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.


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.


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.


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.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Time

It’s that time of year again. Since Christmas is here with all of its joys, I want to take the time to ask a more serious question. What is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the lights in the windows, gifts under the trees, stockings hanging down, receiving cards in the mail, dinner with family and friends, snow all around, saying "Merry Christmas" to those passing by? Is this really what it is all about?

I don’t believe it’s about Santa Claus and his reindeer landing on the top of the house, him coming down the chimney in the middle of the night, eating the cookies left out, and leaving loads of presents behind. I know it is fun to receive and give and decorate and wrap and believe in magic. But it's about the real meaning of Christmas.

Many people don’t have the money to buy gifts for others or have the resources to put together big family get-togethers. It may be a time of sorrow because of it, some sense of misery in a deep knowing that they might not be able to give all they want. There are some that are saddened when thinking of loved ones with which they might not be able to see.

I’ve learned over the years what Christmas is and isn’t about. Christmas can be a season of great joy. It can be a time of healing and renewed strength. It's about the love, passion and the praise that we give and receive on this one day. It has a special meaning to everyone and I think more people need to find their meaning. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope this year you all can find the true meaning of Christmas in your hearts.


"Wherever you go, whatever you do, may the joy of the season always be with you."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Letting Go and Moving on

Life is all about change, no matter how much we want things to stay the same. I learned this throughout my experiences after my accident. However, as much as I didn’t want things to be different, I had to realize that sometimes change is okay and in order to accept it I had move on. I found there is an important difference between giving up and letting go.

Some of us, if not all of us has their own painful experiences throughout life. Many of us like to hang onto these things, often bringing them up in ways that are hard to handle. What we don’t know is that by hanging onto those things or experiences can destroy your life in ways you’re not even aware of. It’s best that you let go of them and move on, even though it may be hard to let go of someone you love or something you value. It might even be a situation that dramatically changed your life.

One way on how is to stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain. Decide that no matter what is happening in your life to be happy; not because everything is perfect but because you deserve it. It’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken but maybe it’s about starting something over and creating something better.

 “Moving on doesn’t mean you forget about things. It just means you had to accept what happened and continue living…” -Anonymous

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Post Accident Reunion

Nick, Myself and Chris


Many of you know that I was in a car accident, but you may not know how the accident happened. I don't remember anything about it; only what I've heard from others. I guess we were going 60 mph and trying to make an exit. We were in a mini SUV and it rolled. The top of the car hit some sort of sign or pole in midair, crushing the roof in, and then landed back on all four wheels. It was a single car accident.

There were five of us in the car and I was behind the driver's seat. Although I did break my neck and injure my spinal cord, it could've been a lot worse. I did have my seatbelt on, which probably saved my life. The other four people in the car sustained mostly minor injuries except for Nick who was sitting next to me; he also broke his neck but didn’t injure his spinal cord. Everyone has recovered and they are doing well.

On December 9, 2017 I hung out with Nick and Chris Somers. Chris was one of the firefighters who cut the roof off the car using the Jaws of Life; it was his first extrication. Engine 3 was the first truck that arrived and he was on it. Both Minnetonka and Eden Prairie fire departments were involved. This is the second time all three of us have been together; the first was August 2016. Although throughout the years Nick and I have kept in touch multiple times since the accident.

I’m glad that we are still in touch after all the years. It amazes me how things and relationships can come out after something like this happens. I’m grateful for everything and appreciate the positive friendships that continue to grow. There are so many more opportunities out there, whether it’s hanging out with friends, creating new ones, or inspiring others. This is also why I continue to stay positive and continue to move forward.


"… Forgiveness has given us the gift of peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. We were chosen to receive our particular experiences. We were chosen so that we could then show others how even the unspeakable could be survived. Surviving ultimately means thriving." -Insert from the book: 52 Ways to Live the Course in Miracles by Karen Casey

Friday, December 1, 2017

Having Strength

This sign hangs above my doorway. It just proves how strong I am just by the biblical meaning of my name!

I always thought of myself as being a strong person, especially after I had my accident. The strength that came about wasn’t just from physical or mental, but from others encouragement towards my recovery beyond. It gave me peace of mind knowing that there were people helping me to get through the tough processes that got me down. These are some of the reasons why it’s easier for me to help others in need get through theirs as well.

This is one of the main components to why I try my hardest to get out and do public speaking. To encourage others that no matter what happens, life can go on. That despite your current situation there may be other solutions to a problem. It brings me to my conclusion that things happen for a reason. I’ve always tried to maintain this positive outlook and share my presence in life.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve done public speaking events or spoken to others. My favorite is talking to kids; they have so many questions and are very curious. Plus I get to teach them at an early age that even though someone has a disability, it doesn’t mean they don’t have abilities as well. I have even gone back to my elementary, junior high and high school to speak.

My motto is to believe in the ability to figure things out. There will be a better tomorrow, even if it’s a struggle, be okay with it, and over time things will work out. By bringing the fun into the situation proactively, even if I have those feelings of doubt, I’m patient and allow myself to be persistent in my action as well as move past my struggles. While loving others in similar situations, I amplify and respect them; accept them for who they are and appreciate the differences.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Update on My Daily Life

Lately I have been in a routine during the day. Despite the fact that it’s the end of November already, it’s been really nice outside. I try to get out every day; Brody loves the exercise and I love the weather. The other thing that I have been doing every day is standing. Now that I have my new wheelchair, it allows me to stand at will.

Having the freedom to take ½ an hour to an hour to get on my feet makes the world of a difference in my body. I have to make sure to monitor my blood because having a spinal cord injury it has a tendency to drop. As long as I stand at the right time during the day, it’s usually okay. Since writing my last blog post about standing in August when I received my new wheelchair, I’ve been able to go up to 90° without having to stop in between.

One thing that’s different throughout this year is that my body has been retaining fluids. This causes my body to be puffy, and gain weight as well. I have what is called edema in my extremities. Edema is swelling caused by excess fluids trapped in your body’s tissues. It’s more noticeable in people’s arms, hands, legs and feet (which is what I’m experiencing).

Mild cases may result from sitting or staying in one position for too long or eating too many salty foods. It can also be an effect of blood pressure medications which is what we initially attributed it to. For a while I was on two separate ones which make my body retain fluids to keep my blood pressure up. Despite weaning myself off the one that gives me the most symptoms I am still having this issue. There are meds called diuretics which completely drain tissues of fluids, although if I stayed on them long-term it would make my blood pressure drop significantly.

Other than the edema, I’ve been pretty healthy. I haven’t had any trach or bladder infections all summer or fall. This is the first year that my body has been that way and I believe standing has helped me be able to move my secretions better. I’m also using an antibiotic nebulizer where I do it for one month off, on for another and so on.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

These turkeys live in the neighborhood year-round.
They mostly hang out at this house because the lady that lives in it feeds them.
By the way, I took this photo on Thanksgiving day!

All in a Word

T for time to be together, turkey, talk, and tangy weather.
H for harvest stored away, home, and hearth, and holiday.
A for autumn's frosty art, and abundance in the heart.
N for neighbors, and November, nice things, new things to remember.
K for kitchen, kettles' croon, kith and kin expected soon.
S for sizzles, sights, and sounds, and something special that abounds.
That spells ~~~THANKS---for joy in living and a jolly good Thanksgiving.
-Aileen Fisher

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food and the time spent with the family. Today we're hosting it at our house. The house smells wonderful! I am also excited for apple pie (after I stuff my face with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and peas.). I hope all of you are having a wonderful day and are surrounded by people you love because today is the day to give thanks.

I know that not everyone who is reading this lives in a place where they have a Thanksgiving, but I can guarantee that most people have something that they are thankful for. I'm thankful to be alive and here today celebrating life; also thankful for all the wonderful people who have supported me and been with me throughout. This means good health, life, my family, and friends. What are you thankful for?


"Regardless of our situation, no matter if we are battling disease and illness, or suffering the loss of a loved one, or faced with under-employment and economic distress, or other problems in our lives, we all have many things for which to be grateful."
-Jim West