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Approaching the 12-month anniversary of her spinal cord injury, Beth participated in her first seminar for Laraine’s physical therapy students in Toledo.
“Beth’s insights and down to earth presentations enlighten students and motivate them to challenge the spinal cord injury patients in their care,” Laraine said.
The patient panel included a young married quad who showed the students her intricate embroidery while her adorable toddler played nearby. Another quad, an older man, seemed annoyed when his leg straightened suddenly. He broke the spasm by leaning forward and patiently pressing a fisted hand at the back of the knee on the same leg, a process my daughter would practice and duplicate countless times.
“I was one of a few panelists who shared our experiences and answered many questions,” Beth said. “I also participated in the ‘hands on’ part with Laraine showing specific techniques. Then the seminar participants tried the exercises with me while we talked. I hope it helped them understand a patient’s perspective a little better, and also to see that a quadriplegic can do more than is usually expected.”
Laraine asked Beth to start the physical therapy routine, to transfer out of her wheelchair with help, to lift an inert leg onto the mat table with a now-stronger arm, and sit up slowly on her own. As she sat in the long-sitting position with her hands in her lap, Laraine gently pushed and prodded her trunk. Beth stayed upright most of the time, winning the battle. The students clapped.
To finish the demonstration, Beth wobbled through the steps of the ending routine independently.
She tied the laces of her shoes and used her teeth to do the final tightening. It would take more persistent trial and error to complete the task without using her teeth.
Laraine asked her to share the progress with her ongoing ponytail quest. Beth scooted forward in her chair and then leaned back to anchor herself for better balance. Her right wrist lifted the hair up from the nape of her neck. She put a standard elastic band around her left index finger and left thumb. With effort, she used her head as an anchor for her hand to move the hair through the elastic band. Unfortunately, it wasn’t tight enough. She kept trying to loop the band around a second time to hold the ponytail in place, determined to do it on her own.
Another year would pass before Beth achieved her goal of a perfect messy ponytail.
Curious how she does it? Here are two of her videos:
...And one that includes tying shoes:
A mom with a story
to share about injuries that never heal and fortunate accidents. About guilt, disability, perspectives, and unexpected adventure.