How do I…

Imagine sitting dead still, not moving any part of your body except for your head. Sit straight up, hands in your lap, feet slightly apart on the floor. No, don’t begin meditating. You need to be fully conscious – look, listen, smell, taste, feel. Be aware of everything going on around you, but do not move. Ignore that itch. No, it’s not going to go away. It’s going to get worse, but don’t scratch. Don’t touch anything. Be still. Stay.

How long will you stick it out? A minute? An hour? A day?

What happens if you have no choice?

What happens if you wake up one day and you are completely immobile, but not unaware? You have 20/20 vision. Your hearing is perfectly in tune. Your mind is alert, quick and active. You can speak – but only to yourself. You can feel – but only emotion – and pain – and very little sensation. You have needs – hunger, thirst, warmth, comfort – but you cannot help yourself.

Visualize being left in this motionless state – trapped in your paralyzed body – with nothing to do, except for staring into space. No company. No radio. No TV. No books. No telephone. No computer. No Blackberry. Nothing – just you – alone.  Perhaps it’s a bit like solitary confinement – but worse.

I don’t need to imagine. For a time, I was living it.

But I thank God that changed. Machines gave me back my life. And for that, I am grateful.

For a brief period they even pumped oxygen into my lungs and breathed for me. Had it not been for modern, sophisticated equipment like ventilators, my life would have been cut drastically short. Although I am no longer dependent on machines for my existence, I rely on them heavily in order to live a full, meaningful life.

We are privileged to be living in very exciting times with many technological changes and rapid advancements which can only be to my benefit. I have so many wonderful opportunities of learning and becoming more confident. The challenge for me, is not to be intimidated by it all, and then simply giving up in submission.

Today technology grants me the privilege participating in life itself. Once again I can read, write, learn, engage, communicate, get around, work, be a mother to my son, grow personal and intimate relationships, share, contribute, connect and experience truly living.

So, how do I…?

I will try and explain how I do all these things in the next few posts, and if you are interested, I hope you will read on and engage with me.

I’ve learned that if I can read with understanding, see with vision, hear and really listen, speak with wisdom and experience life with appreciation, I have the most incredible power and potential to make a difference to this world, using the amazing technology available.

Does technology intimidate you?

About Tracy Todd (Brave Lotus Flower)

Author of Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon – an intimate and inspiring memoir of a quadriplegic. Inspirational Speaker. Teacher. Counsellor. Wife. Mother. Animal lover. Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly not what defines me.
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17 Responses to How do I…

  1. Bill Watson says:

    My grand children – 6 years and 8 years – are doing at lightening speed the things I am learning in this technological world we live in. My biggest fear are the mean people who try to ruin lives by placing viruses, spybot, malware, et al in out computers on unsuspecting people like you or me.

  2. Marc Armdt says:

    Unfortuantly I am involved in banking applications at the moment but I am trying to champion disabled friendly banking applications, try close your eyes and use Internet Banking – good luck, the problem also persists with voice controlled applications. The truth is that our applications are not friendly for anyone who is looking at the screen and using a mouse…

    All the real development is done by foreign companies, if there was a company here in south Africa pioneering technology to assist with disabilities I would jump at the opportunity to be a part of their development.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      This just makes me realize how much I have to be grateful for. At least I can see! I am fortunate that I am able to do all my Internet banking from the comfort of my own home just using my voice.

  3. Otto says:

    Marc, would it be possible for Tracy to assist you in experimenting with voice controlled systems? Can you give us more info? That area of technology is quite exciting

  4. Marc Armdt says:

    It is amazing how far we have come with technology, yet how stagnant and unthoughtful technology can be. I work at one of the large banks, and for around 2 years have been fighting to make our web sites friendly for the blind, imagine being blind, imagine trying to use the Internet, it is possible with the right technology. Try explain that to a corporate machine who dont see the financial gain for the cost it will take.

    I am lucky in my job, it allows me to explore new technologies and ways of doing things. I have been lucky to experiment with voice controlled systems, they have always frustrated me, alot.

    I look forward to the day of self driven cars, why, well 2 reasons
    1) I hate people, where there is a person there is a chance for human error
    2) Taking humans out of driving cars will lead to much more efficient highways and much safer travel. It means complete independence for anyone, no longer will you need a drivers licence.

    The problem is, humans fear change, what worked last year will work today and will keep working next year. I wish humans could open their eyes and embrace change for the better.

    Tracy, I am just happy there are solutions for you, that your possibilities have been extended and you are afforded the basic human rights of being able to communicate freely. I am only sorry that more doesn’t exist to help you.

    You are a strong inspiration in my life and a motivation everyday to try and be a better person. Tracy, you are an Angel in the world, a one in a million person. Thank you for being such a strong, honest woman.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Marc, the world needs more people like you… people who have compassion and care for the needs of others. Your attitude as the potential to make a world of difference for people living with disabilities. Thank you for being so special!

  5. Pie says:

    Technology can have its downside, but on the whole, if used in the way it’s intended, it can be fantastic. It’s given you the freedom you could only have dreamed about just a few short years ago and it means we can hear your story.

    Technology – I love it!

  6. Tracy, I eagerly look forward to joining you for your next few posts – and beyond! I also appreciate your message here. Lately I have been decrying the ways in which technology seems to be taking over my life. But you are right, of course: technology and technological progress are life-giving far more than they are soul-sucking.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Kristen, I do understand your fears that technology can take over your life and become addictive. But, certainly in my case, machines have not only been life-giving but technology has been meaningful and incredibly soul enriching. Without it, I would have no life at all. Thank you for your comments. I sincerely hope you are able to find that balance you so desire.

  7. Deborah says:

    @Invisible Mikey — your comment made me (and I hope Tracy) laugh on this very grey afternoon in Blighty. You’re right of course. (Especially the bits about our advanced skills.)x

  8. Speaking (without elected position) for the Testosteroidians,

    Ladies, please, it’s just tools. Nothing to be nervous about. ( I do think this is partly a man/woman thing.) I’m clueless about new tech all the time. I break my tools. I get new ones, or better ones, or different ones, or simpler ones more appropriate to my lack of skill. If I can’t afford them, I ask, beg or borrow. Someone else always has some they aren’t using. (Sound like a man?) The difference is I’m not intimidated by not knowing tech. It;s not understanding those FEELINGS that unbalances me, and I bet you two are going “Oh, those, piece of cake.”

    You are already both very advanced users of one of the most flexible, powerful technologies, the one that made all those others possible – the language we are sharing.
    To get to that skill level in word tech, you mastered many aspects of the OS between your ears. All the machines and software that seem intimidating are but pale and clumsy imitations of thought tech. You’re both TEACHERS.
    Start thinking of yourselves as technologists too. What you do helps plug everything into everything else!

    Let us warm our organic tissue-CPUs by the glowing light of our tribal monitor, and tell tales of our ancestors who first made this fire. (eeyy-aaahh)

    I’ll look forward to the stories of how the wheels re-invented Tracy.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thanks for the Testosteroidian advice. I’m having a chuckle at my own insecurities with regards to technology when comparing it to your carefree approach.

      I look forward to sharing my stories of “how the wheels reinvented Tracy”. *laugh*

  9. Lance says:

    Tracey, that was your defining moment in getting you to where you are today.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Yes Lance, I would agree that technology has played a huge role in defining moments of my life. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. Thank you!

  10. Tracy Todd says:

    Hi Deborah. I’m so glad I’m not alone in feeling intimidated by technology. I think my blessing was that without technology I would have no life at all. So, in a sense I have been forced to become familiar with it all which has been a good thing for me. I look forward to sharing my technology journey with you.

  11. Deborah says:

    Hi Tracy – I wil certainly be following all your posts. Technology does intimidate me a bit – setting up my blog was a huge learning experience. And that led me on to setting up a Facebook and Twitter account. (As the blogging guides I read seemed to say I should!) I’ve learnt a lot, not only technologically speaking, but through finding blogs such as yours. I know I’ve already said this, but I do hope you carry on with your blog and that it becomes increasingly successful.x

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