pa-ral-y-sis – noun – the loss of the ability to move in part or most of the body. Immobility, powerlessness, incapacity, debilitation.

Most people have never experienced paralysis. It may be something that is hard to grasp if you are among the individuals who have had the privilege to walk everyday of your life. On October 16, 1982 that gift was taken from me.

In order to analyze paralysis, we need to explore movement. Due to the autonomic nervous system, our heart functions without conscious input. So do our lungs, our immune system, and our brain. The limbs and much of the muscular system fall outside of this parameter, yet most of us seemingly move without thought. Much of this ability is derived from practice. Our bodies have done certain things millions of times and, therefore, it knows how to provoke movement without much thought. Prior to my fall, automatic pilot seemed to control my physical actions. However, once my body hit the surface of the rock crushing thoracic 4, 5, and 6, my unconscious movements disappeared into thin air. It was as if my muscular mobility and knowledge was literally erased from my memory bank.

The inability to freely engage my body without thought first occurred while I was draped over a boulder and broken apart. After fully embodying horrific spinal pain I tried to move; my body did not respond. I begged my friends for help. They refused. In time, the pain was replaced by swelling, then numbness. It felt as if each cell was being pumped up with an anesthetic fluid. In a desperate attempt to be free of the rock I ventured to shift myself again. If I concentrated intently, I knew my body would progress—no response. Anger rose as I lay there aching to separate my body from the boulder. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much intention I put forth, it was futile. A split second prior to falling off the cliff I was able to manipulate my body without conscious thought. In the next moment, I was unable to move even with a Herculean desire. What a complete and utter loss!

In the hospital, as needles were plunged into my tissue to check for nerve damage, ghostly sensations quaked deep inside of me. My body did little to convince my audience. The feelings that I sensed below the surface could not penetrate the paralysis nor create visible signs of motion. Pulling away from a painful experience such as touching a hot stove or getting poked with a sharp object escaped my body’s capabilities at that time. Even though I knew my body was being invaded by hospital personnel, my nerves were incapable of registering pain or turning away from it. Paralysis left me second guessing all of my actions and reactions.

So, what’s it like not to have control over your movements or your sensations? For me, it gave rise to my emotions, particularly ANGER! As the anger fizzled, sadness and sorrow appeared. I grieved what I once was, what I was able to physically accomplish. Yet there were moments when paralysis was a blessing because just as pleasure didn’t register neither did pain.

Being paralyzed awakened my vulnerability. I had to trust people around me because I couldn’t feel what was happening. My body was incapable of moving at will. I couldn’t even roll over in bed. Personally, the combination of loss and lack of mobility wreaked havoc on my emotional state.

The thing that replaced my ability to move freely was muscle spasms. Spasms are nasty critters. They creep up on you and flail your body around without any regard for where you are or what you might be doing. No matter how hard I tried to move, my body failed to respond. Yet, spasms could make my legs jump in the air with little provocation. The spasms left me with the impression that they were discharging the discomfort from the needles previously submerged into my skin. In my eyes, one positive aspect of muscle spasms was that they showed signs of life within my nervous system.

In the hospital, after weeks of laying flat on my back, the ability to sit up escaped me. To stay seated without passing out or throwing up was quite a feat. On an incline board, waves of nausea surfaced just as I reached for the next degree of a vertical stance. Ice packs around my neck and cool towels resting on my forehead kept my bile at bay. Yet, once I was able to sit in a chair unassisted, my stamina waned. With my entire torso surrounded in plaster, I was unable to remain seated for long.

Paralysis took me back in time. It was as if I was an infant residing in a grown up body. In physical therapy, movements were broken down into segments so that I could relearn how to mobilize my body again. Sometimes completing one task took days or weeks to accomplish. Baby steps to say the least. Mustering the strength to go on was derived from my desire to reclaim my life. My rehab program became all-encompassing, and it drove me beyond the feelings that it was a losing battle. A “normal life” was the carrot dangling just beyond my reach. Physical therapy helped to narrow the gap and I pushed myself each and every day.

Paralysis is a real mind game. Whether you regain full mobility or you remain in a wheelchair or bedridden, you have to keep moving forward in your mind. Achieving that is a goal worth striving toward.

So what’s it like to be paralyzed? It’s no walk in the park!!! The word that seems to encapsulate that time in my life is CHALLENGING—every moment of every day.

For more details about holistic therapy and Nancy’s experience with healing refer to her book “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life,” available at www.naturalmassagetherapy.com

Reproduction of articles are permitted by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP, RPE, author and holistic bodyworker, with acknowledgments and credentials included.

For further information or questions, please contact Nancy @ Natural Massage Therapy at 928-717-1251, nmt1@naturalmassagetherapy.com.

All articles are for informational/educational purposes only. This information does not take the place of current treatment plans nor medications prescribed. Always consult your physician to determine the most beneficial course of treatment for your individual needs.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy M. Turcich became a Natural Therapeutic Specialist through the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics in 1986. As a qualified alternative health therapist, Nancy taps into her understanding of healing as a client and as a therapist. She has actively participated in hundreds of training hours pertaining to mind-body therapy. Nancy is a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner (BCPP) as well as a Registered Polarity Educator (RPE).

After providing therapy to the public for more than twenty-six years, her clientele’s need for pertinent information and insight into therapy–wanting to know how it works and what they could do to enrich their lives drew Nancy to write about natural therapy. In late 2009, she released her memoir/self-help guide, Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life.

In 2005, Nancy’s heart-felt book One Of Eight–my perspective on our brother’s suicide was published. Both titles are available on eReaders.

Nancy resides in Prescott, Arizona where she administers and provides educational insights to her clientele in Natural Massage Therapy methods. She loves to travel and visit Chicago where she originated. Nancy maintains professional affiliations with the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the American Polarity Therapy Association (APTA). Her greatest passion is helping others.

Please visit www.naturalmassagetherapy.com for more.

Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP, RPE
Bez Publications
bez@naturalmassagetherapy.com
(928) 717-1251