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Stephanie Palmer, a young mother of two, had her life turned upside down when she suddenly became paralyzed. Palmer is now reaching out to the community after she entered a national contest to win a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
Palmer was 14 weeks pregnant with her second child when she went out to eat with her family in Pocatello in January of 2009. It was a typical evening filled with laughter and good conversation, until Palmer started experiencing excruciating sharp pains throughout her arms. Knowing something was not right, her family members rushed Palmer to the ER. There Palmer sat waiting to see the doctor for 45 minutes.
During this time, Palmer lost feeling in her hands completely. Frustrated with the wait they raced to Bingham Memorial and then transferred again to yet another hospital. By the end of the day, Palmer was paralyzed from the neck down. She spent the next five months in the hospital until her baby was delivered and came home in June 2010 to a completely different life.
Palmer now has limited use of her hands and arms and is restricted to a wheelchair. As part of National Mobility Awareness month beginning in May, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is giving away at least three 2012 wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Palmer submitted her story and is now asking members of the community for votes. The contest is nationwide and she is the only contestant in Idaho.
Palmer was skeptical about entering the contest but has been overwhelmed with the response so far. Within the first 24 hours she had 2,000 votes. NMEDA will be picking the winners from the top 10 percent. "When tragedy strikes a small community, it pulls together." said Palmer summing up her standing in the contest. Palmer's current situation does not allow her to leave ther home very often. In fact, over the last 2 1/2 years Palmer has been to Walmart only three times and went out to eat only once.
Palmer desperately desires to have more mobility.
"Everything would change. I could take my kids to town and get them an ice cream cone. I could go to church and drop Jack off to pre-school. It would be a night and day difference how easy it would be."
Palmer currently is a single mother living with her parents, Terry and Debra Hansen. "My dad has a small pickup and I can transfer into that but there is only room for myself and one other person. If we want to go anyplace as a family we have to take two vehicles. We have a Yukon but it's so big I can't get into it without using the hoyer."
The hoyer, she explained, is complicated because you have to take it apart to put it into the vehicle and it weighs over 200 pounds. "There's no just running to go out to dinner. There's nothing simple anymore."
Palmer still has a chance at recovery although there will always be some permanent damage. She goes to Boise for rehabilitation for two weeks at a time. While at rehab, doctors changed her diagnosis to transverse myelitis possibly a result from receiving the swine flu vaccine. Palmer said it is the only flu vaccine she has ever received.
Palmer keeps a positive outlook on life and says that her children are the main motivation. "I may not be able to wrap their presents, but I can teach them to be a good person."
Voting for Palmer will continue until May 13th. Votes are accepted daily and registered through IP addresses. There are also unique codes given out daily that allow for a new voter to receive five votes.
To vote for Stephanie go to www.nmeda.com/mobility-awareness-month/heroes/idaho/blackfoot/752/stepha... or find it on Facebook where it is spreading like wildfire.