spinal-cord injury

Diary of a day: 3.08am

I am woken suddenly with my legs rocking and rolling and bouncing. I check the clock that projects the time on my ceiling. 3:08 AM. This is a common enough occurrence. Spinal patients are subject to reflex movements of muscles below the level of injury (for an explanation see here) and for some reason I spasm at around this time most nights. It is a weird sensation. The muscles in my legs shake and my knees jump and bend, my stomach and back muscles tighten and my arms go rigid. It is not painful and there is something delightful about the movement of limbs that are ordinarily still. It feels for a few seconds as though I have control of my body. My only real complaint is the time. Sometimes I can go straight back to sleep but tonight I am restless. I think about my kids and their challenges (Jeremy doing HSC, is the studying enough? Jacob and Lachlan obsessed with computer games, how do I get them to read a book?). I think about my wife and the pressure she faces. I think about my work, lectures start this week. And all of this cycles through my brain in utterly pointless rapidity. I decide to write a diary – at least a one day diary, setting out the mundane detail of one day of my life. I shall try and write as I go along. I open my iPad – which is cradled in a mechanical arm that angles it over my bed in easy reach of my arms and eyes. I can read and operate it lying in my back. I open my e-mail file and send a brief description to remind me of the night events thus far. I turn to the Kindle app and take up my reading of Uncommon Gratitude by Chittister and Williams (see previous post). The last time I looked at the clock was 3:53 AM. Sometime after that I presumably fall asleep.

About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on

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