Holding On

I was really touched by all the feedback from my last entry. I know that beauty is only skin deep, but how you feel about your outer appearance is definitely reflected in the way that you present yourself. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, my vain insecurities have been negatively affecting my overall morale. These things just take time. From the beginning, my family stressed that who I am is not my legs, but rather my mind, morals, values, and character. I could not agree more. Every day I count my blessings to not only be alive but to still have full mental function (as I could’ve easily had a traumatic brain injury from hitting headfirst); but there are still days when I miss having full use of my body. I miss chasing around my nieces and nephews, slinging them over my shoulder and carrying them on my back. I miss going out with friends and getting down on the dance floor. I miss using hand gestures and other forms of body language to further illustrate my animated character. I even miss simple, mundane things such as laundry and other household chores. While I try my best not dwell on these feelings, there are times when that void is so overbearing and impossible to ignore. Similar to losing a loved one, sometimes you just ache for the past, for anything to fill the void you now feel. Losing a part of you is incredibly hard, plain and simple. As I said in my previous entry, these are my feelings and I do not sugarcoat them. If I am to be known for anything, I want it to be for being honest and open about my injury, be it good or bad. No one is strong all the time – I am most certainly not and I don’t pretend to be. In fact, here lately, I have felt very weak. I wish I could pinpoint exactly what is causing this “funk” that I cannot seem to pull myself out of. Please be patient with me as I try to transform my scrambled thoughts into logical sentences.

A few weeks ago I talked about my lower back pain and having an MRI done. The results of the MRI did not show anything abnormal in my spine. While I am happy that there are no serious issues, I am back to square one trying to figure out what is wrong. This is probably where all my frustrations have been stemming from. I feel like I’m constantly getting the runaround; when one doctor cannot find anything wrong, they send me somewhere else – it has become a vicious cycle. Not only have I been dealing with the intense pain, a pain so unbearable that I am brought tears, but my spasticity has been positively out-of-control. I have tried different strengths and combinations of various muscle relaxers and have found no relief AT ALL. The increase spasticity is extremely hard to deal with. It can be painful, embarrassing, and make the simplest tasks almost impossible. In addition, the spasms enable my scoliosis and poor posture to get even worse, which is what I’ve been working so hard to correct. It is causing my left leg to turn in and my pelvis is beginning to conform at an angle, which affects my entire spine. Many medical professionals feel that I’ve exhausted all my options and my only choice will be the baclofen pump; however, I am skeptical and have many hesitations about the pump for many different reasons (I will save that story for another day). I feel like I need to find the source of the problem that is causing the spasticity instead of just masking it with medication. So there is that situation in a nutshell.

There are other things I was planning to discuss, but I’ve suddenly succumb to writers block (or extreme laziness). Either way, I am tired of writing. I will end this update with a few positive things that will be happening over the next few weeks. My FES bike is going to be installed tomorrow! This bike is a very expensive piece of equipment but well worth the price. It will help with my spasticity, circulation, range of motion, muscle tone, and overall health. I am EXTREMELY fortunate to have had the funds to purchase this bike and that is thanks to Ole Miss Sigma Nu and the Charity Bowl fundraiser in March. Another big purchase that I am awaiting is a new bed! For two years I have been in a very uncomfortable jail cell of a hospital bed. But again, thanks to the Sigma Nus, I will have a top-of-the-line adjustable bed that will be mine for MANY, MANY years to come. I am so very excited to sleep in a regular bed! Definitely one of the small things we all take for granted. Last but not least, I have been extremely busy painting and preparing for the Pine Belt Women’s Expo in Hattiesburg, MS, on July 28. Someone has very graciously offered me a booth to sell my art and promote my cause. Because I consider Hattiesburg as “my old stomping grounds,” I immediately jumped at the chance to participate. After the Expo, I will be making my prints available online to purchase for anyone out-of-state who would be interested. If you are not on Facebook, you can check out all my newly updated paintings in the Artwork tab located in the top menu.

“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.”
~ Unknown
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About Katy Blake
First and foremost I would like to thank everybody who's come to this page, people I've never met who have encouraged me, prayed for me, inspired me, have been inspired by me, shared my story with others, and have financially helped with the cost of living with a spinal injury. For those who do not know my story, let me start on June 13, 2010. I was on a canoe trip with a group of friends when I went for a dive in the creek that we were traveling in. As soon as I jumped, I realized how shallow it was but it was too late. I hit the bottom headfirst and although I remained conscious mentally, my entire body from head down went numb and lifeless in the blink of an eye. What was probably only 20 seconds seem to be hours as I lay face down in the water until my friends realized something was wrong and pulled me out. Within the hour I was air lifted to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, MS, where I was diagnosed with having an incomplete C-5 fracture spinal cord injury. There I was, 23 years old and being told by the doctors I would never move past my biceps again. I guess it is a good thing I never listen to anyone, because I refused to listen to them. I stayed in ICU for a month and a half on a ventilator with pneumonia in my lungs. Although I had many setbacks while in the hospital, (pressure sore, problems with breathing, leaky feeding tube), I never let it get me down or stop me from working to gain as much recovery as possible. I eagerly participated in as much physical therapy and occupational therapy as possible and never stop moving as much as I could, hoping that I would regain muscles back in my arms. By the time I left the hospital on September 6, 2010, nearly 3 months after my injury, I was just beginning to learn how to feed myself. I attended Mississippi Methodist rehab for a month; however, I was so weak from being in bed for three months in the hospital that I was hardly able to do the exercises they tried to have me doing. That was when I first encountered problems with Mississippi Medicaid. I have fought many battles to be approved by the state Medicaid program, I was even denied for nearly 2 months which meant that all outpatient therapy that I was receiving was stopped, and I suddenly had to pay full price for the costly medicine I have to be on. I had private insurance all my life up to 10 months before the accident when I was no longer in school and not eligible under my mother's insurance. I created this page to help gain exposure, hoping that I reach the right person who could help. In today's world, you can become famous (or viral) online overnight, thus was born help Katy back to rehab on Facebook. What an amazing journey it has been since then. It has put happiness and hope back into my life and for society in general. I have met the nicest, most caring people who are inspired by me as much as I'm inspired by them. We were also able to do fundraisers raise enough money for me to attend additional rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, a well-known spinal cord injury rehab facility. This is just the beginning. I truly believe I can walk again if I have the right therapy and medical care because I definitely have the drive, willpower, and motivation to go further than the doctors ever would have imagined. But as they say, Rome was not built in a day. As to this date, (2/28/12), I brush my own teeth and hair; wash my face; feed myself; play the wii; use the computer, cell phone and iPad all without finger function; roll myself over; pull myself up; push myself in a manual chair; and have most recently took up painting. One day I was even sneaky enough to get in the kitchen cabinet to get a spoonful of peanut butter- well worth the effort it took. But I know this is only the beginning of the journey. The more exercise and therapy I receive to become stronger and more independent, the sooner I can return to school, get a job, and give back to the community for what they have done for me. I'm beginning to speak to children in school about spinal cord injury, safety, and motivation- to never give up and never give in. Miracles happen every day but you have to believe, and you have to work hard. I want to thank you again for reading my story and would sincerely appreciate you taking a moment to help spread the word by sharing this on your own Facebook page, email to others, twitter, or by word of mouth. You never know who you may reach and who may be able to help. I ask each of you reading this to please help me in spreading the word of my story. In less than 60 seconds, by simply sharing my page to others, perhaps more people will read about my determination to recover and hopefully reach enough recognition so that I may receive more help. The power of Facebook and online media in today's society is an amazing tool to spread the word of a great cause. I'm not looking for a handout, I'm looking for a hand up. I graciously thank you for your support in helping me achieve my dreams, which is to regain as much function as possible, to perhaps even to walk again. God bless.

2 Comments on Holding On

  1. Carol Shewell // July 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm // Reply

    Katy, You amaze me and inspire me. I am in total awe of you…keep working toward your goal and pray, pray, pray as I will do the same. You ARE beautiful and I am happy to know. We are cousins and I met you finally at the Ferrer Family reunion this past April. I still want to purchase some art work from you!

  2. Ann Tillman // July 22, 2012 at 3:15 am // Reply

    Kathy you need to watermark your paintings and also copyright them, my daughter did and you can do it all on line.

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