I am patriotic. I go to the parades and cheer for the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I decorate my house with red white and blue stuff and go to the fireworks and buy the flags from the scouts to put in my lawn. I love my country and I love living here and I love it all.
Now. That said, if I was born in Brazil, I’d have the same kind of patriotism. I’d decorate my house in blue and green and yellow and cheer at the Brazilian parade. And if I was born in Mexico, I’d celebrate Cinco de Mayo with all the tamales and drinks and pinatas and whatever else is used in that kind of cultural celebration. In short, I am a team player. And whatever team I am on is the one I will root for. I want to succeed in my own life and so I want my country, wherever it is that I am, to succeed. And I am in the United States.
So I wanted to write a short, but meaningful list of the things that specifically living in the United States has meant to me. These are in no way to say that living here is better than living in another country and I can tell you that if I was from another country, I would be writing the same list…not with the same things, but rather listing whatever benefits and blessings came from my country.
- I am alive. Had I been paralyzed in a lesser medically advanced country I would not have survived. In fact, had I been paralyzed ten years earlier in THIS country, I would not have survived. The United States really has very advanced medical care.
- I was able to attend college. Half of my college, I paid for. The other half was paid for by tax payers who supported me after being paralyzed so that I could finish. The medical bills cleaned us out financially and I am so grateful for the assistance I received to finish my education. In total, it took 7 years and I worked very hard. Thanks everyone 🙂
- I have a baby. Again, this goes back to the medical advancements of this country. Some other countries have less advanced medical care and spinal cord injuries like me just don’t have babies.
- I can go almost anywhere. There is so much that hinders my mobility. If I come across a stick in the path I have to move it or ask to have it removed before I can pass. Stores, post offices, schools, hospitals and almost everywhere is wheelchair accessible. I am very free to roam in this country. On vacation in Europe, “wheelchair accessible” meant it only had one flight of stairs.
- I had immediate and very good therapy and rehabilitation to understand my body and what it can do. I get emails periodically from spinal cord injuries from other countries who left the hospital to wait until they can get therapy. They wait upwards of five years. Less time than that will kill a spinal cord injury if they don’t know how to properly take care of their newly abled body.
- I am typing this blog. In this country, we have so many wonderful opportunities to work and grow and fulfill our dreams and ambitions. I am often reminded of spinal cord injuries in third world countries who spend their days laying on beds or dragging around their lifeless legs through the dirt roads. If I lived in their country, I would do the same an I would write a wonderful list about the blessings of my country because that’s just what I try to do. But I am ever-so grateful that is not my life and I have so many opportunities in the country where I live.
- I can drive. And I do so almost every day. The technology and equipment available in our country is amazing.
- I can write this blog and my freedom to express my opinions won’t be shut down, turned off, or deleted by others.
I understand that my country is not perfect. I get it that not every place is wheelchair accessible and not every person is wheelchair friendly, but I am grateful to live in this country and be blessed by the many good things it has to offer.