Author Archives: Tiffiny

Guest Post: How I Learned to Live Again Amidst my Spinal Cord Injury by Nikki Walsh

My name is Nicole Walsh, and I was in a severe multi-car accident in August 2018. I woke up in Jefferson Hospital and found out that I was now paralyzed from the T2 level, aka chest down. I look back everyday, and I still cannot believe that I survived such a terrible accident; one where I should have died.

After being in the hospital for 2 weeks, battling through intense pain and respiratory distress, I was finally moved to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia. Seeing myself for the first time in the mirror was devastating. I did not even recognize myself, and I wondered how I could even go on like this. Luckily Magee has incredible staff, and along with them, I had such an amazing support system with my family and friends. Due to all of this, I was able to start waking up each day with a positive mindset to do a little better than the day before.

Inpatient Rehab was hard, and outpatient continues to be so also. I still go to therapy because I have goals I need to reach to live a normal lifestyle. I am pushing as hard as I can to be stronger and better than the day before. I know that just because I am unable to use my legs now, doesn’t mean that I have to stop living. Coming to this realization didn’t happen overnight, it took a long time, and it is still a battle.

The phrase “I will walk again” has been my morning mantra to keep my mindset positive for the day, however this doesn’t always work. Sometimes I need a push from my support system to get back on track. For example, this past year, only one year after my accident, I got onto a plane and traveled to Hawaii with my family for vacation. I definitely would not have done this without them, but I am so happy that I went. It allowed me to get back on track to feeling “normal” again. We even rented a beach chair I could use that allowed me to go into the ocean, and that was huge for me. I finally started feeling like myself again.

Before my accident I was a personal trainer, and afterwards, I never thought that I would be able to get back there again. Boy was I wrong. I started to get back into the gym with the help of a personal trainer, and that began to make me feel like myself again. I know now that just because I am in a chair, does not mean that I have to limit myself. You can do whatever you want to, you may just need to ask for help.

– Follow Nikki on Instagram @waikikinikkii
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Guest Post: After My Injury, a ‘Badass Chick’ Was Born by Kaley Yerman

On the morning of March 3rd, 2007, I hopped out of bed and went about my day. I was excited because I was finally allowed to go to a party that night with my friends. Who knew that would be my last day hopping out of bed? My last day going to the bathroom on my own. My last day using my hands and legs. My last day of life as I knew it.

After getting myself, all dolled up for this party, and of course taking a million selfies, my friends arrived to pick me up. I remember having no idea how I was going to get home. I told my parents I didn’t need to be picked up from the party even though I knew I had no ride home. It’s like I knew I wouldn’t be going home that night.

On our way to the party, there were seven of us in a Chevy Impala which only seats five. Five of us were squished in the back seat with no seatbelts on. The guy driving was driving at a very high speed (110mph). We repeatedly told him to slow down, but he didn’t listen. He hit a large dip in the road and the car went airborne. The car landed and veered into a telephone pole, splitting the car in half. Four of us were ejected from the car. I landed 100ft away from the car on top of the girl I was sitting next to. She saved my life, but sadly lost her own. Everyone else has recovered from their injuries except me.

I don’t remember the exact moment they told me I was a quadriplegic, or if they told me at all, I just sort of knew. I not only broke my neck in that accident, but I allowed it to break my spirit as well. I never knew true heartbreak until I realized I would be trapped in a body I had no control over. I lost all movement from the chest down. Not only did I lose my ability to walk, but I lost all hand function as well and some arm function. I was forced to grow up and face these daily challenges that no human should have to go through, especially not a child.

I was broken and embarrassed of my new accessory (my wheelchair). I would cry if I had to leave my house because I didn’t want to see anybody. I thought everybody would stare at me and see me as this poor helpless disabled girl. I thought it would be embarrassing for my family to be seen out with me, to have to push me around in this wheelchair, to have to help me eat and drink, to have everybody staring at us. My family felt the opposite about the situation. They were proud to be seen with me, proud that I was alive and still fighting.

I don’t think I ever would have pulled out of that depression if it weren’t for my support system, my family. My parents brought me home instead of putting me in a home because they knew with their love and support, they could repair my broken spirit. They weren’t going to let me give up that easily. They knew I could overcome this and live a great life. They never gave up on me no matter how many times I gave up on myself. To them I will forever be grateful.

My body may still show evidence of a devastating accident, but my heart and spirit doesn’t. I’ve learned over the years that not many get a second chance at life, so I better make the best out of it. Sure, I still have bad days, but they don’t control my life. I may be not be physically strong, but because of March 3, 2007 I am mentally strong. I rock this wheelchair and live my life without embarrassment. I am me, and I am proud of the badass chick that I have become.

– Follow Kaley on Instagram at @dub_princess