Dear friends and family, happy summer! Last year in the update letter I emailed out I shared with you that I was completing a Master of public health degree in epidemiology in order to get back to a career in veterinary medicine. I am hoping this degree will open doors in the research/teaching or public health fields. I also mentioned that I had begun volunteering at my local animal shelter, assisting the veterinary team with visual examinations of their "herd". (It’s also nice to be able to provide a bit of companionship to the animals in their care, although it can be difficult at times to bear witness to the homeless pet population.) This year, both of those things continue. This summer I am completing the 'field experience' part of my degree with the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. I am working on a project to develop a surveillance system for infectious diseases in the city's companion animal population. The project is just getting started but I am SO very happy to have been able to find one within the veterinary realm.
Towards the end of last year, I started to experience some shoulder fatigue/pain with driving. After consultation with an adaptive driving specialist, I made a series of modifications to my adapted minivan in order to get my shoulder closer to the steering wheel and the steering wheel hand control better-positioned ergonomically. That improved things, however I was still experiencing fatigue. This year, after another consultation, I added a counterweight to balance the steering wheel hand control. This seems to have helped make the whole system really fit me so that now I am better able to drive greater distances. It was a process but I'm so glad the solution was able to be found. Hooray! Your generous donations covered the cost of all these modifications.
Your contributions have also helped me continue with specialized spinal cord injury physical therapy sessions. Medicare covers a limited amount of physical therapy per year even in people with chronic conditions such as spinal cord injury that require ongoing therapy in order to maintain health. The great therapists at the rehab center help me keep my upper body as strong as possible, my leg muscles moving, and my cardiovascular health up.
I hope this update finds all of you well and enjoying some warmer weather. Thank you so very much for all the support you have given and continue to give me. You all have eased the challenges associated with spinal cord injury greatly.
With great appreciation,
Jan 30, 2015
Dear friends and family,
I hope you had a holiday season with lots of love and peace and that 2015 is a year that brings you all very much happiness. I am excited about this year and hopeful for progress it may bring. I am nearing my third "rebirthday"- the third anniversary of my injury- so I wanted to share with you the challenges that your support has made and continues to make so much easier for me to overcome, not only financially but also emotionally. You all make me feel that I am never alone in this journey, and that means to world to me.
2012 was all about making things work in my little beach apartment. We used HHL funds to pay for installation of a laminate floor, which made things much easier for me on a daily basis.
In 2013 my brother and I had to leave that apartment, but it ended up being a blessing. We were lucky enough to find a lovely house whose gem of a landlord has a nephew who is in a wheelchair and who therefore was more than accommodating when it came to allowing the changes necessary to turn a 1950s ranch into a wheelchair-accessible home. We used HHL funds to add two ramps, widen doorways, create a wheelchair accessible bathroom, and change doorknobs and locks to those that are "quad-friendly". I also received a manual wheelchair that fall which was better fitted to me than my first (donated) manual chair, and lighter and therefore easier for me to push. HHL funds paid for upgrades that made the chair especially light but which were not covered by insurance.
2014 was all about physical therapy. I had reached the limit of PT allowed by my insurance but still needed spinal cord injury- specific therapy, especially access to an FES bike, which stimulates muscles in my legs to fire and thereby stabilizes my hips, (which were dislocated as a result of my accident). My great friend Dr. Lydia Hamilton ("buddy" as some of you know her) came out to visit with me and was determined for us to find a good PT gym. We found a great place with excellent therapists who have been doing a great job keeping me as strong and healthy as possible. (I posted some pics of my workout on my page below). I was able to get a small amount of the fees covered by a new insurance plan but the majority of the cost has been covered by HHL funds.
Last October I underwent the second phase surgery to give my right hand some grip and greater function. I spent the next months rehabbing that hand and am now back to my PT schedule twice a week and am looking forward to being ready to finally get back to driving, hopefully by March! I was recently evaluated by a driving rehab specialist who determined what modifications I need made to my minivan to make that possible. HHL funds will help me make these modifications and reach this next important milestone.
Other than driving I am really hoping this year sees me moving more concretely towards getting back to work. Last year I did a couple of projects for my old practice involving some research, and wrote the content for their website. I have been trying to get involved in other research projects and am looking into other educational opportunities that would make a career transition more readily achievable.
Thank you all so very much for your generous donations and support. You have made it much easier for me to stay strong and positive over the past three years.
All my best,
Oct 11, 2014
Dear friends and family,
Check out the pics of my new PT workout that I posted here and on my "Fans of Leslie McLaughlin" Facebook page. The PTs and volunteers at this new facility are very...
Sep 19, 2014
Thanks for your kind words and for thinking of me, Jeremy and Moira! And thanks to all of you for your love and support which keep me motivated in my journey towards greater independence.
May 19, 2014
Hello Everyone! I am a dear friend of Leslie's and will be running in a 1/2 marathon and collecting sponsorships in her honor. See below for my story, how I came to know Leslie and then click...
Nov 07, 2013
CALL TO IMMEDIATE ACTION: Leslie continues on her road to independence. Your generous donations have enabled her to make several home modifications (see picture albums). Phase Two fundraising is...