Christmas 2018 highlights

Merry belated Christmas everyone! I hope everyone’s holiday was filled with yummy food, fun times with friends and family, and a little R&R. Growing up, my family and I always spent Christmas visiting family in Rhode Island and Massachusettes. This year, however, was the second year we stayed home. Instead, my grandparents came down and celebrated Christmas Eve (at Longwood Gardens!) and Christmas day with us. Tonight my aunt, uncle, and two cousins are coming down for a few days. It should be a fun weekend! So now, without further ado, here are a couple of highlights from my Christmas that I wanted to share…

Christmas Eve definitely started off on the right foot at therapy in the morning. I set my personal record of 1,502 steps in the Exoskeleton! I recently started using the Exo every Monday. It’s essentially a robotic suit that helps step your legs, but it won’t step without feeling some sort of muscle activation first. I have to constantly think about weight shifting, squeezing back, and kicking out or the machine won’t go. Sounds simple, but it’s actually really hard! My therapist likes to challenge my stronger leg (lefty) by decreasing how much help the machine gives me. Sometimes it feels like I’m walking through quicksand! Good thing I got some stepping in before I ate all of the holiday treats my grandma brought later that day.

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Road Trip 2.0

In July, my mom, my Auntie Amy, and I loaded up our giant, red wheelchair van and drove all the way to Florida. Eleven hundred miles! I was going down for a week of therapy with an SCI guru named Ken Bryant (and a little fun, too). It was a long, hot drive, but totally worth it to relax on gorgeous Clearwater Beach and float in a pool a year after my SCI. (Check out the picture below of me in a super stylish beach wheelchair). In mid-October, my mom and I embarked on our second major road trip since I’ve been in a wheelchair. This time we went somewhere not quite as warm as we headed off to see my best friend, Erin, in Chicago!

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A little late, but always thankful

When I was discharged from Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in October 2017, a million questions and uncertainties raced through my mind: How long am I going to be in outpatient therapy? Will I be able to do everything I used to do? Will I be able to go back to work? When am I ever going to see my friends? This last question was important to me because, after living independently in Philly for four years, I was afraid that moving back home to the suburbs with my parents would isolate me from all of my friends. I thought everyone’s lives would move on without me. But now, after over a year of being home, I’m happy to say that hasn’t happened.

The Friday before Thanksgiving, my old roommate Brigid, who now lives in West Philly, hosted a ‘Friendsgiving.’ She lives on the second floor of one of those ancient duplexes with stairs leading up to the front door and then two flights of (very narrow) stairs leading up to her apartment. Needless to say, I was a little worried it might not work out. Luckily, I underestimated my friends’ strength and they hoisted me up the stairs Cleopatra-style while barely breaking a sweat. Phew, crisis averted. 

Friendsgiving 2018 in West Philly.

Maybe it was Olivia’s tasty Thanksgiving cocktail — or seeing some college pals I hadn’t seen in a while, or the start to the holiday season — that got me feeling sappy on the way home … but I started reflecting on how thankful I am for my wonderful friends, hence this little friend appreciation post. Continue reading “A little late, but always thankful”