Zarina's Road to Recovery

On the night of April 26, 2010, as I was giving a tour of my newly purchased house to a friend, (I had just closed escrow on the property on April 2, 2010) I fell off the stairs, hitting my neck on a table that was close by. This accident resulted in quadriplegia and life as I knew it changed.

Still in denial, I explored everything I could think of and that was suggested to me, draining my financial resources in the process. Acupuncture, personal training, physical therapy, horseback riding, adaptive yoga, riding the FES bike, gait training, occupational therapy, changed my diet, stem cells, surgery - I tried all these things thinking that I could get my body to work through the sheer force of my will. Unfortunately, all through this, pain coursed through my body unrelentingly driving me to the point of exhaustion and to an increasing dependence on painkillers.

I was very self-conscious about my disability. I had been a very active and independent person before; I reveled in being outdoors, I sailed, kayaked, surfed, hiked. The injury, with its trademark loss of mobility and thus control over the very basic aspects of life, like getting out of bed, meant I had lost my independence. It drove me to the depths of despair and I stayed at that dismal place for what seemed like an eternity. Each discovery of my limitations brought on new bouts depression punctuated by panic and anxiety.

Coming to terms with this loss has been the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. My emotions were on an express roller coaster and they were taking me along for the ride. There were times when I was so engulfed in darkness that I had no idea how to drag myself out of the chasm into which I had fallen. I turned to meditation and spirituality in a desperate bid to find peace within myself.

Then, unexpectedly and quite inexplicably even to me, a switch flipped in my head changing my mindset. I began to look at the glass as being half full instead of half empty. With this new outlook, I was able to accept my injury, my limitations and my new life. Almost at the same time, the pain became much more tolerable and I was able to think more clearly.

I decided that rather than spending my time mourning my loss, I was going to figure out what I needed to do to continue participating in my interests, the things that had once before brought me joy. This clarity also gave me new direction and renewed vigor.

Looking through this lens, I realized how blessed I was to have such the wonderful support of my family and friends. I began to see that not everyone was quite so lucky. That realization prompted my decision to use my experience to help others less fortunate. I got involved with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and applied to be a peer mentor with Head North, an organization that helps people with spinal cord injury in San Diego.

At the moment, I depend on others to get me to my various appointments and commitments. Thus, being able to purchase a vehicle that I can operate would go a long way not only towards allowing me to reclaim my independence and self worth, but also towards fulfilling my intention of pursuing further education, greater involvement in community service, as well as gainful employment.

The cost of purchasing, converting and modifying such a vehicle is upwards of $80,000. I have secured funding for nearly half that amount. I look to you to help me raise the remainder of the money to help make this purchase possible. Any amount that you can spare will be very appreciated. Thank you, in advance, for your time, kindness and generosity.


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Zarina Rahman 
Oceanside, CA
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