Quadriplegic Ashleigh Justice Wanted to Find “Normal” Again

Editor’s Note: As a 15-year-old new driver, Ashleigh Justice of Phoenix, Arizona, was driving her family vehicle when tragedy struck and changed her life forever. Part 3 of a 5 part series.

Ashleigh Justice eventually went back to high school and wanted to be a normal teenager again.

Ashleigh Justice eventually went back to high school and wanted to be a normal teenager again.

Immediately after I left  the hospital and rehab, I went back to high school. I just wanted to be normal again. I knew I had my spinal cord injury and would be in a wheelchair, but I didn’t want to be held back in school due to my brain injury.
Although my teachers were really great, I had a hard time learning and I was always exhausted. During those first 2 years back at school, I’d have to wake up at 4:00 every morning so my mom could help me get dressed. This chore usually required about 2 hours. Next, I’d have a 2 hour bus ride to school, return home about 5:00 in the afternoon and then do homework before I could sleep. I was physically exhausted by the end of the day. I went from being an A/B student to being a C, D and F student.
I thought to myself, “Ok, I can’t be a normal teenager because of my spinal cord injury, and now I can’t even make good grades like I once made.” These problems only added insult to my injury.

To make things even worse, my room was on the second story of my house, so I lost it. Everything that was personal to me as a teenager, I lost. My aunt and her three children had been evicted from their apartment after a divorce, so they came to live with us. My cousin took over my room and started playing with my stereo, slept in my bed and took all my posters off my walls. Then he started reading my journals. Everything that I felt was a part of my identity was trashed.

About the same time, my grandmother became really sick, so my mom, my sister and I moved in with her. I became a caregiver for my grandmother. My parents had been going through a rough time, and they had separated right before the accident occurred.

I was not only physically disabled, but the rest of my life was a big mess. The situation was so bad that my sister went to live with a friend. I lived in the living room for about 1 1/2 months, before my dad made the old house where we once lived accessible for me and my wheelchair.

My uncle and the men he worked with volunteered the time and the materials needed to remake the house, so that I could get around in it. They took out walls, built a new shower and completely overhauled it. It was nice to be able to get around.

About Ashleigh Justice
As a 10-year veteran of SCI and TBI,  Ashleigh has lived with her injuries (the result of a rollover car accident) since she was 15 and has overcome many challenges, including most recently, becoming a parent. She has spent many years mentoring other people with SCI and has discovered that with the right attitude and the right amount of knowledge, nothing is impossible. Today, Ashleigh writes a blog for brain and spinal cord injured individuals (quadriplegia mainly) called The QuadFiles, sponsored by AdvisaCare.  It’s a compilation of resources, stories and motivations – see www.theQuadfiles.com for details. 

Next: Quadriplegic Ashleigh Justice’s Adventures In Rehab And Rugby

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

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