Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"If we can send people to the moon, we can find a cure for paralysis"

I came across this blog post today. I thought others might find it interesting. Here are some memorable quotes:

"People living with spinal cord injuries are a silent minority," said Southard. "There are hundreds of thousands of us in this country, but there's no exact count anywhere. That's how invisible we are. We need to make our voices heard. We need people to understand how important a cure is and how close we are to finding it."
"Only recently could I feel water again," said Southard. "I can't express what that feels like. I don't have the words to describe it. It has to be really cold water, but, still, I can feel it."
"I haven't taken it off since the moment I put it on three months ago," said Qirici, whose younger brother suffered a spinal cord injury 16 years ago while doing gymnastics on the beach. "When someone you love suffers an injury like this, it ties you to all others who suffer the same. It brings you all into the same category."

Southard's mother Julie agrees with Qirici's sentiment that a special connection exists between those who understand a certain type of injury or illness.

"My bracelet - it's really a bond," said Julie Southard. "[When I see others wearing one] I feel like I'm joined in a quiet battle with other people who understand."

It's crazy how that was all written back in 2005 (when I was about to graduate high school), and there has been little progress since then. People with SCI's really are a silent minority. Why has there not been much progress? Spinal cord injury isn't as glamorous as fighting for a cure for cancer or AIDS. However, it's something that affects our lives on a daily basis in literally everything we do. The chronic physical, psychological, and social pain that some experience often leads to depression and even suicide. It not only affects the injured, but everyone around them.

Do I dare also add that the "big money folks" are also slowing progression of finding a cure? Why would the gargantuan medical field (lobbyists, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, supply companies, physicians, nurses, therapists, neuropsychologists, etc) want a cure when SO much money is being made by keeping us this way? Why teach a man to fish when they can keep coming back to you to buy more fish?

If you would like to purchase a bracelet to raise awareness and raise money for additional research in finding a cure, here's the link:

Friday, April 9, 2010


[This post is more of a personal one for myself. I wrote this a few nights ago when I was pretty riled up. Looking back, it doesn't really make much sense. It also sounds kinda wimpy. I apologize for that.]

After my accident, I never thought I would be anywhere close to “normal”. What I mean by that is that I never thought I’d be able to do things that other people were doing. I had so many things going for me pre-accident. That sounds cocky, but I think I can say that now because I am not that person anymore and I do not have that life.

Now, things are much more difficult. Aside from the obvious physical obstacles of doing certain things, it seems like there is much more to overcome than simply “not being able to walk”. Thankfully, I am getting stronger and stronger and doing things is becoming much easier. The biggest obstacle to face? The perceptions of other people.

People have a natural tendency to look down upon me—literally (because I am usually sitting while they are standing) and figuratively. As a person with a handicap, people consider my life to be handicapped. How can poor Hammad do things on his own? He can’t do that! He can’t be a doctor!

I could explain where this mentality comes from, but I’ll save that for a different post.

Basically, right now I am upset because I heard something that someone said about me. Having a handicap in one area forces me to work ten times harder than everyone else in order to compensate for this deficiency. This is something I had to realize several months ago. I was definitely “good enough” for people pre-accident. Post-accident, however, I became sub-par. Friends, parents, and people who I thought I would talk to for forever all started to treat me as if I was a low class, low intelligence, weak little boy.

What does this do to me? It forces me to work much harder than everyone I know to get past this. I may not be able to beat you in a race, but I will still work my butt off so I don’t turn into a fat slob. I may not be the best “catch”, but I will now work hard to be better than the rest of my class in medical school. It takes me longer to do certain things, but that just means I’ll have to not waste time in other situations. Life is now “life + 20 minutes”.