You read the title right. It might be hard to believe that someone would be better off after a spinal cord injury, but everyone’s experiences are unique and valid. Jacinta Burnicle, an incomplete quadriplegic from Australia, shares her journey since sustaining her spinal cord injury in October 2014.
Her life pre-spinal cord injury
“I may have been upright, but I was not happy,” shares Jacinta about her pre-spinal cord injury life. “I was in a funk and struggling to find my joy again.” She felt trapped in a job she used to love, and her job was her primary focus. “I let my work become my identity rather than something I did Monday to Friday,” she explains. “I was so exhausted by the end of the week, peopled out, that I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything.”
Striving to find a deeper sense of value in life, Jacinta decided to start a 100 Days of Gratitude challenge. Each day, she had to find something she was grateful for and share it on her Facebook page. “It wasn’t easy for me,” she shares. She made it to her 52nd post before she fell ill.
A huge life change in every way
It started a few days before her 40th birthday with pain in her left hip and lower back. “I thought it was just muscle strain,” she explains. Two days later her husband found her on the floor of her living room, having lost sensation in her arms and legs. “I wasn’t scared at this point, but more curious as to what my body was doing,” she shares.
After a barrage of doctors and tests, MRI results showed a spinal abscess that was treated with two surgeries that left Jacinta paralyzed from the shoulders down. “The prognosis was initially ‘let’s just keep her alive and go from there’ which isn’t the most pleasant of things to hear,” she explains.
“I was grateful to be alive. It took two weeks of crying and eight weeks before I truly felt like ‘I can do this’."
A new beginning
“My point is, that after the turmoil, came the purpose,” she shares. “I lost my funk, found my Mojo and my joy.” No longer spending time worrying about the future, she enjoys living in the present.
“Lying on that bed before my first surgery, I promised myself that IF I woke up, my life would be different.”
She vowed to do things differently and focus on what was truly important to her– her friends and family. “People are the jewels that make me fill rich and fulfilled,” she explains. “I feel like I have been given a second chance, and I have grabbed it with both hands. I laugh every day, loudly, and even snort on occasion.”
Her experiences have given her a sense of being brave and finding the courage to not only advocate for herself, but for others like her. Having completed a leadership course in her home area, she intends to support other women with disabilities. “I am giving back and the reward for me is tenfold,” she shares. “I am not the person I was eleven months ago, and I am truly grateful.”
Know someone looking to find purpose? Share this post with them and share Jacinta’s story.