DiversityNursing Blog

Bride paralyzed in crash learns to walk down the aisle for wedding

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

By Eun Kyung Kim

Even before she had a groom in mind, Katie Breland Hughes knew she wanted to walk down the aisle at her wedding on her own two feet.

It became one of her initial goals after a horrific car accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. But first, she needed to survive her injuries.

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“Honestly, I had so many skin graft surgeries and so many burns, my first goal was just to sit up in the bed," said Hughes, now 27. "I was literally at rock bottom."

In October 2011, the Louisiana personal trainer and physical therapy assistant missed a stop sign while driving home from an appointment with a client. A truck hit her vehicle broadside, and Hughes went flying through her windshield. She landed in a ditch and, seconds later, her burning car landed on top of her, searing her back.

Conscious throughout the ordeal, Hughes knew she was either paralyzed or that her legs were amputated because she couldn’t feel either one.

“Immediately, I started asking myself all the physical therapy questions. Is my spinal cord severed? What kind of injury is this? How far up? How low down?” she recalled for TODAY.com. 

At the hospital, doctors told Hughes that she would never walk again. But during a nine-hour surgery to insert rods and plates along her spine to stabilize it, they learned that Hughes' spinal cord wasn’t severed as they originally thought. 

“That was all I needed to hear to keep pushing forward,” she said. “That was kind of my prayer.”

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After her 100-day hospital stay, Hughes went home and immediately started training. An athlete all her life —she was supposed to run a marathon the week after her crash — exercise had always given Hughes an emotional outlet. After the accident, her love of exercise proved critical to her recovery, and to attaining the new goal she had created for herself.

“I told my sister from the beginning, I will not get married — whoever it be to, or whenever it happens — I will not do it until I can walk down the aisle. I just won’t be in a wheelchair,” she said. “So that was always a goal. I didn’t know the next year it would actually happen.”

Hughes heard about a Michigan trainer who had worked with other paraplegics. She reached out to him and flew to Michigan to begin training.

“The first time I talked to her on the telephone, she was like, ‘Look, I don’t want to be in this chair forever. I understand what happened to me, but I want to work hard and see where I can get,’” said Mike Barwis, a strength and conditioning coach who frequently works with Olympic and professional athletes. 

It was during a session with Barwis that Hughes moved her legs for the first time since the accident. 

Meanwhile, Hughes had reconnected with a former acquaintance, Odie Hughes. She initially worried about meeting him again now that she was in a wheelchair.

“I didn’t know how he would accept that, or how he would feel about that,” she recalled. “But it was like he never even saw the chair, he just saw me. He believed everything with me. If I told him, ‘I think I can do this. I want to try this,’ then he would be my biggest cheerleader.”

Within three months, they were engaged. Hughes started the clock: She had nine months to get on her feet. Barwis said he had no doubts they could make it happen.

“Katie is a vibrant person. She has an amazing personality and she’s very driven,” he said. “Her mentality has been one of absolute determination.”

But while working to build up the strength in her legs, Hughes also had to plan a wedding. She also opened a gym she started in her community of Bogalusa, about 70 miles north of New Orleans. 

There was also the issue of finding a wedding gown. 

“I actually bought three dresses. I didn’t like any of them,” she said. After getting ready to settle on one of them, she received a call from the cable network TLC, asking if she wanted to be featured on the show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” Hughes flew to the Atlanta bridal store featured on show (the episode airs Jan. 2) and finally found a gown she was happy with.

“Everything about it was perfect,” she said.

Except she never practiced walking in it until the day of her wedding. "I didn’t want anybody to see the real one," she explained. So instead, she practiced using one of the other gowns. She started in a full-body brace, then with a walker before moving on to two canes. Finally, she used two leg braces that went up from her feet to just above the knees, all while holding on to a person on each side of her.

 

 

On her wedding day, Sept. 20, Hughes walked down the aisle, on her own two feet, holding the hands of the two men giving her away: Her dad, who stood to her right, and Barwis, on her left. 

As excited as she was, Hughes said she never anticipated the nerves she experienced as she stared down the aisle at her guests.

“I felt like this was everybody’s fairytale ending. This was the story they had been following for so long and this was the ending they were waiting to see,” she said. “So I felt like there was a lot of pressure but there was no greater reward than getting to the end of that aisle, for sure.”

Waiting for her there with a huge smile was her fiance.

"When her foot caught that slip my heart stopped. But she just held it together like a champ," said Odie Hughes. "I had complete faith in her."

He said he never for a second doubted the woman he considers "the most stubborn person I know" 

"When she said she was gonna do it, it was a done deal," he said. "Never one doubt in my mind she'd not only make it down the aisle but she'd do it in dramatic fashion. That's my Katie." 

Months later, Katie is back at work, keeping busy with her physical therapy patients and running her gym, Katie's Shed, where she teaches various cardio and full-body workout classes.

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She enjoys newlywed life and said it helps to have a partner who is familiar with life-altering injuries: Her husband once broke his neck during a car accident that left him with metal rods in his legs.

“Me and him both just really understand how quick this life is and how short it can be made,” she said. “We really value each other and the time we have together and with our family. We know first hand how quickly it can be taken from you, so we try to make the best of that.”

Hughes still uses her braces, alternating between them and her wheelchair, depending on the circumstances.

She speaks at local and regional events about her accident and hopes her story will inspire others to reach beyond traditional expectations.

“A lot of people would say, ‘Okay, I did it and now I’m going to be content with my progress right now.’ But I think contentment is our worst enemy a lot of times, just being content with where you are,” she said. “You should always try to excel forward and move forward and continue to reach goals and set new ones.”

Source: www.today.com

Topics: paralyzed, exercise, injuries, spine, bride, wedding, walks, car accident, survive, skin graft, physical therapy, paraplegics, training, nurses, doctors, hospital, patient, surgeries

The Top 10 Ways to Avoid Injuries and Illness at Your Nursing Job

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 @ 02:26 PM

By Debra Wood 

While among the most rewarding professions, nursing is not without its challenges. Nurses are exposed to numerous risks, sometimes with life-changing or life-ending consequences, such as nurses who died during the SARS outbreak or lost their lives falling asleep at the wheel after a long shift. Most adverse events are more mundane, but a back injury can end a career and a needlestick can pose serious health risks. 

To keep you healthy and safe, NurseZone.com queried a panel of experts who share this list of 10 reminders and tips on how to minimize the chance of nursing job-related injury or illness:

1. Clean your hands 

“Wash your hands to prevent illnesses’ spread,” said Arvella Battick, MSN, RN, PHN, an instructor at Everest College in Anaheim, Calif.

Jumi Harris: hand washing and using lift equipment avoids nurse injuries and illness.

When it comes to illnesses, my number one rule is to wash your hands, agreed Jumi Harris, MHA, MT (ASCP), manager of ancillary services at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. It “sounds very basic, but this is the best way to avoid getting sick.”

2. Use the lift and transfer equipment 

My number one way to avoid injuries on the job is to use lift devices instead of trying to lift a patient or resident manually, said Harris, adding, “Sometimes a nurse may think it’s too time consuming to get and use a lift or that the person is not too heavy. However it only takes one wrong move to injure yourself, so my advice is always use a lift device with the proper training and protocols.”

Renee Watson, RN, BSN, CPHQ, CIC, manager of infection prevention and epidemiology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, added that nurses should use the appropriate equipment to lift anything heavy, such as soiled linen bags. 

3. Watch for hazards and practice good body mechanics 

Practice ergonomics and good body mechanics, suggested Watson. 

Battick recommended nurses watch for hazards and keep the environment free of clutter. If there’s something on the floor, pick it up. Don’t just step over it. 

Nurses should wear supportive shoes and watch for fall risks for themselves, not just their patients, advised Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN, author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School (And RN, PA, or Med School). Changing positions and muscle movements helps minimize pain and discomfort over time. Rotate tasks between hands, he added, and avoid hunching over to chart or care for a patient; elevate the patient’s bed, or, when documenting, find a place to sit or stand straight. 

4. Speak up and step up 

Whether dealing with a potentially violent patient or just needing a hand to move someone or something, ask a colleague for help. 

“It’s safer to transfer with two people,” said Battick, but she acknowledged that help is not always available. 

On the other hand, step up and offer your assistance to peers, as well.

5. Get vaccinated for the flu 

People working in hospitals, clinics and other care settings are at greater risk of acquiring the flu and of transmitting the disease to patients and peers.

Tanielle Sterling urges nurses to get vaccinated against the flu.

Influenza is a contagious disease that could spread by simply sneezing and coughing, explained Tanielle Sterling, MSN, NP, clinical program manager for employee health at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “Combating the myth of getting the flu through vaccination is the biggest challenge in improving compliance rates. By getting the flu vaccine, you protect yourself and may avoid spreading influenza to your patients, colleagues and your family.” 

6. Immunize against other pathogens 

Immunize the body and keep good immune health, advised Watson at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which requires nurses stay current with hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria, the measles, mumps and rubella series and influenza vaccinations. 

“Hepatitis B infection is an occupational health hazard that is preventable by vaccination,” Sterling said. “All direct-care providers should be screened for hepatitis B surface antibody and offered the vaccine series. Education on the importance of completing the series and infection control practices helps to heighten awareness, change practice and attitudes towards vaccination.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends health care workers be vaccinated against the highly infectious hepatitis B, a bloodborne pathogen that can remain infectious on surfaces in the environment for at least a week. The vaccine produces a protective antibody response in more than 90 percent of people after the third dose. 

Healthcare workers born in 1957 or later without serologic evidence of immunity or prior vaccination should receive the measles, mumps and rubella series, varicella, and tetanus and diphtheria vaccines. 

7. Practice safe needle handling 

Do not recap needles, and use needless connection systems, advised Watson. 

Each year, hospital-based health care personnel experience 385,000 needlestick- and sharps-related injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This equates to an average of about 1,000 sharps injuries per day in U.S. hospitals.

Mary Foley: sharps injuries are a risk for those with nursing jobs.

Mary Foley, PhD, RN, chairperson of the Safe in Common campaign to prevent needlestick injuries, called it essential that nurses and other members of the health care industry work together to raise awareness of these types of injuries and find ways to prevent them in the future. 

“Nurses need to be sure that the safety mechanism on needlesticks is automatic and will not interfere with normal operating procedures and processes,” Foley said. “Activation of the safety mechanism should also not create additional occupational hazards or cause additional discomfort or harm to the patient. Perhaps most importantly, the used safety devices should provide convenient disposal and mitigate any risk of reuse or re-exposure of the nonsterile sharp. Following these rules will help to ensure that nurses are safe from the threat of needlestick injuries so that they can remain healthy and active for their patients.”

8. Don personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate 

Take no shortcuts when it comes to protection against bloodborne pathogens. Always select and wear the appropriate gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection and other items to prevent exposure to patients’ body fluids. Such equipment places a barrier between the hazard and the nurse. 

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta promotes using PPEs when clinicians know or suspect the patient has a communicable disease. Watson advised, “If it’s not your wet, put something between you and it,” and “protect your eyes, nose and mouth from coughing.”

9. Get plenty of sleep 

Multiple studies, including “Fatigue, Performance and the Work Environment: A Survey of Registered Nurses,” published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2011, from the University of Missouri in Columbia, have found that fatigue negatively influences nurse performance. 

In the book, Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses, Ann E. Rogers, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, warned that “in addition to jeopardizing patient safety, nurses who fail to obtain adequate amounts of sleep are also risking their own health and safety.” She pointed to the risk associated with drowsy driving, the increased chance of accidents of all sorts and that one’s immune system rarely works at peak performance when the body is tired. 

10. Practice good self-care 

Physical health requires overall wellness and staying strong, Watson said. Children’s in Atlanta promotes a holistic approach that includes daily exercise, good nutrition and fitness. It offers fitness classes and unit-based stretch breaks. Buddy coverage often is available for nurses who want to take a quick walk or class. Wellness includes obtaining psychosocial support when needed, particularly after dealing with emotionally taxing situations, such as participating in debriefings after traumatic incidents or seeking professional help through an employee assistance program. 

When you’re sick, stay home and rest, Battick added.  

Angelis recommended “exercising, packing nutrient dense foods for lunch; ingesting probiotics, either as supplements or in foods such as kefir or traditionally cultured vegetables; and staying well rested are all ways nurses can keep their immune systems in great shape against the barrage of germs that assault us daily.”

Source: Nurse Zone

© 2013. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Topics: illness, injuries, health, nurse, clean, avoid

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