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Making Dreams Come True After Spinal Cord Injury: Jen Goodwin's Continuing Story

by Jessica July 6 2017 06:11


Jen Goodwin's whole world drastically changed in single moment after a fun day boating on the lake went terribly wrong, and she sustained a serious spinal cord injury at the C5 and C6 level. After her surgery and over two years of rehab, she returned back home and began to adjust to daily life as a quadriplegic. Daily tasks that were once done without a second thought, like brushing teeth and going to the bathroom, became new skills to re-master. With a lot of practice and time, Jen kept moving forward and became acquainted to daily life in a wheelchair.

Being a very goal-oriented person who thrives on a challenge, Jen decided she was ready to tackle something new. Life was going well as Jen settled into her new routine, but she was ready to start thinking about what could be next for her. Since she had demonstrated an interest in law before, her mom suggested that she ought to try taking the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). It was a surprise and a joy to find out that she performed even better than expected, and she ended up getting a full scholarship to Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas.

Back to School

jen goodwin law school graduate quadriplegic Returning to school as an adult in a wheelchair was a whole new challenge to face. She wouldn't know anyone in her new classes at all, and there were other questions on her mind now too. How would she take notes and tests when she wasn't able to write? Would the school buildings be accessible for her? Of course, these were perfectly normal concerns to have.

"I think a lot of people are afraid to go back to school after [spinal cord] injuries," Jen says, "But talk to your local Vocational Rehabilitation Services, because they have a lot of resources and information to help get people back to school. And talk to your school's Disability Resource Center. They really want to help! Even if your injury prevents you from taking notes and typing, there are still ways to be successful in school."

Jen arranged some meetings with her school's Disability Resource Center, and she was relieved to find the staff ready and willing to discuss options with her. Together, they worked out what accommodations and adjustments would need to be made in order to ensure that she would have the same opportunities for success as every other able-bodied student at the law school, such as keypads to open doors, accessible bathrooms near her classes, digital copies of textbooks, and setting her up with classmates who could take lecture notes for her.

Another Dream Come True

jen goodwin spinal cord injury family Jen worked as diligently as possible at all her courses while still making time to get to know the other law students in her classes. After a year of school, she decided it was time to focus on one of the greatest wishes of her heart: to become a mother.

At the time, there were a few people who had some opinions on her life and even doubted that Jen could handle all of these responsibilities along with having a child of her own, but she didn't let that hold her back. Talking to Jen and hearing her story in her own words would certainly make you realize that her tenacity and optimism keeps her moving forward, and there's no obstacle she's not willing to work hard to overcome. 

With the support of her doctor and her family, she picked an anonymous donor and became pregnant at just the right time during winter break, so she could spend much of the time during her first trimester out of classes. The time off was spent practicing and working with a weighted doll to find the best techniques for lifting car seats, changing her baby's clothes, and more, all while an accessible nursery for her baby boy was added on to her home. Spring semester classes went on without a hitch, and then just after school let out in the summer, little Beckham made his early arrival in June.

Today, he has a mother who loves him more than anything in the world and a wonderful support system of close family and friends, especially Jen's parents and sister.

Jen's lifelong dream of being a mom had finally come true.


Looking to the Future

So what's next for Jen now that she's graduated from law school as of May of this year? Right now, Jen is prepping for the bar exam, and after that, she starts a two-year internship working with the legal department of the local children's hospital, which seems like the perfect fit for a woman with such a big heart for children. Plus she can bring her own experiences with the legal system and living with a disability.

"I am a firm believer that the right doors open when they're supposed to," says Jen, "So we'll see what happens after that!"

We're so excited to see all the ways that Jen will go forward to achieve more dreams as well as positively impact others' lives during her journey. There were certainly obstacles along the way, but she came out on the other side with a smile, a law degree, and a son of her own. Limitations and setbacks may happen in life, but Jen is living proof that with optimism and tenacity, nothing can hold you back.

jen goodwin quote 2


About the Author:
Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for nearly 8 years. Her current job title is Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.


Determined Spirit: Jen Goodwin's Story of Life After Her Spinal Cord Injury

by Jessica June 30 2017 06:13


Nearly a decade ago, Jen Goodwin was on top of the world. She'd graduated from the University of Arkansas, bought her first house, and adopted her first dog. Then she got her dream job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, which came naturally to her with her friendly personality, big smile, and a real talent for sales. It seemed like life couldn't be better. Then everything changed in the blink of an eye. 

The Day Everything Changed

A fun day of boating and swimming at the lake with her neighbors in the summer of 2008 turned into a nightmare after dark. She and another neighbor were out in his boat when he fell backwards onto her head and then used her neck almost like a springboard to push himself back up to stand again. Immediately, she saw a flash of bright white and had a warm pleasant feeling that gave way to searing pain, and then she realized she couldn't feel her legs. It was clear something was very, very wrong.

jen goodwin picAt first, her neighbor didn't believe that she had been hurt, even claiming that she was faking her injury. In cases like this, when someone says they're hurt or have possibly sustained a spinal cord injury, it's important to keep them still and get help from emergency services as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this didn't happen for Jen. Due to her injury, she couldn't sit up or hold on to anything to maintain balance during that terrifying trip over choppy waters back to the boat ramp. It took a lot of pleading for her neighbor to relent and, after loading her into the floorboard of his truck, he eventually drove her forty-five minutes away to the local hospital.

As soon as they arrived, paramedics sprang into action to help Jen. It was obvious that she was seriously hurt, but the true extent of the damage wasn't fully known until they ran some tests. Despite her pain and fear, Jen tried to maintain a positive attitude, but when the doctor sat down with her to tell her that her neck had been broken and her spine was severely compressed at the C5 and C6 level, leaving her quadriplegic and unlikely to ever walk again, she finally let herself cry. She knew then for sure that this wasn't a simple injury that could be quickly fixed. Life had changed forever.

Life During Rehab

Naturally, Jen was heartbroken at all that had happened to her, but she didn't let herself stay down for long. She was ready to take on whatever challenges lay ahead. Her surgery was scheduled on a Sunday, and she transferred to the rehabilitation center on Thursday, one of the fastest post-surgery patients that the staff at the hospital had seen.

jen goodwin quote 2Her first goal was just to raise her hand high enough to scratch her nose. Initially, she had no lower extremity movement and no control of her triceps, because of the level of her injury, but she kept that tenacious drive and continued working hard to meet challenges head on and eventually was able to achieve that first goal she had set for herself. "I just looked at it like, 'This is my chance, so I'm going to give it absolutely everything I've got every single day,' and because of that, I was able to get a lot stronger," says Jen. 

Although she was determined to push through therapy and work hard, it felt like a lot of the techniques and skills they were teaching her in rehab wouldn't be possible for her to master at first. After a lot of practice and determination to gain back some strength, she received validation that hard work and dedication to her goals made things possible when others might have thought it wasn't possible.

Altogether, she spent nearly two years total in rehabilitation therapy, including a controlled intensive therapy study at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta Georgia. She worked as hard as possible to reach her goals, and during that time, she also met some of her best friends. They affectionately dubbed themselves, "The Quad Squad," and they still meet up regularly for vacations and get-togethers.

Her ultimate goal was to learn to walk again, and finally, she was able to walk down and back again on the length of a basketball court. It took an hour and was achieved with the help of two therapists, a spinal electronic nerve stimulator (or e-stim), and a walker. This was a turning point for Jen in figuring out her next goals.

"I decided I could either learn to walk, or I could learn to live," she says of her decision to move on after focusing entirely on rehab for over two years. It was only because she gave her all and worked as hard as she could for so long that she felt able to let go of the old goals and focus on new ones.

Moving Forward

There were all kinds of new challenges to face during that early period of life after her injury. Once rehab was over, Jen had to put the skills she had learned into action and worked to develop new strategies for accomplishing basic, daily activities around the house, and even in getting around in the world, such as learning to drive again with the help of a modified car. She devoted nearly a year to designing and planning an accessible home to have built next to her parents' house, and another year was spent learning how to live in it on her own. 

One additional aspect Jen had to consider was learning how to self-cath. It can help to have a catheter supply provider with trained product specialists on staff who are willing to take time to listen to concerns and questions. She found 180 Medical through a spinal cord injury event and has been with us ever since. "I absolutely love 180 Medical. You guys sci connection facebook linkhave always been great about getting the supplies I need and letting me know about any new products that come out. I can always rely on you to get my supplies to me when I need them," says Jen.

Depending on the level of injury, some may not be able to manipulate a catheter on their own. Jen tried out a few different catheter options while using a gripping catheter clamp to better hold them, but when she tried out a newer option the Coloplast SpeediCath Compact Set, she knew she'd found the perfect fit for her needs. "It's so nice that they fit right in my purse. They're super discreet and ready to go, and I can actually grip them with my hands." Since Jen loves to travel, it's super handy to have an option for catheters that are lighter and take up way less space in her luggage too. 

It wasn't always easy. From the frightening night of her injury through years of hard work and dedication to physical and rehabilitation therapy, the journey to where she is now was long and challenging. Jen understands that things can seem bleak to those who have been recently injured, but after going through all she has, she encourages others to not lose sight of goals or give up. 

Thinking about what might come next was never far away from Jen's mind as she settled into daily life. There were a few big dreams that she had always wanted to accomplish that kept coming up in her mind, and she decided she wasn't going to let her spinal cord injury get in the way of achieving those dreams.

Find out all about the next chapter of Jen's life and the new goals she set for herself with our next blog post to be published in Part 2 of our two-part series. 


Check out this awesome video from Permobil Corporation to meet Jen in person as she talks a bit about her goals and her experiences with her wheelchair.



About the Author:
Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for nearly 8 years. Her current job title is Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

180 Medical Product News: GentleCath Glide

by Jessica March 7 2017 09:15
180 medical product news gentlecath glide

Interested in keeping up with the latest catheter and ostomy products available on the market? 180 Medical is always ready to share the details on new products with you, and today, we'd like to introduce you to the GentleCath™ Glide.

What are some key features to know about the GentleCath™ Glide?

gentlecath glide hydrophilic catheterThe Glide is a recently launched low-friction hydrophilic catheter with options for both men and women that was specifically designed with FeelClean™ technology to reduce the mess left behind by lubrication after cathing. It's a fast and easy option for those who want a comfortable, super-smooth catheterization experience from start to finish. Simply break the included water sachet to coat the catheter and activate the low-friction hydrophilic surface, and it's ready to go with no additional waiting time. The No-Touch sleeve helps make insertion more simple and lessens the risk of contamination from your hands, which may also reduce the risk of infection. 

Here are some of the main product features:
  • Manufactured without DEHP or latex
  • No-Touch handling sleeve to minimize risk of infection
  • Water sachet included for activation
  • FeelClean™ technology reduces mess
  • Hydrophilic surface
  • Available in both male length (16 inches) and female length (6 inches)

glide catheter user testimonial 1

How do I use the GentleCath™ Glide?

ConvaTec offers a helpful online video guide which you can easily personalize for yourself and your individual needs in less than 30 seconds, including choosing instructions for adults, children, or parent/caregiver, as well as options between male, female, and whether you are a wheelchair-user or not. Once you have selected the options that fit your situation best, a personalized video will be ready for you to watch, offering step-by-step instructions for this easy-to-use hydrophilic catheter. Personalize your GentleCath™ Glide instructional video here.

gentlecath glide hydrophilic catheter how to cath instruction video

Once you have prepared for catheterization by washing your hands, or putting on gloves and using a disinfecting swab or wipe on the area of your urethra, lay out the Glide in front of you. Make sure the included sterile water sachet is near the funnel end of the catheter, and break the sachet by pressing on the blue guide dot. You'll want to let the water coat the entirety of the tube from end to tip to activate the hydrophilic properties, and it's ready to use! Just open the pack by peeling apart the easy-open tabs and handle the catheter by the funnel and the included blue No-Touch sleeve to avoid contaminating the catheter with your hands, and you're ready to insert the catheter. glide catheter user testimonial 2

For step-by-step information about how to catheterize, you can visit www.howtocath.com, which offers instructions for men, women, and children in all options from straight, hydrophilic, and closed systems.

Feel free to contact us at 180 Medical, as well. One of our friendly, trained specialists will listen to your needs and individual preferences and walk you through the process of catheterization. We also offer one-of-a-kind instructional materials that can be sent to you with your order, including printed color brochures and a DVD. 


Which GentleCath™ products does 180 Medical carry?

180 Medical is proud to carry the full catheter product line from GentleCath™, including straight catheters, coude catheters, hydrophilic catheters, closed system catheters, and more. 

How can I find the catheter that's right for me?

Just contact 180 Medical by filling out our online inquiry form, connecting to us via Live Chat, or giving us a call at 1-877-688-2729 to speak to one of our trained, friendly specialists. We are happy to find the right catheter for your needs, and we can verify your insurance to determine if and how these products are covered on your policy. 


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About the Author:
Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 7 years. Her current job title is Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.
 

Endeavor Games Volunteer Experience

by Tracee June 14 2013 12:48

Time is never something I give up very easily. Typically most of my free time includes making sure my home is kept up, my work is completed each day, and that I have taken care of my family. I was excited for the opportunity to volunteer at the Endeavor Games, however as the date quickly approached I began to consider my time and how much I had to offer that particular week. Having always been poor at keeping commitments, I decided since I had already given the Endeavor Games my commitment that I was sticking to it.

Military Appreciation

Wednesday night I served at the Military dinner welcoming the Veterans who would be participating in weekend events. I’ve never been humbled like that before standing amongst young men and women who paid a price for my freedom. Many of these men and women had lost a leg, both legs, an arm or were wheelchair-bound fighting for our country. It wasn’t just my time I was giving them; it was my sincere gratitude for what they have done for me. And it was a life lesson. If these men and women could stand tall, smile, and enjoy life I need to do a better job at being thankful for what I have and living the fullest life, despite my shortcomings for the greater good. The dinner may have taken my time that night, but I came away humbled, thankful, and inspired.

Adaptive Sports

Friday afternoon I helped with registration where I got to meet athletes from across the country as they confirmed their events for the weekend and received their info and t-shirts. It was a pleasure meeting these brave kids and their families and seeing young adults excited to compete. I heard one young man walk away saying that he was “going to set a world record.”  I was his fan right away! 

I was soon transferred to the archery event on the soccer field where I had one of the best afternoons I can remember. I was paired up with four young men ranging in ages from 8 to 16. I quickly learned the ropes of scoring, where to stand, and what to do. My job of scoring each round turned into getting to know the athletes, their families, learn their stories, and become an encouragement. 

My favorite player was the youngest in the whole event. He was about 8 years old with purple braces that rose from his shoes to cover his shins. He squinted in the sun as he aimed his arrows but seemed to miss every time. He was almost too big for his small bow that he was still learning on for his first competition. Some of the leaders on the field would come by to encourage him and give him techniques. His father watched from the sidelines and quietly encouraged him. As the rounds moved on he continued to miss the target and hit the grass time after time. Soon we started to encourage him more and more “just a little higher Garrett,” “Anywhere on the target Garrett,” “You can do it Garrett.” 

Poor Garrett, he shared a target next to a young man from Arizona, a modern-day Robin Hood. Kevin was 13 and he had participated in archery since he was 4 years old. Not only did he hit the target every time, he never missed and rarely got outside of the bullseye.  He was all boy and all of 13! He gawked at the medical students helping out at the event and spoke highly of his long hair cut stating “it’s how the ladies like it.”  Aside from the metal artificial leg on his right side he was just like any other kid. He smiled with braces filling his teeth.

As we continued to encourage all the players we began to see Garrett start to improve.  At first it was just an arrow or two on the target. Not close to the bullseye but he made it on the target.  Then it moved to an 8 point shot to which we celebrated with pictures, high fives, fist bumps, and pictures! As the rounds moved on we became a unified archery family encouraging one another, helping with equipment and enjoying the spirit of competition. We would brag about scores, compare rounds and cheer for each effort. Then the event came to a close. We shared pictures together, took pictures of score sheets, and celebrated a great event. As we all started our separate ways, Kevin removed his sunglasses that he had worn all afternoon. He turned to Garrett and said “thank you” as he handed Garrett the glasses. Garrett had unselfishly given Kevin his sunglasses early on in the event to help him see through the bright sun. It was a gesture of kindness and humility, all from an 8 year old. As I said my “good byes” and  “see you next years” I walked away with a smile and gratefulness that I had just offered the one thing I hold dear, my time to the greatest 8 year old I have ever met.  I will always look back with fondness and respect on the athletes and the event.  I am proud to say I have become an official archery judge and can’t wait until next year when I can see Garrett and the others again.

Find out more about the UCO Endeavor Games here: http://www.ucoendeavorgames.com/.

About the Author:

Tracee has worked at 180 Medical for 7 years. She often takes on many different roles here, but her main job title is Purchasing Manager.
  


              

Bard Touchless Closed System Catheter

by admin April 4 2013 12:42
180 Medical is dedicated to offering the best possible products to fit your urological needs and to you unique lifestyle. Closed system catheter kits allow for less mess, simplifies disposal, and reduces the risk of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when the tip of the catheter touches the outside of the urethra, moving the bacteria into the bladder.

Bard Touchless CatheterOne popular closed system catheter on the market is the Bard Touchless Closed System. The Bard Touchless Kit has everything you need to cath in one package. The pre-lubricated catheter has a patented finger guide, a 1,100cc collection chamber with built-in sample/drainage port, one pair of gloves, povidone iodine swabs, and an under-pad.



Bard Touchless Catheter Features
Introducer Tip: Bypasses the first few mm of the urethra, which keeps the patient  from moving bacteria up from the urethra to the bladder.

Drainage Bag: Allows patient to measure, for the patient to move the catheter up the urethra without touching it, the catheter is also never exposed to anything other than a sterile bag and the urethra.

Insertion Supplies: Keeps the cathing procedure sterile.

Pre-lubricated Catheter: Allows for instant cathing, and no messing with manually lubricating catheters.

Long Bag: The bag is longer than the other closed systems to allow the bag to rest on the floor while being filled.

Finger Grip: Allows you a place to hold onto the catheter to help keep it from falling back into the bag.

How to use: The patient inserts the introducer tip into the urethra and advances the catheter through the bag. They can pull the catheter out of the bag, when done cathing to dump the urine or they may rip the bag to empty it.

Bard Touchless Introducer Tip
A few words from our founder, Todd Brown:


“My life improved drastically as I began to use a Closed System Catheter Kit. The freedom this product afforded me alone was worth the transition. I could now cath anywhere I had privacy, whether that be a restroom, a private room, or even my vehicle, if need be.”



Contact one of our catheter specialists today (877-688-2729) to find out more about closed system catheters to determine if they would be a good fit for you.

   

About the Author:

Trish has worked for 180 Medical for almost three years, as the Nebraska Office Coordinator. She lives in Nebraska, with her husband and daughters.
             

Brain Cancer Survivor Relies On Hope to Push Boundaries

by admin February 27 2013 15:13
I was so inspired when I read BethAnn Telford’s story. She is such a courageous, strong, determined, and caring person. It is so easy when faced with adversary to focus on the bad in life. BethAnn held onto one word during her medical, physical, and emotional challenges: HOPE. That one word inspired her to leap over each hurdle life put in her way, carrying the hearts of others in her hands along the way. I had the opportunity to ask BethAnn some questions, regarding her challenges and triumphs. I hope you find her to be as inspiring as we do, at 180 Medical.

In the Winter of 2005, you were diagnosed with brain cancer, and you were obviously terrified. What were the doctors’ prognoses? 

The doctors thought that I would have to re-train myself to walk again, but that running—especially marathons, might be beyond reach. Of course I was definitely afraid about this, since I have been an athlete all of my life, from field hockey and soccer, when I was younger to running, as I grew older.  


What about cognitive function?  

I was definitely afraid of losing some cognitive function. Even now, when I am very tired at the end of a long day, I have difficulty with saying the right words and tend to slur my speech. It seems like the words I want to say are on the tip of my tongue, but I can't seem to get them out.


How were you feeling after that initial surgery? What functions had you lost? What was running through your mind?  

I was definitely in pain and was afraid I would not be able to move and afraid of loss of functions. Of course they tested my extremities to be sure I could feel my legs, toes, etc. immediately after the surgery and to test my strength. Everything went well, and as I gained my strength back, I stood and then started my first steps. I was determined to recover quickly and to not give up. As my strength improved each day, I used the hospital ward hallways as a circuit and tried to go further each day with my friends and family beside me in case I fell.


There is so much involved with fighting cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries. I can not even fathom how much pain you endured. Something kept you from giving up, may I ask what shifted inside you to make you so determined to fight to regain your abilities? Did you have a strong support system?

I have been lucky with a strong family, especially my parents. They have always been there for me. My father, MY HERO, was always at my field hockey and soccer matches and would cheer and support me. He taught me to always strive to be better and to never give up. It is something I have always carried with me, and I am more determined then ever to continue my fight, not just for myself, but for others that are battling cancer, over-active bladders and many other afflictions.



How long was the road to recovery, and what did it entail?

I guess I didn't feel fully recovered until I was able to run the Marine Corp Marathon in the fall of 2005. I first felt the symptoms of my brain cancer while running the Marine Corp Marathon in 2004 and had my first brain surgery in the spring of 2005. I did my first 5K about two months after the surgery. I originally was just going to walk the 5K, but when I was about halfway through, I heard my father cheering me on, so I started jogging slowly and kept it up until the finish. I started then very slowing trying to build up my endurance, though I definitely had bad days and weeks were my body wasn't physically able to do what my mind wanted. I did it though, and managed to make it back to where my long journey started.


Running is a huge part of your life. How did it feel when you began training again? Was the love of running one of the things that kept you so determined to regain your strength?

I learned from my father to be independent and that I could do anything I set my heart and mind to. Running was always a way to push my boundaries and to see how far I could go. After the surgery, I was determined to get right back to where I was before and to not let this change how I lived my life.  Running was a way to test myself and push my boundaries all over again. It became a yardstick to measure myself by and I was determined to not come up short.


Describe the first marathon after your recovery. Were you afraid? Were you in any pain? How did it feel to cross that finish line?

As I said above, the Marine Corp Marathon was where I first felt the effects of my brain cancer and it was the first marathon I attempted after my surgery. I was definitely afraid, but I didn't want to let my cancer change how I lived my life. In 2004, around mile 18 of the marathon, around Hains Point in DC, I felt a "pop" in my head and was disoriented. I stopped along the road as runners streamed past and leaned over trying to figure out what was happening. I distinctly remember looking up at a street lamp, as I fought to clear my head and continue on. I managed to finish the marathon, but I knew that something was wrong. What I originally thought was an inner ear infection ended up being brain cancer. 

So, as I ran the Marine Corp Marathon in the fall of 2005, I was definitely apprehensive, especially as I approached Hains Point. As I rounded the turn near the bottom of Hains Point I started to look for the lamp post that I remembered so vividly. I spotted the lamp post and stopped for a moment thinking about how far I had come, since I was last there. It seemed like my steps grew lighter as I passed the lamp post and continued on my journey, knowing that I could finish this marathon and many more.


How many marathons have you performed after your recovery?

Since my recovery, I have averaged probably around three to four marathons a year. Usually one or two in the Spring and one or two in the fall, so I would say I've probably run around 30 marathons, give or take a couple. I think the most I've done in a year was five, the Shamrock Marathon and Boston Marathon in the spring, and the Air Force Marathon, Steamtown Marathon, and Marine Corp Marathon in the fall.


Tell us about your race of a lifetime, the Ironman, and how you won the chance of a lifetime.

In order to gain entry into the Ironman World Championship, you have to qualify based on your result time from a previous triathlon. Unfortunately, I was never fast enough in all three sports (swimming, biking and running) to qualify, as the spots are very few and the competition is incredibly difficult. So, over the last seven years, I would enter the Ironman lottery hoping to gain an entry slot. Unfortunately, I was never able to win a slot. However, this year Ironman gave athletes the opportunity to submit videos to its Facebook page as part of the “Kona Inspired” competition. Hundreds of us shared our respective inspirational stories about why we wanted to race in Kona. From there, it was left up to the fans, as they voted online for each video. There were three rounds of voting – hundreds of entries for just eight race slots. After nearly two months of waiting, I am thankful to have been chosen as one of the Kona Inspired winners.  It was my chance of a lifetime and something I will never forget, especially all of the support I received from the community from my friends, family, and many others that took the time to watch my video, hear my story, and help me reach my goal by voting for me.  


 I read that there is a special little girl, who is battling brain cancer, who you The Team Inspiration Organization was working on to compile enough air miles to fly her and her mother to Kona for your race. Did they reach their goal?

Yes, they reached their goal! Anya and her Mom Karen came with me when I went to Kona, Hawaii. My parents and a few friends were able to come, as well. It was truly an amazing experience, made even more special by having Anya, my parents and friends to cheer me through out the long day and to meet me at the finish line!  It is something I will never, never forget.


What would you say to those facing health challenges that feel hopeless?

My favorite word is "Hope." I believe there is always hope, no matter what the circumstance. So much so, that I had the word tattooed on my inner left wrist, so I can see the word as I run, to remind me where I've been, where I'm going, and why I fight as hard as I do. I have been blessed with a great family and friends that have supported me over the years. I would ask those that are struggling with their health, to reach out to others for help and to feel hope again. Whether that is through your friends and family, through your church, through the hospital staff, or the many others that support people in need. Hope is there, waiting to be discovered and believed.


You will be featured on the Discovery Channel, on March 9th for “The Silent Epidemic of Overactive Bladder: Challenges and Barriers.” What are some of the biggest challenges of Overactive Bladder you face, especially as an athlete?

Because of my brain cancer, I have also had other medical issues to deal with. Over the last several years, I have had increasing issues with the operation and function of my bladder. I am a patient of Dr. Tiffany Sotelo from the George Washington University Hospital, in Washington DC. She is the Head of the Pelvic Floor Center, as part of the hospital, and has been wonderful. I have had two surgeries for the implant of a nuerostimulator to help control my bladder functions. Though these surgeries have helped, my bladder has continued to decrease in capacity and has reached a point were Dr. Sotelo is concerned about the function of my kidneys. I will undergo a cystoplasty (bladder) augmentation to relieve the stress on my kidneys and hopefully allow me to better control my incontinence. 

I guess the biggest challenge is how my incontinence has affected my daily life. Now when I go to work or travel, I'm always looking for where the restrooms are located in case I have an emergency and have to rush to one.  I also have to self-catheterize at work, though where I work there is medical treatment office for employees, so I am able to go down to the office and self-catheterize in private, rather than having to do this in a normal business office restroom. It makes it a bit easier, though I do have to plan for this, as it is not too close to my office at work.  

As an athlete, I still have to worry about when I can't control my bladder, but I have increasingly learned to be a bit bolder and to not stress as much over it. When competing, I bring along catheters to use (I also have a great friend who runs with me and is kind enough to carry things for me) and will go into a "port-a-potty" and self-catheterize when I need to, but sometimes I will just "let it go" and then splash myself off with cups of water at the water stops along the way. I also bring a change of clothes, so I can quickly rinse off and change into fresh clothes when I'm finished competing. I guess it helps that my friends all understand and it makes it less of a worry that I will offend someone. 


How has having to self-catheterize impacted your life? Does cathing make it more difficult to participate in marathons? Was this discouraging at first?

See above.  It was difficult at first, but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge, so I've grown a bit bolder. Sometimes people alongside me at the event will ask me if I'm okay, I will tell them a bit about my story. They are always amazed and encouraging, once they know I'm okay.


How has 180 Medical impacted your life?

Being able to self-catheterize is a huge blessing, less embarrassing, and has enabled me to live a more normal life. I am able to "go" when I feel the need, without the fear of an "accident" or having to rush. I can take my time and go when my schedule allows. This has definitely increased my feeling of confidence and freedom, whether I'm in a business setting or out on the road running a race. 180 Medical has answered my medical questions when I call for support and has been very prompt with supplying me with my catheters on a regular basis.


Do you have any advice for others beginning self-catheterization?

You can do this! It may seem difficult and embarrassing at first, but after a bit of practice it will become so much easier and give you the freedom to live a more normal life. This is something you can do for yourself and not be dependent on others! That is such a great feeling and helps build confidence in yourself, knowing that you are able to do this!


I feel so strongly that knowledge is power and so admire you for using your voice to inspire and educate others. What are some of the unexpected blessings that have come from your challenges?

Throughout my journey, I have met some truly amazing, caring, and giving people and feel blessed to have them in my life. From all of my co-captains on Team BT for the Race for Hope – DC, my medical doctors and the nursing staff, and all of the others battling cancer, incontinence, and many other medical afflictions. Their spirit, determination, and compassion continues to amaze me and gives me strength to continue with my fight.


To learn more about BethAnn, visit her website: http://www.teambt.org/

The program about BethAnn Telford's surgery will be part of the Discovery Channel program called "The Silent Epidemic of Overactive Bladder: Challenges and Barriers," which is set to air March 9. Check your local listings for times in your area.
  


About the Author:

Trish has worked for 180 Medical for almost three years, as the Nebraska Office Coordinator. She lives in Nebraska, with her husband and daughters.
    

                           

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by kier September 30 2011 10:36
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Melanie's Story

by kier September 15 2011 10:17
Almost a year ago Melanie's mom sent us this video to tell about Melanie's story and her condition as well as how 180 Medical has helped make their lives a little bit easier. Take a moment to watch the video and you'll soon understand why Melanie continues to touch all of our hearts.