// Pain: My Nemesis

If there is one thing that I dread every single day, it is waking up. That’s when the pain comes. Lots of it. While sleeping I seem to do okay, but as soon as my eyes open it is all over.

Most mornings I am awakened by a very soft and sweet voice. It is the voice of my caregiver, Sheila. She’s been with me over a year and, at this point, loves me. And I her. She is tall, has caramel colored skin, and a personality to die for. She embraces my sweet but sarcastic ways. She walks in and says “good morning” in a very bubbly voice. She, on the other hand, is greeted by moans and grunts on my end. The pain is unbearable. I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. And it never ends. Granted, I can take pain pills. They do help, but the pain is excruciating and the pills only mask what is really going on.

As an example, it feels like someone is hacking away at the meat and bone of my shoulders with a dull cleaver; or like a serrated bread knife sawing through tissue and nerves. This is my norm. It hurts. And it sucks. I can say though, that it lets me know I am still alive. And for that I guess I am grateful.

This is something that I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. Most people don’t realize exactly what I go through each and every day. It would be nice if I could transfer it onto people for a five-minute span, just so there would be a little more understanding there. I’m not sure many people could make it the full five minutes, much less for the rest of their lives. It definitely makes me a stronger person. So, if you see me out and I have a smile on my face, it is because I try to make the best of it. Every day. What else can I do?

Enjoy what you have. Always. It could be worse; this I know for fact. Keep well and let people know that you love them. Thanks for reading.

JHS

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// An Aside: The Blog

This blog has only existed for one full day and already my head is in my hands and I am crying. The comments, though few, have already hit home. Honesty was mentioned. If there’s one thing I will try to do is to keep this as honest and raw as possible. This is my life. This site is my way to get my feelings out to the public. I control this, as I do my own life. As an outlet, I think it can only help. Me as well as others. You can rest assured I will keep doing it as long as I can. I hope people will continue to read. It is going to be a bit of an experiment.

JHS

// Info Text from Poster Art Show, 2010

In the early morning hours of June 28, 2008, I was standing with my friend and bandmate, David Williams, having a beer. We had just played our first show as a band, and were waiting for some friends so that we could celebrate. We were approached by two young black men. We had a quick conversation regarding drugs. They asked if we wanted any, we declined. We offered them a beer. They accepted. After a few moments, they walked away. About five minutes passed; they were back.

A gun was pressed into my neck. Before I could say anything, he fired. I fell paralyzed. The bullet had passed through my neck and entered Dave’s neck. He hit the ground but was able to crawl over to me and grab my cell phone. He called 911. I suffered a spinal cord injury at my C-5/6 level. I am paralyzed from the chest down. Dave survived with a damaged vocal cord but is otherwise fine. I have limited use of my hands. That doesn’t stop me from producing art. Thank you for reading and having an interest. Please visit my booth.

JHS

// A Little Slice of Absolute Hell

Autonomic Dysreflexia, also known as Hyperreflexia, is a potentially life threatening condition which can be considered a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. It occurs where the blood pressure in a person with a spinal cord injury (SCI) above T5-6 becomes excessively high due to the over activity of the Autonomic Nervous System.

The most common symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia are sweating, pounding headache, tingling sensation on the face and neck, blotchy skin around the neck and goose bumps.

Not all the symptoms always appear at once, and their severity may vary. In untreated and extreme cases of autonomic dysreflexia, it can lead to a stroke and death.

– from apparalyzed.com

This will be revisited soon.

JHS

// The Loudest Sound I Never Heard

I’ve never died but I’ve come close. In my case, I was shot in the neck at point-blank range. Most people know this, but no one knows what was going through my mind in the few seconds after I was shot. First of all, I knew I was paralyzed before I even hit the ground. It was like my body was one giant rubber band that had been snapped, the vibration strong at first and dissipating as I fell.

Then I heard the blood. A soft hissing sound followed by gurgling noises. I watched as it trickled into the gutter. At that point I thought I was going to die. And in that moment, I accepted that fact. Now, I know some people believe in God. If not God, then some other higher power. But I’m here to tell you what I experienced. There was no God. There were no angels, nor trumpets, or even a long tunnel with a light at the end. There was no devil, nor demons or hellfire. My salvation came in the form of something else. My salvation was love.

It was a face. Her face. I saw it in snapshots. I saw it in good memories and bad. Always changing, smiling. It was like someone had taken a photo album and made it into an animation. A flipbook of everything I’d ever done with her. It was this that made me want to hang on. So I clamped my neck down onto my shoulder as much as I could to stop the blood from pouring into the gutter. I held it there until the paramedics arrived. I lived.

My point is that there are things in this world worth living for. Others might see angels. Others might see a tunnel with a light at the end. Whatever it is, there is something worth living for. So, love when you can love, help when you can help, and teach when you can teach. We will all be better off in the long run.

JHS