Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

A new chapter 11

If you’ve been keeping track, I’ve not written for a while. I didn’t even send cards or a Christmas letter this year. Life has been a bit crazy, a bit stressful and I’ve not been super healthy either. It turns out that building a house, moving, having health issues, working on our relationship and trying to figure out my life is a bit stressful.

I have never considered myself to be an anxious person, but all of this has left me feeling like someone is sitting on my chest. This feeling has been on and off for a while (almost a year) but it would go away and I’d feel better and not be concerned enough to ask questions. Then it came back and would not really let up without a full night of sleep. So I started to ask my doctors questions. I had a lot of tests done – especially to rule out a pulmonary embolism – but everything was clear. I even scored 112% on my lung volume test (thanks to my physio and fitness routines).

Then my doctor started asking me about stress and how well I sleep. I sleep just fine, so long as I take my zopiclone. But otherwise I lay awake, head running in circles. We talked about how anxiety manifests itself physiologically – in the gut and in the chest. So that is the conclusion (at this time). Anxiety.

I was offered an antianxiety medication that would also help me feel drowsy, but after a couple of weeks the side effects (super swollen ankles) became concerning, so I discontinued it. And that is where I am at right now. Talking about it to friends helps. Getting control over spending money on the house helps. Seeing our couples counselor helps. Talking to my psychologist helps. Massage therapy helps. So does exercise, getting outside and a full family Nerf war. Moving into the new house has really helped.

All of these things take work, planning, time, energy and money. But they all help me keep going.


This is my new view. Huron County is known for sunsets, but what I see in the morning, now, is the sunrise! There are so many things that I love about this house it’s hard to know where to start. The kitchen? The space? The roll-in shower? Our bedroom ceiling? How about the pool? Room to dance!

Christmas in the new kitchen

There are spaces in this house that I love for their accessible design and those that I appreciate for the craftsmanship. We spent a lot of time getting the layout and design right, and not as much time on the appearance – but in the end there is not much I would change.

The pool, although we paid dearly for it, is a total bonus. It means not having to drive to Wingham and use the cold pool and the not accessible change room/shower. Swimming in the current feels fabulous, once my legs come up to the surface, it feels real.

It’s hard to tell in this picture, but the exterior has a dark grey steel roof, green steel siding (some still to do) with wood siding and venetian red windows. We love it.

This may be my last post. I feel I have said my piece. My plan, now, is to write a book about building a wheelchair accessible home. I hope to work with a friend who is doing something similar, but a renovation rather than a new build. As we were planning the house we found that there were not a lot of resources out there. Nothing very helpful, anyway. In the meantime I am writing a book, together with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO), called Roadmap to Recovery. It is going to be a guide for those who are newly injured; how to navigate the system get the best help and find the resources that you need. SCIO has received some money from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in order to make it happen – very exciting!

In the meantime the chapter that I wrote for SHINE – Inspirational Stories of Choosing Success over Adversity Volume 3 will be released on Amazon February 26, 2019. I’ll post details on Facebook of where to find it (in case you are interested 🙂

I’d like to finish with a quote from a very wise young woman who is a fine friend of mine, Erin Yungblut. She took the difficult step of telling the world (in Biathlon World magazine) about her own battle with body image and mental health. These last words she said in the interview just hit home with me – speaking to where I am on many nights. “It won’t be easy to face those demons inside, but remember, not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.”


  • Karri-Anne Cameron says:


  • Betty & Dave says:

    Thanks Julie for finding time to write and post the blog. The house looks great and wonderful for the whole family. Your new normal is inspiring and so helpful for others facing life altering challenges. Looking forward to reading the book “Shine”.
    Hope to see you soon,
    Betty and Dave

    Hope to see you soon,
    Dave and betty

  • Cynthia says:

    Congrats on your new house, new journey and a new beginning.

  • Veronica Lee says:

    Good luck with your book Julie! I’ll miss your blog posts. You are a very real and inspiring person. And congratulations in getting into your new home! It looks looks amazing!

  • Ernest Dow says:

    Definitely going to miss your blogs… You’ve come a long way! Thanks for sharing the journey with the rest of us. I look forward to seeing you around.

  • Karin William's (Erin's aunt) says:

    Both you and Erin are an inspiration!!! Your pool looks awesome! Congratulations on your new home. There must be many dark moments and yet you chose the life of someone strong and positive.

  • Rachel says:

    Hi Julie,

    I have loved reading your blogs and have been waiting since November for your next one! Im so glad you are in the new house and are taking some time to focus on you and you health aside from the injury.

    When the books are done give some consideration to the idea of visiting high schools and talking to students about overcoming adversity. As a high school teacher in Australia, it’s so evident that they need to come across people who haven’t been dealt a perfect hand but are pushing on.


  • Lisa Fox says:

    You are a remarkable woman Julie. It was a pleasure to meet you. Continue to be the force you are and the inspiration you have become. Continue to ask those questions you needed answers to from the first day we met. I am proud of all you have accomplished and of being able to say I know you.

  • Ali Orzel says:

    Julie, thanks so much for opening up your world and letting us know about the good and the bad. I’m so glad you’re in your new happy place. I will miss reading your blog and finding out what you doing. I was check every day for the chance to read about my amazing friend. Good luck on your new adventure. House building is so stressful so I am hopefully that once you are settled in your brain can shutdown and you can enjoy.

  • Andrzej Holub says:

    Summer is coming . It will be better.

  • Kathleen MacVarish says:

    Julie, you have been an inspiration to me and I’m so glad we had the chance to meet at SUNY Buffalo. I will miss your blog but look forward to reading your books (emphasis on books – I’m sure you have many in you!). Wishing you and your family all the best in that lovely new house.

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