Faith. It’s that quiet inner voice that speaks to you on the good days and especially on the bad. Sometimes it’s the one thing that can calm you when nothing else will, and for some, it’s the difference between being able to move on or carry on, or not.
Spirituality is just one resource that people use to cope with a major life event or trauma, like a spinal cord injury or a progressive illness. Clinical studies have shown that people with stronger spiritual beliefs tend to be happier and less depressed after a spinal injury. That’s important, because unfortunately people who have gone through a traumatic injury like SCI are also more likely to experience depression.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone, not by a long shot.
According to the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC), current research shows that up to 25 percent of people with SCI experience depression, and up to 12 percent report major clinical depression.
Matters of Faith as a Matter of Fact
In a recent study funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, researchers looked at how spirituality, having the sense of life meaning and inner peace, and having faith in God or a higher power, relate to happiness and quality of life in people with SCI.
Researchers at four SCI Model System Centers in Illinois, Michigan, and Washington surveyed 210 adults with SCI who were being considered for an antidepressant drug trial to help address their depression.
The researchers in that medical study found that people with spinal cord injury who have:
- a sense of meaning or peace and
- faith in a higher power
reported having a higher quality of life and lower rates of depression.
In this study, spirituality was not limited to one religious tradition, and the findings showed that even those individuals who are not religious can still benefit from a focus on having a meaningful life and inner peace.
The study authors also continually emphasized the importance of spirituality during rehabilitation for people with SCI. A focus on spirituality, especially life meaning and peace, may be one way to help people come to accept a disability and make positive adaptations to it. Source: http://www.naric.com/?q=en/content/how-spirituality-linked-quality-life-people-spinal-cord-injury
Please know that we believe your level of spirituality is an individual decision that is yours to make.
Wheel Thoughts on Faith
Wheel:Life is sharing this information to offer another life skill that may help with your own journey in using a wheelchair. With that in mind, we’d like to share a few thoughts on faith from some of the amazing people whose stories we have recently spotlighted.
Forty-five-year-old Roman Castillo of Albuquerque, New Mexico, didn’t know when he opened the door for two fake “policemen” that his life would be changed forever.
He describes the robbery, saying, “One of the men had the gun against the back of my head and told me, “Pray.” I replied, “I don’t think God is going to help me now.” The man holding the pistol said, “Wrong answer.” The man who had the gun against the back of my head squeezed the trigger, but the gun misfired. I learned that the .22 caliber bullet is one of the most reliable bullets that a person can shoot. But for some reason, the gun didn’t fire that time.”
I turned around quickly and started to fight back.
“I had participated in martial arts and boxing all of my life. So, I felt confident that I could defend myself. While we were scuffling, the thug fired two shots into the back of my neck. The bullets passed through my neck and missed the jugular vein on each side of my neck by about one millimeter.
When I got my hand on the hand that was holding the gun, I saw that the gun was pointed right at my heart. But I moved quickly enough to get the gun off target, and the third bullet went through my shoulder, instead of my heart. The bullet traveled through my T9 vertebra and bounced up to my T8 vertebra, and I was instantly paralyzed.”
Roman believes that God spared his life when he asked for His help.
Atlanta native Kim Harrison explains, “I have a non-traumatic spinal cord injury called transverse myelitis. On October 6, 2004, I was on a business trip to Dallas, Texas. I woke up one morning at 7:00 am, and my right foot was numb and tingly. By 11:00 am, I was paralyzed from the waist down.”
“My feelings are my faith in mankind keeps me going. There is good in our world — kind, generous, giving people that truly care about each other. So many times we turn on the TV or open our computers and all we see is negative around us but if we look past “media” see good and kindness in people,” she continues.
“I don’t know if I would say I am deeply religious but true story. After two weeks in the hospital, I remember my first time out of my room, I was sitting with my husband in the hospital garden and no one was out there but us. I felt a warm breeze and “felt” someone saying “It’s going to be ok.” I looked at my husband and told him “He said everything was going to be ok.” My husband said, ‘Who saidthat?’ At that time, I felt warm again and could not explain how I heard a voice say again, ‘It’s going to be ok.’ To this day, I can’t say I heard harps, music or anything like that, and it’s hard to explain what happened that day – but I get up every morning and tell myself “it’s going to be ok.” And for Kim, it is.
Paraplegic Kebra Moore from Havelock, North Carolina, is an actress, model, singer, songwriter, substitute teacher, wife, mother and motivational speaker. Several of Kebra Moore’s songs and videos have been nominated for awards. Her song, “He’ll Make a Way” was featured on President Barack Obama’s documentary soundtrack, “Becoming Barack: Evolution of a Leader.”
After being involved in a devastating car wreck on Christmas Eve, Moore had thoracic fusion surgery from T11 to L1 in her back, stayed in St. Dominic’s hospital for a month and was put in a back brace, so her spine could heal. From there she was transferred to Touro Rehabilitation Center in north Louisiana.
“There for 3 months I had physical therapy and occupational therapy and was taught how to live in a wheelchair,” Kebra explains. “From the time I arrived at the hospital, I was praying Luke 1:37, one of my favorite verses, ‘With God, nothing is impossible.’
I also was quoting to myself the poem, ‘Invictus’ by Sir William Earnest Henley that I had learned in my sorority: ‘I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.’
I had faith in God that my life would be better. God spoke to me and told me I would be okay. But I still had a lot of issues to deal with and also had to raise a child and plan to marry my fiancé. I often thought about how life tried to grab me by the reins and dictate the terms of my life based on a single traumatic event. But I was a God fearing woman and didn’t expect life to be a bed of roses.”
My accident weighed almost as heavily on my husband as it did on me, but he was very supportive all the way through my hospital stay and rehab. However, I relied heavily on my faith and God helping me, and I had a really good support system. Now if I said I didn’t have any tough days, I’d be lying, because I did,” Kebra shares.
Growing up, Jim Hardy’s life revolved around football. He received a degree in communications from Auburn University to prepare himself to better, “Speak to the teams I hoped to coach, the parents of students I hoped to recruit and quarterback clubs and other organizations.” Nothing could prepare him though for the amazing journey his life is taking after his spinal cord injury! He has had not one but two dream jobs as a professional bass fisherman and a football coach.
Jim was paralyzed when he fell from a tree stand while deer hunting. The first thought that went through his brain when he came back to consciousness after the fall was, “Life will be different now.”
He explains, “Paramedics came into the woods with an ambulance, put me on a backboard and took me to the local medical center, before transferring me to the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham, a major trauma center. The doctors there discovered that I had several fractured ribs causing blood to go into my lungs. They also inserted two metal rods on each side of the injury from my T4 to my T10 vertebrae. I stayed in intensive care for 60 days. I’d always been a positive person but also realized that unexpected things could happen in life.
I didn’t get into the, “Why me, God,” depression. I just started thinking about, “Where do I go from here; and what can I do?”
Jim’s remarkable journey took him into the world of professional outdoor sports and football coaching — after paralysis.
“I’m often asked what I’m doing next. I’m being moved away from bass fishing and more into football – and I’m certainly okay with that. I’m passionate about football and love to study and coach football. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to coach at a bigger school – not necessarily as a head coach. I’d love to be an assistant coach or a recruiting coach on a Southeastern Conference football team.
I don’t know where the Good Lord is leading me, but I know I’m on the way,” Jim says enthusiastically.
He’s a Rabbi. He’s also a Sensei. Gary Moskowitz teaches martial arts in New York City as a therapy for people who use wheelchairs in an unending quest to conquer pain, fear, and low self-confidence within the disability community.
Gary says, “In 1998, I was ordained as a Jewish rabbi. I’d always had a keen interest in religion. I found that chasing peace, justice and many of those things I believed in came from the Torah.”
“I also believe that just like we do push-ups, sit-ups and other forms of exercise to strengthen our bodies and be healthy individuals, we need to continue to learn to have healthier brains,” he adds.
“Religion pushes us to be healthy, have a strong sense of justice, have a strong sense of kindness and chase wisdom. All of these ideas are taught in the practice of martial arts. After I began to understand martial arts, pursuing a religious path seemed natural as well,” Gary concludes.
Share Your Faith with Us
Do you have a special verse or a passage from your faith that encourages and inspires you? Wheel:Life would love to know what your faith says to help you move forward in a positive way.
If you’d like to share some of your favorite quotes or verses with our community, please click here to forward your words of strength and encouragement.