Gloria Stokely, L4-L5, S1
Story submitted by Gloria Stokely:
My life changed in the summer of 2004. The neurosurgeon who did my surgery sent me home the day after surgery with absolutely nothing. No help for bladder or bowels or even equipment. I was left to figure things out on my own and fight for what I needed.
What was key in getting to where I am today?
Online private support group where people who understood and you could openly discuss issues without fear. With people around the world it didn’t matter what time it was you usually had someone respond. Attending a live support group is important too. The friendship & support you get can brighten someone’s day or even their life. Having the opportunity to try a custom wheelchair let me know that I could wheel a manual chair without a fibromyalgia flare up. I love my custom manual wheelchair and the exercise I get.
Doing research and educating myself and others. Going to disability expos to see what is out there. Trying new things (ex. Waterskiing, handcycling, jet skiing) and doing old things in a new way (ex. Driving with hand controls). Traveling domestic & international and knowing what resources are out there to make life better.
Networking and advocating for yourself. The results were SureGrip hand controls, accessible van, custom wheelchair, SmartDrive, bladder & bowel management, platform lifts, adjustable bed, Social Security Disability, Medicare & Medicaid, HASCI, Homestead Exemption, service dog and a team of doctors who manage my care. This is some but not all of what I have achieved to enhance my life.
You must educate yourself, so you may better advocate for yourself or have someone who does. There are resources out there and knowing how to access them are key to making your life better. It could be as simple as knowing that there are a variety of catheters and help in finding the best for you. Or knowing that someone gets in free at the movie theater or a beach has a free scooter for you to use, so you can easily access the beach.
Life is only limited by the limits you put on it. Go forth and live your life to the fullest. Focus on the positive and enjoy.
My service dog, Doolie joined me at the Splash Bash where we went canoeing. Just one of many fun things we have done together.