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Thread: work vs. health

  1. #1

    work vs. health

    The issue of employment has come up many times here, and I would like to give my perspective. I'm a para, 30 yrs. post, just retired after 27 yrs. of work. I had to retire because of chronic SCI-related problems. First, let me say that I am glad that I had my career. Financially and mentally, this was best for me. Secondly, I have enjoyed good general health and I am not overweight, having participated in w/c sports for many years. However, many problems I now have come from not paying proper attention to sitting posture, stretching, and insufficient fluid intake. I recently started PT to attempt to reverse some of the ill effects. Initially, the PT chided me for not taking better care of myself. However, after some discussion, he agreed that I made a decision to work, and I explained that I was willing to accept the tradeoff. There just wasn't enough time, and I didn't have the physical stamina to work and do all the things he now advises. That being said, this is what I would have done differently: 1) Get a good seating and positioning evaluation based on my anticipated lifestyle and have it reviewed annually, 2) Perform recommended stretching exercises daily to reduce spasms, contractures, and pain, 3) Meet annually with a PT to assess my skeletal structure and mobility, 4) If possible, stand several time a week using a tilt table, braces, etc., 5) Drink more water. If you are working, or considering employment, and you feel you cannot do these things and work, remember that you are conciously choosing a lifestyle, the way that I did. Only the individual can determine if the choice was right or wrong. However, incorporating as many of these recommendations as possible will lead to better aging with SCI. JMO.

  2. #2

    Thank You


    This was an excellent post. I am impressed with how proactive you are considering how you are addressing your current health needs. I think you hit the nail on the head, there is often simply not enough time to address the whole list so there has to be a time of choosing priorities. Sometimes that is viewed as negative, but I am thinking that it is just part of responsibility. This is something worth thinking about in the pursuit of wellness for da and ab people. We do have no choice, but to make our choices. The good thing is that you have shared an older perspective for those who are younger, so that they may consider their own choices with this information. Thank You.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    4 corners, NM, USA
    many excellent points made...i was once told the person most at risk for skin problems were paras that work and that has proved true for me....recently i have gone to self-employment because a 40 hour week at the level expected by an employer is more than i can handle on a regular basis,,,i'm a t-5 20 years post and never had the opportunity to do much as far as regular physical exercise so i am somewhat overweight which just adds to the probs,,,i want to do all the things like a seating evaluation, get a new chair ordered, etc but i'm not sure if i can get much of that living out here in the boonies,,,but i KNOW that working is much better on me mentally & emotionally so, as u say, its a trade off,,,,dont work and concentrate on the body,,,and starve,,,or work...jeffh

  4. #4

    I agree and disagree...

    I am T5-6 almost 18 years post. I was injured at 6 years old. I have graduated high school, got a bachelor's degree, and work full time. I have never in my life had a pressure sore or any kind of other SCI related problem. I think that if you take care of yourself and be compliant with your meds I don't think one would have many, if any, problems. I am beginning to think that I am some wild exception to the rule. All of you guys talk about pressure sores, pain, and such, things I've never experienced. Anyway, I have a HUGE soapbox about SCI's working and this post is headed that way so I will stop here.

  5. #5

    A question for Lindsay

    I was wondering if the reason you have done so well with your physical issues is partly due to the fact that you were so young when you were injured? I don't want to leave out that you take excellent care of yourself. Does it stand to reason that your body grew into maturity "knowing" its condition? I wonder because it is an exception to have done so well with all of this, and the people that I talk to that do have problems do take good care, but were injured much older. Does anyone know if there is a correlation, because Dr.Young does say that the body wants to heal itself, so is there a connection between those factors? Also,not to make an old joke but after 35..well things change for everyones body...sigh...


  6. #6

    It's aging with SCI, not SCI

    I,too, have never had a pressure sore. In 30 years I was an inpatient once, and that was for tests. However, the aging process is going to begin much earlier for us. The demand and focus of working requires that we stay in the same positon hour after hour, day after day, etc. after etc. If something in your seating and positioning is off, eventually it will take its toll. The key is to have the opportunity and stamina to change positions, stay mobile, and stretch your body opposite the position the w/c requires it to be in. After a number of years I have found that my back and hips have been welded in bad positions. I repeat, I would not make a different choice, if given the opportunity. Working has been one of the best experiences of my life; but working years are also family raising years. Between the two we fail to take time to realize what is gradually happening to our bodies. Many chapter in the Aging with SCI book are currently being written by us. The impetus for better treatment will come from us survivors, not the medical community. I'm only 50, but after 30 years, cure seems very remote. However, a relatively healthy mid-life and old age are reasonable goals, if we do the right things when we are younger.

  7. #7
    Senior Member scaligirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    I.E. - Southern California

    Great info Free...

    I'm a C7 incomplete for almost 12 years now. I have really bad lower back pains. I've talked to my doctor and he's given me pain meds, advice, etc. I know that I try and sit up straight as much as I can, but its often difficult when I don't have much abdominal muscles to lend some support. I often find myself using an arm to help keep me upright.

    I'm only 28 years old, so this will no way stop me from working. I still have a long way from retirement! I think my back pain is the only problem I've had so far, knock on wood!! Oh, and the occassional UTI's.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    beaumont tx usa
    i dont understand why a para would get a pressure sore. cant paras
    lift themselves up.

  9. #9

    Pressure ulcers and Paraplegia

    Statistically, more people with paraplegia than quadriplegia get pressure ulcers. The reason is not clear, but some of the speculation is that people with paraplegia spend more time in their chairs, are more likely to get trauma due to their activity level (which can turn into a pressure ulcer) and are more likely to have flaccid paralysis resulting in buttocks muscle atrophy (and thus less "padding"). Some also think that it is because those with paraplegia are more able to deny the seriousness of their risk for pressure ulcers, and so may take less precautions than those with quadriplegia.

    Keep in mind that as you age your skin becomes both less resilient to pressure and less able to heal, resulting in a much higher risk for pressure ulcers.


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