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Thank you + Update

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all having a nice fall so far and are staying healthy. It’s been a while since I’ve written a little update. First, thank you so much to everyone who donated to my team for Shriners Walk for Love 5K Fundraiser! With your generosity, we were able to raise $2,000 that will help children with disabilities and injuries receive the care they need at this wonderful hospital.

Last week, I actually had my last appointment at Shriners. Even though I’ve technically ‘graduated’ from Dr. Kozin’s care, I’ll always have a special connection to Shriners. So, as my friend Terry Diamond said, ‘It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later.’ I met so many wonderful people there the last couple of years and I know they’ll be cheering me on for years to come. Being at Shriners as an overage patient was a rewarding and eye-opening experience. I met children from all over the world with SCIs and other conditions and your generosity is helping all of them. Thank you again.

Also, I just finished my first graduate class back at Temple. It’s been an adjustment getting back into writing papers and doing homework, especially with Willow barking every five minutes, but I’m feeling more confident starting my second class this week. It feels good to be doing something productive.

Additionally, I’ve been helping out the United Spinal Association of Philadelphia with their social media these past couple of months. We post a lot of great educational and SCI advocacy information. It’s been a lot of fun — and I’m really looking forward to getting past this pandemic so we can have in-person events again. Here are links to our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Check us out or give us a follow if you wish!

Last but not least, I’m getting a power attachment for my manual chair this week! This is something I’ve had on my radar for a couple of years now and I’m excited it’s finally happening. My power chair weighs over 300 pounds and is just not practical for every situation. I use my manual chair often when I’m visiting family because it’s light enough to lift up stairs and when I’m out with friends because it fits under tables at restaurants. However, because my right arm is still too weak, I have to rely on others to push me everywhere — unless I want to go around in circles, and that does not get you very far. Trust me, I’ve tried. The power attachment and joystick will give me so much freedom and independence while I’m using my smaller, more portable manual chair. I can’t wait.

Before I go, here’s a picture of me doing the Lokomat at Magee last week. It always feels great to be up and getting weight through my feet, mask and all. As always, thank you for reading. Talk soon.

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Three years of SCI

7/10/17 —  Today marks three years since my life was changed forever. Three years since I felt the ground beneath my feet, signed a paper with my dominant hand, or hopped out of bed without thinking twice. It has felt like an entire lifetime, yet it has gone by in the blink of an eye. I have so many mixed emotions.

 

Three years ago today I suffered a major stroke in my spinal cord. What started as a completely normal day — going to work, coming home and watching The Bachelor with my roommates — became my last ‘normal’ day. I’m not one to vent on social media or on my blog very often but I’m not going to lie, every day is still a challenge. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss my body and my life before my spinal cord injury. I try my hardest to be positive and stay strong, but it’s not always easy.

 

It’s been a crazy few years, to say the least. I’ve spent three-plus months in the hospital, had three major surgeries, multiple other procedures, and endured months of post-surgery restrictions and recovery. I’ve also spent countless hours in physical therapy and occupational therapy working on my body to keep it strong and regain as much independence as I can.

I often get frustrated with the function I’ve recovered. If you asked me three years ago where I’d be today I’d probably say walking and living my normal life. But that was before I truly understood everything about spinal cord injuries. So sometimes it helps when I go back and look at pictures and videos of my early SCI days and remind myself that I actually have made progress! I’m finding little bits of new independence all the time and I’m excited about continuing to meet my goals.  I’m even hoping to learn how to drive again in the near future. The pandemic has that on hold right now, but once there’s a vaccine, I’m hitting the road! I was never a great driver even before my injury, so watch out.

I read a statistic recently that said ‘people with disabilities are the nation’s largest minority group and the only one that any person can join at any time.’ It really struck me. Life can change for anyone without a warning in an instant, just like mine did. So, run all the miles you can, hug your friends and family every day, travel whenever possible, and never take things for granted. Try not to stress too much about classes, work, friend drama, or looking perfect all the time like I did. All of that is so insignificant.

 

Even though I still have bad days, I’m thankful to be alive whether it’s walking or rolling. I’m blessed to be surrounded by wonderful, supportive friends and family. Thank you to everyone who has stuck by my side (and peeked in on this blog) these last few years. You’ve helped me discover who is truly in my corner and what’s important in life.

So, here’s to rolling through life for three years and many more to come. Thanks for being a part of my journey.

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