Sunday, October 31, 2010

How Do You Lose a Wheelchair?

First off, happy Halloween.

Second, how do you lose a wheelchair?

In a recent post I said that my new wheelchair was supposed to be delivered to Key Medical around the 26th and then brought to me sometime that week. When I hadn't heard anything from them, I called and left a message on Friday. One of the reps that was working on the order called me Saturday morning to give me the news. She said that they ordered the wheelchair two weeks ago and it was scheduled to come in Monday. After a couple days and no wheelchair, she called Invacare, the company we ordered it from, to track it. They said that there was no record of the chair being ordered, which was odd because she remembered ordering it and had the tracking number. After a while of digging around, they figured out that the chair was sitting in some warehouse in Ohio. Somehow it had gotten shipped wrong, someone didn't know what to do with it, left it in the warehouse, and changed the tracking number. That's why it couldn't be traced.

Needless to say, it made its way to Key Medical and they're going to bring it over within the next week. I'm definitely looking forward to being in control and independent again. The last four or five months have been hard on me, and it will be nice to be in control and have independently again. I'm definitely looking forward, not back. Let's just hope nothing else happens and that it's a smooth transition into my new wheelchair.


Monday, October 25, 2010


I signed up to be a volunteer at Gillette Children's Lifetime clinic a while ago. It's not the same as the hospital (Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare) but it's where people go when they grow out of pediatrics but still want to continue with Gillette. I became a volunteer to help work with patients in occupational therapy using the speech recognition software Dragon NaturallySpeaking. They actually made a position for me because there wasn't one for that specific of a job.

I've been using Dragon for over seven years, so I know pretty much everything there is to know about it. The whole idea started when I was at an OT appointment at the clinic. I was telling them that I used Dragon with my computer and that I used to help train other people at a previous summer job working with the school district. They thought that was neat and told me that they have some patients who struggle with it. That's when they decided to make a position for me to volunteer.

I went through all the process to become a volunteer; filled out all the paperwork, went into the doctor and got a Manto test (for tuberculosis), received an ID badge with my picture on it. The funny thing is they haven't called me to work with anybody volunteering and it's been almost 2 months since I became a volunteer there. I've called them and left messages but they haven't called me back. When I talked to the volunteer coordinator she said they have to set an appointment up with a patient first. I suppose it makes sense but you would think they would've tried to get in touch with me somehow before hand.

I've been a volunteer before at the hospital. I worked with kids in outpatient and in the waiting room doing arts and crafts. It was fun, but a little challenging since I had to have my nurse show the kids how to do everything. I did get to interact with them which was fun. That was just for one summer back in 2007.

Definitely I should try to call again to see what's going on because I'm really excited to volunteer; especially since I haven't really been going many places due to my wheelchair situation. Hopefully soon.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another year…

Well, I should say happy birthday to me because yesterday I turned 24. I did homework for most of the day and then one of my friends came in the evening to hang out. On Sunday I'm going out to lunch for my birthday with a bunch my friends to Benihana. I went there last year for my birthday with my mom and sister. It's one of my favorite restaurants.

I have an update on my wheelchair. It was ordered on October 8 and will be in on the 26th, which is next Tuesday. By the end of the week, key medical will bring the wheelchair over and spend the day making adjustments and switching stuff from my old wheelchair onto it. After that I'll be able to freely and independently move my new wheelchair! It's been over four months since my power chair broke and I'm very anxious to have everything back to normal.


Monday, October 18, 2010

My Braces

I have many different braces that I use throughout the day and night. They are mainly for stability and to keep me aligned, or in the right position. The braces that I wear most often are my AFO's (ankle foot orthotics); I have three pairs. They help prevent foot drop.
This is how my foot usually is, in a dropped position. The AFO's help stretch my foot out to a 90° angle. The socks on my feet are called Ted socks. I have ones that go all the way up to my thigh that I wear during the day and ones that just go up to my knees that I wear at night. They help with blood circulation.
I wear these AFO's during the day when I'm up in my wheelchair.
I wear these braces at night when I'm sleeping. They are padded to keep me from getting pressure sores on my feet when I lay on them.
These are called dynamic AFO's. They have straps on the sides to adjust the foot part more than 90° to give me a bigger stretch. I wear these twice a day (in my wheelchair) for one hour at a time.
These are called WHO's (wrist hand orthotics). I wear them at night when I'm sleeping to keep my hands stretched.
These are my elbow braces that I wear at night when I'm sleeping to keep my elbows straight.
I also wear a back brace during the day to keep my trunk supported and my spine from curving. It is very comfortable for me and I don't feel right when I don't have it on. I wear it over my T-shirt and under my sweater so it doesn't show. You'll rarely see me wearing just a T-shirt unless I'm outside when it's hot. I just prefer to have the brace covered. I also wear fuzzy socks over my AFO's so you can't see my feet. I don't know of any pair of shoes that would fit over them, unless they were specially made. However then I would probably look like I had clown shoes on.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inspirational Poem

Always Believe

You have the ability
to attain whatever you seek;
within you is every potential
you can imagine.
Always aim higher than
you believe you can reach.
So often, you'll discover
that when your talents
are set free
by your imagination,
you can achieve any goal.
If people offer their
help or wisdom
as you go through life,
accept it gratefully.
You can learn much from those
who have gone before you.
But never be afraid or hesitant
to step off the accepted path
and head off in your own direction
if your heart tells you
that it's the right way for you.
Always believe that you will
ultimately succeed
at whatever you do,
and never forget the value
of persistence, discipline,
and determination.
You are meant to be
whatever you dream
of becoming.

Always Believe in Yourself

Get to know yourself -
what you can do
and what you cannot do -
for only you can make your
life happy

Believe that by working
learning and achieving
you can reach your goals
and be successful

Believe in your own creativity
as a means of expressing
your true feelings

Believe in appreciating life
Be sure to have fun every day
and to enjoy
the beauty in the world

Believe in love
Love your friends
your family
and your life

Believe in your dreams
and your dreams can become
a reality

Click here to read more inspirational poems.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


It is autumn in Minnesota and the weather is unusually warm. Today the temperature was close to 80°F and yesterday it was at least 85°F. On this day last year we had our first snowfall. Crazy isn't it, how the weather can change so quickly and be so different from year to year.

I was outside Thursday and took pictures of our backyard. Yesterday and today I went out to enjoy the weather. The leaves are beautiful shades of orange and red now, and many have fallen to the ground. My sister is enjoying palm trees in California; I think she's missing out. She left Thursday to be in AmeriCorps for 10 months. I'm missing her already, even though it's only been a few days. I know she's having a good time though and will be a great service to others.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Big Adventure

For my environmental biology class one of the assignments due is a community study. It involves going out into the community to a park or reserve and identifying the different species involved, or explain why I believe they are present in the community. My species list is to include at least 20 species which could include woody plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Herbaceous plants and invertebrates can be listed using the most appropriate name/term that can be employed, in conjunction with a brief description (eg., Red and black beetle).

On Monday I went to Theodore Wirth Parkway to do my study. I met with, Michelle, our class advisory. When I first got there, we started looking at plants on the side of the road. I wanted to go deep into the forest and search high and low, but Michelle said it wasn't accessible. I said I wanted to try anyways, which she was hesitant but said okay. I had to hop a curb to get onto the unpaved path. It was bumpy and there were lots of hills and it was hard for my nurse to push me.

We stopped when we got to the nature center to look around. I saw lots of different species of plants and animals. Michelle had a field guide that we could look at to identify things. We decided to go forward instead of back thinking the train would be better. We were wrong. There were even more hills and at one point I was rolling pretty fast down one and it had me scared. Then we thought we had a dead-end when we came up to a huge, muddy puddle across the path. I ended up having to go around almost into the woods after Michelle piled leaves over the water and mud. After a couple of hours of trekking through the forest, we finally made it out.

Needless to say we had a big but great adventure, and I learned some things as well. Next time I'll choose somewhere that has a paved path and is handicapped accessible. Either that or it won't be so bold.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Regulating Body Temperature

Many people with spinal cord injuries, as a result, have trouble regulating their body temperature. Here's what it says about it on

"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."

My body used to have a hard time regulating its temperature. When the environment around me was cold, I would be cold; when it was warm, I would be warm.

One time, about six or seven years ago, I was just watching TV out in the living room. My mom came up to me and touched me and found that I was freezing cold. I took my temperature and it was just below 92°F. I was shocked because I couldn't tell that I was that cold. They heated up towels and blankets and piled them on me to try to warm me up. It took quite a while but I finally warmed up. It was a very scary experience because my temperature was very low.

Despite my past, I don't have problems with regulating my body temperature anymore; it is usually stable at or around 97.6°F. I also sweat below and above my injury, which is one reason I believe that my spinal cord is incomplete. These are definitely good things. I couldn't imagine having to worry about my temperature dropping or rising so suddenly and unexpectedly.