At the age of seven, I had a stroke caused by a brain aneurysm. I was so young, I didn’t understand what the doctors were saying about my condition, but I do remember one thing. I specifically remember my surgeon saying, “If you choose to do the surgery, she has a chance of not making it and, after it, if she lives, she will come out worse than when she went in. But if you choose to not do the surgery, she will pass away.” Despite all the risks, they took the only real path forward and chose to go on with the neurosurgery. After the surgery on my brain, I had right side hemi-paresis and I was still me, but I couldn’t speak, walk, or swallow. An easy way to picture this situation is to imagine me as a seven-year-old toddler.
I spent weeks at Primary Children’s doing rehab after my surgery. The therapists I saw everyday made getting strong fun. The games that were strength building and working with the service dog were my favorite. I was in the hospital for my eighth birthday. When I came back from therapy, my room was all decorated with streamers and balloons. The volunteers there are awesome. I got to be so close with the nurses that we all cried the day I left. But it wasn’t over yet, I continued doing therapy with a whole new set of therapists at Outpatient Primary Children’s.
Eventually I got stronger and was able to do all kinds of adaptive sports for rehab: basketball, baseball, biking, and even archery. When I was 15, I was volunteering for a wheelchair sports camp where I was introduced to Wheelchair Fencing. I soon joined Utah Fencing Foundation doing Parafencing, also known as Wheelchair Fencing. This has taken me on some amazing adventures around the world.
Now, three years later, I am competing with Team USA. Qualifications are nearing the end. I am currently in the running for the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020. It’s crazy how life can change your path in an instant. I’m grateful Primary Children’s was there for me and my family. Having the stroke has made me stronger than ever before.
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