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Thread: Life In ____ With A SSI

  1. #1

    Life In ____ With A SSI

    Not sure if this is the right place to post this. If it isn't let me know.
    I have yet to see another person from Alaska post on here, so I thought I'd just share a bit about my life in Alaska with a SCI (T4 level). So I was 17 when I was in a car accident on May 15, 2006. (comming up on 5 years now).

    To start off, my name is Stacie, I am 22 now. I live in a small village in Alaska. There is probably about 75-80 people who live here. I am related to most of them. I am Alaska Native and grew up here my whole life. Even though I'm sure it would be more ideal for me to live somewhere else since my accident, Alaska is my home, and Chistochina, the village I live in, is where I want to be. Alaska in general doesn't have the biggest knowledge of spinal cord injuries, since even though we're the biggest state, we don't have that many doctors that specialize in such things. For one me being Athabascan, I get free health care for being native. Which let me tell you, has helped so much since the accident. I'd probably be in debt from hospital bills otherwise. So that helps cover the bills, but the knowledge of SCI in the state is not that well. We have a few doctors who know the basics, but that's it. When I first got into my accident I was in the rehabilitation therapy for 6 months, learning how to do everything in a wheelchair. Which might I add, i was fitted for the most horrible chair. So glad to be rid of that, long measurments made it so hard to push. Then I was pretty much sent home with a chair and a little knowledge.
    It worked, I lived with my parents, and relied on them for everything. After about 2 years of this, I moved to Portland, Oregon by myself and lived with a full time care giver. I went to a physically therapy place named "Adapt" formally known as "Project Walk". I can't even say in words what that place meant to me, they had such great therapists, and were focused on working my legs unlike the therapy in Alaska where it was just put you in a chair and forget your legs. I made progress there, but as it wasn't paid for by Medacare or any other insurance, i eventually had to go back to Alaska.

    So today, is about 2 years since then. I used to feel helpless, and now I am living in my own house, driving, and hopefully soon will manage to work again.

    Back to life in Alaska with a SCI. A manuel wheelchair did not work for me, I eventually had to go buy a used powerchair. When it snows up to 6 feet at a time, a manual chair just can't hack it. So with my powerchair I am able to get through the snow, and it even makes it so I can shovel around my own house myself. The biggest mobility problem I would have is, I do have a van with a lift in it, that I drive myself. But at 40 below the ramp won't work properly. So I've been looking into other vehichles. Mine is a Dodge Sport Caravan. So if anyone who lives in colder tempertures has a good vehichle to recommend I'd be very thankful!!

    I don't think I've read on here or anyone else about snowmaching......(snowmobiling to lower 48) But I have managed in the last two years.(with LOTS of help) to get snowpants on, boots, and all that stuff on. And have someone help me on the snowmachine. Which is beyond awesome and necessary around here. My dad traps in the winter, so for me to be able to get on a snowmachine and follow along is awesome. Then in the summer I get on a four-wheeler, or ATV as some say. Which is also great because another hunting season happens then Plus both my grandparents and dad own hunting cabins. And the first two years of my accident I wasn't able to go along with them, which i have done as I kid. I have yet to try to shoot a gun or anything, who knows maybe this hunting season? Has anyone shot a gun from their wheelchair? I'd be interested to see how it went. The kickback would scare me.

    Well I don't know what else more to write, some people suggested I do this. But life in Alaska with a SSI, it is definatly a little more challenging, but Alaska is the most beautiful place. And wheelchair or no wheelchair this is where I'd want to live.

    Ask me any questions, or please respond with your life with a SSI, I love hearing how amazing we all can make life even with it's challenges.
    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
    It's great you have met the challenges that your climate presents. If you are going to use power chair while driving you may want to stick with van with lift. I use a remote start and in winter leave van heat on full force. On really cold days I sometimes start van and leave it running for a full fifteen minutes before I use the lift. I have a full sized van and when I 1st got it the lift would not work on one super cold day (nowhere near your forty below) I found out this is because the Braun lift had a safety setting that prevents the lift from folding while a chair is on lift. On this really cold day the lift sensed weight on the lift just due to cold. I brought the van back to mobility dealer and they changed the setting and the lift has worked in the cold since.

    You should have litlle problem shooting from power chair, just lean forward slightly so that you are not pressed hard against backrest when you shoot. In manual chair do the same and do not have brakes on. Great that you are able to use a snow machine and ATV. In the past I have owned both a Max and Argo amphibious ATV's. These are unstoppable in snow when you use the optional tracks and you can drive right into slow moving water (w/o tracks) in summer for fishing, etc. These are completely hand controlled and easier to transfer in and out of than a 4 wheel ATV. I had a trapline when a kid, a tremendous experience - I can only imagine how great that would be in Alaska.

  3. #3
    Hi Stacie,
    I am glad you joined us. I would like to know how you cope with those long winter nights.

    I have not hunted since my injury, but I have done some shooting. I made a splint for my finger that enables me to pull the trigger. I did some skeet shooting with a 20 gauge shotgun and handled the recoil okay. You might be interested in checking out the Recreation and Sports forum here. There is a thread titled, "Who all hunt," which is quite active with a number of hunters.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @

    See my personal webpage @

  4. #4
    Senior Member tarheelandy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Athens, Ga
    Blog Entries
    I would love to see pictures of your home and how you get around in your town. Can you post some pics of how you deal wth the snow and stuff?


  5. #5
    Glad you joined us. I too use a power chair due to being in a cold and rural environment here in North Central BC. And have the same problems with my lift, though I have a full size van with a lift not a minivan with a ramp. If its below -10 C I have to let it run with the heat full blast for 30 minutes at least or the hydralics don't work. If I had a closed, heated garage it would help but as we heat with wood that would be another fire to keep going, or an enourous electric bill.
    Emily, C-8 sensory incomplete mom to a 8 year old and a preschooler. TEN! years post.

  6. #6
    I don't know what village you are in, but are you familiar with REACH? You may be able to find info on job ops and careers (could assist you in getting off SSI and having more of a self directed life), therapeutic recreation and more.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Oregon usa
    Thank you for sharing your story, I live way out in the woods in southern oregon and love it. I would love to see some pictures if you had them.
    c3/c4, injured 2007

  8. #8
    A thought about the frozen ramp, maybe a small battery feeding a small electric heater left on inside the van could keep it warm enough.

  9. #9
    Moderator jody's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    east o the southern warren
    and yes, shoot some pictures. My nephew lives in Alaska. he had a moose looking in his apartment window.
    im chilly just thinking about 40 below. I lived in Iowa, and it can get 25 below zero, but that is not usual.
    I moved to the southern states recently. I like the heat here, I tried arizona too, but arizona was just to darn hot. dry heat or not, too darn hot.
    Last edited by jody; 03-16-2011 at 01:22 AM. Reason: typo

  10. #10
    Welcome Stacie! My guess is you have to be pretty tough to handle all of the elements that comes with living in Alaska and doing it with an SCI makes you even tougher. As 55 suggested, check out these threads in Recreation, Sports...

    Just to mention a few. Jump into the Recreation forum if you have any questions.
    "It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value." - Albert Einstein

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