A Valentine’s Message from Emily Conner Hempel
Wednesday April 22, 2020
Most people think that when a person becomes paralyzed that the person simply cannot walk anymore. However, the reality is that there are quite a few systems of the body that are effected by a spinal cord injury (SCI). Body temperature regulation, skin breakdown, high/low blood pressure, neurogenic bowel/bladder issues, osteoporosis, muscle contracture, decreased lung capacity, hypersensitivity, potential sexual dysfunction, and decreased metabolism (I’m sure I missed a few). Not to mention the psychological and social effects of an SCI or disability. But that my friends, is a whole other post!
Many of the comorbidities of an SCI can lead to heat stroke, hyperthermia, pressure sores, urinary tract infections, kidney infections, kidney failure, bowel impaction, broken bones, joint immobility, pneumonia, muscle spasms, and obesity.
But our bodies are so freaking resilient! Autonomic dysreflexia (AD) is our body’s way of alerting us of comorbidities occurring. By definition, AD is a syndrome in which there is a sudden onset of excessively high blood pressure. It is more common (but not exclusively) in people with an SCI involving the cervical and thoracic nerves of the spine (T6 and above). AD usually presents as a severe increase in heart rate, cold sweats (many people with high SCI do not sweat anymore---remember, I mentioned temperature regulation issues) and a pounding headache (we’re talking ice pick through the temple level of pain). However, AD is the body’s brilliant (yet dangerous) way of telling a person, “Hey!!! Something is really wrong in an area of your body that you cannot feel! Figure it out or you will die from it, or I (AD) will kill you in the process.”
I am not kidding. This is absolutely fascinating to me! So, when I say that My Love gets my heart beating faster than autonomic dysreflexia, that is REALLY fast, and I could not feel more blessed. Now you learned something. The more you know…HAPPY VALENTINES DAY