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Ballin’

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How about these warm days huh? It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact I no longer need a coat to go outside after that never ending winter we had. Needless to say, I’ve been spending quite a bit more time under the sun to say the least. For starters, some 4-H members made me an awesome raised gardening bed that is currently residing in our backyard and there are even things growing. Boom sauce! Mom, Ms. Florist herself was all like, “you better dig that up better” or “your rows aren’t straight” or “that’s not gonna grow” and now there are totally green things to show my way works just fine. I mean, yea, she was right, my rows aren’t straight and my carrots never germinated (whoops), but the radishes, beans, peas, or kolorabi don’t seem to mind…

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I guess I should admit to another gardening fail…I have tomato plants as well, but those are too tall to really have a heck of a lot of success in a raised gardening bed with a shorty like me taking care of them. So, we have separate pots that those dudes are growing in, but getting them there was a bit more of a challenge then it probably should have been. Mom was around doing goodness knows what in the backyard and told me I was okay to plant them in the big pot. Well, I missed the word “big” and saw these two lovely little pots on the ground directly in front of me and went to work. I had a nice little hole dug when Mom comes around the corner, see’s my awesome progress and goes, “What are you doing!?! I so wanna kill you right now!” Apparently, those two little pots were home to her calla lily bulbs that I had now graciously displaced onto the cement. Whoops. Mom claims it was sabotage… Lesson learned: listening is not overrated. But just for the record, the lilies I dug up and then got replanted are doing better than the ones I never touched. See Mom, trials can be good for things, they make you stronger:)

SEE! They're still growing...
SEE! They’re still growing…

Alright, enough green (or lack of green) thumb talk. So this past week I went to the National Wheelchair Sports Camp at Ironwood Christian Ranch in Stewartville, Minnesota. I had heard about it from a friend of mine and got myself (and Mom) all signed up. That went something like this, “Hey Mom, how old are you?” “__ years, why?” (Yea, I’m not gonna post Mom’s age online, I’m pretty sure I’m still making up for the lily incident and I don’t think that would help my case) “Oh, no reason, I’m just signing us up for a camp.” It’s amazing the gunk I drag her into…

We got to the ranch on a Thursday, to which Mom said we needed to commemorate with a selfie. I still can’t get over the fact she even knew what a selfie WAS…

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It was overwhelming to say the least, wheeling into a strange place where I was finally in the majority and it was the abled bodied individuals around me who seemed out of place. I guess its been so long since I’ve had that experience that I had forgot what it felt like to “blend in” which sometimes feels awesome. Now let me just say, I’ve never been to a sports camp in my entire life…band camp, yes, 4-H camp, yes, sports camp, ha! Funny joke. I know that first night after seeing all these confident and comfortable people around me, talking to their old friends and comparing racing gear for the 10k the following day, I was a bit on the terrified side. I mean, everyone I had met was super nice and welcoming, but they were so experienced and I was so, well, new.

I was up early the next morning to do the camp’s annual 10k. Most campers got in their racing chairs and recumbent bikes, all ready and competitive as I sat there in my everyday manual chair, feeling a bit out of place, but ready to give it a go.  It was only a matter of moments before the crowd of racers had surged ahead and it was just me and the road and all my thoughts of how stupid it was for me to think I was ready for a camp like this. But then I was joined by these two other wheelers, also pushing in their manual chairs. They were both obviously more experienced then I was but I kept pushing, just waiting for the moment that they too would pass me by. But you know what? That moment never came. Instead we pushed all 6.2 miles together, talking and listening to the stories each person had to share. Funny enough, one of the individuals was Brad Parks, the founder of wheelchair tennis, paralympic gold medal holder, and numerous other titles. The other individual was David Kiley, a wheelchair basketball legend who likewise has a collection of titles and paralympic gold medals. It was so great hearing about their lives and the stories about their paralympic experiences, and by the time we reached the finish line, I knew there was a reason God showed me to this camp.

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I feel like I could go on for hours, talking about everything I was able to do and try during the week at camp. I could talk about how awesome it was to go ziplining, how absolutely terrible I am at tennis (you have to start somewhere right?), and how much fun it was to play softball (even though it’s another thing I’m certainly not very good at). But I’m pretty sure pictures tell just as awesome of a story  and there’s a really sweet video the camp put together that I have to share with everyone. So here’s that link  http://vimeo.com/98612524  and the pictures…

camp

You know, it wasn’t the sports that made camp great, it was the people I was able to meet and talk with and learn from that really made an impact. When you live with a disability and spend your life with wheels attached to your butt, you form instant connections with people who do the same. It’s seriously a case of a kindergartner friendship, “You’re in a wheelchair?! I’M in a wheelchair! Let’s be best friends!” Well, at least that’s how I see it. I guess you just understand each other on a whole other level because you get and I mean actually get what the other person is or has gone through.

The whole week really was great, but my favorite part were those 6.2 miles on the first full day of camp. Being able to learn from and become friends with individuals like Brad and DK who know so much and are so willing to help and teach made my week. Their willingness to open up and share a part of themselves, whether that be their everyday life or their passionate faith in God, meant and always will mean the world to me.

Its scary doing things that are outside your comfort zone, but a new friend recently taught me
that is where the magic happens.

Can you?

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So…I always have issues figuring out how in the world to start posts. I swear, someday I’m just going to tell a ridiculous joke to break the cyber-silence. Awe heck, I’ve got a good one to share so I might as well do it today just for kicks. Why did the man go out with a prune? Because he couldn’t find a date. Bah ha ha! Terrible…

My year anniversary day (wow, that doesn’t make a lot of sense) went really well and you know, it really was just another day. But it also was a day to celebrate life which meant a pretty good reason to have a party with the family and some close friends. We lit off wish lanterns that evening and I wanted to share some of the photos because it was pretty awesome.

balloon

Doesn’t it look gorgeous? I can promise you it was even cooler in real life. Funny story about the lanterns, we lit them all off over a bunch of farm fields basically in the middle of nowhere so we didn’t have to worry about anything bad happening with the open flame. All of them went up without a hitch, that is until the very last one. The very last lantern got caught in the lone tree in my aunt’s front yard. No worries, the tree was fine, but I felt it was oddly fitting. Yea, take THAT tree. Read the rest of this entry »

Press Pause

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A year.

It’s been a whole year.

I feel like I just need to pause and not write for a minute to let all of that to sink in. I was injured May 25, 2013 and here I am May 25, 2014, an entire year later.

What do you do on the anniversary of something you never thought would happened? How do you approach a day like today? How do you deal with all the emotions and memories of the accident and of this past year? I mean seriously, how?

In one breath, it’s just another day, one more day past the one when everything changed. But everything really changed…I mean I went from walking to rolling. I went from independent to dependent. I went from running around like a fool, ready to start and enjoy summer to not even being able to breathe without a ventilator or eat without a tube stuck in my body.

So do I sit here and cry because it happened?  Spend the day in bed with a blanket over my head just trying to imagine what my world would be like if I hadn’t been standing in that exact spot at the exact moment? Do I just push on and brush it off because it really is just another day?

I wish I knew the answer to any of those questions….but I don’t…at all. I’m usually not one who likes to dwell in the past or the “what could haves” but sometimes I think looking back on something as massive as this and what it all has meant for my life helps in moving forward.

July 1(ish): Memory returns
I don’t remember anything from when I was injured on May 25 until July 1st-ish. I was awake and talking and there are pictures to prove it, but that time span seriously doesn’t exist in my head. To be honest, I’m really thankful I don’t remember any of that time…I’ve heard stories, and they’re scary just to listen to. A 10 hour surgery, 3 bronchoscopy procedures, a collapsing lung, and the list could keep going. But I’ll tell you what I am thankful for, I’m thankful for the people who were right there and have stayed right there when I did “wake-up.”

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Mom was right there with me that morning when I “came to.” She was there when I was fitted for my first wheelchair, she was there as I spent long hours in countless therapies, and she was there when I’d get in bed at night, too tired to even lift up a glass of milk, let alone deal with all the emotions of a new injury. My sisters actually came out that first weekend I started remembering things and they were there for me as they always have been. I still remember crying and being terrified of seeing them for the first time, what would they think of me? How would they treat me? Exactly the same. And same never felt so good. And Dad came out for a visit which was awesome, but he also spent so much time getting our home to be accessible for me. Family is a pretty special thing and I’ve just started to learn how very special mine is… Read the rest of this entry »

Got Real?

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So instead of writing this from my clubhouse as I normally tend to do, this post comes from the passenger seat of the van. Mom and I went road trippin’ to Minnesota this week (which was pretty awesome to say the least) and now we’re making the 4.5-hour drive back. Mom sure is a pretty comical creature to road trip with, we keep having to pass all the big semi’s so they don’t “block our view” when we come across the sheep farm with all the little lambs because then Mom (as she said) “would be one cranky lady.” I’d just like to point out its her who’s all obsessed and not me…for once…but I’m not complaining:D

So the road trip…

I did my undergrad degree in three years which means that a lot of my friends who are actually normal (well, besides being friends with me) are graduating from college this year. That being said, I took to the open roads to celebrate with/congratulate them and visit campus and see some of my awesome professors again. I forgot how gorgeous of a college I went to (and also how hilly of a campus I studied on) but mostly how gorgeous. I mean seriously, look at it.

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Being back was really special, but at moments a little hard. I mean, that place is littered with memories of what was and what was going to be in the life I was living. I was rolling through the vet school seeing vet students rush by in scrubs or leaving classrooms which caused a few, sad, that-was supposed-to-be-me feelings. But what really surprised me was how fast those feelings left. I couldn’t be happier pursuing medical school and I guess those moments just go to show how true that is. Read the rest of this entry »

So this is new

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So it’s been a little while…whoops. But I promise you, I have a collection of good excuses for my delay. Sometimes life just gets crazy busy, you know? There’s a reason my little blog here is called “Never Sitting Still” because I honestly don’t know how to…somedays I swear I’ve got more going on now then I did before I was injured, which is kind of scary. That being said, my body decided to call a time out and I came down with one of those stupid spring colds. I’m feeling way better now, but initially it was like I got ran over by a bus….granted, that feels a bajillion times better than getting hit by a dead tree, but still. Yea, my terrible sense of humor is still here so I’m obviously doing okay:D

Post spinal cord injury, there are a lot of “new” things you find yourself having to learn how to do or simply doing as a part of your life now. I mean, when I was at Craig there were countless things they taught me that I always used to take for granted. Things like getting dressed, getting in and out of a vehicle/couch, and even something as basic sounding as how to maneuver my wheelchair and manage curbs/rough terrain. Since coming home I’ve done a few “new” things, usually just in the form of figuring out how to do something I never used to be able to (that’s what I call problem solving for independence:D). But this past week was one for the record books…

For starters, I made mention of receiving a grant for a racing chair a few weeks ago. Racing chairs are custom built for each athlete, like they’re made so they fit on your booty pretty snug. That being said, you have to get all measured to actually order the chair and since I’m pretty new to the whole racing world, I sought out some assistance in getting actual legit measurements. My assistance came in the form of a paralympian.

Tony

Yea, no big deal, I just spent an afternoon hanging out with a man who competed in Track and Field in both Barcelona and Bejiing. Talk about awesome. He’s even helping me really get going, laying out some workouts, getting properly positioned in the chair, having a good stroke technique, all of the stuff that’s really important to actually learning a new sport. I mean, I ran before, but this is so different, it’s like starting new again. Read the rest of this entry »

Would you?

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So I swear it’s spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like spring out there today…instead I’m sitting in the house with my coat on drinking a hot cup of coffee in what is now referred to as my “club house.” My club house, well, is the bathroom….Yea, I know it’s ridiculous, but I have an awesome little space heater in here (from Costco of course) and when I close the curtain (door) and turn that thing on, boy does it get nice and toasty! Hence, my club house…and no, there are no boys allowed. I still need to make a sign…

I started some seedlings too to eventually plant when it actually warms up outside and they were doing super wonderful and were all happy and growing and then….Leopold happened. Crazy cat came home this weekend and went all King Kong on my babies (see exhibit A and B below). That cat is obsessed with plants-pulling them out of things and knocking them off of cupboards. Let’s just say it’s a good thing he’s cute because yesterday after seeing the aftermath of his afternoon fun I told him he was dead to me. Dwebe.

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But moving on…

You know when someone asks you something and it catches you off guard? Like you know what you should say and you respond in the moment because it’s expected of you, but then you spend the next month thinking about it and what you said and how you ACTUALLY feel? Okay, maybe that’s just me who obsesses over things for that long, but that’s totally where I’ve been ever since Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin. Read the rest of this entry »

Well That’s Unique

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Craig Hospital was a pretty special place to do the rehabilitation I needed in the early stages of my injury. There were world renowned doctors that helped to get me healthy and tube-less (you wouldn’t believe all the stuff I had stuck in me…), there were nurses and techs that cared for my physical AND mental health, and there were therapists that taught me the things I really needed to know to survive out in the “real world.” But Craig had something else that I think may have made all the difference, it had a community, a community of patients struggling through the same life changing event.

We all had very different injuries, were from different places around the country and even around the world (I met someone from Ghana), and were all at very different stages in our lives. Yet, we were going through the same thing. We had all suddenly found ourselves in a situation where putting on your own pants was something to be celebrated and the conversations around the dinner table weren’t ever about things you’d want to blog about. I met some awesome patients and made some awesome friends while I was at Craig, some through pretty unique situations…

Let me try to set the scene of one “introduction” I will never forget.

While in rehab for an SCI you have a pretty crazy busy schedule of classes. There’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, weight lifting, wheelchair skills, and the list keeps going on and on. One of the classes was an educational class called Lifestyles (or something like that) and was meant to teach you the basics of living life with an SCI. In the class there were days dedicated to different topics ranging the spectrum from skin care to bladder management to recreating. One of the topic days was all about sexuality. So yep, there I was, age 21, sitting in a classroom with my fiance, my mother, and eight other strangers (mostly adult males), learning about sex. Yea, its about as awkward as it sounds. Read the rest of this entry »