Two Year Anniversary

Wow, two years.

24 months, 104 weeks, 730 days, 17,520 hours, 1,051,200 minutes.

No matter how I break it down, it still comes as a shock. Where has the time gone? Does life really fly by us at such a neck-breaking speed (pun intended) that one day you wake up thinking, “but yesterday I was just a kid!” That’s how I feel in general, but more so on my anniversary. In one sense, my paralysis is still so new. I continue to learn new things about my spinal cord injury, how to adapt things for my basic independence, ways to use what I have to compensate for what I lack (especially the lack of finger movement), and how to distinguish signals of my body reacting differently because of the injury.

It seems everyday I learn something new; whether it is positive, like finding a new way to do something I couldn’t or a negative, by discovering a physical limitation. When I find something I can’t do, I have to try and find a way to overcome it, and that is not always easily done. So you can imagine how everyday has its up and downs. And I never know what to expect, whether it’ll be a good day or bad, especially with my body; a body confused by the missing and mixed signals that my injury caused. I have a new sense of normalcy yet everyday is different. Does that make any sense?

I have always tried to handle my obstacles with grace, strength, and dignity, but everyone gets frustrated and eventually reaches their breaking point. This has been my scenario the past few weeks. A combination of being sick, sad to be home from Shepherd, and my anniversary, was too much for me to handle emotionally. Now, however, it is time to put my broken pieces back together and continue to roll forward into regaining my independent life back. There is no other option for me.

Two years is kind of a “big anniversary” because it is widely believed that by two years, you will have regained as much function as your body will allow. Is this a 100% fact? Absolutely not. Christopher Reeve regained function up to seven years after his injury. So is there a chance for more recovery? Definitely. And I believe that as long as I keep the faith and work EXTREMELY hard, I can improve more than ever anticipated.

I still have so much to learn; about myself, my injury, my body, my relationships, and my future. But one thing I have learned in the last two years is to take life day by day because, ultimately, there is no promise of tomorrow (and no going back to yesterday). To put it best, I want to quote Lindsay Miller, a local girl and an angel called home at such a young age, 19, in 2004. Before her untimely passing, Lindsay said, “Life is more than you can imagine so take each step with bounding leaps and each day with a cup of faith: all the while remembering that today you are only promised yesterday.”

This is a constant reminder for myself because I have a tendency to focus too far on approaching anxieties that I have no control of. By the end of the day, I realize my time was wasted by letting myself be consumed by my uncontrollable circumstances. That’s not how life is meant to be lived for anybody. This injury has taught me life is too short to be ANYTHING but happy.

Of course, we all have and are entitled to bad days. Everyone experiences their own trials and tribulations, but don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life. As I confessed in my last entry, I have been having a rough time; I have been faced with big decisions that only I can make and the pressure was overwhelming. I have been doing research, talking to other people with the same issues, talking to doctors and debating the pros and cons; but in the end, the decision is mine. And I’ll be honest, I feel like if there is a SLIGHT chance for something to go wrong, it happens to me. Even with no chances to go wrong, I apparently like to defy the odds.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an optimist, but it just seems like I have had so many setbacks, I’ve come to expect them. What do they say… If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any? I know I am blessed with so much, but the recurring roadblocks I’ve encountered in the last two years have seriously delayed my progress as well as created a mental stigma that I will always come across conflict in regards to my recovery. I have learn to hope for the best but expect the worst. I also have a terrible tendency to over analyze everything. It is a deadly cocktail when mixed with my other terrible tendency to be so fickle. Needless to say, decision making has never been my forté

Regardless, a decision had to be made and it could only be done by me. So I’ll be having an outpatient bladder surgery next week. I know this will temporarily give me the independence I seek, at least until after the new year when I will consult about trying to have the major bladder surgery (called Mitrofanoff) that requires a longer period of recovery. The Mitrofanoff is the same ‘suddenly cancelled’ surgery that occurred this past January. I pray that I am making the right decision for me and that I have no complications or infections and that I heal quickly. This will not only give me more independence, but it will also hopefully significantly decrease the amount of bladder infections I’m experiencing.

There are more serious and important decisions to be made in my near future, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Life is too short to write a book in a day.

On a final note, I am just overwhelmed at the love, support, encouragement, and prayers from everyone that I’ve come across in the last two years. Thank you God for a second chance at life, one that I’ve learned to appreciate and treasure more than ever before. May my experience please educate or impact someone else as a lesson to live your life to the fullest, love with all your heart, learn to appreciate what you have, work hard for the things you want, and truly count your blessings. My blessings are overwhelmingly abundant and for that I’m eternally grateful.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou


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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.

6 Comments on Two Year Anniversary

  1. Love it! And proud to have been able to help you start down the publicity road that you’ve become so good at traveling on your own. In the fourteen months I’ve known you, you’ve come so far. You have to be proud of that!

  2. Keep BELIEVING!!!

  3. Katy keep the faith and BELIEVE your favorite word.. I will be praying every day for you for you body mind and spirit.. You have such a good heart and I know God will provide all the tools you need to get you where you need to go.. I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH JESUS WHO STRENGTHENS ME… GOD BLESS YOU KATY…

  4. I do believe Katy Blake now has her own quotable quote….

    Life is too short to write a book in a day
    –Katy Blake

    Katy, my prayers are with you. You are an amazing inspiration and have taught me so much about never giving up and fighting the good fight no matter what. Hang in there. I know how you feel about prepare for the worst, expect the best…. I also experience post op infections almost every time. I can empathize with you on the frustrations. But, you have shown an amazing willingness to fight. Here is hoping that Monday goes well.

  5. Tara Blackwell // June 14, 2012 at 11:57 pm // Reply

    I enjoy your blogs. It is new for me to have someone who I can so closely relate to in not only my injury, but in my struggles as well as my attitude towards recovery. I know we both have a long way to go, but I want you to know that I’m on your team… and I believe in you too. Keep fighting. Let me know if there’s ever anything I can do.

  6. Gina Wright // June 15, 2012 at 9:35 am // Reply

    You inspire me every time I read your blogs.

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