Since 2002 I've been a T6 paraplegic and this is not my first w2w.
I'm honored to be here with you. In 2002 I was the marketing manager at my husband's Harley Davidson dealership . . . I loved it. I loved the speed and just being on the motorcycle.
Until Saturday august 10th 2002. I was up early after only a few of hours of restless sleep, getting ready to race. I sent into the burnout box and waited for the green light. I let go of the clutch and off I went. Halfway down the track I saw that my opponent wouldn't be able to catch me. As I crossed the finish line I tried to slow down and realized that something was wrong.
I spent the next few days in the hospital; I was airlifted to Craig Hospital. A woman I'd never met before informed me that I had been in a bad crash and that I was now paralyzed, for the rest of my life. She told me that my husband was out visiting rehab hospitals across the country to find the best place for me to go.
I passed out, and when I woke up, I heard the same thing all over again. I refused to believe it.
Every night I laid in bed wishing the nightmare would be over. When I woke up in the morning I was always sad to realize it was still going on. I didn't care what kind of chair I had. Part of my therapy involved being dumped out of my chair . . . the nurse asked me what I would do next. I reached for my cell phone to call my husband. She didn't laugh.
. . .
My husband found me a place to go in Texas, and the next trauma was to get onto the airplane. None of the attendants had a clue how to get me on . . . at the hotel we were given a handicapped room, but it was no way accessible. I went into an anxiety attack and wanted to go home. We got into an apartment and spent the next 2 weeks trying to modify what was not working, which was basically everything. The last thing on my mind was to do PT.
I remember spending 2 days doing nothing but trying to sit up and use a transfer board, getting so frustrated that I just wanted to go home. I made my husband drive me home to Ohio . . . we were so tired that neither of us had thought about the fact that I couldn't even get INTO my house, much less around it once I was in.
My husband and I started to fight all the time . . . he hired caregivers to help me around the clock. Eventually he found us a patio home that I could navigate; we were stuck with 2 houses for awhile.
through a friend about this time, I was introduced to Michelle Brock. We made a table and installed it at the Harley dealership, where I worked out for the next 2 months. It was a big distraction there, obviously, so we moved to another location . . . and in that location we realized that it would be good to offer this service to others in the sci community. We named it SCI STep, and in March of 2003 we enrolled our first client.
I felt for the first time that I was doing something with my life. About that time my husband and I chose to end the marriage, which had been damaged so badly during the last year.
The hardest part of my new life was needing to depend on an asssistant to help me do things . . . I set some goals for that year that would get me to independence and met every one of them.
But something wasn't right with my left hip and leg. At the hospital I found out that my left hip had been fractured in the crash and gone undiagnosed . . . the doctors told me to go be a good little paraplegic and forget about hip replacement surgery or ever walking again. Over the next year I had more than a dozen dislocations and 2 different prosthetics installed. This just meant to me that I had to find a way to walk without a hip.
I have a baclofen pump for spasticity. I've rolled over my own feet. It's a long list of speed bumps . . . but here I am. I live like I did before my injury. I never gave up on my recovery, even through the toughest of times. Even on the bad days, in the back of my mind, I took some strength from all the people who come to our facility.
That's why we offer a full free week to every person who wants to come to SCI step to try out what we have. A full week, free of charge. Everybody.
I do what I want now . .. I travel, I go to public events, I even date -- and have recently broken a few hearts.
SCI step is my life now. I've helped clients do so many things. We have clients who have tattooed our logo on their bodies. I've been involved in a lot of fundraisers, including a project that was about taking used wheelchair parts . . . I was able to help with an Extreme Home Makeover project.
(She thanks a long list of people . . . )
Serious WOW, people. What's above is not an exact transcription by any stretch, because Anne was talking a little fast. When we get the video up, I hope you all watch it over and over. She's truly awesome.