The Walk Across Kansas is both a personal and professional endeavor that will take my son and me across the State of Kansas for the second time. It was a life-changing event that led me to travel from my hometown of Hays, Kan., to the Kansas City area eleven years ago.
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April 15, 1993, appeared to be a normal day. Driving home for lunch, a car ran a stop sign – hitting me with enough force that my car came to a rest turned counter-clockwise and facing the opposite direction. At the time I was 30 weeks pregnant, and the force of the impact would cause the start of early labor within minutes of arriving at the hospital.
Although I went home a couple days later and the doctors were able to almost completely stop the contractions, I never felt quite right. Terrible headaches. Rising blood pressure. I was sore all over and had difficulty using my right arm. Less than a month after my accident, I went to the emergency room with a horrible "gut" feeling that I was going to die. That night, I began having seizures.
I do not recall much of what took place that night. I was told I had stopped breathing during the seizure. Hospital staff called a Code Blue and in those frantic few minutes they rushed me to emergency surgery to deliver my son via c-section. I do remember waking up later and seeing family members with red, teary eyes. Another time I could hear a priest nearby, and his words made me think, 'this must be really bad."
Eventually I realized I wasn't going to die – at least not that day, anyway. Things were serious but I was stable and in the intensive care unit. I was handed a picture of this scrawny baby with wires and tubes everywhere. Although he would have to stay in the neonatal ICU for awhile, doctors reassured me Michael would be fine.
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Upon returning home two weeks later, I began rehabilitation while undergoing tests and procedures to determine the cause of my headaches and right arm pain. The reports indicated I had sustained mild head trauma, a fractured wrist, and spinal nerve damage. The nerve damage had caused numbness and pain in my right arm, hand and some fingers.
After 2 years, I was granted a medical release and cleared to return to work. Unfortunately, the damage to my spine left me with no feeling in my pinky finger, partial feeling in my ring finger and reduced function in my right hand. Therefore, I couldn't return to my previous job as a dental assistant. After a lot of soul-searching and deep thought, I decided to go back to school in 1997. It was a very scary time. I was now a single mother of two kids with almost no income. But I knew I wanted a better life for us. Next Page
We want to be an example to encourage people to be physically active and support the Governor's challenge for healthier living in Kansas.
We encourage Kansans to increase their physical activity by walking, whether individually or in teams. And our hope is for people who don't participate in regular physical activity, they will join our efforts and begin walking for their health.
Visit the REACH Lab at the KU Medical Center to learn more about stroke research.