The Personal Experience of Being a Partner to a Spinal Cord Injured Person

Young black woman pushing her husband who suffered a spinal cord injury in a wheelchair. Going for walk and enjoying the fall nature together outdoors.

At Gluckstein Lawyers, we are dedicated to providing full-circle care to our clients. Our spinal cord injury lawyers are committed to helping those who face a life of rehabilitation and adaptation. Our commitment also extends outward – we are extensively involved with not-for-profit organizations that support people with a spinal cord, catastrophic injury, or personal injuries. We are devoted to sharing stories from those who suffered from spinal cord injuries and their caregivers. Below, we hear from the wife of one of our courageous clients. She shares her story with us, and for that, we are grateful.

A realistic picture of life

I met my husband after his spinal cord injury. When entering our partnership, I had to be very realistic, with my eyes wide open. I told myself: "Your life is going to be different, there may be limitations as to what he can and cannot do, and you have to be okay with that." We created a very realistic picture of what life would look like for us and what direction we needed to go in as a couple. Being able to have those conversations as a couple and say, "This has happened, what does life look like now?" is crucial. Yes, I often feel overwhelmed and sometimes struggle with everyday tasks. With winter coming up, my first thought is, "Who is going to shovel the snow for my husband to get out?" As his primary caregiver, it all falls to me, and I do not have help with that.

One's identity can often get lost when acting as the primary caregiver for someone. Maintaining who I am and retaining my identity is critical for us. I am making sure I have slept well, am eating well, and am emotionally happy while also doing things that spark joy. It might be simply going out for a short walk, doing yoga (pre-Covid), or speaking on the phone with my friends; these all help me hold on to my identity. By assuring that I am physically, emotionally, and mentally well, I am setting myself up to be the best caregiver, I can be. My husband is a chef, so this culture of eating with family and friends is the main activity we enjoy together.

You cannot always do everything you want to do, and you must think about what is feasible--in the city, it can be challenging because not every restaurant or business is accessible. Although we do have to think about logistics, we are both very family-oriented, so having close relationships with our families is where we spend most of our time. Spending time with family and close friends, and entertaining at home as a couple, brings us joy. I am trying to balance my personal life, career and stay true to myself. There are times where it gets tricky, and I try my best to balance everything. I remind myself, "I can only do what I can do, I can do my best, and if I do not get to it today, I will get to it tomorrow." I try so hard to be as perfect as I can be and don't often cut myself enough slack—I am learning to relinquish a little bit of control when balancing my role as a caregiver.

Caring for someone with a spinal cord injury can be physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing. There are periods where I live with feelings of isolation and sadness, and I can forget about my own needs, which can be harmful to my emotional well-being. In those moments of high stress and chaos, I try to have a strong mind and rely on my coping mechanisms to endure those low points. Primary caregivers are often concerned with ensuring everybody else is taken care of before thinking of themselves. I've learned that to get support, you just need to ask for it. While it is not necessarily readily available, you must be the one to put your hand up and say, "Okay, I'm overwhelmed. I need some help." I have a therapist who acts as a sounding board for things in my life amongst incredibly supportive family and friends, which is essential because, in those peaks of high stress, when I need to do a million tasks, having that support is imperative. I need a reprieve and retain my sanity--both of us do!

People who live with a disability may deal with much more emotional trauma than I think anyone could ever imagine. As a caregiver and partner, I try to have compassion and empathy when my husband is sad or pessimistic, and you cannot take it personally. There are times when it can get tough to navigate the emotional ups and downs of their daily life because they encounter and feel things that others could not even imagine. Those are the things that you must be willing to talk through, and there are times where they are not going to want to talk through it, and they are going to want to feel those feelings of loss and sadness, and you need to allow them the time and the space to handle it. Although we are very different people and do not always see eye-to-eye on what is expected of each other, my husband and I have a lot of love, empathy, and compassion for each other. I've naturally been in that caregiver role since the start, so to me, this wasn't even a question because I went into this relationship with my eyes wide open, and I wanted to do this for us. Watching my husband's progression, thriving in his life and career, and achieving all the goals he set for himself is impressive and inspiring. It really is. I am on this journey with him and not for him. We help guide each other through our separate and together lives, and I am grateful to have him in my life.  

Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers

It is an honour to represent our clients and their families to help them come to a resolution, and we are grateful to have played a part. Their stories of resiliency inspire us to continue advocating on behalf of injured victims. At Gluckstein Lawyers, you can count on us to always be there. We maintain relationships with our clients long after their case has settled and are always looking for ways to support our clients, staff and community.

Thank you from all of us at Gluckstein Lawyers for sharing your story.


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