident. And so when you’re in the high speed train, and you look out the window, you can’t really see anything, because it’s all blurry because you go too fast, too fast. And now I’m in a little train that sort of takes its time. But I can definitely look out the window and see, you know, the beautiful scenery that’s there.
It’s like being on that San Francisco trolley. Yes, like, Oh, okay. Chicka, chicka, chicka, chicka, chicka. And then stop. Oh, I get to enjoy this and Chicka Chicka Chicka. Okay, let’s Oh, the analogies that we come up with? Oh, that’s awesome. Well, thank you. I know, Marjorie, I hope this can help someone out there listening. Because it really truly, you’re amazing. And thank you for for being you know, I’m so sorry for you having to go through all the all of this, but you’re just you’re just words of wisdom for everyone. You really are. Thank you for being that, for being like that for others.
Thank you so much for the invitation, Tina.
Oh, you’re welcome. I hope that everybody, I don’t want to give up the story. It’s it truly is. Could be a movie. Because it’s somebody’s journey through what they’ve, you know, 10 years probably doesn’t seem very long. But it’s been long enough now that you can start hopefully, seen some of the beauty of everything. Yes. And because I tell you there are times when you don’t see any beauty at all. And it’s just a matter of getting through that trauma part of it and and with all of your wisdom from you’re learning and researching, and I’m sure you have more great, better things that you’re going to be doing in life. You’re here for a reason.
Yes. Well, thank you. Absolutely. So thank you, everybody. Thank you listeners. I hope that we’ve inspired you and motivated you, with Marjorie’s beautiful story and, and that it shows that you, you too could have a unique plan. And that it’s essential that you do make whatever that looks like for you. Your backup plan app puts your life all in one place and because you don’t know Expect the unexpected, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I always end with if you’re thinking of someone right now listening to the show that you love and care about reach out. Pick up the phone, we still have those things called phones, text, Skype, zoom, whatever it is, but tell them how much you love and care about them today. Because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. So thank you my listeners love each and every one of you! Thank you my German friends. I always end with Carol Burnett because she could always make us laugh. And I’m sure you know who Carol Burnett is Marjorie. I’m so glad we had this time together just to have a laugh or sing a song seems we just get started. And before you know it comes a time we have to say so long. So long, my friends stay safe be kind. Till next time. Bye for now. stay safe be kind! Expect the Unexpected.
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