For Science

The other week I realized I have remained in the same state for a whole three months.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Wisconsin, but three months in one state is a long time. At least after last year when I felt like I was on a plane almost every other week. Relatively speaking — three months IS a long time.

So when I got a random message courtesy of the “Contact Me” tab at the top of this page from a random dude at Michigan Technological University who was doing research related to wheelchair users asking me to spend a couple days up there, I naturally jumped on the opportunity and said “A-OKAY!”

I realize now looking at that paragraph in hindsight, that whole sequence of events would probably be on the list of things parents tell there kids to never do. However in my defense, I did google him and when the person you google has alphabet soup behind their name for their degrees and have had 23 publications since 2007, they’re probably legit. Plus, google doesn’t lie.  (Goodness, there are so many reasons I’m not ready to be a parent…)

1Not to mention Houghton, Michigan is gorgeous….

The research itself was fascinating and something I was all into since the study was looking at a new piece of exercise equipment and the possible benefits it could have in the rehabilitation of individuals with mobility impairments and possibly even athletic performance.

I spent a total of 3 days there, learning and getting used to the equipment, doing some physiological performance testing, and then the “actual” testing with the equipment. It was pretty cool seeing all the ways physiological data is collected in the field of Kinesiology. I was even able to do a VO2 Max test which seeks to find  the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. In essence, it’s a pretty good indicator (if not the indicator) of cardiovascular health.

2Clearly you look a little bit crazy since you’re outfitted with a head mask and a less than enjoyable nose clip (yea, try working out with your nose completely plugged…it’s a bit of a challenge). But I was SOOOO excited to actually do the test. I think it’s just one of those things where I had seen it before and always thought, “Woah, that’d be cool to do…” and now I’ve done it:D

You know, It was really exciting to be asked to be apart of something like this. To be asked to help with research to make better exercise equipment for other wheelchair users. I mean, that’s really quite the honor.

Research is so fascinating. I love asking questions and I look forward to finding and learning the answers which is basically research in a nutshell. I actually did quite a few different research projects wcowhile I was an undergrad including one where I visited a collection of organic dairy farms throughout the state of Minnesota and met some pretty groovy people (and cows).

For example, meet Princess. According to the farmer, Princess thinks she’s God’s gift to mankind and deserves to be pampered…all the time. I didn’t mind lending a hand on the “pamper front.”

Yet, for as wonderful as research is, there are some kinds that I struggle with (and probably always will).

Everything has two sides (at least) and most things carry an underlying tone or a “read between the lines” second meaning. What in the world am I talking about? Well, research related to spinal cord regeneration.

You know, ever since my injury, if any kind of “break through” happens with research on the Central Nervous System, I get messages. I get facebook posts, I get articles cut out of newspapers, I get e-mails. I don’t have any problem with those things, I mean, it’s exciting to hear about any kind of scientific discovery. But sometimes, when I’m having a rough day or get a message from someone who hasn’t talked to me since my injury, I get a bit concerned.

Am I getting sent those messages because I’m “broken” and need to be “fixed?” Am I getting those messages as a sort of, “Hey look, there’s still hope for you. You don’t have to be a sorry disabled lady forever.”  I’m mostly sure that’s never the intention, but when things are hard and the world is spinning a little too fast…I wonder.

It’s a strange things to describe when someone you’ve never met simply “assumes” you aren’t happy or okay by your appearance. I’ve just recently had the experience of an individual approaching me at the mall saying I needed to go to so-and-so for healing. That inherent assumption that I’m broken and need healing can really cut into you deep.

You see, it’s a  huge catch-22. A breakthrough in spinal cord neuron regeneration would be huge and it would impact so many lives. Yet, I think often times people forget and don’t realize all the “behind the scenes” that has to happen for the individual.

Maybe I don’t look “whole” to everyone, but I really don’t think that matters.
We are who we want to be and that is our choice and our choice alone.

If you didn’t get enough of “Sam” via the above post (or are procrastinating like I am on reviewing some MCAT Physics material), feel free to check out a guest blog I did for Holy Hen House. The link is in the “In Other News” tab or you can just click right here!

3 thoughts on “For Science

  1. Bev. Dagneau says:

    Sam you are so inspiring..makes me feel guilty for complaining about all my minor little things..Hope someday you have the time to write a book, or maybe you already are..
    Merry Christmas to you and your are truly a Blessing..
    .Hugs, Bev.

  2. Dan & Ann Oberschlake says:

    Always an inspiration and you views are so real on life’s perspective.. The “real” meaning of it all!!
    We really expect your thoughts and experiences to be put in a book one day!! You help us all.. Seated or walking!
    Thank you …

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