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Residential Patient Story: ‘They Helped Make the Impossible Possible’

Former Residential Home Health patient Jana shares her life-changing Residential experience and incredible accomplishments, in her own words. (Image supplied by the author.)At Residential Home Health, we pride ourselves on recognizing patients’ unique needs and helping them achieve life-changing goals through superior care. Today we are fortunate to hear from a former patient about her Residential experience, in her own words. Thanks to Jana for sharing her incredible accomplishments with us!

‘I Would Not Want to Be Any Other Way’

A muscle biopsy revealed that a diagnosis of congenital myopathy muscular dystrophy was mine at two years of age. That day, everything changed for my parents, except the way they were going to raise me. My slow development came with an affected gait, which made a wheelchair, walker, and leg braces essential, and a unique speech, slow and unsteady, but nothing a good time-taking listener cannot understand.

‘She’s not a textbook case,’ my neurologist still tells my parents today, and being worthy of that statement is something for which I live daily, teaching one of my favorite lessons: that an affected speech does not allude to a mental disability in all cases. My different abilities define me in ways only the people close to me, whom I am fortunate to have, understand.

Junior Year

My junior year of high school brought me many transitions. It was my first year without the paraprofessional I had for nine years, and I was starting a new adventure by taking a medical assisting class at an off-campus vocational center for high school students. At that time, wanting to be in the medical field was at the forefront of my mind, despite challenges that may have stood in my way. My first day was a challenging one as I walked into a classroom I had never seen. Walking in, I felt out of place as fifteen pairs of eyes landed on me at once.

New Advocates, New Ideas

After the new student orientation later that day, one of my instructors asked me to go with her to the Student Services Office. Both of my instructors wanted me to meet with a student advocate to consider my options for not participating in the course due to its heavily communicative components. A frustrated teenager was this advocate’s first impression of me. Almost immediately, he asked me, ‘Do you think you can do this?’ Shaking my head ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘Okay.’ As that was the easiest battle I had conquered all day, I realized that this man was the best person I could have had on my side.

That same week, ‘my’ student advocate had a meeting with the instructors, a counselor and teacher consultant from school, and my mom. The people who had known me the best, whether or not they had met me that week, battled for me, and won. Each challenge the instructors presented were solved by the people who were on my side! When one of the instructors asked about the communication barrier, without skipping a beat, the idea of an augmentative device was brought to life.

Seeking the Right Assistance

Hesitation still filled my mind as my mom and I arrived at the MIND (Michigan Institute for Neurological Disorders) Clinic in late 2006. After arriving, a speech pathologist from Residential Home Health and an augmented alternative communication (AAC) specialist from Dynavox Technologies introduced themselves to me. Through the compassion they exuded, I learned that this device would not take my voice away; instead, it would do the total opposite: give me an even bigger voice.

Skill Center Internship

In March of 2007, I started the Medical Assisting internship at a local hospital’s orthotics and prosthetics office. My first day, and each day thereafter, made up my favorite high school experience. Unfortunately, the use of the augmentative device was unnecessary as both my clinical supervisor and his colleagues encouraged me to use my own voice, telling me I did not need it. However, the debut of my pink speech device had yet to happen.

Opening New Doors

Through many experiences — speaking at the local Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon, a friend’s middle school, and Residential Home Health’s holiday party — perhaps the best experience with my augmentative device was my Senior Recognition Night. The same student advocate I mentioned earlier, with whom I was now very close, pulled me from class and into his office one day during my senior year. He told me that he nominated me to be the keynote speaker at the Center’s Senior Recognition Night, with the help of my augmentative device. The evening of May 27, 2008, could not have gone smoother. As twelve hundred people sat before me in the Whiting Auditorium, the little fear of public speaking I had left was officially no longer a challenge!

Thinking Back, Looking Forward

Firmly I do believe that I would not be where I am today without the village of people who had helped me through this life-changing journey. The opportunities I have embraced because of the speech device were close seconds to the friendships I would have never made if it was not for the doubt that filled those teachers’ minds on the first day of my junior year of high school.

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in English writing from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2013, I am in my second year of pursuing another one of my biggest dreams: earning my master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at Wayne State University. Anxiously I await for the next journey in my life after graduation, hoping that I can touch as many people’s lives who have touched mine, in my own way.

The Place for Residential in my Heart

Words cannot express the magnitude of the force that Residential Home Health was for me in the process of getting my augmentative device, changing my life through that assistance, and the support they have given me ever since.

Furthermore, my story would not be complete if I did not mention one particular person I met through this process. He has allowed me the honor many times of supporting Residential with him at fundraising events, and become a dear friend: Mr. Mario Nanos, Vice President of Sales. Thanks for continuing to change my life, Mario.

After receiving her AAC device with the help of Residential Home Health, Jana was able to identify and pursue a new calling: public speaking. She has enjoyed many opportunities to speak and educate, and looks forward to many more.

No matter what your health challenge may be, Residential Home Health offers a range of services to help you work toward your health goals safely at home. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click here to take our Home Care Assessment.