Ask Me

Humans, by nature, are curious. We are also quick to notice differences and then become inquisitive.

As a result of my disability, I have been asked many questions.

I don’t mind.

Questions provide an invitation for you to get to know me; a chance for me to bring you into my world; an opportunity for me to expose my heart and soul so that you can see that I’m not as different as you think I am.

Sometimes it’s not the questions themselves, rather who is asking them that matters most.

I was honoured to be a guest speaker at the Africa Young Round Square Conference held at Penryn College. The audience was mainly 12-and 13-year-olds from countries like Namibia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

Round Square Conference

I was blown away by their insightful, thought-provoking questions after my presentation.

I thought that I would share my answers with you as I would answer them, today, cheekily taking advantage of the time I’ve had to think and, of course, hindsight.

 

Did you ever feel like just giving up?

Yes. Many times.

The most difficult part of being paralysed from the neck down is not the immobility; it is the relentless battle that goes on in my head.

I don’t believe that I will ever be able to get to the point where I can fully accept my state of being trapped by my own body, having to live like a sort of modern-day mummy.

I recognise that I will still face a lifetime of mind-wars which will probably leave me weary and feeling defeated, at times.

But, I know that I must continue to do my utmost to make peace with this way of life.

I make a conscious decision, everyday, to put a smile on my face and to be positive, in order to get on with life, as is.  If not for me, then for my loved ones, most especially, my son.

Do you think that it was your destiny to be paralysed?

Do any of us really know what our destiny is?

I can’t accept that it would be anybody’s destiny to live a life of extreme disability.

No, I don’t buy into that whole notion that there is a plan for your life, set out from the day you are born.

I believe that life happens – to all of us. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. No, life is not fair. Then, no one ever promised that it would be.

It was my choice to take off my seat belt minutes before the accident.

This is my reality. I must live it.

If you could change what happened to you, would you?

Yes. This kind of life is extreme. The frustrations of complete physical immobility are sometimes incommunicable.

I try to focus on what I can do and what I have rather than what I can’t do and what I don’t have.

I continue to remind myself that there are people worse off.

But, to be honest, it doesn’t stop me secretly yearning to do more and wishing that things were different.

Have you changed as a person because of what happened to you?

Yes. I’ve changed. I believe we all change as we grow older.

There will always be familiar personality traits, unique to each of us, which are fundamental to whom we are as people.

But, continual exposure to knowledge must reshape you. Awareness and understanding can re-form you. Events and happenings will mould you.

Most profoundly, unpredictable joys and sorrows redefine your essence as a human being, time and time again.

Life changes you. It’s called experience.

If there was only one thing you could do again, what would you choose?

At the top of a very long list would have to be the ability to put my arms around the people who I love.

I don’t need my legs. I don’t even need my hands. All I want is the use of my arms. Surely that is not too much to ask?

I wish more than anything that I could reach out and hug, especially my son.

There were two more questions:

How does your son cope? Was he bullied or treated differently as a result of your circumstances?

I’ve decided to answer those questions separately in a blog post, coming soon.

Please feel free to ask me anything, any time – nothing is too personal. There are no stupid questions. The only thing that makes you stupid is ignorance.

Ask me. Come on. You know you want to.
**Photo credit: Penny Andre**

About Tracy Todd

Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly NOT what defines my essence as a woman. I am also a mother, teacher, wannabe writer and an inspirational speaker with a positive outlook on life.
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20 Responses to Ask Me

  1. Lauren says:

    Hi Tracy,
    I just wanted to tell you what an inspiration you are to my mom and I. I cannot fathom the pain, the longing, the mind games that you have endured for so long; but even more so because you can’t change the past. That sounds ridiculously common and almost a clichè, certainly you would know better than most of us ever will. It is a damn shame bad things happen to good people, but your strength is admirable.
    5 years ago when I was 11, I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer and besides the anger, the denial, and the cold lump that became my heart; I realized that life goes on and the pain lessens over time. You are living proof that while anger is justified, you have to move on the best as you are able to in the aftermath.
    I do have a couple of questions for you, and please feel free to skip some if you would like to. I know some of these are purely ignorant, so apologies in advance.
    1. What do you do to pass the time?
    2. Will your muscles “dissolve” over time? (Stupid question)
    3. If you do anything besides hug your family, what would you do?
    4. Are you planning to write a book soon?

    Thank you so much!

  2. souldipper says:

    Happy Mother’s Day, Tracy. Your eloquence is a hug. I respect who you are and all that you manage.

  3. You have been kind enough over the past couple of years to answer questions for me when I have needed answers and guidance, so thank you again! You are a phenomenal lady and I will give you the biggest hug if I have the pleasure of meeting you in person one day.
    Have a beautiful weekend.🙂 Mandy xo

  4. Alta Smit says:

    Thank you Tracy. You described the way one experience disability so spot on.

    And by all means share what is whirring in that pretty clever head of yours.

    Regards.

    Alta Smit alta.smit@polka.co.za Mobile: 083 301 1202

  5. Anton Fourie says:

    Insightful answers Tracy! (As could be expected)
    Question: How did your new wheels change your life? Yes, I know men are generally more obsessed with their wheels than woman, but yours are an integral part of your life.

  6. Bill Watson says:

    Excellent Tracy. Thank you.

  7. It’s obvious you were always intelligent, and that you developed good language skills to express your thoughts and feelings with, but I think the mental struggle against the flesh anchor has also helped you gain wisdom. Your answers opened up these questions to deeper levels of meaning so well!

    Restricted mobility and reduced tactile sensibility presents spiritual and psychological challenges on top of the technological ones. For me personally, the conquering of despair and the domestication of anger, to turn it toward good purpose are obstacles I must work on daily, despite the relative ease I have moving about and using my arms. I think it’s your ability to WANT to keep going I admire most.

    Oh, but technically speaking, the new wheels look great!

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Hey Mikey thank you for your lovely comment, as always.

      I think that each of us have challenges we have to deal with on a daily basis. Mine are just more visible than others.

      I think I learned pretty early on that I didn’t really have a choice but to go on. It was then up to me to decide whether it would be a journey of hell or ease it by having a more positive attitude. I try hard to choose the latter every single day.

      Those negative emotions that you to struggle to ward off, still manage to creep in from time to time. It’s tough. But, we must go on.

      Sending you lots of love from across the ocean.

  8. What an inspiration. So glad I signed up for your blog. Thank you for the inspiration you are. May you continue to shine as brightly as you do for all to see.

  9. Lisa Kus says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel so many of the same things. Gotta keep fighting the demons of despair and keep making that daily decision to find and to be the positive energy.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Yes, Lisa we’ve just got to keep fighting. I trust that it will be worth it in the end. I still believe that it is far better than the alternative – a life of misery. Stay strong.

  10. Bernice Rich says:

    I have to truly admit how much I admire you Tracy. When I read your Blogg, I could cry for you. Since I am dealing with quadriplegics alll the time in my business, I learn more and more and my heart just aches and wants to reach out and help as much as i can.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thank you, Bernice. I hope that with time you will learn that you don’t need to cry for me. I share my journey in the hopes of creating awareness and bringing you into my world for better understanding. We might look different from the outside but we are all fundamentally the same on the inside.

      I believe that people like you who work to help quadriplegics are true Earth Angels who enable as to go on, living a full, meaningful. Thank you for what you do. Never underestimate the power of the difference you are making in the lives of those that you are helping to your business.

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