I’m proud to serve on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association as we help improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injury. Consider donating to this Association as part of #MidlandsGives. https://www.midlandsgives.org/SCSCIA
The second half of last year was a bit bumpy, both physically and emotionally. In August, my mom and I were in a car accident as we were traveling along I-95 to North Carolina.
We were less than two miles away from our destination for our family reunion during Labor Day weekend when I overcorrected and ran into a guard rail. It was truly a scary experience.
My mom had a broken shoulder. She had to have a total shoulder replacement, but is continuing physical therapy. I’m grateful that she is mending well and is back to her normal routine. My mom is one of the strongest women I know.
I didn’t have any injuries and, fortunately, no other vehicles or people were involved in the accident.
The recovery was more manageable because our family was only a few minutes away. My grandmother, aunts and uncle rushed to see us at the scene of the accident before we were transported by EMS to the hospital.
The first responders and the medical staff at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, North Carolina took great care of us. We also have to thank Robin and Erick Hernandez of Mobility Supercenter who brought us a wheelchair-accessible rental van to get us back home.
As if the accident wasn’t enough to deal with, we had to evacuate from Charleston to Augusta because of the hurricane. I think with the stress of everything going on, I was also admitted to the hospital in Augusta for a UTI. Thankfully, I’ve recovered from those medical issues.
Fast forward to last week, I was able to begin driving again. The Mobility Supercenter team modified a new van for me to drive. I was anxious at the thought of driving, but knew I needed to overcome the fear.
I’m blessed to be behind the wheel again, but, more importantly, I’m grateful that my mom and I still have our life, health and strength.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, we must be driven with purpose. Don’t take things for granted and make the most of every opportunity.
I went to see “The Upside” this past weekend. From the previews, it appeared be a good movie, and I wondered how well the actors would perform since this is based on a real-life story.
Bryan Cranston plays Philip, a 60-year old who has a spinal cord injury and becomes paralyzed from a hang gliding accident. Dell is played by Kevin Hart and is Philip’s personal care attendant.
Bryan does a good job as a quadriplegic–someone with paralysis effecting all four limbs of the body. Many disability advocates, including myself, question why a person with a spinal cord injury couldn’t play the role instead of hiring an able-bodied actor. It would provide diversity and more authenticity to the character.
From my experience working as an accessibility technical advisor for two seasons on the CBS TV show, “The Inspectors,” an actor without a disability can be used to film scenes using a wheelchair and flashback scenes before the character was injured. I understand the practicality of hiring a non-disabled actor, but a body double can be an alternative for those flashback scenes.
I’m not sure if any flashback scenes were filmed, and then removed, from “The Upside,” but the movie would have lended itself well to having a person with a disability in the leading role.
Aside from the acting, I thought the storyline provided an insight of the daily tasks when living with a spinal cord injury. It shows both uplifting and painful emotions that we encounter. Plus, the comedic scenes help ease the tension during some of the difficult situations.
After watching this movie, I hope viewers get an idea of what’s required when living with a disability and I hope it provides a new perspective about life.
If you have seen the movie, let me know your thoughts. If not, be sure to check it out.
I’m sure you have all seen the Geico commercial of the lady riding the stationary bicycle. She says, “Cycling is my passion!” If you haven’t seen the commercial, check it out here: https://ispot.tv/a/wccR.
Cycling is becoming my passion too! My job recently installed an accessible arm bike (upper body ergometer) in our gym. I try to use the bike for about 15 minutes two or three times a week.
In addition to working out in the gym, I go to physical therapy for stretching, upper body exercises and lifting weights on the FreeMotion machine.
Several workout facilities are becoming more accessible. They may not have a lot of accessible equipment, but may have a few items that can be used. Don’t be afraid to ask around to see what is available.
If you aren’t able to get to the gym, simply do a quick YouTube search to find a lot of options.
The Shepherd Center, the spinal cord injury rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, has a new mobile app called SCI-Ex that is now available to help promote exercise in people living with a spinal cord injury. SCI-Ex can be downloaded for free from the Apple App or Google Play stores.
Every Body Fitness is an online wellness program for every ability. Check out their website at www.ebfitnessonline.com.
Regardless of your ability, exercise is good for your mind, body and soul!
Last year brought on a lot of challenges. From several surgeries to a serious car accident that my mom and I were in, we are both grateful for life, health and strength. With the grace of God and the love and support from our family and friends, we can overcome any obstacles.
As we move into 2019, I’m looking forward to doing even more to excel personally and professionally. I have the opportunity to take some public affairs training to advance my career. I also have some exciting ideas to share with you on my blog.
Now, more than ever, I feel driven with purpose to make the most of every opportunity and not take the little things for granted.
I know we have these resolutions and aspirations we hope to achieve this year, but I challenge you to think about the bigger picture: What is your purpose in life and how are you going to live up to that purpose?
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. While we put emphasis on disability employment during this month, it’s important that we advocate for people with disabilities to become employed every day of the year.
Nonprofit organizations, including ABLE South Carolina in Columbia, SC, are empowering those with disabilities to become part of the workforce while simultaneously educating employers.
The team at ABLE SC have the “Hire Me SC” Campaign to educate businesses around the state to hire a more diverse and inclusive workforce. I’m grateful to have been featured in the campaign with a billboard where I’m quoted saying, “I will not become an unemployment statistic” in North Charleston.
I’ve been fortunate to work as a Public Affairs Specialist for the Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR). I’ve also been able to communicate the accessibility needs within the workplace. SPAWAR has done a great job in ensuring current and future employees have the accommodations they may require.
Driven With Purpose
My ability to write this blog post almost wasn’t possible. The last few months have been plagued with several medical issues and hospitalizations for both my mom and me. My mom and I were in a car accident a few months ago. Mom is recovering from a broken shoulder, but is doing well. I didn’t have any injuries, but we’re both grateful to God that it wasn’t worse. I’m recovering from a few surgeries before the accident, but I’m glad we’re getting back to a normal routine.
Now, more than ever, I believe we are here for a purpose! I’m grateful that I can share my story of living with a spinal cord injury in hopes that it can help someone else. We all can make a difference in someone’s lives.
If you’ve not visited my Facebook page lately, I was interviewed by my friend Nathan Todd on his podcast, “No Label Defines Me.” You can watch the podcast on Nathan’s “The Muscle Motivator” Facebook page. We discussed how we overcome obstacles to live our best life!
No matter what you’re going through, you can overcome any obstacles that come your way!
Even though it was a rainy Saturday morning this past weekend for the the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) graduation, that didn’t dampen the pomp and circumstance for the 644 graduates, their families and friends!
I was excited to watch several of my friends graduate from the six colleges within the University. I’ve been able to work with the Department of Physical Therapy Students over the years to help them understand how spinal cord injury effects the body, and how we’ve learned to adapt our lifestyle. As much as our disability community has helped them, they’ve also given back to the community.
From sponsoring the Shots With A Spin wheelchair basketball tournament to volunteering at the adaptive water ski clinics, they understand what people with disabilities experience beyond the clinical setting.
Several of the students have also volunteered with Adaptive Expeditions, the Paralympic Sports Club that provides sports including wheelchair tennis, surfing and sailing in Charleston. One of this year’s graduates, Dana Richards, is also our tennis instructor for Adaptive Expeditions.
Alex with Amber, left, and McKenzie; Photo Credit: Christy
Lastly, I’d like to give a special shout out and congratulations to McKenzie Haley, who I’ve worked with at Imagine Physical Therapy. She graduated from the College of Charleston on Mother’s Day weekend (my alma mater). McKenzie would hit tennis balls with me while at therapy.
Congratulations to all of the graduates! I know you will all do well in your next chapter in life.