Winner of the 2021 Spinal Cord Injury Awareness T-Shirt Design Contest!
Eric Landry, Greenville SC
I am a 34-year resident of South Carolina, and 31 of those years have been spent the beautiful city of Greenville here in the Upstate. I am a graduate of Furman University! (Go, Paladins!)
I was injured as a passenger in a two-car, head-on collision in January 2019. I sustained multiple incomplete spinal cord nerve root injuries (C3-C8, L4-S1), a traumatic brain injury, two fractured ribs, and other injuries. I acquired a vestibular (balance & coordination) disorder, epilepsy, lots of peripheral nerve effects (e.g. pain, numbness, tingling, spasms), cognitive impairments, hearing impairments, PTSD, and more... BUT I AM MORE THAN MY DIAGNOSES! I am grateful, because it could have been worse. The fact that I am here today to share my story is a testimony that God still has a plan for me here, and His Spirit has been with me every step of this journey.
Though I was not paralyzed, it has been a long and difficult road of recovery, and I still have plenty of room to improve. With the support of the SCSCIA, the BIASC (Brain Injury Association of SC), family, and friends, I am overcoming my obstacles a little more each day. Though a lot of continuing therapy, medication, faith, and prayer, I am talking, walking, and driving (slowly) again. Being able to design the SCSCIA T-shirt was a real joy, as I used to draw and paint some before the wreck. Working on the design was the first time returning to my art post-injury. It really gave me hope that I am able to start it back up again!
I had been teaching high school math & science for 15 years before I was injured, but my physical and cognitive impairments made me step back from that. Though I am considered disabled now, I learning how to acclimate to my challenges. I continue to push myself beyond what my prognoses would suggest, and I am hopeful in returning to gainful employment. I also hope that I may someday return to the hiking, kayaking, and sports that I once enjoyed.
It is amazing to think how far I have come, remembering that I had to stop an early round of physical therapy because my pain was too severe. I then did several weeks of pool therapy to help with my balance, and finally got back onto a recumbent bike and upper-body ergometer months later. Months after that, I resumed a few more rounds of physical therapy (including a new 12-week program started just three weeks ago). While the pain and other nerve effects are still severe, my balance, mobility and flexibility are improving. It is wonderful to be back reaping the benefits of increased physical activity, and I greatly encourage others with SCI to keep pushing beyond the perception of their limitations!
I joined the SCSCIA to increase my own awareness about my injuries, but I quickly came to appreciate the community that makes up the organization. In addition to helping me with my own challenges, the SCSCIA has helped me become more aware and sensitive to those affected by SCI. Since I was not paralyzed like so many who are affected by SCI, I count my blessings and hope to be able to come alongside those who are with support and encouragement. I look forward to getting to know more SCI OVERCOMERS and their families in the future. Every day truly is a precious gift from God. Without my faith in Jesus Christ and a strong support community, I most assuredly would not be here today to share my story.
One of my occupational therapists trained me to shift my thinking away from the word "DISABLED" to the words "I'M ABLE." While I have come to realize that I may always have physical impairments, I am confident that I can overcome them mentally knowing that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
For those in the SCI community who may want to share their story, please reach out to the SCSCIA about posting it in an upcoming email blast. I look forward to getting to know you and encouraging one another as we OVERCOME our SCI's together! Keep striving and do not ever give up!