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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Moments in Life

A moment among many
Listening to silence
Thoughts are thickening
As waves roar
Give out comfort
Support from above
Paths overlapping
Realizing there’s more
Unbearable tight grasp
Weighing me down
Without any feeling
Drifting further away
Don’t look back
Into the crossroads
Beyond the unknown
Let me stay

Make it show
To any unheard
Aware of surroundings
If broken apart

Step in front
Carry my weight
Hold on tight
Don’t even start
-Jenni Taylor
I like to write, especially about myself and my situation. This is a poem that I recently wrote. It’s about moments in life, how they appear, what they can do, how you can handle, and who you choose to let in to help.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weather and Temperature

Having a SCI and being on a ventilator is no match for extreme weather changes, although that’s what Minnesota is known for. Because of my injury, I’m not able to feel if I’m cold or hot. The only way I know is if I take my temperature or my body starts spasming. Also, the cold air can be very hard on my lungs. When the vent pulls the air in, it goes through the tubing, then my trach and into my lungs. There is nothing to warm the air up so it feels the same in my lungs as it is outside. When someone breathes through their nose, the hairs warm the air up so it’s not such a shock.
Many people with spinal cord injuries, as a result, have trouble regulating their body temperature. Here's what it says about it on Apparelyzed.com

"A normal, healthy human is able to maintain a constant body temperature of approximately 98.6F despite the temperature of the environment. In a hot environment, the body sends a signal to the brain via the spinal cord to say the body is overheating. The brain then sends a signal back down the spinal cord and tells the body to cool itself by perspiration which evaporates and cools the skin. In cold weather, the body senses the lower temperature and our brain tells us to put more clothes on to warm ourselves up.

Most people with complete spinal cord injuries do not sweat below the level of the injury and many quadriplegics cannot even sweat above the injury (even though they may sweat due to autonomic dysreflexia). With loss of the ability to sweat or vasoconstrict within affected dermatomes the patient becomes poikilothermic and needs careful control of their environmental conditions. Therefore, if a high paraplegic or quadriplegic is in an outside temperature over 90 F, especially when the humidity is high, the body temperature will begin to rise (Poikilothermia). Likewise in a cold environment, the body may not be able to get the messages through to the brain that the body is cooling down, and if left untreated, the person will soon become hypothermic."

When I’m inside even if the temperature is left at a normal 72°F my body still gets cold, especially because I’m not moving around. I usually have a blanket on and am usually by my electric fire place which I can flip on and off when needed. Despite getting cold easily, the low temperatures don’t stop me from going outside. I just bundle up with a hat, scarf, jacket, and warm blanket in order to keep the heat in.

I love taking my dog Brody for a walk and getting out in the community. This is one reason why the hot or cold weather doesn’t stop me from getting out. As long as the temperature stays above 0°F and below 100°F I’m willing to venture out. It’s definitely not the same to just look out the window as it is actually going somewhere.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Another Memorable Event


"Recognized over the world, Cirque du Soleil has constantly sought to evoke imagination, invoke senses and provoke emotions."

 Avery in front of the stage
The other day my dad took me, my sister and 4-year-old niece Avery to Cirque du Soleil. I’ve been to 4 different ones before, but never like this one. Sometimes they’re hosted inside a tent, and are focused around a bunch of performers doing acrobatics. There is no ring and no animals involved which makes it a modern circus.

This one was called Crystal: a breakthrough ice experience, although it wasn’t just an ice show. It’s the very first experience on ice from Cirque du Soleil. World-class ice skaters and acrobatics came together to perform. The lead character, Crystal, was on a tale for self-discovery as she goes into a world of imagination.

It was so cool to watch them on ice this time! My favorite part was all of the special effects, along with the storyline. We had a great time and I hope to do it again next time they come around to the cities!

This is our view of the stage and what it looked like.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

At Peace

Peace is a quiet and calm state of mind; freedom from disturbance. A sound of silent being in life that allows one to focus on stability and undeniable feeling of wonder. Giving some sense of comfort in knowing that things will and can be at ease. Something so profound in the world that may otherwise be sometimes difficult to gather, especially when chaos creeps its way through the cracks, disrupting any calmness created. It’s okay to be vulnerable; relax by making or becoming less tense or anxious. Promise to be strong so that nothing is in the way of disturbing what’s ahead.

My world is filled with disturbances from the constant flow of energy running through. Every time something or someone new comes about, it may disrupt or disturb my life. If I prioritize it on levels, difficulty being at the top and easy at the bottom, it helps me separate what is manageable. I’m at a place where I make this my mission trying not to have negativity exist. Inner peace begins the moment I choose not to allow an event or person to control my emotions. By not wasting time on what could have been, I’m able to focus on the future and what lies ahead.

This also allows me to deal with adaptation. Today marks the 15 year anniversary of my accident. My choice is to celebrate this day and look at the positive side of things. Even though it transformed my life, it didn’t change me. I’m still the same person and it only helps me see how much more I have to give. It may be difficult at times but I try to focus on dealing with it on a greater level. I want to show others not to be afraid of change; it happens every day in different ways.

I’m seeing the beauty in small things and realize that not everything in life is perfect. I want people to know that when times may be tough, not to give up. Just because your day may seem stressful or chaotic, others may be having an even harder day. Never give up because there are people who may not be as strong and are having difficulty living life. Take this time now to think about those who may be struggling with peace, change, self-esteem, lack of independence etc.


"Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts."

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Thoughts about Health

As far as my nursing staff goes, I understand that working for a C-1 C-2 quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down isn't always easy. My nurses get breaks whenever possible to allow them to rest their body. Some of them have pain as well in different areas, either from old injuries or working for me.

One of the biggest things is for someone to recognize when something is not feeling right with their body and making sure that they get it taken care of. Especially if it could get worse and cause more damage or pain in the future. I found this list of thoughts that people may think to themselves when they experience feelings about their health and they are ignoring it or don't think it's that bad. Take a look at it and see if there's a dangerous thought that you're thinking about your health that may just be worth taking a second look at.
The 10 Most Dangerous Thoughts About Your Health

Which one is yours?

1. Maybe it will go away.

Are you willing to risk that it won't?

2. It comes and goes.

Why wait until it is a constant problem?

3. It's not that bad!

Compared to what?

4. It only hurts when I…

If your tooth only hurts when you drink something cold, is the problem cold water or a cavity?

5. I know what my problem is…

What is your solution?

6. I was told I've got to live with it.

Don't give up on your body or your body will give up on you.

7. I don't want to know.

What you don't know can hurt you. What you do know can help you live a fuller life.

8. I don't have any symptoms.

Did you know that the first symptom in over 57% of heart disease is a heart attack?

9. I don't have time.

If your time is valuable, can you afford to ignore your bodies signals and risk being affected for weeks, months or even your lifetime?

10. I can't afford it… My insurance won't cover it.

You can't afford not to. What insurance covers your car payment, your rent/mortgage or your groceries? You find a way day after day, month after month to pay for these necessities… What about your greatest necessity, your health?

When any of my nurses tell me they're in pain and therefore aren't able to do things how I normally do them, I most likely will hear one of these 10 reasons why they haven't been able to address it. I can understand to an extent, but it also affects my body whenever I am being moved differently because of someone else's pain. Also, it can sometimes limit some of the stretches and position changes that I do. I think it's important for everyone to not just think everything is okay with their health because they have an excuse on why not to get it taken care of.

There have been multiple times over the past 15 years where my body has told me something is wrong and I listened by going to the ER or getting on some medication. There are also many times I could have (or almost) died had I ignored the signs my body was telling me. I'm grateful when I know something isn't right and that I make the right choice to do something about it, for my own health and benefit.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Quote of the Day

"I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words, each hour, each day, every day, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing, and the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every action necessary for my success. I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again. I will walk where failures fear to walk. I will work when failures seek rest. I will act now for now is all I have. Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure. I will act now. Success will not wait. If I delay, success will become wed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the person."
-Og Mandino