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How to be a good "mentor" to someone with a new sci?

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  • How to be a good "mentor" to someone with a new sci?

    So mentor doesn't feel like the right word, but you know what I mean, someone who has been injured for a while, then you meet/know someone who is newly injured. I definitely had someone to mentor me through the fucked up part of being a new SCI and navigating through rehab and reentering "real life". She has since passed away, and I actually never met her in real life, but she was an incredibly important person in my life nonetheless.

    Recently someone I know somewhat peripherally was injured and I reached out, but wasn't sure what to say. Obviously I know there are times that someone newly injured would not want to converse with a chronic SCI like myself, because obviously the hope is that the new injury will not be permanent or at least there will be significant recovery. So I sent a simple email like "hey, sorry, sucks to break your back. Been there. Lemme know if u want to talk. If not that's cool too. Buena suerte."

    Obviously couched it a little more diplomatically than that, but after rewriting the email a half dozen times, I was never able to make it "feel" right. I guess the important pay is to let them know you're there to listen and advise if they want, but what would youse guys say in that situation?

  • #2
    You did great Funk! You are absolutely right, be there to listen and offer advice if asked. As you know, it's nice to have someone who truly knows what you are going thru and ask questions or express fears others don't have a clue about.

    I'd remind him he's newly injured; the main thing for him to do is heal. His spinal cord is still in shock so the outcome can be vastly different than it is now. I've seen high quads in the beginning unable to lift an arm regain full function; others haven't. Either way, it's important to maximize the potential, especially with such a new injury.

    for myself, I like to get in touch with supporting family if possible. They haven't a clue and are pretty lost. In many instances, they are the decision makers when it comes to taking the next step and have the info necessary. When they're ready, I'm there to help with any questions, possible options and facilitate where I can. At the early stage, they aren't thinking about rehabs etc.; just the next day and is there any progress. The worry and stress having a family member injured is sometimes overlooked because the focus is so much on the person injured. They know, or you ask him, if he's a vet; ask because he may be eligible to go to a vet SCI rehab. If he's under 21, Shriners Hosp. is an option for rehab.

    I digress, sorry. Been doing it for 41 years and it just goes on and on. No greater compliment can be made to a mentor than having their caring and willingness to help others carried on by those they touched. I'm sure yours is smiling and would feel blessed.
    Last edited by Patrick Madsen; 02-12-2016, 10:37 PM.


    • #3
      Being there to commiserate is probably important in the beginning, but my notion of a mentor goes beyond simply being a shoulder to cry on. It reaches into the role of a guide, a teacher, and at best an example of how to approach life with an SCI.

      I think you opened the door very well, funk. You're definitely a shining example of how a life doesn't have to end with a disability, which is the nucleus of a great mentor, IMO.

      Be frank, candid, and honest. It is very hard, at times, living with an SCI, as we all know, but seeing someone else thrive despite the hardships at least proves it is possible. Worst kind of "mentor" drags others down into their own personal pits of despair.

      "Mentor" was the name of the man trusted by Odysseus to teach and guide his son. Be an active principle, not just a shoulder to cry on.

      My 2cents.
      "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

      "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

      "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments