Narratives of Spinal Cord InjuryeBook - 2004
Twelve people living with spinal cord injuries and their repercussions are asked what it is like to live without movement or sensation in the body, discovering that the view of the impairment as a tragedy is shifted to the possibilities and richness of experiences available.
In writing Still Lives, Jonathan Cole wanted to find out about living in awheelchair, without having what he calls "the doctor/patient thing" intervene. He has done this byasking people with spinal cord injuries the simple question of what it is like to live withoutsensation and movement in the body. If the body has absented itself, where does the person reside?He describes his method in the first chapter: "I have gone to people, not with a white coat or astethoscope...[but] to listen to their lives as they express them," and it is the candid andpowerful narratives of twelve people with spinal cord injuries that form the heart of thebook.Asking his simple question, Cole discovers that there is no single or simple answer. The twelvepeople with tetraplegia (known as quadriplegia in the US) or paraplegia whose stories he tellstestify to similar impairments but widely differing experiences. Cole employs their individualresponses to shape the book into six main sections: "Enduring," "Exploring," "Experimenting,""Observing," "Empowering," and, finally, "Continuing." Each concludes with a commentary on thebroader issues raised. Still Lives moves from a view of impairment as tragedy to reveal thepossibilities and richness of experience available to those living with spinal injuries. Moreuniversally, it offers new perspectives on our relation to our bodies. In exploring the creative andimaginative adjustments required to construct a "still life," it makes a plea for the able-bodied toadjust their view of this most profound of impairments.
An examination, through personal narratives andreflective commentary, of life without sensation or movement inthe body.