ICU Survival Guide with a Twist!

There’s an art and a science to pretty much everything in life and surviving for weeks on end in the ICU is no different.  With a majority of medical professionals being woefully under trained in all of the secondary complications accompanying spinal cord injury, the thought of trying to stay alive while you’re in the hospital can be a daunting prospect -especially when you have to play your own investigator in assisting these professionals with your diagnoses.

However, while there’s definitely a certain amount of research, planning, and preparation that needs to be thought out by the patient when you are essentially locked into the hospital by your medical professionals; you can have a little fun with it as well.  Living on the edge of life and death, as many folks with spinal cord injury will very likely attest to, I find taking a dark humor outlook on most situations to be healing for my body, and my soul.

Despite my long ICU stay in 2016, I maintained a cheery disposition, but this time I decided to do something a little bit wackier to pass the time.  What pray tell did I do you may ask?

Why an ICU sexy photo shoot of course!

Check it out on Push Living Magazine:

The Three C’s of My First Year of Marriage

I am so honored to be featured once again in New Mobility Magazine to talk about my marriage, the challenges we face, and how we work through them. Marriage is challenging enough, but when you add in the layered complexity of disability into a relationship I find that you have to work even harder on communication and making things work.

Check out the article below and I hope you enjoy 🙂

My Husband – Partner & Caregiver – How Do We Make It Work?

Recently my husband and I took a week long vacation to visit a friend in Florida.  I distinctly remember one day when he was helping me with all of my bathroom duties, getting my swimsuit on, lifting me up from a very low surface bed (killing his back), lifting me into the pool, showering me by the pool, helping me with my makeup, straightening my hair, and then cleaning up.  These are just a few of the things he’d helped me with that day, but the list really does go on. 

The numerous amount of small things I need help with in a day seem endless whether that be filling my water bottle, fixing my feet on my wheelchair, grabbing my legs as I have uncontrollable spasticity, getting me in bed when my pain is through the roof, etc.

The day came and went, and as I was hanging out with my girlfriend I rolled back into the bedroom to find him sprawled out on the bed.  He was just tired – I mean how could he not be?  He was taking care of his quadriplegic wife 24/7 for 8 straight days.  I remember thinking how guilty I felt for being such a burden, but not once did he make me feel that way.  These are my own demons I battle with as a quadriplegic because I need full-time help every day – all day.

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine to see how we make it work as a couple!

Let’s Have Some Fun – Ali’s Most Embarrassing Wheelchair Moments

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As I was lying in bed last night the metaphorical wheels were turning in my head with respect to the next move I am planning on making towards my advocacy mission with getting durable medical equipment and services paid for by Goliath health insurance companies. My mind unexpectedly wandered off into the most unlikely of places.  I needed to wind down my brain to try and overcome my insomnia when I started giggling out loud.

Somehow I started reflecting on some of the most embarrassing moments I’ve endured over the last 10 years living this life in a wheelchair.  When living with a spinal cord injury there are a 1,001 things that can go wrong in your life on a daily basis, most of which are frustrating, dangerous, embarrassing, and suck the life out of you, but I find there can be humor in most situations.

Whenever I read other people’s blogs, websites, stories, etc. I find the ones most interesting who share their personal experiences in a raw form because so many of us can relate to those moments.  If you do not have a disability, I’m sure what I’m about to share with you will hopefully make you laugh, perhaps shy away from reading a certain sentence or paragraph, but at the very least will make you appreciate some of what many of us with varying disabilities deal with on a daily basis.  If you do have a disability I’m sure you can relate to at least one of my stories!

Without further ado, I’ve invited myself to a “Roasting” as they say in the celebrity business. Continue reading

The Fight for Survival – Health Insurance Battle Tactics for Medically Necessary Services – Part 2

We should be enraged, inspired to change, and determined to fight as Americans with the state of our healthcare system in this country.  The fact that we spend 2 to 3 times more on health insurance in the United States for subpar services as compared to many other countries in the world is outrageous. It speaks to the issue of no regulatory authority in our healthcare system.  The government does not regulate healthcare prices resulting in huge price variations in addition to, but certainly not limited to, consistent denials for countless medically necessary services and products for many hard-working Americans.

-I have a Story –

Tens of thousands of others share similar stories.  I’ve had enough and it’s time to fight for my survival and for those who cannot do it for themselves.  I’m hard-working, pay into our governmental system, and spend $8,000-$13,000 per year out-of-pocket for health insurance only to be denied medically necessary equipment at every turn.  I have spent hundreds of hours over the last several years fighting quietly for medical services I need and now it’s time to take the fight public.  This is an issue of basic human dignity so that I may live my life with independence and freedom despite being severely physically disabled.

Read the Rest on Push Livinghttps://pushliving.com/the-fight-for-survival-health-insurance-battle-tactics-for-medically-necessary-services-part-2/

 

“THE DIGITAL SEX INDUSTRY – A CURIOSITY INVESTMENT”

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I’ve always been curious by nature whether that be understanding the physics of a white dwarf star in our universe or diving into the world of neural plasticity to study how the brain can change itself or simply figuring out why human history always seems to repeat itself.  There is no topic to simple or complex that doesn’t intrigue me in some fashion.

Over this past weekend I took a few hours, as I often do on lazy Saturday mornings, to poke around the Internet to stimulate my intellectual curiosity on unknown topics.  Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon a short video clip produced by Business Insider Today on the topic of the Digital Sex Industry.  I must admit this is not a topic I have given much thought to, or ever for that matter, but it piqued my curiosity leading me down my proverbial inquisitiveness rabbit hole.

The wheels in my head started turning as I was thinking about sex, which many of you know I’m very open about and cannot understand why sex is such a taboo topic to discuss in public – much like money or religion.  In any event, I wanted to explore the rise in the digital sex industry over the last several years, and in particular, how the industry has changed over the last two months in light of Covid-19. Continue reading

INTIMACY AND ROMANCE AFTER MARRIAGE – “NEWLYWED LIFE”

If you get married in your early 20’s I’m sure life after marriage, especially newlywed life, is comprised of sex, unicorns, and rainbows!  However, I think when you get married in your mid 30’s or later the concept of romance and intimacy after marriage profoundly changes.  So many television shows and movies over the last century have romanticized newlywed life for so many.

In several months I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of marrying my one and only, my main squeeze, and my partner in crime.  I can only share with you what I’ve learned thus far and I’m sure the life lessons will continue to roll in as the year’s progress.

Being a newlywed comes with so many new adventures, challenges, and compromises.  I think we were unique as a couple respect to understanding the intimacies of daily life because of my situation with spinal cord injury.  My “now” husband had to intimately understand everything that comes along with my care, my life, and issues I face.  I find so many couples don’t really get to know one another until years after marriage, but there are advantages to having a disability as you really need to show your partner your whole self because they need to know what they are getting into if they want to be with you for life.

Read the Rest on Push Living Magazine: https://pushliving.com/intimacy-and-romance-after-marriage-newlywed-life/

 

“A STORY OF THE GIGGLING UTERUS”

It all started with two little pills – one from above and one from below …

There are not often medical stories in my life that end up in giggles, smiles, and rainbows, but I am proud to say this one did!

In my adolescent years of spinal cord injury I developed several pulmonary embolism’s causing me to take blood thinners for several years.  As a result, high levels of estrogen in my blood (found in many contraceptive pills), which have the tendency to cause blood clots, would forever leave me in a situation where estrogen could quite literally kill me.  This posed a challenge for me as I became sexually active several years following my accident.

In my particular case, becoming pregnant would very likely result in my untimely demise.  Needless-to-say after being killed by several medical professionals years earlier due to a cockup with a certain medication; I was not particularly keen to repeat this experience nor have a little bun in my oven of my own. Continue reading

“THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES”

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Aaron and I just got back from our honeymoon the other week where we drove several hours from Raleigh, North Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina. I had been wanting to see Asheville for the past 15 years and Aaron had attended University in that neck of the woods. People fly all over the world to visit this lush and scenic city, and I can’t believe I had lived in Raleigh for the last several years and not made a trip over there. We decided to forgo an international honeymoon to save on plane tickets in order to have a five-star honeymoon in Asheville.

We embarked on so many adventures, stayed in extravagant resort hotels, explored several of the hundreds of breweries, went on a waterfall adventure, partook in some hand glassblowing, joined in on the Friday night drum circles in the heart of downtown Ashville, and so much more. At the end of this blog you’ll see a myriad of fun photos from our adventures.

While we were having a lazy morning in bed one day a topic of conversation arose with respect to all of the circumstances in life that had to play out accordingly in order for us to be where we are today. There are folks in life where the puzzle pieces just seem to fall where they may and life works out smoothly. For most of us, this is not really the case. We have to work hard, throw in some blood sweat and tears, push through challenging hardships, and go through our personal journeys in order to achieve where we are in life today.

This is no exception for the two of us. I cannot speak for Aaron, but as for myself, there are so many factors being paralyzed I had to overcome to have that lazy morning with my husband on the most romantic honeymoon. Continue reading

A FAIRY TALE WEEKEND OF WEDDING CELEBRATIONS

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When I moved from China to Raleigh back in 2015 I could not have imagined ever getting married, let alone getting married to my “Partner in Crime” and best friend.  I married Aaron Watkins on Saturday, May 18 and it was one of the happiest days of my life!

I would be remiss not to clearly thank my family and Aaron’s family for everything they did to make this wedding possible.  My parents have been there every step of the way for me, unwavering in support and love, which is why I truly believe I am where I am today.  Sometimes they say it takes a village to raise a baby, but in my case it took a clan of Ingersoll’s to raise me after the accident.

I was so certain when I was first injured 9 years ago that I would have a fulfilling life, but a life without love and a partner.  I had come to terms with this and made peace in my mind.  What I did not realize is how much love can literally transform one’s outlook on life.  I used only live from one challenge to another – now I look forward to future adventures, and when those challenges do arise I know will have someone by my side every step of the way.

Originally we wanted to have a very small ceremony with immediate family only, but my father thankfully convinced me this was an occasion we would not want to forget.  He was right in more ways than one.

We had family and friends from Raleigh, around the United States, London, Germany, France, and China join us for four days of round-the-clock festivities.  It was a world wind weekend and I prepared for months to make sure everything went smoothly – and it was over so quickly.  Everyone always told me to make sure to take a moment and enjoy everything around you when you’re getting married, which is exactly what I did.  I neurotically planned everything down to a T and the week before the wedding I was relaxed, present, and able to connect with people who I had not seen in over 10 years.

I didn’t even realize how much love Aaron and I have in our life and support around the globe.  Living life is about people, relationships, and quality time in my opinion.  I know at the end of my life I will not look back at how hard I worked, but rather the people who have influenced my life, and I theirs.

While I meticulously planned the wedding there are just certain factors you cannot control.  I ended up getting severe bronchitis three weeks prior to the wedding.  I did everything in my power and by some universal grace I stopped coughing four days before the wedding.

Unfortunately, I also developed a pressure sore that Thursday before the wedding.  I was very careful, leaned back in my chair a lot to shift the weight off my bum, and I don’t know why or how, but I got really really lucky!

Now, onto the Wedding Celebration Festivities:

Continue reading