My Story - Tarra Stoddard
I’m not sharing this personal story for sympathy. It is being shared in the hope that it may help others struggling with physical or mental disabilities.
Looking at my social media photo life you can't tell, but I am disabled. It's the moments and days after my photos that I've never shared. The days of pain and bed rest that follow the activities that I love, and that define me.
In 2006, I was injured at work grabbing the handle of a rolling bag. The bag had around 45 lbs. of weight to it. As I was pulling it out of my trunk my hand slipped. I re-grabbed it out of reaction and fear of breaking its contents. It was full of vials of gear and hydraulic oil. One part of the job I was doing was plant surveys and seminars with engineers across the SE.
The 2" gap (with weight) caused the bag to jerk, as I re-grabbed it, I was turned slightly at a sideways angle. I heard and felt the pop of my rotator cuff tearing completely out of socket. Next the heat and pain as it ran up through my cervical vertebrae. I remember waking up in the parking lot with people around me. My 1st neck surgery they replaced vertebrae with cadaver vertebra. Then caged vertebrae in my neck. A year after my injury I was finally granted (by workers comp.) an MRI to look at my right shoulder and the Dr. scheduled surgery immediately. He asked, "how did you go so long with your right rotator cuff completely detached?" After a few years, a ton of physical therapy, and more surgery I wondered how I could live? I'm an outdoors person. A doer and try anything once kind of woman. It's tough to carry the daily burden of how I feel much less how I impact others lives with my disability.
The things I must consider in planning any excursion leaving home is finally second nature to me. What it takes for me just to do each activity would turn most people away. I am blessed to have found a medical procedure that helps me immensely. Every three months I receive medical Botox shots. Around two weeks following the Botox shots in my face, neck my pain level starts to drop. The shots allow me to carefully plan activities I otherwise wouldn't be able to do. The shots last about two months, and the pain returns. Once they have completely worn off, I feel as if I'm a mule with one of those heavy wooden plow harnesses hooked on my neck. Have you ever tripped and knocked the breath out of yourself? That's how intense my pain feels. The worst of the pain is in my neck, both shoulders, head and face. The face pain placement is like tmj in my jaws. When the pain is in my head it’s like an intense migraine. I constantly fight weakness in both hands, arms and shoulders. Basically, from the bottom my bra line the pain settles into both shoulders to the top of my head. The weeks I'm in bed in between shots are tough. Many days I'm curled up in a ball of pain in bed. I'd love to be able to read, write, or learn while I'm down. The problem is the chronic pain causes me not to be able to think clearly. I lose simple things like the spelling of words, punctuation, and grammar. Even forming simple posts for social media come out jumbled. I have mild forgetfulness daily. There are many times I'm in so much pain I can't hold a conversation and barely want to speak. I can only lie in my bed in a human knot. Watching television or a movie is hard because I can't concentrate to keep up with the show. My husband can tell how I feel by what I'm watching. If it's a type of reality tv, I'm not doing good.
"Pain is a great equalizer." The intellectual cannot reason with it, the spirit cannot transcend it, and the body cannot tolerate it. My daily life at home is tough. I can feed and let my Great Danes out throughout the day. I chose the right breed because at their age they only want to lay around and sleep. My backyard is big enough for them to get their daily exercise although I often must ask them to get up and come in. I guess you could say I'm a professional dog mom! I am blessed to have their company. My daughter has grown up and is living her own life. Keeping my home clean and laundry done is an impossible feat for me, much less cooking dinner. I'm blessed that my daughter come a few times a month to clean for extra pocket money. I can manage to launder our sheets but physically with laundry that's all I can do. I've learned the art of sheet rolling. I tried for the longest to have dinner ready for my husband when he got home. He quickly learned that if I cook, my body shuts down. I only hurt more, go to bed and want to be left alone. He prefers to converse with me instead of having a hot home cooked meal waiting on him. I struggle with the burden of guilt because he works full-time. I have the best husband in the world. So, all those things you do at home daily and dislike is something I'd be happy to be able to do. Everything I do, I physically pay for. Even getting dressed, putting on makeup or doing my hair is painful. Guess what? Life goes on, even if I can't. I tend to isolate myself from my friends during this time. Most of my social online friends don't understand because I've never shared this personal part of my life with them.
I'm blessed with a wonderful husband that has walked each step with me along this journey. He has been my salvation. I owe him all my "good" uptime, but I must "give back" to myself and others. I'm stubborn and fought to be on top of the mountaintop for many years. Over time I learned to love the valley. Everyone wants to be on top of the mountain, but up there the air is so thin, you can hardly breathe and all you can do is stand still and try not to fall, but in the valley, that where the river runs, and you can run free! I'm sharing my story in hope of being an inspiration to others. I'm tired of hiding behind my photos. Never give up on something you want. You can find a way to accomplish it. It may not be the way you imagined or the "proper way." That does not matter, for in the end, it's your soul that must be fulfilled.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ReelCamo Girl Pro-Staff and Managing Director
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ReelCamo Girl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and hunting perspectives.
ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and wildlife management and about long term sustainability. We hunt, fish, dive, shoot and hike…for peace of mind, happiness, pure clean protein & connection to the outdoors. ReelCamoGirls can shoot a gun, draw a bow, track an animal, get CAMOed up, bait a hook, clean a fish and still be feminine.