Meet Alysia: Positivity, Half Dome & Living in the “Now”


Photo Credit: Kyra Bailey

Photo Credit: Kyra Bailey

What’s your gold? Why is this your gold? What does it mean to you?

I know it's a long shot, the odds are against me, and a lot of my nerves connected to my leg muscles are probably damaged beyond repair, so this is a bit of a naive goal...but my gold is to walk again. I want this more than anything. I am doing my best to adapt to this new life, but being able to walk again means I can go back to the life I had before all of this mess. I want to be able to go on hikes with friends, travel all over the world without having to worry about accessibility, walk down the isle at my wedding, take my kids to the top of Half Dome just as my dad took me, and so much more. This is a difficult life to live because there are so many physical obstacles that have come my way that make doing certain things take longer. Being able to walk again means I don't have to constantly worry about whether or not a building will be accessible or whether I will be able to participate in a certain event based on the accessibility of the activity. I want this "gold" so badly, and I am working hard to make that "gold" a reality.


What is one struggle you encountered along the way?

The biggest struggle I have been dealing with thus far has been the mental struggle to get past the "I can't" stage. No matter how hard I work in physical therapy or how many muscles wake up in my legs, I constantly struggle to stay positive because something always happens to bring me back down again. Whether it is some sort of barrier I face because of my inability to walk or my disliking of my appearance now that I am in a chair, I constantly think about all the things I cannot do. I try my best to be positive, but sometimes, it's just really hard.


What is one breakthrough you encountered along the way?

The biggest breakthrough I have encountered while working towards my "gold" has been my work with brace-walking with my physical therapist. Brace-walking is something I did not think I would be able to do because I don't have that many muscles that are awake but my PT assured me that is not something to worry about. This is how it works: I am fitted with braces that keep my legs in a locked position. I do have a few muscles in my thighs that have woken up, so by standing upright and leaning to one side, it takes enough weight off of one leg and gives those muscles the opportunity to pull the leg forward... and then I lean to the other side and do the same... and that's how I walk! I started off walking between bars and have now graduated to walking with a walker. Because of this work, many more muscles in my legs have woken up so it gives me hope that maybe someday, I won't need the braces to walk.

What is something you learned or that you will take away from the process?

Through this process, I am slowly learning to be content with the present. I may not have the life I lived in the past, but I can't constantly be looking to the future hoping for something better than what I have now. I have to be okay with the situation I am in now and be thankful that I am alive and for my family and friends and all of the wonderful things that are still to come regardless of my injury. If I want to make my "gold" a reality, I can work my butt off at PT as much as possible, but I have to accept the fact that it may not work out exactly how I hope. But that's life, right? Not everything plays out exactly how we hope, all we can do is try our best and be okay with the outcome we get knowing we did all we could in the journey along the way.