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Five Smiles #3

Before I jump in, I’d like to say thank you for all of the birthday wishes on my previous post. I’m still in denial that I’m actually 25, but I had a great birthday! I went out with some friends in Philly to celebrate on the 3rd, had a delicious gluten-free cake with my family at home on the 4th, and wrapped up the celebration visiting my Grandma and Uncle John in Massachusetts on the 5th. It’s safe to say 25 is off to a good start.

1) I had an abdominal surgery about a month ago and today was my follow-up with my doctor at Jefferson. He said that everything looked great! I’m only a month out from the surgery, but I’m incredibly happy with the results so far.

2) Do you remember when I wrote in a previous post that I thought my van would spontaneously combust one day? Well, I was right. I want to preface story this by saying that everyone is fine and after three days at the auto shop, the van is home, happy and healthy (at least for now). Anyway, my mom went into the Gap to buy a gift card and I decided to wait in the car. All of a sudden the car made a weird noise and white smoke started pouring out of the front of the car. I could feel a panic attack brewing. So, I followed my first instinct, called my mom and shouted: “Mom the car is on fire!” My mom sprinted out of the store, turned the car off and immediately got on the phone to the car mechanic. Long story short, we were stranded in the Gap shopping center for almost three hours as the car was towed and we waited for a wheelchair-accessible transport to take us home. It was a bit of an inconvenience for sure, but in the end, wasn’t so bad. We got açai bowls while we waited, had some nice conversation with the lovely people who drove us home, and the car problem ended up not being too serious. Phew.

3) Willow has been extra cute lately so here are some recent pictures of her enjoying summer. Dad brought her home this funny doormat from his work trip to Arizona. She loves trying to steal Dad’s fresh-picked veggies off the back porch. Green beans are her favorite. It’s crazy to think that she will be a year old next month. They grow up so fast!

4) My dad found a cute little brunch spot in Wilmington called the Bellefonte Cafe and we all went over the weekend. Despite the heat, it was nice to relax on the patio and be with everybody. My sisters are both going back to school next week so it’s going to get pretty quiet around my house.

5) I have another surgery tomorrow! This is the last one that is currently scheduled. I’m having a biceps-to-triceps tendon transfer on my left arm, which is my stronger arm. Basically, they just take a piece of your biceps and flip it into your triceps. After some occupational therapy, I’ll be able to push off of surfaces easier, reach overhead without my arm falling and smacking me in the face, etc. It’s a pretty routine surgery, but out of all the surgeries I’ve done so far this one is definitely giving me the most anxiety. The looming loss of independence for a couple months during recovery is nerve-wracking. However, I’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve had it done and they say the new strength you gain is absolutely worth it. So, here goes nothing!

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Five Smiles #2

Monday: For the past couple of months, I’ve felt like I’m in a bit of a rut when it comes to working out. I’ve still been going to Magee to use the stim bike, Lokomat, and Exoskeleton in the Wellness Center, but I don’t have any formal OT or PT right now. After over a year, insurance finally said it’s time to take a break (I can go back in a few months though, no need to worry). I’ve been yearning for something new so that I didn’t lose interest in working out all together. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated when your body isn’t showing the results you want, but I know it’s important to keep moving. I recently joined a health and wellness center that’s about 15 minutes away from my house to do some aqua therapy. I was a little reluctant at first — I always hated swimming growing up — but so far, I really like it! The nurse who works there, Tia, used to be an aqua therapist, so she’s been working with me every week and always has new exercises and stretches for me to try out. My body feels a lot lighter and less rigid in the nice, 90-degree salt water. Since there’s less gravity, I can take baby steps with my left leg and pull my right leg along to ‘walk’ a little underwater with my upper body supported by noodles. It’s awesome! I’m not going to lie though, it’s a little awkward being the only person there with a spinal cord injury, but, hey, I have to get out of my comfort zone sometimes, I guess.

Tuesday: My surgery was moved up! Yep, I’m getting surgery. It was originally scheduled for March 20, but now it’s happening on March 7 — two weeks earlier! Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m just waiting around for it, so I’m definitely happy the surgeons snagged me an earlier spot. This will be the first of two or three surgeries I’ll be having on my arms to increase my independence. And I sure am ready for that. *Spoiler alert*: my next few posts will be taking you through this journey with me, so stay tuned!

Continue reading “Five Smiles #2”

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Five Smiles #1

Monday: Today I finished reading an inspiring book called Laughing at My Nightmare. It’s written by a young man named Shane Burcaw who was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy — a disease that causes his muscles to waste away over time. He’s been in a wheelchair his entire life, but his outlook on everything is amazingly positive and he doesn’t let his condition stand in the way of being happy and productive. He travels all over the country as a public speaker, runs a non-profit organization, a blog, and a YouTube channel. He’s definitely a busy guy! I highly recommend his book. He’s about to come out with a second one as well. On his blog, he writes these Weekly Smile posts. I like them so much that I decided to ‘steal’ the idea. Hopefully, he won’t mind. This may or may not actually become a weekly thing, but anyway, here goes!

Tuesday: I recently started volunteering at a non-profit just a few miles from my house. The Barn at Spring Brook Farm provides camps and after-school programs for kids with physical and cognitive disabilities. The Barn is loaded with cute farm animals that kids can connect with and learn from. I’ve been doing some writing and helping with advertising materials for them. They also gave me access to their WordPress, so I can update their website. It feels good to have some work responsibilities again and be part of such a special organization. Click here to read about some of the amazing work being done at the Barn. Continue reading “Five Smiles #1”