How can I help my sister who is paralyzed

hello, my sister became paralyzed one year ago, she fractured the c5 and c6 and is paralyzed from the waist down, she can use her arms, but really does not have much motor skills. She was injured in a car accident. Lately I don't know what to do for her anymore, she has become very very nasty towards myself and her friend (who has been there for her since day 1) she is also very mean to my mother whom she lives with. I try to visit her as much as I can (sometimes 4 to 5 times a week) I ask her all the time to go out for dinner, movie anything, but she constantly says no. She hardly gets out of bed and all she does is complain about everyone around her. She does not do any therapy on her own. The other day she left me a very mean message on my cell phone and told me I don't do anything for her. This hurts me so much, cause I had a fundraiser for her to have a handicap bathroom put in, gave her a laptop (which she never uses), threw her a huge welcome home party after rehab, whatever she needs I gave it to her and it still is not enough. Please tell me what I am doing wrong and what I should be doing. I have not called her back since she left me a nasty message, I feel she needs to apologize.

Edited July 20, 2008 at 11:19 pm

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Not sure how to tell you how to help your sister. I was paralyzed from a car accident myseif...never did get bitter or angry...but I don't have the finance buden that most people have...It was at work. so I have workman comp behind me.
your sister has to come to turms with all of this herself..I count my blessing, it could have been a lot worse...and she has to look at it that way..she could be in bed and someone having to feed her and diaper her....I have been out to the movies and shopping...
It was hard to get back into the comuity I was scared..I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me...just wanted them to see the blessing I have...and with that additude it has all been good...
I don't think there is anything you can do until she gets to the point that she is ok with what has happened.
keep trying, hopefully she will come around...my computer has been a life saver...and this site has been a very good thing for me...
stand by your sister no matter keep telling her she is ok, and that you love her...we have had a life changing experinance..if she is like me we went from a full and busy life to this...but we will be ok.. life is what you make it...I will be praying for your sister, that she might come to turms with this...and be able to live her life to the fullest...God Bless you, hang in there...sorry about the miss spelled words....need spell check...LOL.......

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It sounds like your sister is seriously depressed. Have you had a family meeting with your mother and sister about this? Her physician needs to know about this behavior, and she needs both some counseling and probably at least temporary antidepressant medications to help her through this. The first 1-2 years is the roughest, but if she needs help and does not get it, this pattern may become long term. If she will not get counseling, the rest of the family should go to learn how to deal with her behavior.

Driving away those close to her is a way to prove to herself that she is worthless and unlovable. Don't let her drive you away, but don't take abuse either. It may be a bit much at this point to expect her to be grateful for what you have done for her, but that may come later if you hang in there.

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Your sister has a right to be upset about what has happened to her. Someone told me that it could be similar to morning the loss of someone extremely close, she is morning the loss of her body. I agree with the fact that you need to be there. My husband told me the other day that I am the reason he is happy that he lived, and that if I was not in his life he would wish that he would have died. It is a very emotional time. I have learned that family is in a very tricky situation. There is a very thin line that is very easy to cross, the line between being encouraging and motivating and crossing over to being pushy and b----y. Talk to her open and honestly. Tell her that you will always be there for her, but also tell her your dilemma. Ask her what you should and could do to help her? Instead of doing things you think she wants, ask her what she wants. Maybe instead of a party, movie, or dinner she wants you to get in bed with her and cry on your shoulder. She probably also needs to be on antidepressants.

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going thru an injury like this can do many things to a person especially mentally. i myself kept in mind that i will get better and beat this. i had many days where i would just be sitting here and start to cry then quickly realize hey,you're gonna beat this.going from being able to do EVERYTHING on my own ANYTIME i wanted to,to only things i can now do,when i get to it can be frustrating at times.i too live with my mom and my 2 daughters and have our little arguements and when i think about them afterwards,alot of times its because of something i could have done or taken care of before my injury.i also dont have the motor skills needed to do certain things and it does get frustrating alot but today i laugh at it.i find a way and i beat it.i do alot of things using my teeth...lol.anyways,i hope your sister comes to terms and accepts what has happened and either gets the help she needs or decides to beat this. maybe print off some of the articles on this site and give them to her to read. put them in an envelope and write 'i love you' on the front and give it to her when shes alone :)tell her bout this site and i hope things work out.she needs to come around soon cause doing nothing will send her backwards mentally and physically.p.s.friends and family are very important to her now even if she dont admit it or realize it if shes depressed.

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my daughter is a T11 incomplete...i remember the 1 yr anniversary of her injury...i think its like when someone dies and around that time every year you start to remember that person and everything about them and what happened to them...its the same for your sister...she is probably extremely depressed and remembering her life before the accident...or thinking about what maybe she could have done differently to prevent this...or she may even be coming to terms with the fact she may be paralyzed forever { which is very scary and can a person extremely mad--at the world and at themselves--if they haven't regained that much movement/feeling } i think you are a amazing sister and though she does not see it right now she is very lucky to have you...talk to her about seeing a doctor for depression meds...tell her she has nothing to be ashamed about by taking them lots of people with injuries like this take them { and in my case the care givers take them too!! } i wish your family the best of luck!!!!!!!

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Ariana and her sister Rachel and Simone are also very close. Ariana (at 18) is paralyzed on year 3 now. Rachel( 25) her older sister helped alot with care initially. Since Ariana also had a head injury it took her awhile to get through those symptoms which can change a persons behavior. Sometimes head injuries can be slight and not noticed by health teams when a spinal cord injury is obvious. Usually it takes a violent action that causes the spinal cord injury so she may have hit her head without becoming unconcious. Simone is 15 months younger than Ariana. she had the toughest time since they were extremely close. Simone needed to see a counselor to deal with her anger and grief over what happened to her sister. The first year was awful. Simone said she felt a part of her had died and she could not get over the anger and pain. It made a huge difference for her to get help. The second year was a little better. Ariana did not know what she wanted from her sisters. She wanted love, understanding, to be cared for and yet not to be treated like she was unable to do anything. ( Because of her head injury, she takes zoloft to keep her moods more stable) surprisingly Ariana had more grief and sadness over her situation when she was around Simone. I think it made her realize how different her life had become. Please get someone ( a professional) to help you out with this as well as for your Mom and sister. Now my daughters are able to communicate to each other and deal with the changes in a more positive way. I wish you all well. Warmest regards, Patricia

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I am not sure if this will help but I can tell you my perspective as I am currently assisting my friend and he is still in the very early stages. He has both a SCI and a TBI. The combination has made the journey very trying for everyone. I have talked with myself many times about the situation and re-assure myself often that I am there to support him, and his rehabilitation. His family cares for all the medical and financial side and visit often and are there for him. I myself am hands on. Doing his ROM and trying to stimulate him back to us. Every monday I give him a full bath, change his pads on his neck brace, and generally look at his body to make sure we are not missing something.

Currently we do not know his opinions nor can he speak his mind (trach). I know what keeps me going is that it is my intention to be there to help him anyway I can. I also tell his sister often, "I am not sure if I am doing the right, but I know it makes me feel better" This belief coincides with the understanding that he might be really pissed off at all my attempts to keep him stimulated but until he can tell me different I have to do, "what makes me content that he is well cared for"

His sister and I have discussed the reality that he might be really mad when he wakes up. If this is true I am ready to tell him the same thing I tell myself daily. "I am not sure if I am doing the right thing, but I am doing what I think is best" and if he is mad at me for it I will write my number on a piece of paper, and give it to him. I will then explain to him that I am there for him for anything he might need. But I will not be abused or miss treated for anything I have done. My phone will always be on when he is ready to get back to living! I will share my legs, my arms, my mind with him for eternity, but this is not my fight. It is his. I often express to him that, "I can not do this by myself, and he will not have to do it alone, he just has to choose to do it."

I know he probably does not understand it at this point but I am hoping the words will get there and when he makes his choice he will choose to allow me to continue to enjoy his life with him. If by chance he decides differently I know I can lay my head knowing that everything I have done has been for his recovery.

My advice to you.

Calmly sit on the edge of the bed and explain it to her in your own words. That you would like her to participate in her own life, and that you are willing to be there for her when needed. But that the choice to live is her own. Some of us just need a bat to the head to understand why life does this to us. No body intended for this to happen, butit is real, and it is what it is.

Good luck, I suggest honesty and putting the truth on the table. (the bat)

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Anger, fear and frustration are so much a part of your sister's life right now. Just don't give up on her. No matter how long it takes keep up the giving on your end. Sisters are sisters forever. I know. I have two.

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Sabine,

All of the other replies hit the mark. My son is a C6-C7 incomplete. He was injured 3/4/07. A lot happens in the first year. My son put all of his energy into therapy and getting active again. But, there is a lot of frustration and anger, as stated by the others in this forum. But, one thing that was missed and I have been told by friends and family is this... because you and your mother are the closest people your sister has in her life, you are the ones that she is going to take out her frustrations and anger on, only because she truly knows that no matter how awful she is to you, you will always love her ... no matter what. Remember this when she is being ugly or when you reply to her voicemail (and you will reply to that voicemail :). Continue to stand by her. You may need to find some resourceful ways to push her into taking care of herself and possibly getting the professional help she needs. An outside professional may be very helpful. Take care of your sister, your mother, and yourself. My heart especially goes out to your mother, as I know how hard it is to watch this all happen to your child. :) Bless you!!

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