Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Strength from Within

Accepting change is one of the most difficult things to do. As far as myself since becoming a vent dependent quadriplegic, I still struggle with not being able to manage my own cares and have control of my body. I have nurses 24/7, along with constant interruption and lack of independence. Because this is part of how things are, my life’s goal is to try to succeed in different ways.

Learning to live differently from how I used to has been a challenge, but not impossible. Throughout the years I’ve realized that it’s not just about being able to survive, it’s about thriving as well. I know it’s hard for many people going through tough situations to believe that despite the struggles that go on there are positives as well.

Either from others in similar situations or from people around, I’ve learned that you can’t always manage what happens in life. Despite it you can decide what you do with your life afterwards. Incredible change occurs when you decide to take control of the power you do have instead of craving control over what you don’t. In past experiences, just going through the motions isn’t always enough. Sometimes it takes a little strength from within to boost up your life.

Jenni


"This is the time I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable. This year I will be fierce. With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts… Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be."


Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Trip to the ICU

I just wanted to give everyone an update on my health. Last week on Wednesday night, I had symptoms of hypotension (low blood pressure) and high rate also known as tachycardia. This is opposite of how my body is during the night while lying in bed. Thursday morning I decided to go into the ER to see what was wrong. They had to bring me by ambulance because I couldn't sit up in my wheelchair due to the low blood pressure. In order to use the stretcher, they had to come down the side of my house to bring me out.

Since it was still covered with snow and thick ice, it couldn’t be hand shovel. When the cops got here first, they called the fire department to shovel it out. In the meantime, a nonemergency ambulance showed up and another EMS team to help bring me out. Once I was finally in the vehicle they hooked me up to oxygen and I was able to bring my home ventilator with me which was nice. I forgot how bumpy those ambulance rides are!

When I got there, they did a chest x-ray and an EKG of my heart. Based off the results I was admitted to the ICU. I stayed overnight on IV antibiotics while they monitored me. Friday morning I had a CT scan done and a small infection was found in my lungs. Then they did a bronchus copy of my lungs which will indicate what strain of bacteria it is.

I was discharged Friday evening and was feeling much better. Saturday during the day was the same although during the afternoon and throughout the night I started needing oxygen for support along with multiple suctioning. However things turned around Sunday afternoon and right now I'm only using oxygen when needed and feeling much better! Because the results weren’t back get yet, they prescribed me with a broad spectrum oral antibiotic so hopefully I continue down this path without intervention.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I still have some healing to do. Thanks!

Jenni

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Historic Snowstorm

This is my aunt snow blowing our sidewalk in the backyard!

This weekend we had the worst snow storm in history here in Minnesota. I believe we got at least 15 inches of snow in my area although I know of other parts of the state that got a lot more, and to think it’s the middle of April! We’ve had snow in April before but nothing like this which I have posted about before. They are calling it a "Historic Event" because it was that epic.

I’m lucky to have such dedicated nurses working for me. My night nurse worked Friday night and stayed over Saturday, worked Saturday night, stayed over Sunday, worked Sunday night, and then same thing with Monday. She was able to go home Tuesday since some of the snow was cleared away and it had stopped snowing. Also, the nurse that worked during the day had to leave her car here and had someone pick her up to bring her home. Same thing with Sunday!

I haven’t been able to go outside for a walk/roll with Brody because of it. I think he is having seasonal depression right now because of the weather. He won't even get off coach when I call him which is unusual. We're supposed to get more snow in the middle of the week although it’s starting to warm up and melt so hopefully soon I will be able to. I'm definitely looking forward to spring to actually arrive.

Jenni

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Another Podcast!

"In Episode 2, we tackle one of the hardest things about being paralyzed - going home after your injury. The shock, the loss of friends, figuring out how to move on, this is what makes us the strong survivors that we are. Tiffiny speaks with four people with quadriplegia who share their story. Listen in as each tells their story."

A couple of weeks ago, Tiffany interviewed me in her podcast for spinalcord.com. She is also a quadriplegic who writes for other blogs along with the New Mobility magazine. She is very social in the disability community and even has her own blog BeautyAbility.com. I did a similar podcast for her blog in 2012 and the link is on one of my previous blog post.

Tiffany asked me questions about my injury and also my life as a quad post accident. The podcast also features interviews with three other quadriplegics all with different stories. My interview is the second one shared. Click on the link below to listen and let me know what you think!

https://www.spinalcord.com/sci-life-uncovered-2


Jenni

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Meeting New People

When I first meet people I'm not shy at all. I like to ask questions and answer them as well. One of the things that interests me the most is actually meeting new people and getting to know them. I am a very outgoing person whose not afraid to try new things. Although, when people meet me for the first time sometimes they may be curious, intrigued, amazed or even fearful.

I often explain to them my situation and what happened to make them more comfortable, even if they don't ask. I try to embrace new chances at life. It seems that sometimes people don't know how to act or react to someone like me. This makes me even more want to get out and show others who I am and what I'm capable of doing, despite my disability.

It can be hard to meet new people in my situation. That's one of the reasons why I like doing motivational speaking to children, adults and at events. To show others that despite my disability I have abilities as well. You never know, a simple hello could lead to a million things. I believe there's always a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or your the one that will change theirs.

Jenni

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world"
- Gandhi

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Getting Stuck in a Confined Area

Have you ever been stranded in a place where you feel a sudden urge to panic? Has there been a time where you’re trapped and you have no way of getting out without the help of others? Well I know I can say yes to both of these questions, and I’ll tell you the story that led me to this answer!

The other day I was at a doctor’s appointment. I took transportation so I had a driver who dropped me off and then one who picked me up. When the one got there to pick me up, my nurse, him and I got into the elevator to go up one floor in order to leave. After hitting the button to go up, the door closed about three fourths of the way and then suddenly… It stopped!

Luckily we were still on the same level, and the door was ajar just enough for someone to fit in and out. The driver got out and went to get help letting them know the situation. After a few minutes a bunch of servicemen came to try to get the door open. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to do it by themselves so they had to call the elevator electrical technicians who were at a different location. They had to drive over to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, I was still stuck! By the time they got there I had been in the elevator for 35 minutes already. It took them about 10 minutes to actually get the door open before I could get back out on the same level. Unfortunately, the elevator was broken after that so I wasn’t able to use it. One of the security guards had to take us to the opposite end of the building, which took about 10 minutes, to the only other elevator.

At the time I was a little freaked out, especially not knowing how long I was going to be in the elevator. Although now it's almost laughable and I've been telling the story to just about everyone I see. So much so that I started telling it to one of my nurses and when I got to the part about me getting into the elevator with the nurse, I realized I was actually telling it to the nurse that was with me! She got a good laugh out of that and was going to wait until the end to ask me what nurse I was with!


This is me in the elevator. You can see the door slightly ajar, just enough space for someone to get through!
 
This was the first time in all my years that I’ve been stuck in an elevator. I actually have an elevator in my house. My room is in the basement. The elevator starts in my room and goes up to the main level were my dining room is, then to the 2nd level into our loft area. I use it to get upstairs in the winter or when it’s raining outside. Otherwise I use one of the other three doors on the basement level to go around up the side of the house to the front driveway.

Jenni


Friday, February 9, 2018

Experiences Throughout Life

"We are the sum of experiences that we encounter as we go through life. Day to day struggles and triumphs are experienced by all of the world's creatures. As human beings, when we encounter a challenge, we have freedom to choose how to react. Every decision that we make leads us down a different road. We will never come to exactly the same crossroads. Every decision that we make has significance. The tiniest choice that we make reverberates throughout the entire universe."

This quote fits directly in with the way my life has unfolded because after my accident I had to choose how to react. How was I going to live the rest my life? Was I going to live with regret, sadness and pain? Or was I going to choose happiness and allow myself to get through this challenge? While recovering, I chose the latter because I wanted my life to mean something, never knowing what it would be like on the other side.

I now know that I chose the right path, although there are many more roads yet to be traveled. Each day comes with new thoughts and strengths that allow me to move forward. I have realized that by overcoming the obstacles I thought I couldn’t do, comes each new experience in my life. Even when it feels like things aren’t going the way I planned.

People often tell me that I’ve made an impact on them or that I’ve inspired them in some way. I feel like I’m just being me. Maybe it’s because of the decisions I chose, the path that I took or the positive way I react to my situation. I have given motivational speeches to many students, events and crowds sharing my story. By trying to show others that life can go on despite the experiences we go through in life.

Jenni

Friday, January 26, 2018

Registering Brody

This is his photo ID that I have to carry around with wherever we go.
It's a picture of Brody when I first got him.

 
I got my dog Brody September 2012 when he was about 9 months old through a breeder. On December 20 Brody turned 6 years old. He actually comes from a family of show dogs but didn’t meet the cut. Although I got him at a slightly older age, he still adapted well and was all ready set up for a home environment.

Since I got him, he’s always been my side, a companion who’s helped me through some tough times. Over the years, Brody has adapted to my disability. He knows when something’s wrong with me and also provides comfort if I am in need of a little TLC. He’s also been great for helping me with independence and getting out of the house more. I love taking him for walks outside around the neighborhood, no matter what the temperature is.

Even though I didn’t initially get him for this purpose, I recently certified him as a companion dog. Now I can take him anywhere with me as long as I have his vest on and card with me. There is a difference between a companion and therapy dog. Companion dogs usually don’t work. Instead the principal service that companion dogs provide is simply companionship as a pet, rather than usefulness by doing specific tasks. While service dogs are trained to behave flawlessly in public, companion dogs may or may not be as well-behaved.

Companion dogs don’t need to have special training, although Brody has some behavioral issues. In order to better help him with some of his anxiety along with coach me with training methods, I recently hired a private trainer to come to my house. My hopes are to get him comfortable with other people and dogs. She is going to work with me to get us ready for him to go out in the public. I’ve already learned some things about him that I didn’t realize before.

For example, I always thought he had aggression towards other people and dogs because he was protecting me. He barks at other dogs, strangers and people walking in the woods. Although she told me that he actually has "fear aggression" which means that he is afraid so he goes into a mode of needing protection by barking, nipping, and even hiding next to my wheelchair. Instead of trying to protect me he was looking for protection from me.

The trainer gave me some tools to work with him in order to listen to me better so that I have more control over situations that occur. Hopefully over time I will be ready to bring him places outside my home without hesitation or having him fearful. I’ll update everyone throughout on how the progress is going.

Jenni

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Minnesota Weather

The last couple weeks I’ve been hibernating in my house. The weather here has been frigid and cold, with most temperatures below 5°F. I used to go out no matter what the weather was outside, although my body has a hard time adapting to temperature. Having a spinal cord injury at my level I get cold fairly easily. Unless I use the thermometer to check my temperature I don’t know how cold I actually am, which could lead to hypothermia if not watched frequently.

Even while indoors, I usually have a blanket on throughout the day and sit by an electric fireplace that I flip on if my body or the room gets too cold. At night I sleep with a heated electric blanket that has the ability to change temperatures from 1-High. Depending on what I put it at, it helps regulate my body temperature better than any other sort of heating system. I also have a small heater in my room alongside the indoor heat.

We do have central air and heating, although it’s difficult for it to register in specific areas. This is especially true if I have the fireplace on. When my house was being remodeled, we put in floor heating which also helps (and keeps people’s feet warm). Although it does nothing for me as only my wheels hit the floor!

Other than it being cold, we also get a lot of snow here. That is also one reason that stops me from getting out, especially from taking Brody for walks. In the neighborhood where I live there are a lot of back roads and they don’t get plowed during the winter unless it snows above 2 inches. Sometimes they just use salt before if they know it’s going to snow and then they don’t even plow. This just makes the roads slushy although most of the time there pretty icy and slippery.

I have written blog posts in the past about temperature and weather. The last one I wrote was similar although I stated that despite temperatures being low outside I tend to venture out. It’s different this year, as my body has changed and the temperature affects it even more. My body also used to be able to regulate its temperature better, although for some reason over the years it’s changed. I wish things were different because it’s difficult spending my days indoors all the time.

Jenni

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Way to Live


To me, being paralyzed does not mean the end. It can be difficult and challenging at times but I'm able to handle whatever comes my way. I believe my accident happened for a reason. Throughout this journey so far I've met some amazing people and learned new things. My paralysis hasn't limited me or stopped me from pursuing my dreams. There are many things I can do, I just do them differently. I'm not in a stage of depression and don't in any way feel sorry for myself.

I know that there are people in my situation out there who do not have the same feelings. I realize that everybody handles and deals with things in different ways. What may be easy for some may be extremely difficult for another. I'm writing this for those who feel their life is not worth living because of their situation or experiences. I'd like to offer my help in any way possible. My goal is to inspire others to live on through change in their life.


Let this New Year bring joy and fulfillment in life. I want to go on more adventures, be around good energy, connect with more people, learn new things and grow.

Jenni