Deep Thoughts, from the Wheelchair-User POV

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By: Tiffiny | July 18th, 2014 @ 2:28 am | Feature stories |


Having a spinal cord injury means thinking about the bigger picture. I’m not saying all of us have copious amounts of free time to wane philosophical, but it comes with a package when you sustain a spinal cord injury.

Is it God’s plan? How do I move past this? How can I be ok with using a wheelchair in public? These are the big questions we SCIers ask ourselves, and it’s not easy finding an answer. Sometimes, there’s no answer to be had, but there is however always a worthwhile, valid opinion from other people out there.

With that said, here are three phenomenal videos from people with SCI and other disabilities sharing their deep thoughts on aspects of living with a disability.

Video #1: See Past the Wheelchair Stigma, and to its Usefulness Instead

In this video from David, a Brit and the man behind, he shares his personal experience with accepting that it’s finally time to use a wheelchair. He has a progressive connective tissue disorder that made him use a wheelchair in 2013, and for years he was completely averse to the idea of using one.

“After all,” he says. “I was a walker like any other, and wheelchair meant horror.” A sad but true fact no matter the country you’re in. But as he reveals, once he started using a wheelchair, his life blossomed. No longer did he have to sit at home all day day in and day out because it was too painful to walk. The wheelchair opened up the world to him.

Check it out: Wheelchair, limiting or liberating?

Video #2: Growing Into Adulthood to Accept Yourself

In this heart-warming video of Kathryn, a woman with Muscular Dystrophy who became a counselor, she shares how after a few tough years growing up, she was finally able to shine despite her disability, and it was through finally finding the self-confidence she needed and never found as a teenager.

A trip to Europe as a young adult, and allowing complete strangers to carry her up four flights of stairs to see a castle, was the precipice of her finally being ok as a woman with a disability in public; a long time coming but exactly what she needed to move onto the next adult chapter of her life. She eventually went on to become a counselor, and frequently helps kids with disabilities.

Watch: Learn to Shine Despite My Disability

Video #3: The Wheelchair Independent Life from Sonja D.

For those of you who have very incomplete injuries and can walk, but not all of the time, this video will surely be something you can relate to. It comes from Sonja D., a fabulous woman with rheumatoid arthritis who’s a wheelchair user, but not a 24/7 wheelchair-user, as she has good days when she can walk.

But on the days she can’t walk, she must use a manual wheelchair to navigate through every aspect of life, even though it was hard for her to accept that she must use a wheelchair in the beginning. She gives a quick overview of how she does all the things in life on the days she needs to use a chair.

Watch: Rolling Around in My Wheelchair: How I Remain Independent

Ah wheelchairs. Aren’t they fun? It’s a completely natural thing to get into deep train of thoughts and often when you use a wheelchair, but as you can see from the people we’ve shown, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. If anything, it’s a chance to finally see how far you’ve come, and have grown as a person.

How do you finally be ok with who you are?

Watch the videos!

- David, new to using a wheelchair, on the limiting vs. liberating dilemma

- “Learning to Shine Despite My Disability”

- Sonja D. shows how her chair helps her remain independent on a daily basis

SCI Superstar: Ashlee Lundvall

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By: Tiffiny | July 15th, 2014 @ 7:36 pm | SCI Superstars |


Ashlee with her daughter Addison.

Growing up with a Dad as a pastor, Ashley Lundvall was raised to be positive, but after a teenage freak accident, her nature was challenged….but only for a short while. Now a motivational speaker, Ms. Wheelchair Wyoming, a wife and mother, this determined woman got over her fears and vowed early on her wheelchair wouldn’t take anything more from her.

Strong women are what we love to profile here at SPINALpedia, and Ashlee Lundvall could very well be the cover girl for them. Whether she’s hunting in the wilderness of Wyoming or taking her daughter out shopping, she is a great example of what can be achieved in spite of a spinal cord injury, and we love her for it.

Why she’s fearless

Ashelee’s story of overcoming her situation begins with her injury, which occurred when she was an athletic 16 year old; a kid who loved basketball. She was at a summer camp and feeding the horses one morning when she reached down to pick up a stray piece of hay. When she did, an entire bale came down and fell on her back, breaking her back at T12 (“Right below the very bottom rib,” she likes to describe), and thus began her journey as a woman with a disability.

In the beginning of her injury, Ashlee was quite depressed and angry over everything she lost and was missing out on. During the first year of her injury, the basketball team she was supposed to be on went to state and won, and she had to watch from the sidelines. Not exactly when she was planning on, but that’s one of the hallmarks of a spinal cord injury.

After her injury, Ashlee met a man who would change her life and bring her back to a place she absolutely loves – Wyoming.¬† Growing up in Indianapolis, Ashlee wasn’t raised an outdoorsy gal, but before breaking her back she got a taste of life in Wyoming – the hiking, the outdoors, the mountains, the wild animals – and she ¬†wanted to live there badly.

After her injury while loading her wheelchair into her car, a strange man came and offered his help, and this man, Russ, would eventually become her husband, and the person who brought her back to Wyoming; Cody, Wyoming to be exact; Russ’ hometown. Before she knew it, Ashlee was changing her pre-injury life goals into new goals, and it wasn’t as painful as she thought it was going to be. Sure, she wasn’t the basketball player she had always dreamed of, but she was happy.

What’s next?

After moving to Wyoming, Ashelee discovered a new hobby that would eventually come to define her in many ways – adapted hunting. Yes that’s right, she goes out with the rifle and will kill a buck with the best of them, girliness and all. And don’t think she’s not girly. In 2013, Ashelee won the title of Ms. Wheelchair USA – Wyoming, and went on to win the crown of Ms. Wheelchair USA 2013; a title she never expected to have, but was thrilled to have for that year.

Ashlee fell in love with a hunting so much in fact (something she never expected post-injury) that she helped found an adapted hunting foundation called the Wyoming Disabled Hunters Organization in 2008; an organization that helps people with disabilities achieve their dreams of hunting. Pretty cool stuff. Ashlee loves talking about hunting when does motivational speaking as well, another area of life she never thought she’d end up in. In fact, she just gave a speech for TEDx (see below).

And in 2010, Ashlee and her husband Russ had their first daughter Addison, the joy of their lives that keeps them quite busy these days, but they enjoy every second of it. They in fact have figured out how to enjoy life immensely no matter what they’re doing; a skill many people with spinal cord injuries take years to figure out.

Bravo Ashlee for bringing all of the strength that you encompass into our community. We need more people like you.

- Visit Ashlee’s blog: Crown & Camo

Would you try hunting post-injury?

Watch her video!

- The new adventure — inspirational innovation: Ashlee Lundvall at TEDx Central Wyoming College

- Ms. Wheelchair USA Hails from Wyoming, KTVQ Billings