This week we are featuring one of the brightest residents Creative Living has to offer.
On February 24th 1993, Lora was in a head-on collision where she suffered a traumatic closed head injury involving a twisted brain stem plus, “a broken nose, facial laceration, broken left wrist, broken ribs, punctured lungs, tore a hole in my small intestine, and broke my left leg. I was in a coma for 73 days”, she states.
Succinctly, life was completely altered for Lora because as she states, “I went from pursuing a career as an equine orthopedic surgeon to working part-time as a ticket taker at Huntington Park.” She goes on to explain that she had graduated in 1989 as one of the Top Ten Seniors in the entire Ohio State University undergraduate class.
After waking from a 73 days long coma Lora had to learn EVERYTHING anew, including learning to walk. Though the absolute worst aspect she states is, “not being able to do things nearly as well as before-both physically and on the cognitive level”. Dealing with the dichotomy of what we know we are capable of and what society tells us we can and cannot do is a frustrating one. The stigma of living within a deviant body is something all creative living residents face but Lora asks our readers and the general public, to “not underestimate our ability to think and be productive members of society”.
Today, it is pretty common for students to attend college and work full time. Yet how common is it for you to hear about someone such as Lora? Oh, did I mention that Lora returned to school after her BRAIN injury and obtained two more degrees while simultaneously navigating her new life style? I mean, WOW…
What I find most beautiful about Lora’s story is how she navigates her day-to-day utilizing crutches and an automatic wheelchair. It took Lora six years of physical therapy to learn to walk again. While on crutches, she moves slower but is able to navigate around better, she can drive her car with very little modifications, she can walk up stairs as well as walk on and off curbs. While on crutches Lora can walk from point A to point B and because her hands are busy assisting her to walk. However, utilizing her wheelchair enables her to travel father, to carry things on her lap and to preserve her strength throughout the day. Each mode of mobility has positive and negative aspects and the choice depends on where she is going and what she will be doing upon arrival.
It takes a lot of discipline and forethought to navigate between crutches and a wheelchair. Lora made a commitment to herself to constantly push her physical limits and after 20+ years of hard earned mobility her body has suffered. “I have to undergo rotator cuff surgery in three weeks so I will definitely be in my wheelchair”, she states. Her right arm will be in a sling and for that reason, Michael Stewart, a neighbor and friend switched the joystick on her wheelchair from the right armrest to the left. A switch, that has brought her (and many of us witnesses) immense laughter. So far she has driven herself in circles, into curbs, the wall by the recycling bins, and into the poor sliding door at Creative Living II that had been knocked off its hinges ☺
Lora moved into Creative Living II in 1994 and has been a beloved resident ever since. Whether on crutches or wheelchair the smile is always there. She is incredibly intelligent with a lighthearted sense of humor that is infectious. She is a bit nervous of the upcoming surgery, especially as she attempts to obtain home health aid assistance (a heartache in and of its own as most residents would attest).
Never the less, she remains positive and thankful for not only her family, friends, and neighbors but the 24/7 resident assistant program provided be Creative Living.
The RA program is essential for the residents and in Lora’s case it is helpful when she needs things carried. Lora would also like to send a big shout out to Raheem, the off duty RA that walked her, Joyce and myself home after Friday night poker. Soon her right arm will be on a sling, placing her in an even more physically compromised position but thankfully the RA’s are always willing to help Creative Living residents and that provides a peace of mind not found anywhere else.
Lets all wish Lora a speedy recovery and wish her the best on all things to come!
Good luck Lora!
Until next time, be safe!