Saturday, May 20, 2017

Back to Speaking


The other day I went to Hopkins High School and spoke to a class called Peer Insights. I took the same class when I was a junior there and it was by far my favorite. It is designed to integrate people with disabilities and their peers; it is a great concept that gives insight to all types of situations. When I took it, we went on field trips, had guest speakers and did a lot of fun activities. This was the first time I’ve done any public speaking since 2014 and it was also to a Peer Insights class.

This was the 2nd time I went back to my high school since graduating and it still brings back memories. I was 16 and a sophomore at the time of my accident. After spending 6 months in the hospital I went back my junior year. It was difficult adjusting to being in a wheelchair along with attending classes and trying to make it through the long days. Although my positivity and determination surpassed everything and I was able to graduate on time with my class in 2005.

During my speech, I shared my story and talked about the challenges I've been through and the obstacles I have overcome. I also spoke about how I continue to stay positive despite my situation and what I'm doing now. They had tons of questions and I showed them my vent and how I move my wheelchair. Then I asked them to share their stories of any challenges or things in their life that they have gone through. It was interesting to hear what they had to say.

After I got done speaking, I started talking to a girl in the front row who was a senior. She asked what elementary school I went to. When I told her I went to Glen Lake, she stated that she went there too. After talking for a couple of minutes, she said she remembered me from when I spoke there in 2009 to a class of 3rd graders and she was one of them!

Here is a post I did on my blog in 2011. They are similar stories that have happened in the past:

"I was at school the other day heading to my class when a guy stopped me in the hallway. He told me he remembered me from a speaking engagement I did three years ago. It was a 15 min. speech after a mock car crash to about 1200 students and faculty at Eastview high school. He was one of them.

I was kind of taken aback because I didn't expect it. He said that I inspired him that day. He also told me to keep speaking and sharing my story; that I'm amazing and inspirational. It felt really good to hear and know that I had touched somebody.

This reminds me of a similar story that took place a couple of years ago. I had spoken to a group of about 80 sixth-graders at Glen Lake elementary school. One of the students in particular had gone home that day and talked to his parents about my speech. He told them about me speaking and my story.

A couple of days after I had spoke, I received an e-mail from the boy's father. He told me that his son had come home talking about me. Then he said I don't know if you remember me, but I was one of the firemen that helped pull you out of the car that night. I came and visited you in the hospital afterwards.

Chills went through as I read those words over and over. I did remember him; he brought me a St. Christopher medal. He also said in the e-mail that him and his department still talk about that night. It's amazing the connections that we have in the world throughout life. I'm thankful every day that I'm alive and able to help others just by being me. I hope to have many more stories like this to share."

It turns out I did get another story out of what I do; that’s exactly the reason why I love speaking, sharing my journey and inspiring others. I have joy and happiness while knowing that I’m still here living my life out, despite what happened to me. It just goes to show that I have so much more to offer and I’m definitely going to keep spreading my message.

Jenni

Friday, March 3, 2017

Posts to Read

Although I only created 2 blog posts in 2015 on my blog site, I was writing for the Easystand Blog. I have a stander by them in which I've used. Taken from their website this quote shares what their blog is about:

"Our goal at the EasyStand Blog is to communicate to you what we stand for, whether it is about standing, disability, or just topics that we care about. We want to encourage interaction with our many circles of contacts รข€“ suppliers, clinicians, consumers, and their families. As well as our international distributors, independent reps, and even vendors and employees."

Altogether I wrote 14 posts in which were featured. Some of them are re-posts from my own blog. Here are the links:

Feeling and Movement after a Spinal Cord Injury Part II: Movement

Finding the Strength to Get Out Of Bed Each Day

Maximizing Independence Through Technology

Dating After a Spinal Cord Injury

Sharing My SCI Story

Regulating Body Temperature with an SCI

Accessible Living After a Spinal Cord Injury

A Moment Among Many Feelings

Private Thoughts in a Not so Alone World

Personal Ad

Anniversary Day

Showcasing "Abilities" While Having a Disability

Shaking Hands

My Journey to the Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2016 Pageant

In addition to these, I've written other posts on their blog as well in the past. Unfortunately, due to my health in 2016, I didn't have the strength to write any more blog post on the Easystand blog or my own. Since I started feeling better, I felt the need to write posts on my own blog; it's been an easier way to update everyone.

Jenni

Sunday, February 26, 2017

In the Clear

After being diagnosed with pneumonia a few weeks ago, I'm finally in the clear. There were a few ups and downs where it got better than worse, but luckily they removed the PICC line last week. I'm still on extra antibiotic nebulizers to make sure it stays away. The good news is I'm feeling much better. The IV antibiotic was 3 times a day so I was unable to go many places because of having to give it during the middle of the afternoon.

Due to my lack of updating, I never informed about receiving a new wheelchair back in December 2015. It has the ability to stand, so I won't have to transfer into my Easystand stander. Although because of being sick and hospitalized throughout 2016, I've been unable to utilize it. In between hospitalizations and then again towards the end of last year, I was doing therapy at Gillette using my stander in order to tolerate standing again.

I had to stop for about a month due to this last illness, but will be starting up again this week. I'm determined to start using my new wheelchair as soon as they get it all adjusted. Another thing that's been holding me back from getting out a lot is pain. Some is caused by positioning and other is from the underlying condition of having a spinal cord injury. No amount of medication helps to relieve it either which can be frustrating.

Being paralyzed from the neck down is difficult, especially when it causes me to be uncomfortable in my own body. It's not easy to sit in one position for a lengthily amount of time, so I'm constantly needing range of motion or some sort of movement. That's where the freedom of being able to stand will be nice comes in once I'm able to utilize my new wheelchair.

Despite being sick I was so positive that this year would bring me luck. Too bad respiratory infections tend to get the better of me. I'm hoping to steer clear for now and be able to enjoy these days without sickness. The one benefit is that the weather here in Minnesota has been extremely nice and I have been able to get outside to take Brody for a walk/roll. We both enjoy a little bit of sunshine!
 


This picture was from November 2016. The trees are bare now and there is a little bit of snow on the ground. I still have to bundle up by wearing warmer clothes, hat, scarf and a blanket!

Jenni

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sick with Hope

I thought that after everything I went through last year I'd be in the clear as far as sickness goes this year. Well, I was wrong. Unfortunately I found out last week that I have pneumonia again. I started suctioning up green and red secretions, similar to early December when I was hospitalized along with the other times last year in which I was sick. Luckily I caught it early enough that I didn't land in the hospital.

The bad part is that it's resistant to many of the medications and nebulizers that I usually take to get rid of it. Monday I had to have a PICC line put in place to administer medications at home. I had to have this done last summer as well so at least I’m familiar with it. I feel like I’m just starting the whole process over again.

Even though I’m just updating everyone, it feels like most of my posts have something to do with an illness. Due to the fact that it's winter, I’ve been having infections and it’s harder for me to get outside, I try to think of the best possible ways to keep busy aside from just watching TV. One thing that I really enjoy doing is playing games. I like all types including card, board and strategy games.

Now hopefully things start clearing up and I stay in the uphill as far as infections go. My goal is to continue to remain positive and allow myself to recover throughout these times of struggle. Please keep me in your thoughts as I continue my journey. Thank you for your support.

Jenni

Monday, January 16, 2017

Remaining Positive

After writing my last blog post and sharing it with others, I wasn’t thinking about how many people didn’t realize how tough I had it last year. My main goal was to share my status along with how I was feeling throughout the times I struggled. Even though my body was tackling and sometimes my mind too, I tried to remain positive. If I didn't I don't think I would've been able to make it through.

Something that I've always tried to encourage others including myself is to focus on the things that have brought us down most and use them as a reminder that there are better situations beyond what we may or have experienced. Throughout my existence I've experienced pain, tragedy, grief, loss of independence etc. but in other ways have gained a bright outlook on life along with a belief system that change can occur.

In my own struggle, my life changed in an instant that has forever impacted my future. I’m constantly reminded of the understanding why I chose to live instead of going down a darker road. Despite what I’ve been through and what took place, I’m still remaining hopeful because that’s what got me through. When I was in the hospital I would try to think of ways in which I could turn my situation into something less negative to get me through.

I realize that many people see my position as challenging or hard and some even feel sorry for me. However, I’m grateful where I’m at knowing very well that my situation could be worse. By working through the challenges and overcoming each obstacle that comes my way is another victory towards a better quality of life.  If I can keep that momentum going and those thoughts in my mind, I know for fact I can accomplish anything. I’m living every day like it’s my last and cherishing what I have.

There are many people in worse off situations than mine struggling with their lives. I accept happiness because I want my being to be worth something; I want meaning and purpose in my life. I need to be able to exist with what happened to me and not die with regret, unforgiving, frustration, bitterness, or anger.

A lot of people ask me "how do you do it?" or "how do you stay so positive after what happened?" The truth of the matter is that sometimes I don't know how I'm doing it or how I am so positive most of the time. One of the ways that keeps me going is being able to help other people along the way. Some have told me that I’m an inspiration to them. All I have to say is that I’m human, stuff happens and I’m just trying to live the best that I know how.
 
I encourage those of you reading this to take a step back and acknowledge the challenges, tough times, obstacles, or other occurrences in your life that you have or are facing. Think about the ways you dealt or coped to get through. If you are experiencing a situation now in which you are searching for ways to overcome think hopefulness, knowing that there are others out there for support and help.
 
Jenni