Wednesday, September 19, 2012


This is a copy of a Facebook post written by Sydney......I thought you all might enjoy celebrating with her.


Yesterday marked my two-year anniversary since my car accident, and I just want to say how grateful I am to my family, friends, the hospital staff, and especially my Heavenly Father who blessed, supported, and helped me through the hard times and still continue to bless my life today! Even though I am still waiting for the day when I will make a complete recovery, I have come so far with the help of everyone I know. Thank you so much for your love; the memories I have from that experience are nothing but positive. Though time has passed, I hope we all can remember to live life to the fullest, and never forget that God loves us. ♥

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March 6, 2011

Hi Everyone!

Sydney is doing so well! She walks without canes and looks great! She can also climb stairs without handrails! She still wears an AFO on her right foot, but she continues to get more function in her right foot and leg. She is still going to Physical Therapy once a week, which is very helpful, as Jason gives her tips on making her walking look more natural, how to turn, helps her strengthen, etc.

Great news - Sydney got into BYU! She is so excited! Her current plan is to pursue the Nursing program and then try to get into a Physical Therapy graduate program. (Yes, she has been inspired by her great nurses and therapists at the hospital!) We went to the Provo campus on Saturday to check out the housing, and Sydney is thinking of staying in Helaman Halls her first year. See the video above to see Sydney walking around campus.

What an exciting time in a young woman's life!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

January 2011

Hi everyone! It is time to update you on what is happening with Sydney. She is doing so well! She is back to her regular teen-age life now!

Personal Life Update

Sydney started back to school January 18th for 3rd term. She was so excited to be back at school! It was so nice to see all of her friends and to attend her classes! Sydney loves school, so she was very happy to be able to attend AP Lit and listen to Woolsey, finally go to early morning seminary again, go to her EMT class, hear her Calculus and Chemistry lectures first-hand (easier to understand when you hear the lecture), and see all of her friends in Productions! (Musical Theater) She is also taking Digital Photography this semester, which she is excited about. Sydney’s friend Makenzie really helped her out the first day by picking her up at each class to carry her books for her. Sydney took a break from her Physical Therapy the first week at school so she could adjust to her new schedule. She got along fine with all the walking to her classes. We can tell she isn’t used to being on her feet this much and in her brace for so long, as her right foot has been very swollen; but she is not complaining!

As if going back to school on Tuesday is not eventful enough, Sydney asked a boy to Preference on Wednesday! Friday night we bought her a dress, and Saturday the 22nd, after her “day date”, she spent 2 hours on the dance floor in 3” heels! (See picture) This was a great week for Sydney! She has been full of smiles!

Speaking of fun dates, she went ice skating with Daniel! (See picture) He was a gentleman and held her up, and she had a great time! In Productions, she participated in “Fear Factor”, where she ate (yes chewed and swallowed) a habanero pepper, retrieved 14 sticky notes from the bottom of a box filled with “creepy crawly things”, and held a snake! She is brave!

Like all of her Senior friends, Sydney has been applying to colleges. She applied to UVU, Utah State, and BYU. She has been accepted at both Utah State and UVU with scholarships, but is still waiting to hear back from BYU (her #1 choice). We are proud of Sydney for qualifying for the Exemplary Regents Scholarship as well, which means that her hard work to get good grades and a good ACT score has paid off! From her experience in the hospital, Sydney wants to pursue an education to become either a Physical Therapist or a Nurse Practitioner.

As a final personal update, Sydney told me she is planning to go on the Pioneer Trek this summer! She is ambitious!

Recovery Update

When Sydney was in the hospital, she dropped her AP Psychology class, so she now has a “free” period every other day at school. The principal and the PE teacher have been kind enough to allow her to do her exercise routine at school during this free period – which is very helpful! The first day working out at school she had a breakthrough: she was able to get up off the ground by herself! She has not been strong enough to do this until now! We are very excited, as when she goes to college in the Fall, we have been a bit worried that if she is walking home alone and falls, she would not be able to get up. Now she can! She has had 2 other breakthroughs this week as well: she can sit cross-legged (which is a dramatic improvement in flexibility!), and she climbed the stairs without support! (She didn’t use a cane or the stair banister. This is all very encouraging, as it shows she is continuing to gain nerve function and muscle strength. Another big milestone is she is now off all pain meds! She has been on Tylenol for a while, but finally cut the cord!

When Sydney went to physical therapy this week, Jason put her in a harness and on a treadmill, turned up the speed, and she went jogging! What a thrill! She buckled after a few minutes, but now she has a new goal in mind of being able to jog!

We are proud of Sydney for her hard work and positive attitude, and we are so grateful that she is continuing to be blessed in her recovery. It is so rewarding to see her get back into her normal routine of school, fun activities, and friends. Thank you all for asking about her, being concerned about her, praying for her and sharing your love, friendship and service.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I apologize for not writing recently! I have been so content having Sydney home that I have not been diligent in updating the blog!

Since Sydney has been home, she has continued to improve. (The miracle continues!) She now walks everywhere with one cane, and around the house she walks without canes! In addition to wiggling her right toes up and down, she can now move her foot to the side! The next big recovery we are watching for is the ability to flex her foot up, which will enable her to take a step without requiring a brace to hold her foot in a flexed position. Her pain has become very manageable; she only takes Tylenol.

She goes to therapy at TOSH in Murray twice a week. At therapy Tuesday Jason put her on a treadmill in a harness, and gave her pointers on how to improve her walking technique. She was so excited for the specific tips! Thursday, Nikki had her practice dancing to “The Wizard and I” music. This was fun, and very timely as Sydney just got asked to the Christmas Dance which is on Friday! She is so excited!

She walks and strength trains at home 4 days a week. (Many of you have seen her walking at WalMart or at the AF Rec center.) She walks a mile in about 20 minutes – which is quite fast – without canes! She works on homework in the afternoon, and is steadily getting caught up! (Thank you teachers for working with her!) She anticipates attending school full-time in January for third term. She sent in her college applications a few weeks ago, which is scary and exciting!

She still has muscle spasms after she has exercised or walked and her muscles are fatigued (clonus – a common result of spinal cord injury). However, these have really decreased! Her legs used to shake all the time after standing and walking, but now it is only after quite a bit of exertion (walking a lot or exercising). She still has a strong plantarflexion spasm (her foot pushes down like a ballerina) every time she steps on her right foot. Dr. Dodds put her on an anti-spasm medication at our last visit, which seems to help. By decreasing this right foot spasm, it makes it easier and less painful to walk. We believe this will decrease over time as she continues to heal.

Good news – she is driving! She uses her left foot to drive, and says it is really easy! It is nice for her to have this form of mobility and independence back.

Sydney has great friends who invite her to hang out. For example she went to see the Music Man play at Lone Peak and loved it! Her productions class made her a beautiful quilt made out of jean pockets they donated! (See picture). They each wrote her a note and put them in the pockets. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen! It is very soft and warm, and Sydney now uses it for a bedspread on her bed. Many of you have watched the video Makenzie made and asked if you could hear sound for the song Sydney sings early in the video. Here is a link where you can watch this with sound:

Many people have asked why Sydney has had to re-learn how to walk. Why did she have to work so hard to learn how to roll over, how to sit up, how to stand up, etc.? After being paralyzed, did her body forget how to do this? Was she weak from being in bed? Here is the scoop from a non-medical professional (me): When Sydney's spine was broken it damaged her spinal chord. The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that conducts sensory (feel) and motor nerve impulses (for movement) between the brain and the rest of the body. Her breaks were in the middle of her back (T10-L1), with one vertebrae dislocating and twisting her spinal cord out at a 90° angle. At that point, the cord was damaged and could no longer relay information between her brain and her body from the middle of her trunk down. Even though she hadn't lost any muscle mass, she no longer had any nerve communication to her muscles. She could not feel them, could not tell them to move, etc.
As the miracle of her recovery started to take place, some of this nerve function was restored (some of the nerves in the spinal cord healed), and some of the nerve function regenerated (her body built a new pathway from her brain to her limbs to work around the former damaged pathways). But here is the challenge: visualize, for example, 100 nerves going to each leg to control the individual muscles. Let's say you have now regained the use of 10 of these nerves. Using the few muscle areas the 10 nerves now control, you need to somehow learn how to move again (without the benefit of all the other supporting muscle areas), and you need to intensely strength train the 10 muscles that have nerve function to do all the work for the other 90 muscle areas! This is why learning to move again is such hard work and seems so awkward! As Sydney was regaining function, her legs felt very heavy, and had only limited feeling and function. She has been regaining feeling and function from the top-down. At this point she has moderately good feeling and function in her trunk, upper legs, and pretty good in her lower left leg. She still has areas of numbness everywhere, lack of sensation in her lower back (cannot feel hot/cold or pass pin prick test), and still feels quite a bit of numbness in her lower right leg (but it is recovering and coming back!) The more nerve function she regains, the better she can move. She continues to heal and amaze us all! Likewise, the more strength training she does, the better her muscles with nerve control can adapt and take over for areas without nerve control.
She has been using an e-stim kit at home for a few weeks, which we love! She secures two electrodes on her right shin, turns on the e-stim, and it sends a strong electrical current down the working nerves to her foot and forces her muscles to contract. It will only work if there is a working nerve path to follow, so she has only been able to use this since she recovered some nerve function to her foot. Placing the e-stim on her shin forces her toes to contract up, and also contracts her right foot to the side (the nerve paths that work today). The benefit of this is if she only has a few nerves working to control her foot, they may not control enough muscle to flex her toes up very much. The e-stim strengthens the nerve signal for these few nerves and forces a stronger muscle contraction, which means the few muscles she controls will be strengthened faster so they can better lift the weight of her foot. When we first started using the kit we were so excited to watch her toes flex up so high that we just sat and watched it for about 10 minutes! Family entertainment at its best!

We love you all and appreciate your prayers and support! We call Sydney our “Walking Miracle” (coined by Mrs. Woolsey!) We are so grateful for the Lord's mercy in healing her, are so grateful for your September fast and continued prayers, and are grateful for Sydney's example in exercising such great faith and in living an exemplary life following all the commandments, for which we believe she was blessed. After the fast and prayer, our family was blessed with peace and comfort; so we didn't need to struggle with the ongoing anxiety, fear or discouragement which can be such a burden under these circumstances. After Sydney was told in a blessing she would recover, we felt such immense hope, gratitude and joy, that we have treasured the miraculous blessings we have observed during her recovery. As friends heard about this tragedy and came to visit or extend sympathy, please forgive our family for not having the typical tears of sadness. We have felt so blessed and are so grateful by this miracle that we can only express joy and gratitude.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hello, everyone! Here is the youtube link to the video Makenzie made about Sydney Makenzie is Syd's best friend, and she showed this video at the Glee Club concert. Thank you Kenzie - you are so talented!

As for an update on Sydney, Tuesday night she was able to wiggle the toes on her right foot up! Previously she could only move them down, and only if she was having a muscle spasm (she didn't have enough strength to move them on her own without the spasm). Tuesday she wiggled both up and down, and without a spasm! She will continue to work on this to strengthen it, and her next goal is to be able to move her foot at the ankle. She still wears an AFO brace on her lower right leg to keep her foot flexed so she can walk, but we know that with time she will get this functionality back! At therapy yesterday, Jason used "e-stim" (electronic stimulation) to flex her toes. We think this will help her build her muscle strength on her foot, so we are hoping to order an e-stim kit for home. Jason is also having a rep come to one of our therapy sessions to show us options for a better foot brace.

Sydney is doing great! She tries to do her exercise routine twice a day, and walk twice a day. It takes her about 1.5 hours to get through the exercise routine, and then we walk for about 30 minutes. Today she walked a mile in 26 minutes and 26 seconds! She was cruising!

Thank you for all your love, prayers and support!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hello, everyone!

I need to tell you about our fun day on Thursday! We spent the morning at the gym checking out all the exercise equipment. We found quite a few things we could do there that would be helpful. I am thinking Sydney and I could both get buff!

When we got home, the Stake Young Women Presidency visited. It was so nice to visit with them and to hear their words of encouragement.

In the evening, we went to the Glee Club Extravaganza! Emma King, the president of the Glee Club, and Sydney's friend from Junior Miss, organized the concert and dedicated it to Sydney - which was so sweet! We were really amazed with all the talent at the concert. They sang, acted, danced (including some amazing break dancing!), a talented band played a U2 song, Devin sang an amazing song and played the guitar (Devin is a future famous person – he is making a CD), there was the most creative and fun fashion show, Nick from BYU came and sang, and Mr. Nelson (Colby's English teacher) was the most entertaining emcee! They also showed a touching video Makenzie made about Sydney (Makenzie is Syd's best friend – and so talented!) I will post the video after I get a copy from Makenzie. We had a great time! We were so impressed with everyone's kindness and thoughtfulness toward Sydney. I know how busy these kids are at school and with extracurricular activities, so I was so impressed they worked so hard to put together this amazing concert and make it such a special night. Sydney came away feeling very loved and supported. The downside to staying home with mom all day is I'm sure Sydney misses seeing all of her friends at school. It was so nice for her to see everyone and feel their love and support! The Glee Club donated all the proceeds of the concert towards Sydney's medical expenses – which is very generous! Thank you Glee Club, and to your parents as well!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hello, everyone! Now that I have learned how to post pictures, I thought I would post these cute pictures of Sydney taken for her Drama class at school. (Scott Hancock, Daniel's Dad, took these pictures).

I would also like to up
date you on the last couple of days. We have been so happy to have Sydney at home! She has found that living at home is great therapy! She climbs stairs at least 3 times a day, goes through her exercise routine every morning and night; and yesterday for her walking practice we went shopping at WalMart and Kohlers! I'm sure everyone at the stores thought I was a pretty mean mom, as she had to open the doors, get the items off the shelf, etc. Tonight she raked leaves with the youth as part of a service project, which really worked her core muscles! All of these activities strengthen her balance, so the OT's encourage me to have her do as much as possible as it strengthens all of her muscle groups. This does wear her out, so we have to give her time to rest at home to recover. We are trying to establish a routine of getting her heavy workouts completed the first half of the day; taking time to rest, and then studying in the afternoon. We would like to get Sydney caught up on first term, and then second term, as she would like to attend 1-2 classes at some point.

Yesterday we had our follow-up visit with Dr. Maughan, who is the neurosurgeon who operated on Sydney after she was brought to the emergency room. We are so grateful that he sacrificed a night of sleep to come to the hospital and use his skills to repair her back! I will post the pictures of the x-rays after I can figure out how to read the format of the files. When he saw Sydney he said something like "It is so wonderful to see you walk into my office and not be in a wheelchair!" He is so happy she has had such an amazing recovery! We asked him when Sydney could stop wearing her TLSO brace (we call it the turtle brace). He said that at this point she could take it off now for periods of time, which is so wonderful as it will give Sydney a new level of independence! Before, Sydney could not get out of bed without me helping her get the brace on, as she could not be in an upright position without it. Dr. Maughan says she should still use it as needed for support (her back muscles will not be very strong yet), for protection (especially in public places where someone may bump her), and as a reminder to her body to not move in an inappropriate way. Today Sydney went without her brace for a good portion of the day and it felt so liberating! But at the same time she was quite sore by the evening so we put it back on.

Today we went to Cottonwood for her outpatient rehab eval. Jason will be Sydney's PT, and Nikki will be her OT. We will take Sydney to Salt Lake 2 times a week for rehab, and then work with her at home the other 4 days. This way we can get outpatient therapy through March. Today they did evals measuring Sydney's strength and endurance. Next week they will review our home therapy/workout routine and modify it as needed. After next week, Grandma Joyce will drive Sydney to rehab so I can start back to work part-time, working from home. This next couple of weeks we'll try to figure out a routine where I would be able to work while Sydney rests, studies or does the exercises she can do on her own. I'll build in a breakfast and lunch break so I can take her walking. (We are still figuring this out!) Meanwhile we are going to enjoy the next 2 weeks as it is really fun to go walking together, to workout, and otherwise talk about life in general and figure out how to be independent at home!

We are so grateful for your love, support and prayers! (For now you can focus your prayers on Sydney's overall recovery and especially her right foot :) It really does make a difference when you know everyone is praying for you and supporting you! Sydney is so grateful to everyone! She is especially grateful to the Lord for his mercy in healing her.