Ah the life of a quadriplegic. Thanks to modern medicine, quadriplegics can now survive and almost reach the full life expectancy of an able-bodied individual, but just because we can survive doesn’t mean our bodies and brains happily go along with the whole paralysis package.
I firmly believe the human brain forever struggles with the massive disconnect of the brain to the body when you have a spinal cord injury. It never truly becomes 100% used to it, or adapted. I wish it would, but I’d been at this for over 20 years now and I can tell you my brain and body still don’t like it. Case in point – my bizarre OCD nature.
I don’t care if it’s a crumb on the floor or a crooked towel on the towel rack, if “small” things like that are happening in my home, as silly as it sounds it’s really bothers me. I just seem go can’t get over it, and I know this is a direct side effects of my spinal cord injury.
Since quads can’t control a lot physically and it can drive one bad, trying to recompense what we can no longer control with things we can, even if what we want is completely ridiculous, can feel great. For example, one of the biggest things many quadriplegics like to do is to double and triple check that the seams on their pants, or whenever they’re wearing for the day, are 100% straight.
I’m not sure why so many quadriplegics hate crooked seams, all I know is why I personally don’t like them – since I’m looking down at my lap all day, I see them a lot, and just looking at the crookedness can make me crabby since I can’t fix them. When I have them straightened, I feel this sense of relief.
There’s a lot of things in life I can’t control, but if I can control something like this, boy I feel better every time it is done. And I know is that I drive my caregivers crazy some days with my clothing placement, but (fortunately for them) they can’t understand what it’s like to be me, ie, live in and day out with extreme paralysis. If they did however, maybe they would learn to understand me better.
Another weird OCD tick of many quadriplegics is hot water – in that we absolutely must drink hot water whenever we drink water. Anything cold or even luke-warm can send ridiculous chills throughout our entire body; that’s how much we only like it. It can feel so soothing and make drinking water a lot easier to do, which is something we must do daily because of our bladder situations.
A new PCA gave me the inspiration for this blog post actually. I am her latest client, and the fourth quadriplegic she’s currently working with. She calls all of the people she works for “my quads” and last night while heating up my water, she mentioned, “All my quads do that too (drink called water),” and then proceeded to asked me why.
While I can’t speak for every quadriplegic on this planet, I know most of us who are quadriplegics love hot water because cold water makes us cold. And if it’s one thing we hate the most, it’s being cold. There is nothing sadder in the world than a shivering quadriplegic. I just find it fascinating how so many quadriplegics report the same OCD ticks. A study definitely needs to be done to investigate this further.
I’m ok living with my OCD ticks mind you as long as I’m paralyzed, I just hope more young people avoid such a fate.
Have you developed any weird OCD ticks due to your disability?