Defining Your Own Recovery – Vanessa Cameron
Vanessa Cameron, two-and-a-half years into her recovery, defines that topic however she wants. Listen to her as she explains how she has grown in movement and recovery.
“I used to think ‘recovery’ was walking again or appearing as ‘non-disabled’ as possible,” she says, “so it was a breath of fresh air when I realized that was an external expectation and that I get to define recovery however I want. I now define recovery as moving through my life with greater comfort and ease so that I have the energy to do the things that bring me joy—like being outside, spending time with my family, making human connections, and advocacy.”
Cameron continues, “This change in perspective let me take a new look at how I was approaching recovery and all the steps (pun intended) I was skipping. I still work daily on increasing connection, engagement, and strength. Still, it is more from a point of curiosity and excitement about what my body can do rather than an urgency, almost to the point of desperation, to see change. The latter used to lead to a lot of internal berating about why my recovery was different, why I hadn’t gained ‘more’ when other people did, even though I was trying so hard. The release of this and to instead approach with curiosity has helped me reclaim myself.”
Cameron does not go to traditional rehab. She works as a nurse educator and is pursuing her Ph.D. in nursing. Instead, she researched and became a student of ZebraFish Neuro and started working with Stephanie Comella, first remotely and then by attending in-person intensive sessions.
“[The ZebraFish Neuro] workouts are intended for me to do independently,” says Cameron. “It gives me back control, which was so lacking after injury. It’s helped me learn to problem solve, to increase my creativity, and to find a blend of determination and patience. This empowerment extended beyond my workouts and helped me view life after injury differently.”
“[The program] outlines how to progress workouts independently,” she continues. “This lets me work with Steph infrequently, but I constantly challenge myself and make new connections. I learned the framework rather than just being ‘given’ a home exercise program.”
She adds, “This constant shifting and progressing pushes my body and mental connection to continually adapt, and when I look back at what I’m doing now versus even my last intensive in late July, the difference in strength and connection is almost incomprehensible.”
Cameron also supplements with other fitness activities: ski erg, weights, passive biking, and aqua therapy. She was an avid rock climber and has found adaptive mountain biking and Nordic skiing fun and therapeutic. But the Pilates-based workouts from ZebraFish Neuro are her priority. (She also works in workouts from Paralysis Assassin.)
She sometimes still struggles with her changed body and doesn’t know if that will ever change. “Those moments of struggle are less frequent and less severe,” she notes. “This is a traumatic experience. It’s okay, even necessary, to feel all of the feelings. But to then be able to take a breath, find some grounding, and keep moving forward…to build healthy habits that support finding grounding and connection and a way to learn about myself again.”
More Internal and External Motivation – Allen Daniels
Allen Daniels shared his honest story of drinking and driving with the #Shalieve family last year.
He told us how he and his fiancée pulled his life back together, even motivating others with his story. A former football player, he knows the meaning of hard physical work.
Today, Daniels is proud to say he and his fiancée go to the gym evey day, and he has improved his mobility and strength far beyond what he even expected.
He landed a full-time job where he can work from home. “My current job is as an estimator, designing utility poles for PG&E,” he says.
Daniels also started a freelance business, car detailing “an extra side hustle I do when I have free time,” he explains. “I paint rims, remove curb rash on rims, chrome deletions, and paint calipers,” he explains, all work he can do from his wheelchair.
And if that’s not enough, Daniels is also in the process of writing a book. “It’s a short story about my life before my car accident, the process of dealing with a spinal cord injury and what it entails, and life after,” He says his book will detail how things–and even people–change, and how he deals with it positively.