Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Crash Landing 14

In two days it will be three weeks since I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle. In that three weeks I have had major back surgery, plastic surgery on my face and nose and have been healing of some broken ribs and road rash. My face looks good, people say my nose looks normal and the Dr. said the scar on my back looked well healed. I got out of critical care in less than half the time that they said I would and I got a bed in Parkwood in record time.

So here I am now, in Parkwood. I feel like I have been floating along as if everything was possible, I was healing quickly and nothing would get in my way. But today I started to learn the truth of my new reality. Today I learned from my new Dr. that there are three types of spinal injuries. The first is like a shock, where the nerves need two to four weeks to recover. The second is a compression, where the nerves have been crushed at a particular level and then take time (one inch per month) to heal. The third type is what they call complete. Where the cord is severed and not able to repair. My injury may be a combination of all three.

Everyone says “you’ve got this” and “if anyone can do it you can” and “you’re so strong”. But I don’t feel that way today. Today I feel like crying until I have no more tears. I want to walk again. All the strength and luck in the world can not make that a forsure thing. I can build my muscles so that I am strong enough to handle transferring to a wheelchair, that will be easy. What people don’t think about is all the other stuff that results from paralysis. Stuff that is not about “being strong”.

Because now it is about bowels and bladder and skin. Battles that will be never ending. Surely I have never thought about having to “train” my bowels so that I would not have an accident when I was out in public. How about avoiding urinary tract infections? Dr. says it is not a matter of when, but how often. And skin? I love my skin, but apparently it will start to break down in places where there is too much friction.

So while I begin my training for upper body strength so I can get around, I also have to train systems that were trained 40 years ago, but this time without being able to feel them. I need to do this so that I can go home, be with my kids, and sleep beside my husband in my own bed. Today was my crash landing into my new reality.


  • Ernest Dow says:

    Praying for your recovery and adjustment to this new reality. My wife's brain tumour has likewise required much adjustment over the past dozen years, including areas of indignity such as unpredictable plumbing. Much grace to you and Theo as you make the mental adjustments needed to cope with the physical changes.

  • My warm thoughts and prayers are with your Julie. Your willingness to share in this journey is awe-inspiring. You have touched so many with your courage, openness and gift for advocacy and communication. I miss you and am sending much love. Tash

  • Julie. All I can do from here is to pray for the best for you. I will keep doing that.


  • Mrs. Kerr says:

    Julie, praying hard for you as you transition into this. Cry when you need to and ask for help when you need to, feel every emotion you are experiencing. You have a group of supporters that will be with you for the rest of this journey, the rest of your life whether you regain the ability to walk or not. We love you for you. Thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent as you go forth each day…that in my opinion is the "strength" that others are speaking of. Yes, you are determined and capable, yet this situation is beyond that alone. Love to you, Theo, Ella & Oliver.

  • Julie, my heart is with you. Sending love, power and hope your way.

  • Angel says:

    Julie, we don't know each other, but I read this blog on Facebook, posted by Kimberly Payne with whom I am "friends with" thru the Stratford Chef School. I know that Parkwood is an amazing facility; a friend of mine suffered a severe spinal cord injury almost twenty years ago while on vacation, Parkwood helped. The other thing that I know, continue to write this blog, it will help too, use it to say things that you need to say that you might otherwise keep in side, it is part of your emotional tool kit as you move forward in this journey of recovery. I hope that you get to go home soon as well. Love and prayers from a stranger.

  • Patti Nixon says:

    Stay strong Julie grant it you will have dark days…but as you write your blog and share hope is that together we can hold your hand and help you through this journey. .even if it's on a spiritual level….sending positive thoughts your way.

  • Patti Nixon says:

    Stay strong Julie grant it you will have dark days…but as you write your blog and share hope is that together we can hold your hand and help you through this journey. .even if it's on a spiritual level….sending positive thoughts your way.

  • Julie – you are in my thoughts every day. Keep writing, and know that we are reading your words, and that we are with you in spirit. Sending love and wishing you moments of peace amidst all of this. -Kim Stevenson

  • Julie – We just found out yesterday of your accident. Reading this post sure does show the reality of the situation and stating that it sucks is an understatement. Sending our love!

  • Hi Ms. Sawchuk… I was a biology student of yours at LDSS in 02/03-03/04 and still to this day I can't address former teachers and professors informally. 😉 I heard about your story in the news and I was speechless when I read that you were identified as the victim. I am so sorry that you have to endure such a terrible thing. I've been praying for you daily that you would find strength and peace as you navigate this journey. I find your words powerful and inspiring. Whether it's raw and vulnerable like today's post, a touch of humour in the midst of a very sad event (noting your husband affectionately referring to you as a "burrito" as an example), and how you are using this for a cause greater than yourself is nothing short of incredible (Share the Road). Sending positivity, good vibes and light your way.

  • Biology Ball says:

    Thank you for trusting us with your feelings. We'll do our best to honour them.

  • Lindsay says:

    That is so rough. 🙁 I'm sorry you have to go through this.

  • It seems that you are carrying quite a burden there. I don't think anyone can easily say that they know what it's like to be in the same situation. Your injury is something that should not have been, but you deal with the reality head on and take all you can to be better, and to reassert your being and your pride. That said, thank you for sharing your story, and I hope you will recover from this soon.

    Joanne Krueger @ Kurtz And Blum

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