My sister is a massage therapist and has been telling me about her client, Traci Lindholm for years. I finally had the chance to meet Traci and her husband Curt a few weeks ago. What an incredible couple with an “out of this world” story of inspiration….
In 1986, at age 17, life as I knew it changed in an instant. I was in a car accident that left me on a ventilator and paralyzed from the neck down. Between the ICU and rehabilitation, I spent 6 months in the hospital. Though the doctors were able to wean me off the respirator, I remained paralyzed from the neck down with limited use of my left arm. I had to figure out a new way of living. I was faced with a decision, a decision I have to make every day: sit around and be miserable or live the best life possible. On August 16th, 2016, I will celebrate 30 years of living with a C2-C3 spinal cord injury and 13 years of marriage to my husband, Curt, who also has a spinal cord injury.
During my rehabilitation, I ended up an outpatient at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, home to one of the best spinal cord injury centers in the world. This is where I began see that part of living the best life possible means staying active. Fortunately, I was able to train my legs using FES (Functional Electric Stimulation). I purchased an Ergys bike, with my mom’s help, and I have bike shorts equipped with electrodes that allow me to ride.
By staying as active as possible, people with paralysis can experience:
- Reduction in muscle spasms
- Prevention or retardation of muscle atrophy
- Increased blood circulation
- Muscle re-education
- Maintained or increased range of motion
- Prevention of venous thrombosis post-surgery
- Other physical and psychological benefits
In addition to staying fit and active–despite my physical limitations–I maintain a sensible diet. I drink a lot of water and NEVER leave home without it. I love to eat, but I limit desserts and junk foods. I never deprive myself of any particular food, but you won’t find me eating a whole piece of cake by myself. I will typically share a dessert with somebody or simply limit myself to a few bites.
I try to keep my brain active as well. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Drake University with a Bachelor’s degree in finance and my Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. I also have a home-based business selling Rodan + Fields skin care products. Not only have I finally found a product that treats my acne, I’ve also found a business I can work into my life as a quadriplegic. I am also a big sunscreen advocate after being diagnosed with early stage melanoma in January 2016.
After almost 30 years of paralysis, I have had very few complications. I attribute this to “riding” my bike, twice-a-day range of motion, maintaining a sensible diet, trying to lead a “normal” life, and a supportive husband, family, and friends. I could not ask for more!
My husband, Curt, sums up life pretty well, “If you can’t change your situation, change your attitude.”