SPOTLIGHTS ON INDIVIDUALS WITH SPINAL CORD INJURIES: Jen Goodwin...Quadriplegic, Mom, Lawyer
The ROLLIN’ RNs™ are excited to introduce a new individual to our series: Spotlights on Individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries and their progress since injury and rehab. We wish to focus on achievements and triumphs since that significant day that changed their lives forever.
Jen…quadriplegic, mom, lawyer…and not always in that order.
And today is the anniversary of her spinal cord injury (06/07/08).
Introduce yourself with a brief history:
My name is Jennifer and I’m a 36-year-old, mom, attorney, quad. I was a pharmaceutical sales rep prior to my injury and I never met a stranger. I loved skydiving, SCUBA, bungee jumping, and traveling.
Your level of SCI, when and how it occurred:
I have a C5/6 incomplete SCI from an injury that happened 11 years ago. I was in a boat with my neighbor, after a day on the lake with several of my neighbors, when he fell on me, breaking my neck. We were the only two left on the boat at the time. He didn’t believe me when I told him that I couldn’t move, so he drove me across the lake despite my begging him to call 911. He loaded the boat and pulled me out, dropping me on the concrete twice before putting my body in the floorboard of his truck with a plan to drive me home. After much begging, he agreed to stop by the ER and told the paramedics that he had a girl “faking it” in his truck. The paramedic could feel my broken back/spine when she first got to me and that was when things started to finally turn around for me.
Please provide the readers a glimpse into your life since becoming SCI:
Rehab became my life. I spent 2 months in inpatient rehab initially. I went home for 5 weeks and then on to Shepherd Center for 2 months. After months of outpatient rehab, I returned to Shepherd’s for 6 months in the Action Trial. After that, I was ready to focus on living instead of just walking. I learned to drive and bought an accessible Honda Element. I built an accessible home and moved back into my own place, just next door to my parents this time. I learned to live on my own and then was ready for a new challenge. I did not like not working so I decided to go to law school. I knew that law was something I could do.
After my first year, I realized that I wanted a baby more than I wanted anything and someone made me believe it was possible. My family supported me as my doctor agreed to take this leap with me, I picked an anonymous donor and got pregnant during my second year. My pregnancy was amazingly uncomplicated and I had my son that next summer. I took a semester off to focus on being a mommy and then graduated that next year. I took and passed the bar that summer and started a fellowship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Medical Legal Partnership soon after.
Life can be challenging with a SCI, what motivated you to move forward and become the individual you are today?
I kind of just never stopped. I kept waiting for this new life to get bad, but I never felt like it did. My family and friends were always supportive and willing to help. I met great people along the way and realized that I wasn’t alone. I just knew that God would continue opening doors at the right times. My son is my motivation now. I just want to be the best mom to him that I can be.
What plans do you have for the future?
My fellowship will finish up in September, so I am currently trying to decide what is next. I will continue practicing law, I just know that the right position will surface when it’s time. And my son keeps asking for a sibling...Who knows, maybe a perfect man will come along and join our crew :)
Congratulations to Jen on 11 years living an active, full life with an SCI. We appreciate you sharing your story and giving us a glimpse into your busy lifestyle.
It’s all good, so keep on rollin’.
Patty, BSN, RNC and Roberta, RN
The Rollin' RNs