Dear Snow Cougs

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


It's an end of an era - the era of Snow Cougs - my first wheelchair. It's been sitting in my garage as a box holder the last few months, since I got my newer wheelchair. But when it came time to give him away I started reflecting on our time together. This is the wheelchair I came home from the hospital in on June 21, 2012. This wheelchair was my friend and my most loathed enemy.


While inpatient I would attend different classes and therapies during the day and one of my daily classes was wheelchair class. I absolutely hated that class. They taught us a lot of essential skills - how to get pop a wheelie, get up a curb, transfer into a car, and so much more. But I just saw it as a reminder of how my life has totally changed from even the simplest tasks. I also didn't want to use a wheelchair and knew I'd walk again so I was rather grumpy when I'd go to wheelchair class. 



With time my wheelchair became my friend. He allowed me to go places and do things I couldn't do on my own two feet. With my wheelchair, I returned to school a month later and began student teaching and attending university classes again. This was possible because of my wheelchair. 


There are so many memories with my first wheelchair both good and bad. Whenever I could transfer out of my wheelchair I would. I avoided pictures in my chair for years because I hated the way I looked in my wheelchair. My confidence and self-esteem took some time to recover, as I rediscovered my inner beauty and was reminded that I am not my body. 


This same wheelchair rolled me up to the stage at graduation so I could walk across. At the time I was too week to walk the whole way, but I could walk across the stage and be reunited with my wheelchair on the other side. This wheelchair helped me travel from Hawaii to Africa and many states in between. 







Some SCI identify with their wheelchair & it becomes a part of them. They talk about how they don't like when people touch their wheelchair because its a part of them and their personal space. But for me, I'm constantly in and out of my wheelchair and am not completely confined to it and so I'm a little more detached. That's when I realized my wheelchair wasn't a part of me, but he was my friend that made it possible for me to do so much more than I could walking, but it wasn't apart of me.


For the first couple years I avoided pictures in my wheelchair and would transfer out or stand up and push the chair out of the picture frame. I still feel this way because my wheelchair is not apart of me, but I'm definitely more okay with pictures in my wheelchair since I've come to terms with my body and abilities and have tried to accept and own my situation. 

Still, I transfer out of my chair quite often because I get TB (tired bum) or as I say 

BUTT ANXIETY. Since I have feeling and sensation, it's really difficult to sit in my chair for extended periods of time. 



My wheelchair is being donated to Ghana Make a Difference and will be flown out and used by one of the children whose wheelchair is falling apart. It reassuring that Snow Cougs will continue to serve and be a friend to someone else. I decided to write the recipient of my wheelchair a quick letter. 


June 2018

Dear Yaw (or to whomever receives my wheelchair),

Hi, my name is Brittany Fisher Frank, and I’d like to officially introduce you to my first wheelchair, Snow Cougs – also know as Snow Cougar.

I haven’t always used a wheelchair. But after falling 80 feet in an accident, I was paralyzed from the waist down. This white wheelchair was the one I went home from the hospital in and used for years. This wheelchair became my friend and personal assistant and so I named him after the white wheelchair frame,

Snow Cougs helped me learn how to live life without my legs and how to be independent again. He helped me get around school & so much more. I learned many lessons from my wheelchair.

Most importantly, I learned that we are not our bodies or our disabilities – and neither are you. My wheelchair has taught me that it’s our hearts and spirits that really matter. I’m sure you’ve already learned this and are way ahead of me, but I loved this reminder from President Russell M. Nelson:

“You weren’t chosen for your bodily characteristics, but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heat, thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom and a desire to serve.”

I hope that Snow Cougs becomes a loyal friend and helps you get around and live a full and happy life! And I hope you get to learn more lessons together. Feel free to change his name. But I hope he opens as many more opportunities for you, as he did for me! President Thomas S. Monson reminds us:

“Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live as to reach your possibilities. You can achieve what you believe you can!”

Take care of Snow Cougs for me and be LIMITLESS.


Love,
    Brittany


Snow Cougar at the airport making his second trip to Africa, but this time to stay. 


E N D U R A N C E

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

It was a dream of mine to run marathons and even ultra marathons one day. I first started running long distance when I was 15 years old when I trained for my first marathon. I joined my high school xc team so I could run and train with other people. Every day after practice and meets I'd finish my miles and training for the day. Turns out marathon training made me a good xc runner and I quickly started running varsity. By the time the marathon arrived my coaches said bye and that they'd miss me on the team. I then learned that if I competed in the marathon, the following weekend, it would disqualify me from racing for my high school team. I had made it to the last week of training and decided not to the the marathon & stick with cross country - and that decision has forever changed my life.


(It's funny that I have so few pictures of something I spent so much time doing - running)

During those years before my accidebtI had been building my physical endurance . The longer I'd run in nature, the more I loved it. I felt like I had mastered the physical endurance and then my accident taught me about a different kind of endurance - spiritual endurance. 




Lately, I've been reminded of endurance again. These past few months have been physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally difficult and it has nothing to do with having a sweet baby boy and everything to do with my body. I'm just so tired of pushing my body of trying to walk and balancing life between a wheelchair, walker & crutches. I'm physically exhausted each day. My foot and back aches every night. On top of the paralysis my left foot was reconstructed after my accident. As if walking wasn't already hard enough with paralyzed muscles, my foot throbs even after a few moments of standing. 


For six years I've silently suffered through this pain. But it's too much to keep in. I stopped nursing so I could take some pain medication and I felt so much better. I hated that it made me feel so much better, but also loved it for the same reason and relief. As I'm typing this tears are swelling in my eyes because it's all just so hard.

For the past 2,262 I've been carrying this heavy burden - no days off no nights of relief. I've been struggling physically, but also spiritually to carry this burden. I may not be a long distance runner anymore, but I'm a spiritual endurance athlete because my condition has been with me every single day for the past 2,262 days. Each morning I wake up and use my arms to pull myself out of bed and up into my walker first thing. From the moment I wake up to the moment I lay down at night in pain from a long day, I never get a rest from paralysis.

Most of the time my optimistic outlook is truly how I'm feeling and doing most days. Optimism has always come pretty naturally to me, but I've also learned how to work on it as well. But I want to be honest and show all the sides to my accident and injury and lately I've just felt the burden of this trial and my body get heavier. Heavenly Father has truly strengthened me these last 6 years to endure and carry my burdens with his help. And I'm not sure what has changed these last few months. 


My thoughts led me to one word and question: ENDURANCE. How can I ENDURE - physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually? My circumstances aren't changing so how am I going to ENDURE?


The bible dictionary teaches that ENDURE - means to remain firm in a commitment to be true, DESPITE opposition and adversity.


Before my accident I had mastered physical endurance, but this is a different type of endurance - this was spiritual endurance. Before my accident I had been working on my spiritual endurance as I counseled with the Lord on serving a mission and learning to hear and accept God's will, as well as being taught many other lessons on patience, contentment and much more that helped prepare me for the trials and difficulties that would lay ahead. 


I loved this talk by Richard Maynes where he related spiritual endurance to physical endurance. He reminds us that:


“A testimony, like your body, needs to be in shape if you want it to endure.”


“Being in good physical condition comes at a price, and that price is dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline. Spiritual endurance also comes at a price. It is the same price: dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline.”

 I loved this reminder from Neil A. Maxwell when he shared:

"Endurance is not only the acceptance of things allotted us, it is to act for ourselves by magnifying what is allotted to us." 

My legs may not run and carry me the way they used to, but I've been allotted so much and I can't just accept my paralysis and sit on the sidelines. I'm spiritually training and running this marathon of life.


(At the finish of my 4th marathon in April)

Finally, not only has the Lord helped me carry this burden, he's helped me strengthen my spiritual endurance and he has given me Trevor. Who is the most supportive and understanding husband. He constantly loads my wheelchair, mountain board and endless gear, takes on extra responsibilities as well as stretches my feet and rubs knots out of my calves and lets me cry when I need to let it out and complain. My mom, sister, other family members and friends have been that same loving support that Jeffery R. Holland refers to:
"We can endure almost anything if we have someone at our side who truly loves us, who is easing the burden and lightening the load. "   













M A Y

Thursday, May 31, 2018

I'm really loving these monthly updates. First off if I ever lose my photos again (which has happened twice) they're at least here.

Also the days are flying by so quickly this helps me reflect back & be accountable for my time. Will turned 6 months on May 11th.



Our favorite times is when Will wakes up happy from his naps and just babbles and plays until you come and get him. The he looks up at you and just smiles. It melts my heart every time.


I gave him an orange peel and then an orange slice and LOVED them and kept sucking all the juice.




Will learned how to sit up this month and it's been so fun to watch him progress in less than a week!











Auntie Lala and Uncle Christian came into town for a wedding, but they stayed with us so we got to hang out.







That smile :)


Saturday morning Laura & Christian had a wedding in Salt Lake which was the real reason the flew in to visit. So Trevor, Will, Cooper & I packed up for our first trip to Pineview of the season.




Will obviously loved having Auntie Lala and Uncle Christian in town. 





 The only picture I managed to get all of us from the weekend.


Sunday dinner's up in Logan are the best, especially now that it's getting nice out.




Will moved into his own room! He was fighting being snuggled and rocked and it was just time for him to have his own space and it has worked out just perfect. We also sleep trained him and I can finally say he started sleeping through the night. I love when I come to get him after a nap and he will look up and back at the doorway with the sweetest smile and babbles.





We flew back to Naperville for Mother's day and theres a whole separate post HERE because I took too many pictures while we were with family.







Cooper has really warmed back up to Will, but we've still got a ways to go until they can really play together.


We've been obsessed with these summery nights and try and get out as much as we can!




The floor bed has been working great, but he keeps rolling off his mattress in the night. So we said goodbye to the floor bed, after a couple of weeks in his own bedroom.




Seriously, these summer nights 💙 
















I know all of these pictures look similar, but I love his different expressions in each picture. It's so hard to just choose one. It's fine, I'm a mom now I can do that.





I love when Will reaches to pet Cooper and feel his fur. It just melts my heart.




Everyone loves when Daddy comes home.






These two together are all heart eyes.


For the last month he's been letting me rock him to sleep and then  I just snuggle him. I've tried to put a 15 minute time limit so I still get other things done. He's just so sweet and his soft little cheeks just make my heart melt.


We try and make a monthly visit to GG. She lives so close and if we don't schedule something then the weeks and months fly by without seeing each other. 



We spent Trevor's birthday weekend and Memorial Day up in Logan celebrating. I'll post more HERE because this is already way too long. 












Kenny & Will are 2 weeks apart and Will's a total monster - haha. 



It's crazy how wit the slightest changes in expression each picture looks totally different, but still totally adorable.




Those no teeth smiles just kill me <3 <3




WE LOVE DADDY!


His binky smiles crack me up! He does it all the time and has perfected smiling while still holding the binky in his mouth. Also this is the new crib he moved into so we don't have to worry about him rolling off the bed anymore.


I love his sweet baby back. Something about these picture from behind just makes me want to squeal. 




Oh May you gave us a taste of summer & we've loved you.