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Flynn is an energetic engineering student from Bozeman, MT. In addition to her school work she worked at Spire Climbing Gym and Barrel Mountineering.
On March 19, 2008 Flynn sustained a severe injury in a car accident. She was transported to Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman where she underwent surgery to reduce a spinal cord injury. Following the suregery Flynn was put in a halo cast and is awaiting transfer to Craig Hospital in Denver, CO.
We will update this website as we get additional time and expertise.
Please add your thoughts and we will share them with Flynn. She is very appreciate of the support she has received from friends and loved ones.
Mar 19, 2011 12:25pmToday marks two years since Flynn and Casey's accident. With respect to posting updates not much has changed since I last posted in May. Flynn still isn't thrilled about me writing about her and I still cannot seem to quit. The good thing is Flynn doesn't check this site. With any luck nobody will rat me out.
I read spinal cord injury (SCI) websites frequently and have found that accident anniversaries have a powerful impact on most people with SCI's. Our family is no different. The date looms out there getting closer and closer until it finally arrives. As parents we cannot help but recall the phone call from Angie, the trip to Bozeman and the post accident aftermath that has made up the past two years. As tough as it is for us it must be even harder for Flynn and Casey.
This year Flynn decided to celebrate the date. Sue and I spent the last week in Bozeman with Flynn and Casey. Last Saturday they had an accident party to recognize all of the support they have received from their friends. It was a fun event and it took some of the pressure off today.
I should back up a little and write about what Flynn is doing. In August she moved back to Bozeman to return to school. She lives by herself in an accessible apartment. Her unit is on the third floor. It faces North and provides a great view of the Bridger mountains. School is going better than ever for her. She attributes her post injury academic success to a reduction in distractions.
It is hard to believe how independent Flynn has gotten since moving to Bozeman. She has been geting by on 14 hours of assistance per week. The time is all she gets for help with activities of daily living (a phrase that means exactly what you need to stay alive and no more). The limited time has forced Flynn to learn to do things on her own. While we were visiting Flynn was accepted into a new program that will allow her additional time for support beyond the category of activities for daily living.
As a guest in her house one cannot help but be surprised by how organized she keeps things. I am not referring to dusting and cleaning (she is still Flynn and has a high tolerance for a mess) but to more important things like positioning furniture so she can open windows, organizing her kitchen so the things she needs to survive are within reach and leaving her jackets partially zipped so she can pull them over her head. We soon found out that it is best ask before touching anything. For example, Flynn's apartment has crank out windows and it is a reflex to flip the latch to lock the window after closing. This is a problem because Flynn's fingers don't function enough to release the lock. What seems like a nice thing to do causes her a problem. She said she also has trouble when we tighten food lids to tight. Once we leave she cannot open the containers.
One resource that has been especially important to Flynn is the Eagle Mount. Eagle Mount is a an organization dedicated to helping people living with disabilities stay active. Eagle Mount has helped Flynn learn to cross country and downhill ski. I told one of the Eagle Mount volunteers how much we appreciate the adaptive ski program. Without missing a beat he said "all skiing is adaptive, nobody was born with skis on, we just provide different adaptations". The comment was important to me because it sums up the challenge for people with SCI's. The whole world is adapted to people who walk. People who cannot walk just need different adaptations.
Flynn aspires to ski on a mono ski. She works at it very hard each morning she skis. It is incredibly challenging given her level of function. In the afternoon she skis on a bi ski. The bi ski looks much easier. I made a comment to the Eagle Mount volunteer quoted above about how much easier the bi ski looked compared to the mono ski. In response to my comment the volunteer said the bi ski is not rated for use by someone with Flynn's level of function. Again I was surprised because Flynn made the bi ski look like fun. I expect by the next time I ski with her she will be able to use it with complete independence.
I think a long time ago I wrote about two popular SCI philosophies. The first is based on the thought that the situation is not acceptable and the impacted person will not rest until they have pursued all possible options for a cure. The second is based on not wasting one minute of life waiting for a cure. I think Flynn's philosophy pulls from both. She is focused on maintaining a high level of fitness such that if a cure is identified her body will be in a condition to take advantage of it. On the other hand she refuses to let her level of function inhibit her from engaging with people, staying fit and developing her mind. She simply cannot waste a day. While visiting her we found ourselves exhausted everyday. She wakes up with a plan and doesn't quit until it is complete. About the time I was ready to call it a day she would make another appointment or set up a social activity. We were never at risk of over sleeping.
Today Flynn and Casey are skiing. It is dirt bag day at Big Sky. They plan to watch the powder 8 competition and ski in the parade. Tonight they are going to have dinner with friends.
As good as things have gotten it is really hard not to slide down the slippery slope and focus on what used to be. I noticed this when I rode the triple chair that runs adjacent to the Bowl at Big Sky and looked over at the South Wall. It was one of Flynn's favorite runs. In my minds eye I saw her effortlessly skiing the steep terrain and recalled how she made it look like a beginner hill. I noticed it again when I got to ski with Casey. We were about half way down and stopped to talk. He told me he hated the run and never skis it. I asked him why and he said it was the last run he and Flynn skied before the accident. The next day we watched a mom help her young child into a sit ski and we realized how fortunate Flynn was to have had the opportunities she had before she was hurt.
Such is the nature of the post accident life. This is one wound that time doesn't heal, but as time passes the lows are less frequent and future looks increasingly bright.
Flynn told me a funny story about her dog while we were visiting. She said she went to bed one night tired after sking. During the night Layla woke her whining. Flynn concluded that Layla needed to go out. She got herself dressed, transferred from her bed to her chair and got her coat on. My guess is the process probably took at least a half hour. When she was ready to go outside Layla jumped back on the bed and went to sleep. Some days being a quadriplegic isn't as easy as it looks.
Thanks again to all who have helped us get through the past two years. We have a great picture of Flynn and Casey skiing that I will put on this site as soon as I get an electronic copy.
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