Welcome to my world.

I grew up as a very positive, determined, happy, open-minded, hard-headed person.. and as a diverse student/athlete. Upon graduating high school in '03, I attended Troy University on a softball scholarship. Since suffering a spinal cord injury from a mislanded back flip in '05, I live dependently. I currently participate in several hobbies, a home-based sales job, while most importantly continuing to working hard at my physical therapy. I've had a passion writing for some time now, and have begun writing a book... but I have quite the passion for reaching out and opening up my life to anyone who could possibly relate or be comforted by it...and wanted to do so as soon as possible. This blog will be based on the odds and ends.. the ins and out.. the blessings and the pain.. the common sense and the unknown. This is learning about belief.. what belief means to me. I am still human. I still live the life I want to live, and strive for the life I hope to live in the future. I am still me.. and I still believe.



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012- To sum it up...



        As many times as I have been compelled to write lately, I just couldn't bear to write another not-so-positive message. So, with that said, I am here now to update you on my life in a more positive manner.
        As I have mentioned in my Facebook updates, I went to Baltimore for one week to undergo testing and try to find out what exactly is causing the weakness and fatigue in my body. Since I have returned home I am still undergoing tests to try and find some type of diagnosis. I am very grateful to say that my brain scan came back normal. When I say that, I understand that it can always be worse, I have personally seen worse and I mean that with all of my heart. I truly cannot imagine "worse" after just living with the simple fear of what it could be, but I anxiously await hearing from my doctors about my abnormalities in my blood work.
        Within the last few weeks, I have felt a little bit better, as a whole. My body does not feel so heavy… nor does my mind. I am currently waiting on a geneticist to overview my lab work and will have to see more doctors in the upcoming weeks... but as of a few weeks ago I have so much more hope for what the outcome will be. I feared being unhealthy. I feared fighting even harder than I have to do already. It is not that these are impossible tasks… but after nearly 8 years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication… I never could have imagined a doctor telling me that it's something more.
        This year has been such a roller coaster where my life, love, and my disability are concerned.. a reality check to say the least. I have prided myself ever since my injury on my ability to not allow my condition to define me. I adapted very well to my condition… as well as I feel one could adapt. I lived my life as closely to the way I would have been had I not had my injury. But, the fact of the matter is I do not live the life of your average 27-year-old woman....ready to move on with her adult life… looking forward to being married and having children… not caring to “date” around and waste anyone's time. As much as I try to separate my condition from my social and personal life, it is merely impossible.
        Dating is scary and general.... even for the average bear. The "getting to know you"… trying to impress... hoping you are everything that person wants... hoping that they live up to be everything you think they are... It's all just human nature… but when you throw in the idea that they may have to see you in the most vulnerable positions one can see another person and… to know that in order to be in a normal relationship they will have to assist you in the most humiliating things like going to the bathroom or dressing, etc...  dating might get a little scarier. I was a confident girl leading into my accident… my whole life really... so it took me quite some time post-injury to really let these insecurities get the best of me. It really started to take over when I started struggling more with the setbacks that I’ve experienced in recent time. Along with my physical state,I was often feeling depressed, numb (emotionally as well...), and completely out of control of my emotions and mentality, which is something I've no consistently experienced throughout my entire journey. I was in a new relationship when these setbacks were first approaching last year (2012)... I am not sure exactly when they began to be honest… but maybe this was the first time that it mattered? I noticed that I was breaking plans… and avoiding furthering my relationship... not because I was afraid of what I was feeling… but because I was afraid of what I was feeling and the way the I was acting would do to him. And to be quite frank, there were moments when I couldn't feel. I found every reason why it wasn't able to work at that time… and let go. I later regretted my decision as I feared I would, but at the time I felt there was no other choice.
        I had suddenly become extraordinarily aware that I am different... that it isn't always convenient to be that person for me... that I cannot show my love and affection in all of the same ways the average girl can... and there are certain times when it is very difficult for me to even consider burdening that aspect of my life upon another person. It isn't that I believe that it is too difficult… but I do understand that it isn't a common thing for people to desire or care to be in a relationship where one carries that extra responsibility. My insecurities have kept me from allowing myself to randomly date… and has caused me to push away someone I love very much. Fortunately, I have, in the last year, come to terms with the fact that I have experienced not only physical setbacks throughout my battle with my injury, but mental and emotional.
        I have great big dreams for my life as I've mentioned before, and I will do what it takes to get myself in the right place so that I am more prepared to take those steps in my life, despite my condition. I have recently decided to make a couple of changes in my life… because there are some things that can be controlled and one of those is the willingness to better yourself. As I have reflected on the last year... the following are some of the things I have learned:
        -I may have experienced physical and emotional loss, but I’ve realized each time I lose, I also gain. Although I suffered from my losses, I became more aware, more accepting, more appreciative and I feel indefinitely stronger for not completely losing sight of my dreams, even in the darkest moments when I felt they were impossible. I have also "found out who my friends are"… or maybe I've just been reminded. It is no myth that you will become aware of these things in your darkest of times. I am truly blessed and will never take that for granted.  
        -I want to learn more about the Lord and build a closer relationship with him. In my deepest struggles, and especially in other's, he is who I turn to. I admit I do not always feel worthy, due to lack of effort in learning and accepting on my part. I’ve also never consciously allowed myself to fully place anything in his hands, but as I reflect on the moments where I lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, I believe in my heart that he gave me a sense of hope and strength.
        -I will, for the first time, establish a counselor. After my emotional struggles this past year, and my acknowledgment that I need some sort of guidance as to how to deal with my condition and intimate relationships, we have found a Psychologist who deals strictly with victims of traumatic and chronic injury.  Before now, I knew I had a grasp on my wants and needs and desires and choices... but at this point I need a little guidance in how not to throw that hold away. I have to assume that one day there will be a balance between my acceptance of myself and someone else's acceptance of an unordinary situation, understanding and patience.  Until then I will continue working hard to get back to where I was and working extra hard on accepting myself for all I am worth and being able to give all of the love that I have that to someone else... because contrary to what some may believe, it's a lot of love. That's one of the few things I take pride in.  
       -Being too prideful is unappealing and being emotionally vulnerable is the only way to be honest with yourself and anyone else. And honesty is certainly the best quality... truth brings peace. 

       -Life’s too short.

        I learned a lot throughout this journey but it seems even more so in 2012, and though it might have been a troubling year, I had some beautiful, beautiful times, and hope that my lessons carryover to enhancing my life in 2013. If anything is for certain, I remain standing tall in my belief in myself, my strength, my character and my big, big love for all of you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Today I am thankful for...


Today I am thankful for...

amazing doctors.

I do not necessarily mean the most knowledgable...but those who genuinely care for their patients and their well-being...and do not treat them as just a number.

Over the past month I have been experiencing some very unusual weakness in my upper body…more so in my right arm, which I felt was finally recovering two years post-surgery...but also in my left arm which has become my dominant arm and how I function on a day-to-day basis (since my surgery). I felt the best and strongest I had since May 2010, in August 2012. In my last blog I explained some concerns I was having, but now feel like those minor setbacks were only the beginning of this major one. Lately I have struggled with things that came very easily to me, such as picking up my phone or a drink with both hands... and picking up a fork or a paint brush with my left. This experience has been a setback both physically and emotionally... And I felt no other choice but to seek guidance from my specialist in Baltimore.

When I asked her out of desperation if I could come see her if I felt necessary… she immediately responded and directed me to scheduling. Because I was fearful of wasting money and time, I gave myself time to make a decision and waited for a change in my condition. Two days later, I sent an email requesting an appointment. The woman who contacted me (also right away) on behalf of my doctor, informed me that she was booked out until February, but that she would see me when I felt necessary. I explained to her that I felt a sense of emergency to be seen while I am experiencing what I am experiencing so that the tests that are run are efficient. In one week, I will be leaving for Baltimore to first see a doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital to have a nerve test run, and the following Wednesday I will see my amazing doctor at Kennedy Krieger. She has always been so personable, loving and very knowledgeable. I have always turned to her for issues that I thought were related to my injury... and she has always been there... but this has been a very scary, intense and discouraging situation for me… and she was more then just a doctor on the other end of the line. Spinal cord injuries are very complex conditions, and with my setbacks from my stem cell surgery on top of that, I am more than aware that I may come home with zero answers... But I rest assured and comforted that I am in the very best hands, and that is all I can ask for in this situation.

I want to, again, give thanks to my caregivers, who without question, offered to take time from their lives to fly with me to Baltimore to spend however long necessary... With knowledge that there was a chance that they would miss being home on Thanksgiving Day. As anyone who knows me understands, my family is the most important thing in my life, and I would never want to or ask anyone to miss such a holiday… but we were fortunately able to arrange an appointment the day before and will be flying in to greet our families on Thanksgiving. Although they will have their own special day on my "thankful" list… I must also give thanks to my support system... As it is because of you that I am financially stable enough and mentally prepared enough to take this trip... And above all… My mother who has given me the necessary support, all the way around. I am uncertain as to what my future holds, but today I am thankful for all of the above.

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Speed bumps

10.08.12

Since starting this blog, I've realized how much easier it is to write out of happiness and inspiration than it is when I'm a little on the fence. Truth be told, I'm just not good at admitting when I'm on the fence. 

I had a bit of a moment the other day... 

 Within the past month I've had two surgical procedures... one to have a bunion removed (ps. not fun)...  And the other was the same bladder procedure that I had before… where they injected Botox into my bladder to aid in bladder control. No matter how resilient and strong I think I am… such things take a toll on my body and I am fighting to get back to feeling like myself again... but I will. 
At the same time I've been fortunate enough to be preparing for my first painting booth, so I've been stressfully and steadily working in preparation for that while not feeling even close to 100% because I'm still recovering from my procedures... Annnd I've had to back off of my therapy while I recover and that always gets old quickly so the concoction has been quite overwhelming.. discouraging.. and disheartening at times. 

So back to my moment… In mid-meltdown I tell mom, "I just get tired of doing this sometimes... tired of it all."
In regards to that comment, I didn't mean that I get tired of painting... or having procedures to help the quality of my life... I meant all of the little ins and outs that few see or could comprehend… the dependency… the burden… the inconsistency... the physical setbacks... all the way down to the tasks that I require assistance for. Just exhausting more than anything.
I also meant, I'm tired for everyone else having to do this with me... and feeling like a constant inconvenience. It's only natural...
But then contrary to that complaint, sometimes I feel so alone in my battle because there's nothing that anyone can do to change it. Don't get me wrong, I know there are so many people in my life who would if they could... And there are so many who help make my life a beautiful one despite my challenges. I always understand that I could be fighting a bigger battle and I remain thankful for all that I DO have.

  I guess scared is a better term to use… The unknown is scary and in moments like this where I just feel stuck.. the future seems so uncertain.. and that's scary. I'm so stuck in this very moment that it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mom's response was, "That's why everyone admires you, ... most people would feel that way ALL of the time." Needless to say I quickly collected myself. 

I just have all of these  unanswered questions.. the main ones being…" "When will my mom be relieved of this burden?"... I thought that one day, later on down the road, I'd be taking care of her. "How can I ever pay her back now.. for being the mom that she's been?"...
"When will MY life really start?" ... 
"When will I feel secure and stable enough, through my own roller coaster of a life, to put myself out there and accept someone into my world to travel this journey with me?"... and with that question...
 "Will I ever be able to live out my biggest dream of having a child?"... 
SO MANY QUESTIONS...

I accepted a long time ago that my physical journey... or I guess I should say destination... would remain unknown until I've reached it... I may be fighting for progress until my death… But I knew once this fight started that it would never end until I'm satisfied.  I'd never be satisfied with being unhealthy… being more dependent than I have to be... or being perceived as JUST a disabled person. So my fight for physical progress is constant and without question. 

Moments like I spoke of earlier... they never last very long… I don't see how it could be possible. For those of you who think I'm strong for not having more moments like that… You're probably part of the reason why it's impossible.  No matter how discouraged or frustrated I may feel in a particular moment, there's never a second that I do not remember all that I'm constantly blessed with. So, to so many of you, thank you for making those moments few and far between.

I'm currently doing all that I know how to do and that's move forward. I'm slowly working my way back into my therapy even though some of it is against Dr.'s orders. With that I will begin overcoming the fatigue and depression because I will feel the sense of progress. With my painting I'm learning how to deal with failing sometimes before succeeding... because I'm a perfectionist and I tend to let myself forget that I am a quadriplegic, as well as an unnatural lefty. I'm learning to use my own creative concepts and taste.. And I'm working on painting things that move me or that I'm passionate about... and I've learned that when I do that I actually feel like an artist. Point being… I'm still learning, and I've accepted that so that I can progress.

I'm also starting classes back on Monday. It's been a little while since I decided to take a break, but in order to move forward I have to strive to reach my goals... and my degree is one of them. Against my better judgment, I will be taking three courses per term. If I continue on that path, I will be graduating after completing three terms. The simple thought of it is motivating and uplifting... Simply because it's something that I have somewhat struggled with doing independently, but have not given up... and of course because it was one of my biggest goals... It was in my plans. I hope my book comes to life in the near future after I complete my schooling. 
The schooling is kind of like my painting.. And even my battle with my disabilities. Such a big part of what brings meaning to our lives is accomplishing our dreams and goals... making new ones for ourselves. The process itself keeps us moving forward and always having something to look forward to. 

All too often it takes struggles and speed bumps and sometimes mountains to climb in order to reach those goals... but the more you accomplish, the more you realize you're able to do... and there's all the more reason you have to believe in yourself. 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Progress

09.03.12
I've been home for a little over a week now and I'm still recovering from an intense, fast-paced three weeks in Baltimore. I had my amazing support system following my progress day-by-day while I was away, and the texts, comments and messages of pride and encouragement motivated me even more to get up again each day and go back at it. For that... for everything I'm very thankful.

Last September was my first visit since my May 2010 stem cell surgery, which (as most of you know) resulted in the loss of much of the function in my right arm. Immediately after surgery, I had no movement or sensation. My arm has shown the most progress within the past year.. but is not completely recovered.

 Last year as I prepared to head to KKI, I knew that I'd regressed, but I was scared of hearing those words from my doctor and therapists... and more than anything, ashamed for them to see that I was so far behind where I once was because of the decision that I made to undergo such a risky procedure. I decided I'd only go for two weeks of therapy, in case my strength and endurance was not where it needed to be for anything longer. My first week of therapy was wasted because of a cold and some unexpected hiccups in my day-to-day routines. My second week was somewhat better... more challenging. Although I was noticeably weaker, I pushed myself to get the most I could out of that short trip. As always, I left KKI feeling proud of my accomplishments and appreciative for all I was ABLE to do. I felt appreciative for my KKI family, who can make even a trying visit so worth while.

I can't recall exactly when it was that I started truly feeling like myself again, but it wasn't until sometime between my 2011 and 2012 trip. I finally began to see progress in my strength and endurance, and in turn I felt progress in my mentality.. and a boost in my belief in all that I'd been fighting for. It wasn't until I started feeling like myself again that I realized how much I'd struggled to get past those physical and mental setbacks. But the important thing is that I did... and then I still continued fighting for more.

When making my trip last month, my physical capacity was unknown.. but mentally I felt as strong and determined as I did my very first trip... and rather than facing them ashamed, I felt proud and confident in the strides I've made in the past year... and all that I'd overcome in the past seven.

Because spinal cord injury and the potential healing process is so foreign to most people who have not closely experienced it... I understand that it's hard for people to completely grasp what "progress" means in that area. I've had people ask after every trip, "So, what kind of progress did you make?"...
In a 2, 3, or 4 week period, it is nearly impossible for a spinal cord to do any significant healing...unless it is in the first weeks or months of injury. Progress comes in many forms in any situation.. In spinal cord injury specifically, progress comes in baby steps. Each baby step typically feels like the equivalent of marathon... and the point of which progress has been made feel as good as crossing the finish line. (I've never run a marathon but it felt like an appropriate analogy.)

If I were to describe my progress that was confirmed (by myself and/or therapists/doctors) on my recent trip to KKI, I'd include;
-muscle strength in right shoulder and bicep
-independence on transfers
-sitting independently balanced for 10 min
-putting on and taking off a t-shirt in under a minute
-surpassing every goal set by my therapists

..................and so on.........

But, for me, personally...... the most important finish lines I crossed consisted of;
- going back to KKI for the 6th time
-entering the building each morning with the understanding of the work I had ahead of me
-attempting transfers again after my arms collapsed from underneath me... and completing them
-going back up in the stander after nearly passing out from it... and standing for 45 minutes
-continuing punching the bag after my shoulders were exhausted and fatigued
-trying again... after my mom wiped my tears of frustration away

........ and the biggest finish line of all was leaving the building on my last day with the realization that I'd prepared myself, through hard work, consistency and dedication for the challenges I'd faced in those three weeks... and that after 7 years I am still fighting..... still progressing... still overcoming... still prepared....... still doing it...... and as long as I am still doing it, I am moving forward. Ready for my next marathon.


"If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride- and never quit- you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards."      -Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant




Monday, July 23, 2012

Thank you.

07.22.12
I started to write a post on facebook and caught myself typing what was too much for a fb post, so I decided to start over on here so I had enough space to express at least almost all of my thoughts.

At this point, the words "thank you" feel almost insignificant , only because the simplicity of the phrase does not come close to expressing my gratitude and feelings toward the support that has been shown to me...especially after all this time.

There has been certain issues that I have dealt with on a consistent basis that, in the moment, seem impossible to overcome...impossible to continue dealing with. Whether it be the obvious frustrations over being completely out of control, dependent... unable..... or the struggles that may not be as obvious to an outsider........such as the vulnerability of being as exposed as one can be by the care that is necessary when you are completely dependent... the physical wear on your body and mind... the sense of helplessness and lack of worth... or in those particular moments, the question of quality of life.

I do not personally believe in the saying, "Happiness is what you make it." Can we actually make ourselves be happy??

I tend to over-analyze everything, so the way I look at it....it being life as a whole...is this:

When you have the control of your mind, your quality of life is what you make it. In choosing a more healthy (physically and mentally) quality of life, you are given the ability to seek happiness. Personally I believe that you do not make happiness, you embrace it.


Had I ever imagined I'd be fighting this fight seven years later... living a happy and fulfilled life would have seemed far from possible when the battle began. I just couldn't see that far ahead. Yet, seven years later I still awake each morning with the same drive and passion to push forward as I did in the first days of my injury. I initially imagined my story being about me physically overcoming my condition.. beating the odds.. healing. But, seven years after my injury, I wake up with more ambition than I've ever had... and since losing so many of my abilities, what abilities I had left have eventually surfaced...in the grand scheme, the more important abilities.

The story I want to share is about turning your disabilities into your drive to discover your abilities. It's about not only overcoming your struggles, but about teaching others that the possibilities are endless, and so is their potential. It is about choosing the good in your life to define it's quality so that you may find happiness, because it's out there.. in many shapes and forms.


 As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Do what you can while you can where you are."

In the past seven years I've learned the importance of a smile, a hug, or providing a shoulder to lean on. I am able to do these things. By never giving up and continuing to overcome challenges when the odds are against me, I am able to inspire. Throughout my experience, love has been defined for me. I have more love in my heart than ever before, and I have the ability to pay that forward. Not to mention the physical challenges I've overcome by learning my physical abilities, despite my condition. I now paint with my non-dominant, paralyzed left hand, because I am able. And I'm able to share my story.

 I am not disabled... I am unable to do certain things, but I AM ABLE to have an impact on others' lives, and to control the quality of my own by embracing the positivity and happiness that surrounds me. I have te ability to leave footprints in others lives, and as far as I'm concerned that is equally as fulfilling as the ability to walk. For having these abilities, I am happy.


Tarafest- What a day like that does for me is difficult to put into words. My quality of life keeps me from giving up my fight. It gives me a reason to keep moving forward when I feel like I can't anymore. My quality of life comes from several different sources. My family who has stood by me and has taught me what the meaning of family should be.. and my friends who have been or have become family, who I can count on as I can on my own family. My caregivers, who are not only my lifeline, but my friends... They enable me to take on any task I choose, while also providing me with my physical care, as well as the comfort of love, consideration and partnership. My financial support provides me with the means necessary for trips for therapy, procedures and equipment, all of which enhance my physical health and strength... and it provides me with the ability to seek any other opportunities that may aid in my progress. The unconditional love that is shown by my support group ignites my inner-fire that begins to die down a little from time to time. As I sat yesterday and looked around at the beautiful, diverse group of people who all joined together as one to show support for a single cause... me....I was once again reminded of how EXTREMELY blessed I am. My support, as a whole, is a reminder of why the only thing that seems "impossible" to me would be for me to ever give up. For having such blessings in my life, I am happy.

My challenges that come with my condition will not define my quality of life. The people in my life, my support, my abilities, the opportunities I'm given to live, and do the things that give me a sense of purpose... and the choice I make each day to remain hopeful and fight for progress .. those are some of the things that define my quality of life. Because I have a great quality of life, I can live happily.

I still feel that I have not said all there is to say... but I hope for anyone who has shown support over the past seven years, that you can at least somewhat grasp what an impact you've made on my life. You have changed someones life for the better, and that's something to be proud of.

Thank you for..... well... everything. I simply wouldn't be where or who I am today without you. 







Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BELIEVE

07.03.12
If I remember correctly, "Believe" became my motto soon after my accident, somewhere inside the Troy Softball locker room, while I was still in intensive care... possibly before I was completely conscious. It went from there onto sweatbands in black sharpie, and onto the wrists of my teammates... and soon Coach advanced them to embroidered wristbands. This single word spread from the locker room, through my team to my family, friends, and into the heart of a girl who eventually learned that "Believing" would be the key element to her life.


I was interviewed today by the local news. I was asked if my goals have changed after 7 years.... and I feared it would sound disappointing when I said, "yes"... though it seems that being asked the question allowed me to put my feelings about it into perspective.


My goals have not changed, but grown. My belief has been my most constant motivator aside from my unbelievable support system. I still plan to stand on my own two feet again one day. I have accepted certain aspects of the condition, for the sake of being able to live with them for as long as I have to... though those aspects have not taken away the belief that I have in myself that I can overcome any obstacle, and never, ever give in to this physical battle.


My goals are to be the healthiest, strongest and most prepared that I can be... to not only feel like myself, but for in the event that a miracle cure or procedure that aids in the healing of a spinal cord injury comes along. It is my goal to continue doing all that I am able and desire to do... and do them to the best of my ability... and to feel that sense of purpose. It is also my goal to continue paying it forward... however I'm able to do so. Because I believe in myself... I am ABLE to be successful at reaching my goals, and by reaching these few goals, my possibilities could be limitless.




A few years ago I asked that Tarafest 2009 be our last one. "Why?", my supporters asked. It was because I felt that eventually people would get over it, per say... that people would get tired of hearing my name, and I was afraid I was wearing out my welcome, metaphorically speaking.


My mom asked me if that meant that I was giving up my fight. "Without Tarafest, there's no Baltimore, there's no more traveling for procedures... ", said Mom. Without Tarafest my opportunities would be minimal... and let's face it.... without Tarafest, I would be risking losing my inner-fight.... my hope... my BELIEF. These things carry the weight of all of the struggles I've faced throughout my journey. Mom also told me that ending the Tarafest tradition could be perceived as me quitting... and how could I ever give up on when I have the most amazing support group consistently pushing me through and continuing to believe  in me. They've yet to give up on me.


There is one day per year when I end the day feeling an IMMEASURABLE amount of hope, support and love.  It reminds me that there's a whole community of supporters out there who I want by my side through my most successful of times.. as well as my struggles, because I know that it is them who will see me through to the top. I want to share my journey with the people who've given me the support that has inspired me to always come back out on top... who've inspired me to keep believing. 


To all supporters, new and old... your support gives me more than opportunity...
you aid in giving me the strength to endure my next challenge... the motivation to overcome it... the hope that it will make a difference.... the love that will brace me if I fall... and the belief that I will always stand back up.


 I am looking forward to my favorite day of the year... and more than anything I look forward to sharing it with every one of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


*Believe*






REALITY

Written 06.11.12

Two weeks ago I began watching a new reality series called Push Girls. The show is based on the Iives of four middle-aged women who all have spinal cord injuries and are confined to wheel chairs...three paraplegics and one quadriplegic. Naturally, I connect more with Angela, the quadriplegic, than I do the others. I admit I was a little judgmental when I first watched the sneak peak of the series months ago. The show seemed to portray the girls to be superficial, and in my opinion, portrayed their lives to be easy. They are all beautiful, confident, sexual, strong-willed and successful women... all of which I admire and can appreciate. They live in Los Angeles, and come from different backgrounds than my own, so they naturally they live different lifestyles than any that I can relate to. They are all pursuing Hollywood-based careers, though the one quad is struggling finding jobs as a model now that she is in a chair. One has now decided she'd like to have a child, though she mentioned not wanting to ruin her dancer figure. They all push around manual chairs that have had more cosmetic work done than functional work. So far the show has done well in expressing what the girls strive to be... as they are all now respectable, powerful women who do beat the odds in ways which they feel are important in their lives... but the show has yet to show the REALITY of one who SUFFERS from spinal cord injury, confinement, dependence, and humiliting vulnerability and challenges. Don't get me wrong, I have respect for every one of these girls for different reasons.. and as with many reality shows, I enjoy escaping from my life for a little while and watch... and pretend that this is a simple way to live... but coming from a quadriplegic who battles every day with the REALITY, it can be almost frustrating to watch.

How about those of us like me who have hopes to be a mother... with the right partner at the right time... and with no concerns of what changes my body might endure, because I'm confident in my health and dedication towards it. I only hope to bring a child into this challenging, but beautiful life, and into an amazing family... and to be able to teach my child to be someone who can one day look back and be proud of the extraordinary person they've become... as well as look around and appreciate those who contributed.. just as I've been blessed to be able to do. I dream of being an extraordinary, loving, guiding parent... one that some choose not to be with four functional limbs.
If I had my own reality tv show, I'd want my life to be shot for 24 hour time periods. I'd like for the camera to capture the discomfort and restlessness I experience when trying to get to sleep. I'd like for it to capture the chills and sweating caused by my high blood pressure when there is something causing discomfort below my level of injury (C5). At times, part of my reality is what I call a "bad night", which are fortunately few and far between, but where I'm forced to take an anti-anxiety medication just to stop the panic.. the tears and the frustration.. in order to be sedated enough to simply rest. My life feels enough like a pure burden on my mother, as I'm still living under her care until my life moves in a different direction. Meanwhile, I must wake her up to come and help me through my struggles or to simply assist me in my needs throughout the night. My mother has been my constant rock... my best friend.. though she is forced to be on the receiving end of every single frustration I face or struggle I'm unable to break. Another important aspect is the personal relationships verses business relationships with my caregivers, who are also my friends. Like any relationship, there is growth, change, emotion, attachment, expectation, and dependence. There is at times the upmost appreciation... and at other times, struggle. Other things not always considered are the struggles with feelings of violation and humiliation while dressing, bathing, aiding in going to the bathroom, and simply giving and following orders. When you need such assistance there involves an almost unbearable amount of vulnerability... and any modesty, and humility that might as well be shoved down your throat. We are always exposed.
We quadriplegics need at least some sort of assistance with... well everything. Not to mention the issues we face with lack of privacy, lack of escape, lack of personal time, longing for independence... and the finer issues here and there and in between... but you get the gist.
I hope those with similar conditions to be portrayed as real people with unfortunate disabilities, but INFINITE possibilities. And I can only hope that so many in such situations never let go of who they are, who they hope to be, and what they want for their lives. I understand that I'm beyond fortunate in my support and it's made all that I do and all that I've become a possibility.

In my reality show I'd like to show the constant blessings which allow me to live as normal and happy of a life as possible, as in the beautiful people in my life, the love and the opportunities I'm given. I'd also like to show the fight... the rebuilding after destruction... the constant battle to continue to overcome and beat the odds. I do hope to have a powerful presence... and desire to be desired... but I also strive to have a beautiful heart, a strong-will, and a constant fire under my ass to continue believing in all that I am and all that I want to be... someone who's non-superficial...someone that will leave a mark simply by how they made a difference in other's lives.