Standing strong

After childhood burn injuries led to leg amputations, Miranda Wise learned to move around on her knees. Now she's walking.

Standing strong

Something whispered to Marian Mathis on March 1, 1986, as she visited the K-Mart in Kentwood, Michigan.

Maybe maternal instinct. Maybe a source more divine. But something.

“A voice spoke to me,” Marian said. “‘Your baby’s about to be set on fire.’ I turned to the right. There was no one standing there.”

She rushed in fear to her southeast Grand Rapids home.

“I had a feeling what was said to me in the store was true,” she said. “When I went to the front door, I could see my kitchen.”

She saw her adult family member, who had been caring for her children while she was away, standing at the kitchen sink holding her 6-week-old daughter, Miranda.

“He had both sinks filled with lukewarm water,” Marian said. “When he found her, she was already burning.

“My 5-year-old daughter, Ataya, was angry with my (family member) because he wouldn’t give her potato chips. She happened to find a lighter. She flicked it and placed it on the baby’s leg. The baby started screaming and crying.”

The relative had spotted the orange glow through the crack of the bedroom door. He ran in and scooped up Miranda and patted out the flames.

“She was burned from the waist down, black as the street,” she said. “Her diaper, her nightgown had all sunk into her flesh.”

Marian called 911. An ambulance rushed Miranda to the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital emergency department, then to the Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital burn unit.

“Two doctors and four nurses with a gurney were waiting for us,” she said. “They took her straight upstairs, sedated her and peeled some of the burn off her.”

Doctors told Miranda her baby might not make it.

“My mom said, ‘Grab hands and start praying,'” she recalled.

The prayers worked. Miranda survived.

“She never gave up,” Marian said. “She always stayed strong. I stuck right there with her. We have been pinky-to-pinky, every day.”

Walking on her knees

Life wasn’t easy, but Miranda persevered.

“I got teased in kindergarten,” said Miranda Wise, now 34. “The teacher used to hug me all the time and rock me to sleep. I remember feeling pain in the back part of my legs a lot where the scar tissue was.”

She developed ulcers in both burned legs. Her nerve endings began to cause problems.

On March 6, 1995, her life changed forever. Again.

“They amputated both legs below the knees,” Miranda said. “My nerve ends started messing with me and they weren’t able to grow with the rest of my body. I saw my mom cry a lot, but I didn’t want to see her sad. She didn’t want me to be confined to a wheelchair.”

The emotion motivated Miranda, then 9, to do the seemingly impossible: She learned to walk on her knees.

Painful? For sure. Almost unbearable pain.

“It was like somebody was cutting my knees open,” she said. “But I wanted to be mobile. I didn’t just want to sit in a wheelchair. Sometimes they went numb, but I guess that was a good thing. It got better over time.”

Over the years, Miranda tried several sets of prosthetics without positive results. They rubbed scar tissue open and caused pain. More pain than walking on her knees.

“When I was about 13 or 14 I had depression and it really got to me,” she said. “I had a lot of mood swings.”

Golden opportunity

Miranda’s brother, Mackenzie, a McDonald’s employee at the time, helped her life arch upward, golden-like.

“He said, ‘Hey sis, I want to help you with something, come work with me,’” Miranda said. “I got hired in two hours.”

Promoted to manager at age 19 at the Leonard and Fuller McDonald’s on the northeast side of Grand Rapids, she discovered purpose and drive.

She walked on her knees behind the counter and used a step stool to reach the counter and other high items.

“It helped me through depression,” she said. “As time went on, it got better. I had a child at age 25. Zah-kari is my baby, my honey. He’s 8 now. He has autism. He completely changed my life. I sing to him every single day.”

Eventually, Miranda moved to the Michigan Street McDonald’s in Grand Rapids, where she continued to walk on her knees.

First steps

But after all the tenacity, the determination and getting around on her knees, Miranda faced another foe—infection in her amputation area. And pain greater than any she’s ever known.

She tried to tough it out, but the inflammation, infection and pain continued.

On June 18, 2020, Spectrum Health surgeons performed a left above-knee amputation.

As autumn approached, Miranda got fitted for prosthetics for both legs.

“It makes me sad but at the same time, I’m realizing it’s for a good reason,” she said. “It’s a pretty exciting time.”

With the help of Spectrum Health physical therapy, she’s learning to adjust to her new gear and means of mobility.

“My legs hurt because I’m not used to walking,” she said. “It’s been 25 years since I stood to walk. It’s painful, but I’m OK with it.”

Just as Miranda’s motivation inspires her mom, her mom inspires her.

“Walking is something I’ve always wanted to see myself do,” Miranda said. “My mom has been stressed with me not walking. I’ve done all this for her all these years. I want to see her smile. I don’t want to see my mom cry. I want to see her smile.”

When Miranda took her first steps a few months ago, her mom’s face said it all.

“I had tears in my eyes because she was actually smiling,” Miranda said.

Miranda continues physical therapy with Spectrum Health twice a week, focusing on balance, range of motion, flexibility and strengthening.

Spectrum Health physical therapist Jennifer Welsman said she’s also incorporated desensitization and massage techniques to help address pain and phantom sensation related to the amputations.

“We do weight-bearing exercises and teach her how to use (prosthetics), including how to put them on, take them off and how to walk in them,” Welsman said.

Miranda’s enthusiasm has been inspiring, she said.

“She was always eager to try something new in order to work toward her ultimate goal of walking in prosthetic legs,” Welsman said. “She has such a positive outlook both in rehab and her daily life.

“She has great motivation and a desire to make the most of everything she is handed,” she said. “It is truly inspiring to watch her progress through therapy and her willingness to take on any challenge.”

Source : Health Beat More   

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‘Needle Phobia’ May Be Keeping Some From Getting Their COVID-19 Vaccine. Here’s How to Cope

'I'm not a child, I'm acting like an adult with a phobia'

‘Needle Phobia’ May Be Keeping Some From Getting Their COVID-19 Vaccine. Here’s How to Cope

Alex Denley, a 23-year-old philosophy doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, doesn’t seem like someone who would be vaccine hesitant. They’re determined to stop COVID-19 from spreading, and haven’t fallen for any vaccine conspiracy theories. However, getting the coronavirus shot was tremendously stressful for Denley. They feared it could trigger a terrible panic attack, leaving them crumpled on the floor, sobbing and shaking in front of a crowd of onlookers. They were also worried about health care providers dismissing their fears.

“I don’t want to be treated like a child because I have a phobia. I’m not a child, I’m acting like an adult with a phobia,” says Denley. “I don’t believe that vaccines are particularly painful…It’s literally just that for some reason, my brain processes this in a way that is really intense and unexpected.”

Denley struggles with “blood injection injury phobia,” also known as needle phobia. Since they were a child, they’ve experienced debilitating fear when receiving injections. According to studies (also see here, here and here) conducted in different countries, as many as one in four adults have some fear of needles, causing symptoms from butterflies in their stomach to debilitating panic attacks—and one in 10 are so fearful that they refuse vaccination entirely, says Meghan McMurtry, an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Needle phobia has long been a public health issue. Sixteen percent of adults avoid flu shots at least partly because they’re afraid of needles, according to a 2019 meta-analysis across multiple countries published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. But it’s especially salient now, as public health officials strive to vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID-19. Someone who is even mildly nervous about injections may be less likely to get their coronavirus shot—a February study published in the journal Vaccine found that among people who said they were unlikely to get or unsure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, 12% said that they are afraid of or hate needles.

To help the needle-phobic, McMurtry says that vaccination sites should let people know ahead of time which questions they’ll be asked and what accommodations can be made for them. The site itself should be calm and organized, and people shouldn’t be made to wait on long lines, which could trigger anxiety. Finally, recipients should be vaccinated privately so they don’t have to worry about having an audience.

When administering the shot, providers should encourage patients to do whatever helps them handle the process, McMurtry says. Some may want to watch the needle while others want to turn away, for instance. Distractions like listening to music or using a phone can also be helpful. Providers shouldn’t use language that implies pain, like “here comes the pinch!,” as the shot may hurt more if someone is very tense. However, they also shouldn’t minimize the fact that the shot could hurt.

“You say things like, ‘some people say it pinches for a few short seconds, other people say it doesn’t bother them, but you can tell me what it was like for you afterwards,'” McMurtry says. “So you are basically opening up a space for them to have their own kind of experience.”

For needle phobic people, McMurtry suggests sticking to a plan to guide yourself through the process. Make sure you know how to get to your vaccination site, what you’ll wear the day of your appointment, and how to distract yourself when you’re getting the injection. If possible, get a friend to help plan your appointment, or bring one along on the day of your shot. You can also talk to a doctor about topical anesthetics, which can numb the injection area. People who tend to faint when getting an injection can use muscle tensing practices to keep their blood pressure up. In some cases, exposure therapy—in which phobia sufferers willingly and gradually increase their exposure to their trigger—can work, too.

Friends and family can also help loved ones cope with needle phobia, McMurtry says. Most of all, avoid making anyone feel guilty about their fears—instead, acknowledge that a person’s “fear is real,” and that it’s “not something they should just get over,” she says. When describing their own vaccination experiences, they should avoid talking about the negatives, but rather focus on the positive or neutral parts.

Denley, for one, found it helpful to speak with health care providers about their concerns before their appointment; they were prescribed an anti-anxiety medication and a topical cream. Denley had nightmares leading up to their appointments and repeatedly thought about canceling their Uber to the vaccination site. Nevertheless, they managed to overcome their fear and received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

What was particularly helpful, Denley says, was the kindness of a provider who administered the first shot. That kind of understanding attitude may be key to helping the needle phobic among us protect themselves from COVID-19. “Being kind of dismissive or joking about needle fear is likely not helpful…It can feel very invalidating for the individual, and it’s not going to really solve it,” says McMurtry. “We need to support each other through this.”

Source : Time More   

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