By Jean Swenson
“I’d rather be dead than disabled.”
I remember feeling that way several months before I became severely disabled. In 1980, I had taken a group of teenage girls to see a young quadriplegic named Joni Eareckson Tada, who painted beautifully by holding a paintbrush in her mouth. Though inspired by her talent, I remember telling the girls, “I could never live like that.”
A few months later my neck was broken in a car accident, and I became a quadriplegic, paralyzed below my shoulders. I would spend the next year and a half in various hospitals and rehabilitation centers, dealing with medical problems and learning to live with a spinal cord injury.