Friday, January 8, 2010

An Introduction to Kristina Rhoades

My name is Kristina and I am 26 years old. I have an amazing, busy life that is filled with things to write about, but an important detail that you may want to know up front: I am a T-5 paraplegic with a complete spinal cord injury (SCI) and I use a manual wheelchair to get around. I got hurt (SCI speak for how the injury happened) when I was 10 months old. In other words, I’m a veteran at this and very comfortable in my skin and with the life I live.

I have wanted to start a blog for a long, long time. As I said, my life is filled with events and observations that I want to share. Rather than trying to share my whole life story for background relevance, I’ll just start with what’s happening now and fill in details and history as needed. Here we go.

In 2005 I held the title of Ms. Wheelchair California. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Since then, I have been working for various companies as a spokesmodel. I also really enjoy telling people about the wonderful products and devices I use that make my life better. The companies include Colours Wheelchair, Bruno Independent Living Aids, and LegaWear. I have also modeled in a fashion show for Chloe Magazine. I love every second of it and hope to do much, much more.

Currently, I work as the General Manager of Brenau University’s radio station, 89.1 WBCX. I host a show on Monday afternoons called the Ocean Breeze. I love being on the radio, doing interviews and allowing the students and wonderful community volunteers to be creative with their shows and the content we offer. I am also in the process of completing my MS in Organizational Leadership from Brenau. I graduate in May.

One of the topics that will come up a lot here is natural health - including mind, body and spirit. Recently, I began seeing a Naturopath and working out with a personal trainer. I can’t recall the last time I was this healthy. After all these years of being in a wheelchair and struggling with the various health problems that are often attached to a spinal cord injury, it is such a liberating feeling to finally have a doctor that is interested in the causes of the problems I encounter, versus simply trying to cover up the symptoms.

Working out with my personal trainer is also making a huge impact on my quality of life. Not only do I feel great because of how in shape I am, but I am engaging muscles and stretching in ways I didn’t know I could. We are currently tackling other challenges that I face, such as muscle spasms in my legs. These natural approaches coupled with a positive attitude, could prevent me from having dangerous procedures and surgeries and being on so many prescription medications. My hope is that more people in my position can begin to live this way and feel better with me.

Recently, my sweet husband, Jacob, and I have decided that a baby is in our future. While I am physically able to have a baby, doctors have informed me that pregnancy is often a different experience for each woman with a spinal cord injury. My doctor and I have planned, when the time comes, to attempt a natural labor and have a c-section scheduled, should it be necessary. I am currently exploring the possibility of a documentary. Because there is such a small population of women with spinal cord injuries, I feel like it would be beneficial to share my journey. It could also offer awareness for people that are just simply curious.

So, these are some of the high points of what’s now in my life. I look forward to sharing my experiences on the topics I’ve touched on and others. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!