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Thread: Dr. Wise, C4/5 Incomplete 24 yr. undergrad male looking for advice and guidance

  1. #1
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    Dr. Wise, C4/5 Incomplete 24 yr. undergrad male looking for advice and guidance

    Here is the situation, I am currently entering my senior year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I find myself with life at a fork in the road. I've tried really hard to live a normal life as a college student with SCI but I am beginning to enter a right of passage that thousands of others student as myself are trying to figure out what to do in life. On September 21 it will be my sixth year anniversary bound to a wheelchair. I am having trouble deciding what route to take and there is a lot of uncertainty as to what’s in store. Thinking about what to do induces anxiety alone.
    On an individual basis I would like to continue further in my educational goals and graduate school is a possibility for me but I would also like to focus on my physical rehabilitation while I’m still young. In my eyes these two things are mutually exclusive because to put all my potential and be successful only one route can be taken alone. I'm not sure where things stand as to whether there are clinical trials that show promising results and how soon will it have an impact in the spinal cord community. Like everyone else in these forums I too hope to gain more independence and possibly walk unassisted someday.
    Do I find a job right out of college and save for potential surgeries in the next few years? I know there is an unknown time frame as to when therapies will be provided to the public. Am I better off pursing my educational goal now or do I wait for clinical trails while it’s still in their infancy? Another question that comes to mind is there a 5-15 year window for real Chronic SCI therapies that provide functional results? I know all this is merely speculation but as of now there are not many factors that are keeping me from doing what I would like to do but I'm having trouble knowing what opportunity are out there.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by shotglass5050 View Post
    Here is the situation, I am currently entering my senior year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I find myself with life at a fork in the road. I've tried really hard to live a normal life as a college student with SCI but I am beginning to enter a right of passage that thousands of others student as myself are trying to figure out what to do in life. On September 21 it will be my sixth year anniversary bound to a wheelchair. I am having trouble deciding what route to take and there is a lot of uncertainty as to what’s in store. Thinking about what to do induces anxiety alone.
    On an individual basis I would like to continue further in my educational goals and graduate school is a possibility for me but I would also like to focus on my physical rehabilitation while I’m still young. In my eyes these two things are mutually exclusive because to put all my potential and be successful only one route can be taken alone. I'm not sure where things stand as to whether there are clinical trials that show promising results and how soon will it have an impact in the spinal cord community. Like everyone else in these forums I too hope to gain more independence and possibly walk unassisted someday.
    Do I find a job right out of college and save for potential surgeries in the next few years? I know there is an unknown time frame as to when therapies will be provided to the public. Am I better off pursing my educational goal now or do I wait for clinical trails while it’s still in their infancy? Another question that comes to mind is there a 5-15 year window for real Chronic SCI therapies that provide functional results? I know all this is merely speculation but as of now there are not many factors that are keeping me from doing what I would like to do but I'm having trouble knowing what opportunity are out there.
    Shotglass, thanks for asking these thoughtful questions. I want to take a day to mull the answers in my head before answering. Thoughtful questions deserve thoughtful answers. Will post soon.

    Wise.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Them Bones's Avatar
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    Thanks brother. You seem to say almost exactly what I feel too. Do we give total focus on our goals and put the possibility of a cure into the backs of our minds? And suffer the occasional sense that we could be missing on gains that we might have gotten with more physical therapy? I am usually confident that I made the right choice in devoting myself to a grueling college program. But sometimes I'm not sure.

    Obviously this is my situation and you may not share any of these particulars, but I really identified with your post.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by shotglass5050 View Post
    Here is the situation, I am currently entering my senior year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I find myself with life at a fork in the road. I've tried really hard to live a normal life as a college student with SCI but I am beginning to enter a right of passage that thousands of others student as myself are trying to figure out what to do in life. On September 21 it will be my sixth year anniversary bound to a wheelchair. I am having trouble deciding what route to take and there is a lot of uncertainty as to what’s in store. Thinking about what to do induces anxiety alone.
    On an individual basis I would like to continue further in my educational goals and graduate school is a possibility for me but I would also like to focus on my physical rehabilitation while I’m still young. In my eyes these two things are mutually exclusive because to put all my potential and be successful only one route can be taken alone. I'm not sure where things stand as to whether there are clinical trials that show promising results and how soon will it have an impact in the spinal cord community. Like everyone else in these forums I too hope to gain more independence and possibly walk unassisted someday.
    Do I find a job right out of college and save for potential surgeries in the next few years? I know there is an unknown time frame as to when therapies will be provided to the public. Am I better off pursing my educational goal now or do I wait for clinical trails while it’s still in their infancy? Another question that comes to mind is there a 5-15 year window for real Chronic SCI therapies that provide functional results? I know all this is merely speculation but as of now there are not many factors that are keeping me from doing what I would like to do but I'm having trouble knowing what opportunity are out there.
    Very well said. I appreciate your words. I have similar thoughts quite often.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Them Bones View Post
    Thanks brother. You seem to say almost exactly what I feel too. Do we give total focus on our goals and put the possibility of a cure into the backs of our minds? And suffer the occasional sense that we could be missing on gains that we might have gotten with more physical therapy? I am usually confident that I made the right choice in devoting myself to a grueling college program. But sometimes I'm not sure.

    Obviously this is my situation and you may not share any of these particulars, but I really identified with your post.
    I agree with you on a neutral level because I want to do what's best for me but there are times when everything seems unbalanced. I wrote in hope of finding a direction that bridges the two. I do firmly believe that the choice I made was the perfect one for me but those are simply stepping stones and I'm looking for my next move. One thing I do know is that your choice of secondary education is an investment that will prove to show dividends in the long-term. I've contemplated these thoughts numerous times alone and now I hope to get insight from Dr. Wise.

  6. #6
    You are still young in life and with your injury. You will always benifit from therapy and an education. In todays world I would say to keep your body healthy first with education second. If you loose your strength it would be hard to keep a job, if you have a good job with no strength you more than likely get replaced. In reality you can have both which requires a lot of hard work and who knows the future. I may be reading your questions wrong or be way off the mark but IMO staying heathy is most important. Good luck in whatever you decide!
    From the time you were born till you ride in a hearse, there is nothing so bad that it couldn't be worse!

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Rick1's Avatar
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    shotglass5050,

    Balance and timing – tough things to manage, even under the best circumstances.

    First of all, bravo to you for approaching this dilemma from a broad perspective. A young person like yourself has many things to consider as you look forward to a career and a whole range of other life experiences.

    Next, I believe that physical rehabilitation and the pursuit of other life goals are necessarily inter-dependent; and that it would be a mistake to forsake one for the other.
    • Aggressive physical training is a means to greater mobility, health and (functional) independence.
    • A good education is a means to a desired career and lifestyle.

    So, how does recovery from SCI fit into the overall scheme?

    I start with these basic premises:
    • Given proper stimulus and training, the body has a tremendous ability to adapt and recover from SCI – the limits of which are yet unknown.
    • There will be cellular therapies available in the foreseeable future that will enhance regeneration of the spinal cord.

    Understanding that recovery is for life, planning for the future should include:
    • Prepare physically and financially to take advantage of emerging therapies.
    • Develop a comprehensive training program that is designed to maximize function.
    • Become familiar with your injury and all relevant SCI research.

    A final caveat: As important as recovery is, don’t let it consume you. Enjoy your life.

    Full disclosure: I am 51 years old, 14 years post injury (C-5), and I still allocate significant time and resources to my pursuit of recovery.
    Know Thyself

  8. #8
    Dr. Wise, C4/5 Incomplete 24 yr. undergrad male looking for advice and guidance
    Here is the situation, I am currently entering my senior year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I find myself with life at a fork in the road. I've tried really hard to live a normal life as a college student with SCI but I am beginning to enter a right of passage that thousands of others student as myself are trying to figure out what to do in life. On September 21 it will be my sixth year anniversary bound to a wheelchair. I am having trouble deciding what route to take and there is a lot of uncertainty as to what’s in store. Thinking about what to do induces anxiety alone.
    On an individual basis I would like to continue further in my educational goals and graduate school is a possibility for me but I would also like to focus on my physical rehabilitation while I’m still young. In my eyes these two things are mutually exclusive because to put all my potential and be successful only one route can be taken alone. I'm not sure where things stand as to whether there are clinical trials that show promising results and how soon will it have an impact in the spinal cord community. Like everyone else in these forums I too hope to gain more independence and possibly walk unassisted someday.
    Do I find a job right out of college and save for potential surgeries in the next few years? I know there is an unknown time frame as to when therapies will be provided to the public. Am I better off pursing my educational goal now or do I wait for clinical trails while it’s still in their infancy? Another question that comes to mind is there a 5-15 year window for real Chronic SCI therapies that provide functional results? I know all this is merely speculation but as of now there are not many factors that are keeping me from doing what I would like to do but I'm having trouble knowing what opportunity are out there.
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    shotglass5050,

    While some evidence suggests that intensive exercise may restore function, little is known concerning the optimal intensity and duration of exercise required. The few randomized prospective studies on the subject suggest that intensive exercise for periods of longer than 3 months (such as 12 months) are not necessarily better than 3 months of intensive training.

    I think that a more reasonable approach is to devote 3 months every year for intensive 6-hour-per-day exercises and then maintain your gains with approximately one hour per day for the rest of the year. You can do this every year. It is sort of like spring training for athletes to bring you up to the next level and then for you to maintain your fighting trim by doing regular exercise during the year.

    You can focus on a particular function every year. You can also use different techniques every year. The ones that produce the most return for you, you can try again. By the way, I suggest that you keep a daily diary of your progress when you do such work and try to document where you were and how you are possibly gaining. Memory is often misleading and you would be surprised by your attitude changes and other things that change over time.

    You should not neglect your education. Much evidence suggest that the more education a disabled person gets, the happier and greater life satisfaction the person has. This may be in part related to the fact that the higher the educational achievement, on average, the greater the monetary gains that the person has. But, it may also have to do with greater self-respect and usefulness the person may feel, as a result of the educational or professional achievement.

    The key is to improve your brain without neglecting your body and vice versa. You need to be able to do both. I know some people who have taken a lot of time to work on their body but have neglected the development of their brains. Likewise, I have known some people who have worked on improving their brains but neglected their body. Neither is good. It should not be an either situation. It has to be both.

    I agree with Rick1. You need to achieve balance in your life.

    Wise.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 07-06-2009 at 09:27 AM. Reason: Edited the sentence on 3 months versus 12 months of intensive training for clarity.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Zeus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young View Post
    You should not neglect your education. Much evidence suggest that the more education a disabled person gets, the happier and greater life satisfaction the person has. This may be in part related to the fact that the higher the educational achievement, on average, the greater the monetary gains that the person has. But, it may also have to do with greater self-respect and usefulness the person may feel, as a result of the educational or professional achievement.

    The key is to improve your brain without neglecting your body and vice versa. You need to be able to do both. I know some people who have taken a lot of time to work on their body but have neglected the development of their brains. Likewise, I have known some people who have worked on improving their brains but neglected their body. Neither is good. It should not be an either situation. It has to be both.
    Excellent advice.

    Getting my economics and law degrees are the two single greatest things I've ever done in my life. The people I've met, the experiences I've had, etc., all as a direct result of my law degree are profoundly satisfying.

    I'm a little over-worked right now, but I'm taking steps to redress this. Having said that, I'm a C5 complete quad who is over-worked (and currently has a couple of alternate job offers / openings) during the global financial crisis.

    In a real sense, it's a 'luxury' to be a highly employable individual despite complete quadriplegia - all courtesy of my education. You always need balance, and a good education is a vital part of that mix.

    Chris.
    Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist wrapped in blood! Larry in 'Closer', a play by Partick Marber

  10. #10
    great advice, folks. I also think recovery and exercise can also be a large part of enjoying life..i.e handcycle, hiking, gym, quad rugby. This is one of the better threads I read in a while. Thanks.

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