A note from Nicole: As many of you know, I was involved in a serious car accident in the summer of 2014. I am incredibly grateful for all the support that I have received and I can’t thank you all enough for your encouraging messages, visits, and everything you have done for me. With this website I am asking for your continued support.
On July 16, 2014 Nicole was involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler which caused her C5 vertebrae to break and C6 vertebrae to shatter, sending shards of her spinal column into her spinal cord. She was rushed to Ben Taub Trauma Center in Houston, where she underwent five hours of extensive spinal fusion surgery to fuse her bones back together. The surgery was successful, although she suffered permanent damage to her spinal cord. This traumatic accident rendered her tetraplegic, severely limiting her ability to live a normal life. As a tetraplegic, she has paralysis below her waist, in parts of her arms, in her hands and fingers, in her trunk, and in some of the systems within her body. This also means loss of control or impairment of bowel, bladder, sexual function, digestion, breathing and other autonomic functions. Sensation is impaired or lost in most areas of the body that are affected by the paralysis. Furthermore, there are many secondary and long-term health complications that come with a cervical spinal cord injury.
As you may or may not know, the road to recovery from a spinal cord injury is a long one, and very expensive. This website was set up with the aid of HelpHOPELive to help people contribute to her recovery by donating money that will go toward funding outpatient therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston and a recovery program at Project Walk. A monthly donation is also an option to have your funding be ongoing throughout her recovery.
The TIRR outpatient therapy program is geared toward providing therapy and establishing independence for individuals coping with paralysis. In simpler terms, TIRR will help Nicole learn how to live her life in a wheelchair.
Project Walk is an internationally recognized recovery program that offers intense physical fitness and rehabilitation for those living with spinal cord injury. Project Walk will aim to get her out of the wheelchair.
Nicole would like to participate in TIRR’s Outpatient Rehabilitation program and Project Walk so that she can strengthen the parts of her body most affected by her injury. She is confident that by utilizing the facilities provided by these programs, she can reintegrate herself as a functional member of society with the ability to live a happy, healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, Project Walk is not covered under private insurance and must be completely privately funded. Insurance covers 40 therapy visits at TIRR, which equates to two months per year.
She has met her initial goal of $43,200, which will continue to support her through September of 2016. This second fundraising goal, totalling $40,000, will help to cover more than therapy and rehabilitation services. The most expensive costs of all are the routine, annual medical expenses that burden Nicole and her family. Caregiver services alone cost a minimum of $30,000, annually. The first couple years are the worst because costs include large equipment purchases and other major expenses for things like house modifications.
To help offset such expenses, a fundraising campaign in Nicole’s honor has been established with HelpHOPELive, a trusted nonprofit organization that has been providing community-based fundraising guidance to patients and their families for more than 30 years. All donations are tax-deductible, are held by HelpHOPELive, are held by HelpHOPELive in the South-Central Spinal Cord Injury Fund, and are administered by HelpHOPELive for injury-related expenses only.
Thank you for your support!
October 18, 2016
Recap & redirect!:
I love you all for what you have done for me. With the $43,200 raised by you guys, I was able to attend Project Walk for 1 1/2 years, participating twice a week for 3 hours a day. This cost me $100/hr. Quite staggering. However, the gains that I saw at Project Walk were priceless. I gained activation of some tricep, lower back, abdomen, oblique, glute, and hip motor function. My hip flexors are the weakest and my back extensors are the strongest.
A new treatment that I want fund costs $50,000 for the procedure alone, not including travel and living expenses overseas. This treatment will have to be followed up by extensive therapy and participation at the paralysis recovery center, Project Walk. For this, I have extended my fundraising goal to $103,200.
In the meantime, I will be doing aggressive strength training and continuing my fight for independence. My hope is that the procedure will become more refined by the time that I am able to receive it. A portion of the treatment uses stem cell transplant, which is still in a very unsophisticated stage.
Healing is never guaranteed with spinal cord injury. Professionals will tell you that it is not likely. I hear this from my physicians all of the time. Truthfully, they are right, it isn’t likely, but none of this matters to me. I will heal some more and one day I will get my body back. This is what I live for
April 15, 2016
I have a little bit of preserved motor function in both of my hip flexors. I’ve been skeptical all year long but now I’m finally convinced! The only way to produce a specific movement on a Hip-Glute machine is to activate your hip flexors. This movement brings your knees to your chest. I’ve been able to do this every time I’ve tried it. I’ve attempted it during four different sessions at Project Walk.
I cannot feel the contraction b/c it’s so faint (& most of my sensory function below my level of injury remains paralyzed)
The right side > the left side
It’s not much but I’m excited for it!
April 11, 2016
There hasn’t been too much going on with me lately.
I reapplied to UHCL on Saturday. I am waiting to enroll for the Fall semester.
The Botox injections in my ankles have not improved my spasticity.My spasms are still too strong for me to fight/counter them (maybe I will post a video to show what I am talking about). I’ll wait another four months before I try again.
I am still participating in Strength Unlimited at TIRR every Monday. I am still attending Project Walk every Thursday and Friday. I have just enough funding to attend Project Walk for five or six more months.
I have seen major strength gains in my torso. I have a small amount of oblique activation. My back is much stronger. Even though I am stronger from therapy and Project Walk, I still have a long way to go. To put it in perspective…If I was balancing my upper body, upright & away from my back rest …then someone could poke me with his/her finger (& a little force) and easily knock me over. Although, my balance is very good in comparison to other tetraplegics. Recovery is slower than you can even imagine.
I have accepted that my independence is very far away. Even when I reach my modified independence, I will still need caregiver help in the morning and at night. Some of the details of the caregiver assistance that I receive is possibly private/inappropriate to post about. Although, if anyone would ask me about these details, on the side, then I would gladly share. I am for SCI awareness. 100%.
For at least the next year or two I will need a caregiver to come on campus with me at UHCL. I will need a scribe, as well.
I still cannot tell if my hip flexors are working or if my lowest abdomen are compensating for them. I do know how to use my abs to trigger a reaction in my hip flexor . It’s involuntary movement that I am manipulating and voluntarily triggering . I have to be in certain gravity – reduced positions to get this effect (like with anything that is only receiving a weak, reduced signal). One of the methods used at Project Walk is to hijack these signals, from spasms and involuntary movements/reflexes, in order to try to control these movements, voluntarily. It doesn’t always happen for clients but the theory makes sense to me. It’s worth trying.
My reflexes are still intact as my injury was at the cervical level and far away from the peripheral nerves that go out to my lower body. My body responds really well to stimuli and and it produces very natural reactions. According to Project Walk, this is a very ideal situation for exciting the nervous system and promoting locomotor memory. My body works well with the modalities that Project Walk facilitates. For example, my body responds really well to electrical stimulation by producing desired contractions, which are extremely strong.
My last goal at project walk is to explore the activity in my hips.
April 1, 2016
There is a chance that my right hip flexor is firing. We have been questioning this for a while but today it seems to activate. We aren’t one hundred percent sure about it.
It’s very possible since most of my core is at least receiving some signal.
March 24, 2016
I am making a switch; my manual chair will become my permanent chair. The manual chair is much more difficult to use than my power chair so I will need to start therapy again. I’m scared that I have already used up all of my therapy for 2016. I am looking into it right now.
I can access a bag behind my manual chair because the backrest is short enough. I can’t go places alone if I cannot access my personal items. As I said before, there are wayy more things that I am unable to do in my manual chair than in my power chair, right now. For example, I cannot handle a transfer in/out of my manual chair. I will work towards changing this. I must consider how much more comfortable I am in my manual chair. It is a slimmer, lighter chair with less add-ons and attachments. I feel a little more free in my manual chair, as well as, more involved in my environment. It may sound strange but I feel less paralyzed in the manual chair. I’m not strong enough for it yet, but one day I will be. I have already started the switch. I get in my manual chair every day.
My powerchair is huge and cumbersome. It has to be charged every night and it needs so much more maintenance than my manual chair. It’s too difficult to drive. To this day, I still run into walls and cabinets in my house. The list goes on.
Also, my Botox should be kicking in this week or soon after. My spasms have been so strong! I am anxious to find a solution!
March 17, 2016
Next month, I will enroll in one course for the Fall. I will retake a course that I have already completed so that I can learn the modified way of doing things… I have five courses left in my graduate program and there are no online classes available as I am very far along in my degree plan. Course selection is very limited. I will be on campus so before I began attending classes I will take a few trips up to UHCL and practice getting around on my own. I will have a scribe, my caregiver, and I will have a recording of each lecture. I will need a laptop with touchscreen capabilities, as well as, Dragon Naturally Speaking. I will need other basic options like additional time for test-taking…
So far, these are the only accommodations that I have discussed with the school. I feel like I am missing something but I do not know what it is! I’ve never done this before! Like everything else that I have dealt with after my injury, I really do not know what I need and what I cannot do until I am thrown into a situation. This is why I am beginning the process by taking one course.
I would feel much more confident and in control if I had use of my hands and fingers. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous . However, it’s time to try things in a new way.
It has been a year and 8 months since I was injured. I am ready to move forward with my life.
March 8, 2016
I got my Botox injections last Friday in my ankles. I decided against injecting my lower back. It would have been too risky. My core is already so weak. I have thought this over so many times. Now, I am very happy with my final decision.
I will be able to see the results in about three weeks.
I am steadily increasing my Tizanidine dose to reduce my other spasms. Especially in my back! So far, I do not think the medicine is as effective as Baclofen but I still have more experimentation to do.
I am improving my upper body strength and balance. My trainers at both TIRR and Project Walk have acknowledged this improvement. I can see it too. I am able to pick up and place my feet back on their respective footrests after my leg spasms kick them out of place. This occurs all day long. I needed help with this for the longest time. Also, I can do an uphill transfer (1in +) from bed into my power chair. I can manage this by scooting but not by lifting my body. I have increased my arm endurance as I can push my manual chair much father (by a couple minutes) before taking a break. I can do this on a hard, smooth indoor surface. These are a couple of the improvements that I have seen.
Lately, I have been going to doctor’s appointments at least once a week. Tomorrow, I am going to a different kind of appointment. I will meet with a counselor who is also a social worker. This is my first time to do this kind of thing and I am not too sure where to start. Hopefully, she will make me feel comfortable. I did not like some of the things that she told me during the evaluation but I will give her a second chance. The reason that I chose to see this woman is because she has worked closely with spinal cord injury patients for years. I also like that she has a lot of experience helping SCI patients reintegrate into the community.
I’ve heard that this kind of therapy has worked very well for many people. I am excited to give therapy a chance.
February 25, 2016
My boyfriend, Erik, has helped me to understand something about life. Let me put it into words because it is something very powerful for me:
It’s most important not to fear the future because your situation now is very temporary. You never know how circumstances will change in your life to shape the future. Sometimes life serves you things that you could never imagine.
I am not talking about being able to walk. I am talking about even the simplest of changes.
It may not speak to everyone but it has proved itself to me numerous times.
February 18, 2016
Experiencing sharp, itchy neuropathy in my thumbs today!! It’s painful!!! I may need to switch up my nerve pain medication..
February 17, 2016
I am getting Botox injections in my ankles and lower back muscles next Friday, February 19th. The goal of this procedure is to reduce spasms.
The plan is to block nerve receptors to muscles in two focal areas instead of increasing my spasticity medicine which affects my whole body. I will remain on a small dose of oral, spacticity medication because I do get spasms througout my entire body. We cannot Botox the whole body!
Hypothetically, say there are 10 nerves/receptors. These receptors send signals to contract certain muscles. The doctor will block approximately two receptors out of the ten. So, all of the nerve signals will not be blocked (not locally at least). I do not want to suppress all of the nerve activity to my lower back and ankles…I want to keep the possibility of return open. Like I said before, research regarding nerve activity and return of function is inconclusive.
I have volitional movement, along with involuntary movement, in my lower back so I had a hard time making this decision. The doctor will find a balance so that we do not paralyze too many of the signals to my back muscles and compromise the signal strength in it’s entirety. I do rely heavily on my core strength and I have rehabilitated it extensively. I do not want to reduce my function/gains by too much. It would be dissapointing to move backwards. I am trusting my doctor to find a balance.
My back extensor spasms throw me backwards and off balance while I am trying to do functional tasks like transferring and dressing. They interrupt and complicate important exercises, as well. While I am trying to stand, the back spasms put my spine in a dangerous position which exposes me to a high risk for scoliosis. This same position compresses the organs in my thoracic region, including my diagram, which compromises my breathing. My lungs are pressed up against my rib cage which causes the same effect. Standing provides many health benefits so it is recommend to stand for at least one hour a day. It is also one of the best methods to bear weight through the legs which can promote the return of sensation. The return of sensation can potentially lead to return of motor function. The third important benefit of standing is to relieve pressure off of my sit-bones (like the ishial tuberosity, sacrum, and a few others) for two minutes every hour. This eliminates the risk of pressure ulcers which are very common in people living with paralysis.
The spasms in my ankles trigger other spasms in my legs and eventually other muscles throughout my upper body. It is a chain of spasms. It is the worst whenever my knees lock out and my entire body stiffens like a board. Of course, other patterns of spasms occur but I am trying to keep the botox areas very focal and minimal. Currently, It takes 90mg of Baclofen (oral spasm medication) to keep my body still. Hopefully I will be able to take a lower dose!
February 10, 2016
I was finally discharged from therapy today. I have met my goals for this round of therapy! Now, I will focus on strengthening for the next sixth months. I will attend personal, 1 on 1 sessions with special trainers at TIRR who will help me with exercises per my therapists’ requests. This is helpful because these personal trainers can assist me with exercises that require hand function (which I still do not have). Currently, I am attending 2 sessions a week, totalling $320 a month ($40/session). I would be much more beneficial if I could attend at least one more day a week. I will do what I can at home with my caregivers at my house.
Today, I met my new caregiver who I feel very comfortable with. I would love for her to stay. Unfortunately, she lives in Tomball and she has expressed that my home in League City is too far for her. She travels through 10 tolls, roundtrip. I understand her sentiment. I can tell that she will probably leave my case as most caregivers do. My mother works part-time now to make up for unreliable care and to handle my personal procedures in the morning.
February 2, 2016
I have met my first fundraising goal!! 🙂
I am so blessed that money will not be an issue in my fight against paralysis during the first two years at Project Walk, paralysis recovery center (Project Walk is different than therapy in that it focuses on the muscles which are paralyzed). Over the past year, I have realized great return of function and strength in my core muscles. This is a miracle. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to achieve this.
I will continue to update weekly about my situation and progress towards independence — and hopefully about any return of function. My doctors tell me that my spinal cord injury is still new. My injury was a year and a half ago so we still expect more healing. The journey to recover could last a lifetime.
I expect big expenses in the next couple years for things like home and vehicle modifications. Bills for therapy, doctor’s visits, counseling, and many other medical expenses are ongoing. Currently, I am incurring extra expenses for other important things such as caretaker hours and a special strengthening program- Strength Unlimited. Caregiver hours alone run about $40,000 annually. I will continue to raise funds through HelpHopeLive to cover these major expenses.
There will be more fundraisers in the future. Actually, the next event will be bowling! I will post about it very soon for anyone that is interested.
Thank you so much for taking a part in my recovery. This means the world to me.
January 11, 2016
About 4 months ago, a paralyzed friend of mine went to Thailand and got stem cell treatment (from the umbilical cord of a baby). He has been traveling around the world to participate in studies over the past 9 years and has not seen results until now. So far, he has gotten return of motor function in his glutes and some muscles in his legs are now responsive to electrical stimulation. In the past, his legs muscles would not contract with use of electrical stimulation. He spent about 30 grand to get the procedure done. In the past, he recieved stem cell injections somewhere overseas (from cells of his own body) and did not see any results. This is a very expensive risk. You also have to think about the fact that things could go wrong and you could potentially lose function. He is a T12 paraplegic who has been completely paralyzed for the past 9 years. He had no motor function or sensation below his level of injury until this month. Stem cell does not usually give effective results for spinal cord injury so he is very lucky to see results. I am happy for him. I found this kind of hopeful and I plan to stay in touch with him so that I can learn about any additional function that returns. Maybe one day they will really refine the process and I can look into it for myself. I can think of two other paralyzed friends that have been contacted for stem cell clinical trials here in the US. I will follow their progress, as well.
My rolling shower commode chair came in today. The next step will be to get modifications to the bathroom so that I am able to use the chair. I will also practice bare-bottom transfers in and out off the chair. This next goal is going to be extremely difficult. Additionally, I will practice some personal hygiene goals that can be done in this chair.
January 9, 2016
I will be discharged from both occupational and physical therapy in about one month. I am able to put on and take off loose-fitting pants with minimal assistance. I can transfer onto an unlevel surface- my bed- by pushing from my right and left side. I have my goals for this round of therapy.
I will be strengthening and practicing the techniques that I have learned in therapy over the next few months. I will also attempt to manage my spasticity, which will be done by injecting Botox in a few focal muscles. I do not want to eliminate every spasm as some spasms are helpful. Again, I do not want to completely eliminate nerve activity either. My spasms are preventing me from completing functional tasks at this point. I need to get a handle on them. Also , I am waiting on a new hospital bed which should allow me more mobility in my bed. In combination, all of these things will move my recovery along and I will be able to set new goals. I will go back into therapy at that time.
This time, I will make sure that I can work with the same therapists. My therapist and I have worked extremely hard this bout and I believe that it will be a huge time waste to start therapy back up with a new therapist who is not familiar with my case. That has always been my biggest issue with therapy but I will not let it happen this next time.
Also, my blood pressure runs pretty normal now (on avg. about 110/70). This is more return of autonomic function!
I am ready for 2016 and I have some improvement plans. I have decided to find things that I like doing and ways to enjoy my time. I would like to put a stronger focus on my happiness. After speaking to my doctor about my current situation, we have realized that I could use some balance (like most people). She told me to make sure that I am living and not just waiting behind to heal. Healing just is not guaranteed. In all, I am steadily moving forward and I am ready to continue.
January 5, 2016
I will begin seeing a social worker, who is also a counselor, this month to help me begin to reintegrate into the community. I am so thankful that I will not have to do this alone. There are a lot of hurdles right now.
December 18, 2015
I can feel very faint pain sensation in my fingers. This is something that I could already feel in my thumbs, which have much stronger sensation than the other fingers. My index fingers have the second strongest pain sensation. I had thought this to be true many months ago but I definitely confirmed this today whenever my fingers got caught on something prickly.
Still no temperature, fine sensation, or anything like that in my fingers… Again, except for my thumbs.
Also, my new manual chair has come in! Pictures later.
December 14, 2015
In my therapy sessions, I can take off/put on loose pants with minimal assistance. I can’t do this at home yet as I do not have a bed with accessible controls. I need this in order to be mobile in bed.
December 9, 2015
I started my home exercise program again. My triceps have become noticeably stronger. I use a 2 pound weight for my right arm and a 1 lb weight for my left arm. In the past, I was unable to use weights for tricep strengthening.
I need to spend more time strengthening my back. Many people in wheelchairs often forget to incorporate back exercises. I will work on both my upper and lower back. Since I have very faint intervation to my lower back I will use electrical stimulation to build up the muscle.
My biceps need to become much stronger so that I can practice leg management. My leg spasms are too strong and I cannot counter them yet.
The list goes on. I have a lot of work ahead of me!
December 8, 2015
I put on a medium-sized jacket in under two minutes.
Also, I am able to place a slideboard underneath me without any assistance. I make a small modification to the slideboard by adding one strap through the cut-outs.
December 1, 2015
I am able to lightly sweat on some areas now. It’s very sporadic but it is return. Return of autonomic function.
November 23, 2015
I was able to put on a loose jacket (size:large) today by myself. I was able to trigger hand spasms, which created enough tightness in my hands so that I could use them to hook onto parts of my jacket. It took a lot of problem solving! I put the jacket on in about 10 minutes!
November 21, 2015
I have not been posting lately because things have been going pretty slow. I have not had any new return. I have gained just a little bit of strength. I’m still waiting on many pieces of equipment that I need for independence. I feel like I have plateaued out which happens often because this road to recovery is extremely long. Who knows exactly what recovery even means for me. Right now, I am playing a waiting game.
November 11, 2015
Finally, I am successfully dieting and losing a little bit of weight. My doctor has been asking for me to do this for over 8 months now. Since I was injured, I have gained 20 pounds. I am a immobile in my chair and my digestion runs so slow. The main reason that my doctor would like for me to lose weight if so that I can successfully transfer in difficult situations like on unlevel surfaces and move/scoot around in my bed. It’s a little too challenging to move heavyweight with my extremely weak, impaired upper body . I still feel like I could use some tips for maintaining my healthy lifestyle. I am asking for recipe ideas! If you can offer any healthy meal/snack ideas that are low-carb and low-calorie then please help! I get bored with my meal options.
Also, I have two quadriplegic friends who have been invited to participate in stem cell clinical trials. One study will be done under TIRR and the other will be done under the Christopher Reeve Foundation. I am interested in the details of these studies and I definitely plan to share with you all. Both participants told me that they think the studies will be embryonic but I highly doubt this. I think that they may be misunderstanding the situation… We will see.
Personally, I am in no rush to try stem cell transplants until the process becomes more refined because I will not risk losing any more function that I already have. My day will come where I participate in a clinical trial. In fact, I am interested in the Christopher Reeve Foundation’s second trial of epidural stimulation. I will try to make sure that I am 1 of the 36 participants. Right now, they’re still raising funds to facilitate this trial. Also, I cannot participate in most studies until I am 2 years post injury.
Here is some information about the epidural stimulation: http://www.reevebigidea.org/the-research?msource=email&tr=y&auid=15138538
Then again, non-invasive spinal stimulation studies are making great gains, as well. I’m comfortable with my decision to wait for further advances in research.
October 27, 2015
I want to give a very special thanks to everyone who has been contributing to my site every month and also to those who have made contributions in the past. This means so so much to me. You are the ones who are making this recovery happen for me. Project walk is only one of the very large, pressing expenses that burden my family and I. The funds that I raise for Project Walk help pay for a recovery program that we would not be able to afford on our own. It also helps free up money for many very expensive expenses like home health care/private care, hospital bills, therapy, and medical equipment/supplies.
Honestly, I was very negative and upset in the beginning because I never thought that I would be able to attend Project Walk. This program has restored my hope.
My family has a lot to deal with right now. Your help means the world to me.
October 20, 2015
Today, I will be riding the FES (functional electrical stimulation) bike in physical therapy at TIRR. Electrode pads will be placed on my quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. The goal is to possibly get some muscle return over the next few weeks. If this does not happen for me then we will drop the modality and I probably won’t end up exercising on the Lokomat either. The Lokomat is proven to be more beneficial when the user has more active movement in his or her lower body. I doubt that I will get any return of motor function over the next few weeks but its worth a try. At the very least, I will strengthen my glute muscles. We are working on these machines because I specifically asked to do this. It’s not something that was suggested. I took the reins to make things happen.
This is unique because all of my other sessions, in both PT and OT, take place on the mat. I have been working hard towards my short-term goals to scoot on the mat, to sit up from a laying down position (in supine ), and to pull loose pants up and over my hips. I am grinding these exercises out in therapy. I work on them over, and over, and over.
It is kind of nice to be doing something different and less repetitive today.
The FES bike costs over $17,000. Tomorrow, I am speaking to someone who has succeeded in justifying the FES bike purchase to insurance. My PT and I will try to do the same. This will be extremely difficult.
October 16, 2015
For the past three months, I have had an increase in energy and activity in my lower back and body. My trainers at project walk are thrilled about it because some of my reflexes are in the form of natural gait patterns. I am able to trigger these reflexes and spasms and indirectly control them. It’s pretty neat. We also wonder if my body is waking up in some sense because this is new activity. To be clear, I still do not have voluntary leg movement.
I am expecting some new equipment in a couple of weeks and I will update you all whenever my things arrive!
October 12, 2015
Some days, I spend about thirty minutes of my sessions at Project Walk doing sit-to-stand exercises with electrical stimulation. The stimulation contracts my leg muscles in a way that will raise my body up into standing. A harness and lift are positioned in a way to provide me with support and balance. I use my arms to pull my upper body up as well. Please see the video!
October 12, 2015
My obliques and lowest abdomen muscles are activating! My sitting-balance is now better than ever. I am still a little wobbly whenever I raise my arms up but I have been told by many therapists and specialists that I have better balance than any other quadriplegic that they have worked with. 🙂
September 18, 2015
My first attempt to get out of bed this morning:
My second attempt:
It took four months to learn this technique. It took about 5 months in total to really perfect it. I still can’t do it bare bottom or at an incline.
I put on the shoes that I am wearing in the video!
September 16, 2015
I like this article from the Christopher Reeve Foundation website:
Exercise and spinal cord injury recovery
It mentions inputs that your body receives to excite your central nervous system quite a few times in this article. It makes me think of the sensory input that I receive every day from standing and bearing weight . My standing powerchair is truly a blessing.
September 15, 2015
I am using voice recognition and my knuckles to post this update because I ran over my hand tool with my wheelchair. I tried using the knuckles on my fingers to correct errors. Aside from that, I have a bad habit of accidentally deleting my posts. Sorry in advance for mistakes.
I have been spending my time at home getting settled in…still adjusting..but I have incorporated some cool home – therapy exercises into my daily routine. I have been practicing lower body dressing with some very loose basketball shorts. So far, this is the only pair that I’m able to use on my own. My father and I have found a way to allow me to plug my cell phone into the charger cable. I can do the full set up to wash my face and brush my teeth alone. This means that I am successfully using the bathroom sinks. I have also been practicing with my wrist-driven orthosis to write, manage my urinary leg bag, and grasp different items. I plan to use this tool for work and school so it is good to begin practicing it now. I am able to put the orthosis on independently. If you knew how difficult this was then you would be very very proud of me. I have included a picture of the tool in the Adaptive Tools and Equipment album. After seeing my accomplishments written down, they seem kind of boring. It’s funny, I was so excited to post about these new things. They do not seem as cool anymore…I live and breathe rehab.
My dad and I have been thinking of creative ways to rig things up here in the house. Next step, blow drying and styling my hair. We are thinking about using a blow dryer stand but we can’t figure out how I can reach the back of my head. We have reached
a few obstacles. I will let you know when we figure things out.
I will begin my weekly routine at Project Walk and TIRR- Kirby Glen in about 1 or 2 weeks. My first evaluation is on Tuesday of next week. This time, I will be going to outpatient at TIRR with a prescription to do robot-assisted, walking therapy on the Lokomat. This is very exciting!! I uploaded a picture of the Lokomat in the Adaptive Tools and Equipment album. I also posted some great information on the Lokomat below.
What does the Lokomat do?
A person is suspended in a harness over a treadmill and the frame of the robot, attached by straps to the outside of the legs, moves the legs in a natural walking pattern. A computer controls the pace of walking and measures the body’s response to the movement. Electrical stimulation assists the robotic device to contract the correct muscles for walking.
How does robot-assisted walking therapy help a person re-learn to walk?
The exact mechanism for walking is still not clear, but it is believed that the repetitive walking pattern helps the brain and spinal cord work together to re-route signals that were interrupted by injury or illness. Currently, this type of therapy is done with the aid of two or more physical therapists that manually move the patient’s legs in a walking pattern. However, the labor-intensive, strenuous nature and variability of the manual method can limit the frequency and duration of the therapy. With robot-assisted walking therapy, the robotic device does most of the heavy work, the pattern and pace are consistent throughout the session, and the exercise can be sustained over longer periods of time.
Pretty cool, right?
September 15, 2015
I have been discharged from inpatient and I am back at home.
I have raised enough funds to cover a year and a half at Project Walk. This is amazing. Thank you so much everyone. I am feeling so good about my recovery at this time. I never imagined that my life would have turned around this much. I am the most thankful person that you know.
I would like to share my inpatient rehab experiences with you all. I have been trying to submit an update about the details of my gains… but I keep accidentally pressing the delete button.. I must be tired. I have a lot of sleep to catch up on. The hospital is not a place of rest. The nursing staff would find reasons to wake me up all through the night. Sometimes they would need to draw blood or check on my vital signs. Although I am medically stable, there are still many secondary conditions that come along with a spinal cord injury. One example is autonomic dysreflexia, which I get often. . . I am so drained. I will post about my inpatient admission later. I also plan to upload a couple videos, showing what I can do. I really can’t wait to share.
August 16, 2015
For the past couple of days, I have been trialing shower wheelchairs and preparing to make house modifications to my parents’ master bathroom.
The rest of the house is pretty accessible with the help of my standing power chair. My parents’ home is also very spacious. It is a very good environment to practice becoming independent.
My therapy team and physicians have extended my stay here an extra week to meet a couple of goals. Once I leave, I will rep out the new things that I have learned in an outpatient setting. I will practice techniques and work with new equipment at home. . . I wish that I could stay here for months so that I could master my goals but insurance will not allow it. Unfortunately, I still have a long way to go. It will be a couple of years before I become completely independent.
August 4, 2015
I have motor function in my glutes :).I am crying now. Happy tears.
August 4, 2015
I have new sensory function in my glutes. I feel vibrations in them so I shift weight in my seat or adjust my clothing. The sensation resolves after I make my adjustments.
Over the past two months, my sensation has become sharper on my left glute. It makes me highly uncomfortable because I am stuck in my chair at all times. This is a very annoying form of return. I fidget all day.
I want to note that I have been pretty optimistic lately. I have seen so many patients that have shown signs of recovery. Also, research has made great advancements lately. There is now a noninvasive spinal cord stimulation treatment that has shown success, http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwkuuDnyA . I do not doubt my recovery as much anymore.
July 31, 2015
I attempted to give my self a shower yesterday. I still need maximum assistance. It will be like this for awhile. My family is looking into house modifications. This will enable me to wheel a shower chair (which I am trialing here at TIRR) into the bathroom and shower. No more bed baths.
I am also trialing a very nice, lightweight manual chair with a power assist unit. The chair is a Ti Lite model and the power assist device is a Smart Drive. This will be my main chair as I gain strength. It’s really neat and the power device is worth checking out-http://max-mobility.com/. This device is quadriplegic friendly and I can command it through a Bluetooth-driven wrist band. I can manage this unit independently.
It may sound unnecessary to have two nice wheelchairs but this is definitely common for people in my situation. Both of my chairs have their perks. I am super excited about this!!!
July 31, 2015
I will post a little more frequently during this next month. My stay here at TIRR is moving so fast and I have so much to work on. Some of my biggest goals are very personal so I cannot share everything on the internet. I will explain what I can.
Today, I filled out the application for driving school. My doctor helped write the prescription for it as well. These driving lessons and the certification process cost a total of about $4,000. This process will not happen during this year (2015). The approval will be valid until August 2016 so it is not too far off.
I also watched a woman transfer into the driver’s seat of her modified vehicle. This is far too advanced for me at this point. I will not be working on this during my stay at TIRR. Honestly, I imagine that I will use a wheelchair ramp for my future vehicle. This won’t be the coolest option but I know that it’s something I can physically do. I will most likely drive a van.
In physical therapy today, I practiced techniques for getting myself up in bed and managing/moving my legs (by using my upper body strength). This is the most physically exhausting thing that I have done so far. I am nowhere close to accomplishing these things… It is scary to lay down in the bed and feel so stuck. It drives me crazy. I am actually speaking to a doctor about this fear and the anxiety that comes from it. I need to get these bed mobility skills down ASAP.
July 27, 2015
I saw a TIRR PEER that I know (kind of like a mentor) here at inpatient. He asked me to come speak with the support group on Sunday. I couldn’t be more happy to do this. A family of a new spinal cord injury patient asked me to come participate in this as well. I have so much knowledge to share. I wish that I would have had this support whenever I was first injured…While I am here, I will continue to meet and help more families as much as I can. It feels so good to be doing this for others.
July 24, 2015
I go back to TIRR on Saturday at noon!
July 18, 2015
I should be going back into inpatient (@TIRR) next week if everything goes as planned. Two spinal cord injury patients are supposed to be discharged by Tuesday. Hopefully, this gives me a spot early next week.
After this last admission, I will begin preparing to return to school in the spring. I have a lot of goals to accomplish until then. Inpatient will offer me about 4-5 weeks to tackle as much as possible. Overwhelming. Please come visit me. 🙂 I’ll post a schedule as soon as I have it.
Also, Project Walk is hosting a 5k Fun Run on September 19th! I will need runners on my team! Details soon!
July 18, 2015
Today, it has been exactly one year since my injury. I am not nearly as far along as I imagined that I would be. I had high hopes for voluntary leg movement. Things are moving very slow right now but I am doing a very good job of keeping my head up.
July 7, 2015
I transferred myself from my bed into my chair today for the first time!
I just need assistance getting up then I can handle the transfer (this is a huge, mega accomplishment).
July 2, 2015
My benefit this past Sunday turned out awesome!!! I genuinely had a lot of fun and everyone else seemed to as well! I have not been that social in many months. It definitely exceeded my expectations. I was worried about the rain at first but it turned out to be a blessing. The rain helped mitigate some of the summer heat. My body is not able to regulate temperature. The heat is especially dangerous because I cannot sweat below my injury level.
The event directly raised about 10 thousand. It also raised awareness and indirectly brought in even more money. I have seen the fundraising meter raise over 15 thousand since the fundraiser started. Many people have come to me, asking to be involved in my fundraising campaign. I feel more secure. I definitely am not alone in this. I feel like I have a big team that is with me on my recovery journey. I want to thank everyone in my life who helped to make this happen. I want to give special thanks to my fun run team: Mallory Hacas, Brittany Milligan, Nazley Fuller, Paige Brink, and Kaly Vaughn. Thank you sooo much!
I just had at doctor appointment at TIRR and I am officially on the waiting list to go back into inpatient. My therapists here couldn’t be more excited to see my strength gains. I am sitting taller than ever.Today is my birthday and I am celebrating day, the good news, and my successful weekend. I feel really good.
I included pictures in the Fun Run album.
June 28, 2015
Hello runners and walkers! My fun run this weekend will be a rain or shine event. My team and i will make this event happen no matter what! Please do not be shy of the weather.
If you have questions then feel free to call or textme at 832.524.7996.
I really hope to see you all there. 🙂
June 23, 2015
I transferred myself today in therapy! From my wheelchair onto the mat table! Woo!!
June 28, 2015
I am trying to wean off of my daytime dose of Baclofen, the medicine that I take to reduce spasms.
To be honest, I do like taking my Baclofen. It gives me the ability to ignore my legs throughout the day and keep them still. It reduces the energy buildup and allows me to be comfortable throughout the day.
When I do not take it I become extremely nervous as I stay focused on my legs. I squirm around a lot because I try to reposition myself all day long. I am uncomfortable with the feeling of being locked up in my body. Being stuck is a huge fear of mine. Sometimes I have huge back extensor spasms that throw my upper body over the chair. Luckily, I am strong enough to counter some of this now so that I do not look too crazy.
The big risk of not taking the Baclofen is that I will spasm and fall onto the floor while I am trying to transfer myself out of bed.
Ok, soo… On the flip side, I don’t want to take the chance of suppressing any nerve activity. I also want my spasms to fire so that I maintain some muscle tone in my legs. The spasms will also help with circulation and a few other thing.
This is a pretty annoying, tricky situation. Hopefully these spasms become a little more tame over time. I heard that this can happen…
June 11, 2015
The most common question that people ask me is if I have returned to work or school or if I will ever be able to. Sometimes, whenever I am out in public, random people will ask me about my disability and future plans. I understand that people are only asking out of curiosity but sometimes it makes me feel like I am behind in my life. There is a lot more to this injury than most people can even imagine and I am fighting for my independence everyday. I lose sight of my gains whenever I start thinking about my future and all of the things that I am unable to do. I have never been more frustrated and overwhelmed in my entire life. I am not the type of person who slows down and handles life day by day. I often try planning for the future to reintegrate back into my old routine of graduate school and work. I am strong but this definitely breaks me down everytime.
I would lose the opportunity to maximize my recovery if I focused on school or work at this time in my life. I do not want to leave my legs behind. I am not independent yet. I still receive help from my family and caretakers. My recovery process is a very very long one.
There are so many new obstacles and complications. For example, I have not even started driving school or made plans to acquire a modified vehicle.
For the time being, the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) helps to provide me with transportation to therapy and doctor’s appointments. I am managing fine for my present situation. I definitely do not want to lead anyone to believe that I am completely hopeless and lost in my situation. The problem is that I do not have everything lined up for the future just yet.. I can hardly stand it.
My biggest challenges right now are being able to turn myself in bed at night and transfering myself to and from my bed. I am trying to only stress on those two issues right now. The rest will come to me. I certainly work hard enough for my independence. It will come. I am very sure. It’s just not time yet.
I know that this post is a little scattered and unclear. I feel like my thoughts are just the same.
June 10, 2015
If you have not ordered an event t-shirt then you can still do so under the registration link. They are now selling for $25. Please make sure to include your shirt size in comments box on the registration page. It is a common mistake to overlook this section.
If you are ordering a shirt but you cannot attend the actual event then please note this in the comments box as well. Thanks!!!
We are still expecting a really good turnout for the fun run, which is now on June 28th (please read most recent update). We have well over 100 registrants. 🙂
May 31, 2015
Fun Run Registrants,
Unfortunately, after watching the local Doppler weather radar, Houston is expecting flash floods again this weekend. After much deliberation, we will be postponing the Fun Run benefiting Nicole LeBlanc until Sunday, June 28, 2015. We hope to have your continued support and see you out there. We will use this extra time to make this event even more awesome!
If you are unable to make the new event date, please send an email to [email protected] and we will mail your shirt to you. Apologies for any inconvenience.
Stay dry this weekend & we’ll see you in June!
Nicole’s Fun Run Team
June 1, 2015
My standing powerchair is here and I love it! I can get into wall cabinets, reach items on counter tops, and turn on water faucets! I can stand whenever I want. No assistance needed. The best part is that I feel a lot more freedom and motivation to do for myself. There is a picture of my chair in the Mobility album.
In physical therapy I have made great gains. I am able to lift and scoot my lower body (with use of my upper body) along a mat table. I have mastered the technique and strength to lift weight off of my bottom so that I can slide my body. Eventually, this will translate over to a transfer board.
My physical therapists at Kirby Glen emailed my doctor at inpatient, Dr. Wenzel, and told her that they believe I am ready for another inpatient admission. I am working to speed up my admission process as well. Everyone has told me that the most growth and recovery will occur early on. TIRR inpatient would be the best place for me to test this theory. I will receive over 3hrs of therapy a day. Including daily aquatic therapy at inpatient will at least allow me four hours of therapy.
Occupational therapy at TIRR- Kirby Glen has been slow lately. Insurance approves three OT visits at a time. We are not allowed to request more visits until those three visits have basically expired. Due to this, I have experienced an annoying, three-week lapse in therapy as I wait for another approval. I am living with chronic spinal cord injury so I find it important to focus on upper extremities…
I find that part very frustrating. Overall, my recovery is going well right now. I hope that I am not giving the wrong idea. I appreciate the support so much!! Also, I am excited for the fun run!
May 11, 2015
My glutes are activating. My body needs to give me what I want and allow me to connect to my legs. It seems like I am so close.
May 7, 2015
II expect my standing powerchair to come in next Wednesday. This is equipment that I expected months ago as it has almost been ten months since I was injured. It just dawned on me that I will need a way to handle my seatbelt. Maybe my occupational therapist can rig something up for me because I fall forward all the time.
I have been weaning off of my Baclofen medication, which relieves spasms and tightness. The idea is to reduce the medication so that I am not suppressing any nerve activity. Some experts claim that it does suppress nerve activity while others argue the opposite. I am not taking that chance. My goal is to excite the nervous system. So now, I am experiencing really strong spasms that pitch me forward in my chair. I need to be able to handle that seatbelt.
Oh! I wanted to say that my event t-shirts are selling at a discount for 4 more days. The deadline for sponsorship is coming up soon as well.
May 13, 2015
If my body is set in certain positions then I can move most of my core muscles. Like I said before, it is very faint movement. My body needs to be in an advantageous position with reduced gravity to see any motor function at all.
I can slightly tuck my pelvis with the help of my lowest ab and core muscles. I am trying very hard not to become too excited about this! I feel very blessed.
The most noticeable change is that I am somewhat able to cough again. This means that my abdomen and intercostal muscles are helping me! Whenever I would choke in the past, it was very scary for everyone because it was so quiet and it could easily go unheard. I still need help clearing my throat. Maybe one day I won’t.
My injury is very incomplete. I am so so thankful for this. I appreciate everyone who is making this happen for me. I also appreciate everyone’s faith in my recovery. It keeps me going whenever it’s hard to stay positive.
May 13, 2015
I am very excited about the fundraising event that we are planning for Sunday, May 31st to support my recovery!
Walkers and runners will finish a 5k that starts early that morning at 9am. Dogs are welcome as long as you bring leashes and doggie bags. In fact, we encourage you to bring your dog! I know that my dog, Dash, will be there.
Expect to see tents and tables for silent auction, raffle, small concession snacks, bake sale goods, face painting, and a couple other fun things.
This whole event is turning out even better than I expected but it is a lot to plan for. It’s definitely a big project. So, we are trying to get an accurate headcount to plan appropriately. If you would like to come out to the event then please register through the link below under “Fundraising Activities”. Early registration is especially helpful.
If you would like to order a t-shirt with your registration then please note the shirt size/s in the large box under ” Additional Registration Question”. I have been told that a few people have overlooked the t-shirt size selection part.
Under that same registration link, you can view an image of the event t-shirt and flyer. The flyer offers information about company sponsorship as well. The flyer gives contact information for a good friend of mine, Mallory Hacas. You can also ask questions to me directly at [email protected]gmail.com.
As I said before, the event is a lot of work and if you would like to help with preparation then that would be awesome too!
So far, we are having great success with registration and planning. I am enjoying this very much. The turnout for this fun run is going to be outstanding :).
June 1, 2015
I found out that I have osteopenia in my lower body. I realize that it is quite common in females. I have a therapist who is an able body and also the same age as me who lives with osteopenia. I talked to other people in my position and most of them have low bone density as well.
For me, I just feel like this happened so early on. My paralysis will put me more at risk for osteoporosis. I need to stay on top of my standing exercises. As you probably know, weight bearing is one of the best ways to counter poor bone health.
I should not be suprised by this but right now it feels like it is somewhat out of my control.
I could really use my standing powerchair right about now. I could go into standing anytime, anywhere. I could do this independently. Still waiting.
June 1, 2015
Most of my exercises right now focus on technique. Sometimes my workouts are puzzling and frustrating. My sensation is far from normal and it is effecting my therapy practices at home. During exercises, it’s difficult to focus on a muscle when I can’t even feel it activating or contracting. I am trying to work on lats, which help rotate the trunk, but I don’t even know if I am flexing/contracting the muscle hard enough. Muscles other than the ones that I am trying to target can compensate and support movement. So, I stuggle to focus on technique whenever I am so uncoordinated and my sensations are dull. I don’t even know when certain muscles fatigue.
On top of it all, my muscles are strengthening slowly. Certain muscles are not strong enough for functional movement or movement against gravity. I am unable to see or feel some of the muscle activation.
I can’t rely on what I used to do to balance. Everything normal and natural went out the door as I am completely uncoordinated. So many muscles just quit communicating. It’s quite strange.
On a lighter note, I expressed my concerns to my physical therapist at Kirby Glen and she told me that she has been documenting improvements every week. I have been told that I have strengthened my upper back muscles to support my sitting balance. I now sit taller. Also, I maintain my posture while reaching out and away from my midline without back support.
My physical therapist said that I should be spending most of my time working on these things. 20 minutes of my time each day is not enough repetition to recover from this injury.
April 8, 2015
Yesterday, I went in for a 3hr evaluation at Project Walk. We believe that I may have some faint activation in my core. There is a very small amount of activity in my lower back and abdomen. We noticed small contractions and flickering in my muscles before they would quickly fatigue. The abdomen are a little stronger than the back muscles. I also have very faint hip flexion. There is definitely not enough signal and muscle strength to provide functional movement. I can still find hope in this because I expected these muscle groups to be completely paralyzed.
My right tricep can extend my arm out to full range.
It looks like I have found some very specific strengthening goals. I believe in the program at this facility. I believe that I can get these muscles up.
March 26, 2015
I am on my way to get a bone density scan to send over to Project Walk. I am well over 3 months past my date of injury so they have asked for proof that I still have good bone health. I have a 3-hr evaluation next Wednesday, April 1st to test my body at the facility in Missouri City. From there, I set my weekly schedule.
I would really like to thank everyone who has contributed to my recovery. I appreciate you all so very much! I want to let you know that I have reached a goal of mine! Based on the fundraising meter, I have raised enough funds to cover four months at Project Walk. I am so thankful. This is incredible.
The therapy is $100 an hour, 3 hours per session, and 2 sessions a week. I can attend Project Walk for four months with $9,600.
For those who want to know about my goal that is shown on the fundraising meter, I hope to raise $43,200 for 18 months of therapy.
The activity based therapy (ABT) that I will participate in will be both repetitive and intensive. Activity-based therapy uses technology like Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), Locomotor Training with manual assistance, and Whole Body Vibration (WBV).
Project Walk attempts to activate and strengthen muscles below the injury level instead of focusing on the muscles that already activate. I will be using other therapy sources to learn how to live life in my wheelchair. I will be using Project Walk to try and leave my wheelchair behind. Project Walk claims that approximately 70% of clients improve their function below their level of injury.
I believe that four months of therapy will provide enough repetition to at least begin a successful program. With that being said, I am ready to start my rehabilitation program at Project Walk.
March 20, 2015
I believe that I spoke too soon because I am no longer eligible for aquatic therapy. I was told that I needed to cancel the pool therapy because I use an indwelling catheter. I have been waiting patiently to begin some form of therapy and my days run a little slow. Home health therapy stopped over a month ago. It was completely unsuccessful for me.
I set goals for independence. At TIRR-Kirby Glen, a physical therapist will teach me to slide board transfer myself in and out of the bed, the sofa, and eventually a shower chair. I will learn to roll and move around in bed, which my family and caretakers do for me now. I have a very limited ability to move my trunk and my core so I will need to learn the right techniques to work with what I have. During my second inpatient stay, I was taught to use momentum along with the weight and strength of my upper body to throw my body onto its side. I will be admitted into inpatient rehabilitation for a third time in about four months. It is expected that I will master bed mobility.
An occupational therapist, who focuses on upper extremities, will teach me lower body dressing techniques in bed and methods to put on tighter jackets…we will possibly master zippers… I can take off/put on loose tops but I have difficulty pulling them down the small of my back. I will get help with small things like this.
Some sessions will be dedicated to introducing new equipment or tools for the home, school, and work environment. We will focus on activities of daily living (ADL’s), things people normally do each day, like squeezing toothpaste out of its tube. Some sessions will be for locomotor training on the treadmill and working out on the FES bike.
My blood pressure seems to be stabilizing just a tad bit as it does not plummet to dangerously low levels in standing. I mean to say that it does not do this as often. Autonomic dyreflexia spells, which I suffered from daily, rarely occur. Blood pressure regulation has improved for most people that I have spoken to. I believe that it will happen for me as well.
March 16, 2015
I went to my outpatient evaluation at TIRR- Kirby Glen yesterday afternoon (not for the NRN therapy). I begin outpatient therapy in two weeks from tomorrow.
Physical therapy X2 a week
Occupational therapy X3 a week
Best part- One of the three OT sessions will be aquatic therapy for my upper extremities!
March 16, 2015
My standing power chair arrives in about one month. I will finally have my own wheelchair. The standing component gives many health benefits like improved circulation, digestion, blood pressure, leg stretching, physical balance, bone health, muscle tone, and many other benefits that gravity can offer (so many). My baseline blood pressure is currently very low. On average, it runs a little under 90/50. So, I have been preparing my body for the standing chair by practicing my endurance in a standing frame for 1-2 hours a day.
Most importantly, the standing chair will allow me to experience weight-bearing through my legs which will help activate my neural recovery. The hope is to stimulate neuroplasticity, the capacity of neurons and neural networks in the central nervous system to reorganize connections, change behavior, and form new pathways. The nervous system’s ability to rewire itself.
Today, I will continue to do my daily exercise regimen. A friend of mine asked what this includes. I start by having someone help to range my arms and legs. I maintain range and flexibility in case motor function returns. I work on trunk balance with dynamic reaching, electrical stimulation on my wrists and triceps, wrist weights, and resistance bands. The resistance band exercises are the only ones that I do not need assistance for. After, I get up in the standing frame for 1-2 hours and practice propelling myself in my transport chair. This last exercise is very tricky because I am unable to grip. I use special gloves for quadriplegics and gripping material on my wheelchair rims to push the manual wheelchairchair. These are the things that I have to work on in the home environment. I plan to continue these exercises even while I attend outpatient therapy.
I updated the albums below.
March 16, 2015
This week I visited Project Walk for the first time and registered to begin training. They have many of the advanced workout machines that I need like the FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) bicycle. I also started the process to begin outpatient at TIRR-Kirby Glen. I have finally found transportation to these facilities and I couldn’t be more excited to start.
My triceps are just as strong as they were before I left for my second phase of inpatient at TIRR in November 2014. I have not seen much improvement. I have high hopes that the therapists at outpatient will teach me better methods to isolate and strengthen my triceps. I bring them up because they are a source of preservation below my level of injury. Before November, we didn’t even realize that this muscle group was activating. I am lucky to have them back.
I have had a new sensation that began the first week of January. I have felt vibrating sensations off and on in my right foot. I would really like to explore this somehow.
I can now adjust my lower body using the strength of my upper body. I no longer need help turning my hips, pushing my body farther back in my chair, or pulling my foot back on the footrest.
I have now weaned off of six medications.
I have much better trunk control. It is especially noticeable whenever I am riding passenger in a vehicle. I can stabilize my upper body from falling forward in my seat as the vehicle stops. I am finally able to sit upright in my wheelchair without any assistance from others or support behind my back. I attribute these gains to both balance and coordination.
Quite a few people have asked me questions about the function remaining in my hands and fingers. I can extend my wrists, lifting them upwards towards the ceiling. However, I cannot flex them in the opposite direction or move them from side to side. I am unable to grip items with neither my hands nor my fingers. My fingers remain paralyzed, although I have realized some return of sensation and activity in my thumbs. In the past two months, I have seen involuntarily movement from them as they spasm on and off for most of the day. My thumbs can both feel temperature and pain! It seems like a small gain but I do believe that my thumbs have close to normal sensation. I do not have pain or temperature sensation in any other area below my level of injury.
February 28, 2015
A 5k run/walk is being organized for this Sunday, May 31st. More details soon!
Photo Galleries (3)
March 18, 2016
Yes! Glad to hear you are registering for a class at UHCL again ...sure to be a challenge but you have shown courage and fortitude and I know you will be successful. Love you,Grandma
March 8, 2016
Sometimes hard to decide what correct choice is... Good that you take your time making decision..hope this helps..keeping you in my prayers.
February 18, 2016
Keep the updates coming Nicole. People do follow your progress . . .
January 16, 2016
Nicole! love the updates and I am super proud of all the progress you are making :) Continue to push yourself every day and I love the piece about really living again. I think that is absolutely important and gets overlooked a lot! bravo friend
December 2, 2015
You've probably never been so glad to see sweat before. (<:
November 11, 2015
Aways looking for your updates.Happy to hear that epidural stimulation research is moving forward...exciting hope for you! Love you
October 27, 2015
Hey Nicole you are doing such a wonderful job kicking butt and therapy you're making some great improvements keep up the great work stay strong mentally spiritually and physically. I'm praying for you to make a successful comeback. You can do it you got that work, drive and determination! Hope all is well take care my friend! HelpHOPELive Nicole
October 27, 2015
Nicole, It is so awesome to see all of your progress! Your video made me so happy for you! I know this journey is not easy and I need you to know that you inspire me!
October 19, 2015
Loved hearing about back activity in you latest news. Maybe your body is waking up! I can see from the videos how much effort you are putting into your practices. It will pay off! You're in my thoughts and prayers daily.Love you
October 14, 2015
I love reading all your updates. They make me so happy. LOVE YOU!!!
October 14, 2015
Finally had a chance to view your video; so excited about your progress. I especially enjoyed your beautiful smile. Sandra ( from Germany)
September 21, 2015
Watched video of you getting into wheelchair...great going!
August 4, 2015
What I said before . ..
July 31, 2015
Next thing ya know you'll be out there on the ranch in your Smart Drive competing with the ATV's on the wooded trails. (<:
July 31, 2015
Thanks, Bobby. I really do have a lot to share. I have been wanting to do something like this for a few months now.
July 27, 2015
I find myself looking for the "Like" button and then realize it's not there. So consider the virtual Like button clicked for your Jul 26 post.
July 13, 2015
Yea! Great accomplishment..you're getting there.Praying for you.
June 28, 2015
Your reasoning for weaning off Baclofen sounds logical Nicole. It seems to me these efforts to harness spasms have potential for turning lemons into lemonade. It makes sense that if you suppress electrical current it might not be there later for powering motor function.
June 28, 2015
Nicole you won't see progress the way you want to see it living in it as you do. It will probably be those folks that pop in and out of your life at several month's intervals that will see the most improvement. But it will come and there are many people thinking positive thoughts about you and praying for you. Patience is not something we intuitively gravitate to. Sometimes God forces us to learn along those lines. My dad once prayed at church, "Lord please give me patience. And Lord, please do it now. Don't make me wait for it!" I'm sure those that saw you a year ago could describe many ways they see you have progressed. We keep praying for you and when I say that I mean real prayers earnestly made on a regular basis. Hang in there.
June 8, 2015
Nicole, Monte has told us what a brave young woman you are. We hope our gift will contribute to a speedy recovery.
Ellis and Lucy
June 1, 2015
You are in my prayers. I met your Mom at CLRMC and she told me about you. God bless you in your quest to walk again.
June 1, 2015
Hi Nicole, Thanks for keeping us posted on your progress! Prayers continue to come your way. You are an inspiration. Much love,
June 1, 2015
Hi Nicole, Wanted you to know that I am thinking about you. You are on a challenging road right now, but you are doing a fantastic job! You're a true inspiration. PS: I'm excited for the upcoming fun run!
June 1, 2015
You are in my prayers. Jill Billimek (Jennifer Robertson is my daughter.)
June 8, 2015
Nicole - I am so proud to hear of your progress. Praying for you every day sweet girl! :)
June 8, 2015
Nicole you are making progress with your fundraising. I see as of today you have 39% of your goal met. You're getting there . . .
June 8, 2015
Nicole, It is good to hear of your progress. Keeping you in prayer.
Albert and Sandra
June 8, 2015
Yay for Project Walk!!! Stay positive and keep giving it your all, you can only go forward from here. Anticipating many more improvements Nikki!!!!! Love you.
June 8, 2015
Nicole I'm sure there are times when it is tempting to just throw in the towel; and being in the midst of this situation, you won't see improvement like an outsider will. Your therapist is a good source of encouragement and it is great that improvements are being seen. We're praying for you. Keep fighting.
April 2, 2015
Hi, You do not know me, but you do know my daughter. Jennifer Lee Robertson speaks very highly of you. My prayers are with you. May all the blessings of Jesus Christ abound to you. Jill Billimek
April 2, 2015
Keep at your goals and stay focused. You are an awesome person and it is a pleasure to be your care taker.
April 2, 2015
Love you Nicole. Grandpa and I are so happy to see you getting into this program. We know it will help you to reach your potential. God bless.
March 24, 2015
Great information Nicole! Love to see all that's going on, so much more than I imagined! Keep the faith! God is with you and so are we! Hope is alive in all these wonderful programs, fabulous updates keep them coming!! :-D Praying for your continued progress!!
March 17, 2015
Getting good at these updates Nikki!! Keep on fighting. Your determination speaks volumes. So excited to see you working so hard and progressing. You got this, and I'm right here behind you.
March 17, 2015
Thank you for the update Nicole. Hang in there keep fighting.
March 17, 2015
Gooooooo nicoliooooooo!!!! i love the update! Keep them coming :)
March 17, 2015
Nicole, I am very proud of your strong spirit and will to push through! I'm so happy to see that you are progressing and am praying for your recovery!
February 17, 2015
Nicole, I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you. You are an inspiration. Keep fighting and having faith! Please let me know if there is anything I can ever do to help.
January 19, 2015
Nicole, your perseverance speaks volumes to your strength. Keep working and striving, and know you can always look to those around you for love and support in times of doubt. One day at a time. You got this.
January 19, 2015
Nicole, Briana and I are praying for you. Never loose faith and always remember "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46: 1-3
January 19, 2015
HEYHO!! LETS GO NICOLITAAAAA!!!
January 19, 2015
Keep up the hard work Nicole!! Stay strong sweet girl!! Love ya!
January 19, 2015
Sending our love your way. Stay strong.
Karen & Billy Todd
January 19, 2015
Hi Nicole! I'm so sorry you've had to go through all of this but so proud of you for staying so positive and strong throughout the recovery process so far. Keep it up! Love you!
January 19, 2015
Love sweetie! Thinking of you daily. You own this!! Make it happen
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Help Hope Live
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