Thankfulness

I am on a Roll

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Spinal Cord Injury Day is celebrated on 5th September every year with the intention of increasing awareness amongst the general public. So this time I decided to do a little writing about my dear friend.

Just to celebrate and join the party.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) awarded me with a very visible disability. Yes, I can’t walk. I rely on a wheelchair to get around. That is kind of obvious, but there is much more than that.

Apart from being paralyzed from nipples down, I also lost control of my bladder and bowel, I have spasticity, sexual dysfunction, long-lasting chronic neuropathic pain, repeatedly fights against UTIs due the daily use of catheters, anxiety, depression and the list goes on and on...

Its sounds pretty shit doesn't it? 

Well, not really. Since SCI showed up in my life (without invitation), I become a much more optimistic person. I am patient, more flexible, more resilient, more aware (specially more aware of death, knowing that shit happens all the time, now I hardly ever take anything for granted), therefore more grateful, more strong, actually much stronger. 

I realized I can do a lot more and I can handle whatever life brings me. I can easily put a Leonard Cohen’s record on and patiently just deal with it. Whatever it might be. I have what it takes to go through any life situation I may encounter in the future.

I am a strong loving-life motherfucker.

Even if I don’t get to do all the stuff I use to do before I got hurt. I am fine with that. And that’s the thing. I am fine. With all the challenges and the setbacks, if you really put it on the 'balance', SCI gave me more than it took. Maybe I am being a bit too positive here but I like to think in that way.

I believe that after my long months of rehabilitation trying to fix my body, which unfortunately has no way to be fixed, not yet at least. I began to try to heal my mind. And it has been an incredible learning journey. SCI immensely contributed to the development of my emotional intelligence. 

I still have a lot to learn but I am on the way, I am a roll. 

I am learning to let my mind accept everything that comes, to rest myself in the uncertainty, no anticipating, no waiting, not expecting.  

I now know that life is, first and foremost, about being fulfilled in as many ways as possible, but mostly to love and to be loved. SCI has deepened my friendships and relationships. 

And because all of that folks, I should thank SCI. I should be grateful. I should celebrate. 

Thank you SCI. Thanks for making me a better man. 

Happy World SCI Day everyone.

With Love, Roddy Xx

 
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope into a better shape.
— Charles Dickens

Privilege

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ˈpriv(ə)lij/

noun

noun: privilege; plural noun: privileges

  1. 1.a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people."education is a right, not a privilege"

singular noun

        2.  You can use privilege in expressions such as be a privilege or have the privilege when you      want to show your appreciation of someone or something or to show your respect.


 

One of the most beautiful things

in life is getting the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones. I had the great privilege to be surrounded by my family these past months while I was recovering from a bladder surgery that I had last February. The privilege of having my old woman bringing me fresh mangos and papaya every morning is by far the best and easiest pill for me to swallow.

The best and most effective treatment. 

I now know that of all the medications, mindfulness and positive thinking I do; the one thing that keeps me going is the love of my family. They were the single most important tool in the box in this whole recovery process and it gives me a tremendous sense of security to know that if something goes wrong, if the shit somehow starts hitting the fan, they will be there to help me out and clean it all up. 

They are f*cking amazing. Really. 

My time has gone full circle down here Brazil and now it's time to go back home, but before that, I just wanted to thank them and say that I’m absolutely honored, blessed, and privileged every day to call them family and to have them around.  

And it is because of them, that I grown, learned and strived to keep kicking the bucket forward, whatever the circumstances. 

I am grateful for these three. 

Here is to all the privileges we have daily folks. The privilege of time, the privilege of love and the privilege of being able to experiment all this. 

Give thanks for all we have and for all the folks we love. 

See ya soon Sverige.

Roddy  Xx

 
The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.
— - Audrey Hepburn -

Resilience

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re•sil•ience  (ri zil′yəns, -zil′ē əns), n. 

  1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched;
    elasticity.
  2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like;
    buoyancy.

     


I am currently down in Brazil where I am waiting to get a second opinion regarding a bladder surgery that I might be entitled to. So resilience-learning has been a full-time business these days.

I am getting a master-degree in this resilience business.

I have adapted well to many areas but still have others to tackle, others issues related to my spinal cord injury. One of the consequences of this is the inability to control my bladder. 

I have tried a lot of managing methods and I have been managing it with a suprapubic catheter for the past year. Not a very good method as I had a total of 7 UTIs this year and my bladder had now shrunk and it is the size of a walnut. 

Due to that, I have been dealing with a lot of pain, anxiety and autonomic dysreflexia, that is another condition you are granted if your injury is above the TH6 vertebrae. 

The last 2 months was definitely the hardest I endured since my accident. It’s been a bit tough. Mentally and physically.  A big chunk of it I spent feeling sick and visiting doctors to try to sort stuff out.

The other thing that is keeping me in the survival mode is neuropathic pain. I have neuropathic pain every day. All the time. I have pain right now and it is very hard to control. 

I have tried everything from Jesus Christ to sweet Mary Jane

and nothing seems to help. Conventional doctors keep prescribing me antidepressants and opioids. Gabapentin, lyrica, morphine and all other kinds of narcotics. 

All these drugs, apart for decreasing the pain it also decreases my ability to be myself. This kind of medication gives me strong cognitive side effects and make me feel like a zombie. Literally.  

All the hard achieved level of independence I have today, to live by myself, to work, to exercise, to socialize and to study seems to be lost when I take these drugs as I am not able to function. So I pretty much gave up on all of them. I stopped  taking all the medicines.

I would much harder live in pain, be myself, and take a more natural approach towards it such as mindfulness, adapted yoga and exercise. Sometimes it works and these currently are the main types of treatments I am having.

Sometimes (most of the time) I take an even more natural approach towards it. I say fuck all to all the world and lie down in my bed and wait until it goes away. 

I read books, I watch YouTube videos, I study, I work, I do what I can. It’s a very lonely experience. 

Lonely not because you are alone, I actually got used it. Lonely because you kind of withdraws yourself from everything else.

Your friends call you to ask how you are and it kind of gets boring to repeat yourself over and over that you have pain and bring the conversation down. I think I had enough of that. So I am always fine. Even if I don’t do anything or go anywhere whenever I am trying to deal with it. 

I have been trying to transform all these alone-times and setbacks into personal growth.

Learning how to cope with this made me gain confidence and be better prepared for life somehow.  I don’t think I was born resilient. I definitely learned through exposure to adversity. 

Adversity + resilience = personal growth

Every day when I wake up, I meditate for 20 minutes and with or without pain, I try to look up for the things I am grateful for, and one of the positive things I have is resilience.

I am grateful that I am getting the chance to learn all this.

Resilience has the capacity to sustain my good mood and hope throughout my shit days. It has changed the way I feel about myself and others. For the better. 

And that is a good thing. 

Focus on the good and lets move forward.

Be well folks.

Roddy X

“Often times, God will put a Goliath in your life, to bring out the David in you”

Appreciation

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appreciation
əpriːʃɪˈeɪʃ(ə)n,əpriːsɪˈeɪʃ(ə)n/

• 1
Recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.

• 1.1Gratitude.

• 2
A full understanding of a situation.

Origin
Late 15th century: from French appréciation, from late Latin appretiatio(n-), from the verb appretiare set at a price, appraise

"We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well."

Grandpa was quite good at doing it, he was the appreciator master. Grandpa was a spiritual man. One of the first memories regarding meditation and appreciation came from him. I remember being around to spend our school holidays with him. We used to sit around the dinner table every Wednesday night and he used to thank everything and everyone that came or crossed our way that week. The old man used to remember every single moment, every single detail.  - thanks for the rain yesterday, thanks about the spaghetti we ate last Sunday, thanks for the water, thanks for this and thanks for that. We used to thank everything and meditate around the table.

It was beautiful.

Fast forwarding time, I jumped myself deeply into meditation when I started dealing with neuropathic pain, that can sometimes literally also be called pain in the ass! Neuro-pain is not fun and one of tools I use to deal with it is mindfulness meditation. I use an app called Headspace.  

Headspace has a series of guided meditation sessions and one of the pack is called appreciation. 

With so much going on in life, it is quite difficult sometimes to be present, to appreciate what is going on around us, what we already got. Very often we tend to look at the future thinking what might be or we look at the past thinking what could have been.

This quick exercise is designed to help us to really spend more time in the present. To cultivate a genuinely sense of gratitude for what we have got right now. 

Even if that's a pain the ass. 

As you go into this day, try to pause during the day for at least 10 or 20 seconds, get yourself comfortable, be aware of your breath and ask yourself; 

-Who or What do you appreciate most in your life have right now? 

While asking yourself that, even if you are not new to meditation, try to maintain a beginners mind, as you are doing it for the very first time and always ask the question as you never asked the question before, as you are asking another person, not knowing, expecting or anticipating what the answer would be. When you do the exercise this way it creates a spacious mind which appreciation can naturally arise. 

Take the time to notice when you do that how the moods shift, how it changes perhaps the busyness of the mind, how it perharps shift the attention or the focus on a particularly emotion or feeling. Being fully aware of how this feeling of appreciation can really allow us to be more present in the world, more connected with the people around us. 

Once you familiarize yourself with the physical senses and the feeling, try to be aware of how you feel and aware of that intention to carry the quality of appreciation with you into the day, to remind yourself periodically throughout the day, of what that feeling was like. 

Remind yourself that life is a gift. Life goes quick. Appreciate the moment . Appreciate what you already have.

Be well folks and keep your heads high. There is good in this world.

Roddy X

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
— ~ Frederick Keonig