Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's Official

Today I got an official phone call from the person who is coordinating the Ms. wheelchair Minnesota contest. She told me that I was picked to be a contestant, which is great news! Now I just have to prepare my 1 1/2-2 min. speech on my platform. I am choosing to talk about educating children about people with disabilities because I think that's where it starts. This is a great opportunity for me. The winner goes on to nationals to the Ms. wheelchair America contest. It is held sometime in the first week of August.

Click here to visit the webpage that shows the time and place of the contest on April 11.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the Ball

Many people with spinal cord injuries struggle with curvature of the spine due to lack of muscle stability and movement. This may require the use of a back brace. At worst case scenario surgery is needed to fuse the bones together in order to fix the problem.

After I got my halo taken off, the doctors fused my neck from C-1 to C-4; the rest of my spine is not. I curve in three places: at the base of my neck, in my thoracic region (in between my shoulder blades), and in my lower back. Aside from a sideways curve, my lower back also curves inward causing lordosis (more commonly known as arching).

I wear a back brace every day while I'm up in my wheelchair, about eight hours, to help keep my spine straight. However, over time the curve has gotten progressively worse. In order to avoid surgery my therapist has been thinking of ideas to straighten my spine out.

About a month ago my therapist had an idea of putting me prone on one of those big exercise balls. This would help my back from curving. The first day I did it I wasn't nervous at all. When they got me flipped over I immediately felt nauseous because the ball was pushing on my stomach. After getting positioned correctly, they were able to get my spine fairly straight and my muscles relaxed. The position was a little awkward and not what I was used to, but manageable.

The second time I did it was two weeks later. That time I had three therapists with me. Like the first time, I felt nauseous in the beginning. This time I actually threw up (first time since before my accident) because the ball was pushing on my vagus nerve. It came up by gravity; I didn't gag at all. Despite the unpleasant experience, they were able to get my spine even straighter than the first time.

On Friday I went on the ball for the third time. This was two weeks after the second. The amazing thing was I didn't feel sick at all and they got my back completely flat. They even got most of my curves to straighten out. I posted a picture of me on the ball below. It doesn't show my whole body, but you can get a general idea. I think we are going to continue to do this every two weeks because it can help to avoid surgery.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just Hanging out

My mom is on vacation in Mexico for the week so my friend Stephanie is staying with me. We've been having lots of fun. Today my dad came over with his friend Peggy and we all played Scrabble. That's definitely one of my favorite games, along with cribbage. Tomorrow Steph and I are going to a movie around noon. I'm excited to get out of the house somewhere besides school.

Hopefully it will be nice weather when we go. Today it's almost 50° but partly cloudy. I think there's only about 3-6 inches of snow left on the ground in our backyard, but in a lot of places there's bare grass.

The other day I sent in my application for Ms. wheelchair Minnesota. It was to to be received no later than the 20th. Sending it in doesn't guarantee that I'll be picked to be a contestant, but hopefully they'll let me know soon. I'm excited either way. I'll definitely do a post as soon as I find out. Thanks for all the support!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Head Shots

These are the two head shots I'm going to use for the Ms. wheelchair Minnesota contest. They say in the packet that they have to be "professional quality" but I don't really have time to go to a studio or anything. I think these photos are pretty good quality for my little digital camera. They probably pick one to put in the brochure. I still have to come up with a motto that I stand by. I like "nothing is impossible" but Christopher Reeve took that one.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota

On April 11, 2011 I am going to compete to become Ms. wheelchair Minnesota, part of Ms. wheelchair America. I'm in the process of finishing the packet that is due on the 20th. Among different questions, I have to list other speaking engagements, volunteer work and achievements, a motto, and a platform. I also have to submit two 5 x 7 photos of myself. I'm definitely excited to share what I have to offer. I hope I win because I have a lot to talk about. Wish me luck!

Here's what it says on the Ms. wheelchair America website:

"The mission of Ms. Wheelchair America is to provide an opportunity of achievement for women who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 52 million Americans living with disabilities. Unlike traditional beauty pageants, Ms. Wheelchair America is not a contest to select the most attractive individual. It is instead a competition based on advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities. The selected representative must be able to communicate both the needs and the accomplishments of her constituency to the general public, the business community and the legislature."


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring Break

I have this week off of school for spring break. It feels really good to have some time to do things other than homework. I wish I was going on vacation somewhere warm though. I had a dentist appointment yesterday and everything checked out okay. No cavities and my gums have healed nicely from when they took my wisdom teeth out.

Today I went and had a renal ultrasound done on my kidneys and bladder at the Gillette hospital. Since I'm prone to bladder stones (and have had two in the past), I have to get an ultrasound every year. After that appointment I took the shuttle down the street a couple miles to the Gillette clinic to see the urologist. Needless to say it was a long day; I left my house at 10 AM and didn't get home till 5 PM. After seven hours of being out and about I'm ready for some well needed sleep.

Hopefully sometime this week I can get out and go shopping or something fun besides appointments.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lighthouse Wisdom

Lighthouse Wisdom

"Darkness reigns at the foot of the lighthouse"
~ Japanese Proverb

Since Ancient times, Lighthouses were used to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals and reefs, often in inaccessible locations.

They exist because storms exist.

They symbolize safety, guidance and Integrity.

Sometimes in our lives, we find ourselves in difficult places. But the truth is that it is not about you. It is about the bigger picture.

It is about understanding the purpose of being a Lighthouse.

As Lightworkers, we are the Light in the dark. The Lighthouse Call is the opportunity to shine your Light for others. Maybe the only light they will see is coming from YOU.

This is the work you came to do and it is not going to be forever in a place you don't want to be. This is the Mission of a true Lighthouse.

Watch the video for more. It's really cool.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I got Botox injections in my neck and shoulders yesterday. It's been six months since the last time I had them and usually I don't go more than three. It was a long wait to get some relief. The Botox loosens my muscles and helps to decrease my pain. I'd like to have it injected in all my tight muscles, but I can only get so much at once. My neck is the most important since it's the tightest and that's really the only thing I can move.

I scheduled it next to be in three months. I'm also planning on getting phenol blocks in my feet because they are dropping and arching really bad. Phenol blocks are intended anesthetize a nerve. The medicine is particularly used to help stop/control spasticity and tightness. I've tried Botox before but that didn't work to loosen them up. Hopefully this works.