Living with paralysis is the subject of a new play in Washington, D.C. right now called “Caterpillar Soup”. The play written and performed by Lynena Strelkoff is a journey into a time when Strelkoff suffered a severe spinal cord injury, which has paralyzed her from the waist down, and her struggle to come to grips with this condition.
“Caterpillar Soup” deals with the tragedy and triumphs of living with paralysis.
It was difficult at first for Strelkoff to see how she would ever again take part in physical activities that she loved, like rock climbing and dancing. Then she became inspired, and using arts and creativity, Strelkoff found a way to continue doing what she was passionate about and somewhat accept her spinal cord injury at the same time.
The actress, dancer, artist, and writer decided to take the first year of her life after she was paralyzed and make it into a one woman show entitled: “Caterpillar Soup.” It chronicles both how her life changed once she became paraplegic and her goals and outlook for recovery in the future.
The play starts in the fall of 2002, when Strelkoff slips and falls 15 feet from a tree in Malibu, California. She is rushed to the hospital where diagnosis of her spinal cord injury revealed a crushed T10 and T11 vertebrae. The production then follows Strelkoff as she travels to Craig Hospital in Colorado for physical therapy and treatment, which is when things get interesting.
Doctors say the prognosis is not good. Many believe it is unlikely that this woman, once so vibrant on her feet, will ever walk again. But as the year goes on, Strelkoff begins to challenge herself. She visits Project Walk and starts to develop her own spinal cord injury treatments. Before the one year of the anniversary of her accident arrives, Strelkoff has crawled by herself, kayaked, and gone camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
But the play does not go beyond the point of realism. At the end of one year, Strelkoff is still paralyzed. She is starting to feel some sensations in her leg and is determined that one day she will walk again. It is at this point that the production really shines: showing that even if your spinal cord is crushed, your dreams don’t have to be.
We congratulate Strelkoff on all of her hard work and look forward to seeing her on the stage — with or without her wheelchair — in the future!