Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! This is the third holiday season for me with my spinal cord injury (SCI), and this year has been no Pollyanna.

No two injuries are the same; mine has not gone by its “textbook” definition. In so many ways I am truly blessed; my limitations “should be” more significant given the level and severity of my injury (C3-C7, incomplete).

But as I approach my fourth year, the injury has decided to throw rocks in my path. This year, my “tone” has fought against my fervent desire to gain strength and the results are chronic pain, increased spasticity, and a more significant fall risk.

This past October, the day my leg brace was adjusted, I tripped and banged my arm on a dresser, resulting in surgery for a displaced fracture of my humerus and a torn rotator cuff.

This halted PT, wreaked havoc on my balance, and doused my usually upbeat mood–all in time for the holidays.

But as I’ve said before, pulling yourself out of the doldrums takes mental work. I have that toolbox and use it. Two things I did were:

Joined my elementary school friends on a regular holiday trip to Longwood Gardens. This might not seem like a big deal, but when you have an SCI, are fighting chronic pain, have an injury, and are mentally worn out, being “festive and fun” seems like work.

But these are “my girls,” and we have more than five decades of friendship. One woman prioritized picking me up, another to get our timed tickets, and a third grabbed her mom’s handicapped placard because she knew I’d forget mine.

Suffice it to say I’m so grateful and glad I went. Longwood at Christmas is spectacular, and being with friends makes my disability fade to grey.

I found a new, inspirational movie. “David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived” was not on my radar (though it should have been!) I was looking for a film to watch and saw the placard: Daniel Radcliffe standing next to a man in a wheelchair.

I pressed play. I’m so glad I did. It’s about an SCI injury and the love and friendship that endures among the Potter stuntmen and Radcliffe fraternity.

It’s not an easy watch and the runtime of 1:27 flies by but tells the story completely.

And it removed the rest of my holiday blues. Completely.

Submitted by Cathy Cuff-Coffman

“Almost four years ‘in’ with a C3-7 and L4-6 incomplete. Accepting the past, living today with joy and gratitude, and basing my future on living as the best person I an be.”