The Survivor

The Survivor

A student writes about a home visit

As a quadriplegic, Ms. W’s world for the past seven years has been a twin bed in the center of a small dark room.  Her husband left a long time ago, and the children are grown.  She spends her day with the TV blaring. At first, I thought her situation seemed lonely and isolating.  Then she began to speak.  She talked in a matter-of-fact way about her medical concerns.  She led the conversation at her own pace, asking for clarification when she didn’t understand, and explaining what she thought might be wrong. 

Clearly, Ms. W was not helpless or powerless.  She was a grown woman who was in control of her life despite her reliance on others for certain things.  There was not a hint of hopelessness or resignation in her voice.  She was not depressed about her paralysis at all, just practical about the issues that she faced.  As we talked, her playful comments and jokes proved that her wit and spirit were intact.  I left the apartment without feeling sorry for her.  She has adjusted to a life most of us can’t imagine spending one day in.  She is a survivor.