One Day at a Time

Katie Avatar


As much as I love the internet and social media I do try to keep my messages focused and positive. I try not to complain or share negative feelings as that is not an energy I like to share with the world. As we all know though, life is not always sunshine and roses.

I write this post mostly for me, and for friends, loved ones, and simply those who care and might want to share this experience. I have always remained very quiet about this situation and I always wondered how much better I would feel if I could share this experience more openly and possibly help someone else by doing so. I also write this as my life is changing drastically, quickly. You may not recognize me from six months ago, let alone from last week as a result of what I am about to discuss.

Quick back story (pun not intended): When I was 18, I suffered a freak injury to my spine that resulted in a 60% compression on my spinal cord. I say freak because it really was – It occurred in the middle of my spine without there being any aggravating accident or fall. I just got up from my desk in college one day and couldn’t walk. This led to loss of function in both of my legs and then corrective surgery. The surgery led to serious complications including spinal meningitis, month long hospital stays, more surgeries and even 3 weeks in and out of a coma-like state. I somehow survived the meningitis with all of my limbs intact but there were still serious long term side effects I had to face. A few years later I began suffering from Kyphosis and had an additional corrective 4 level spinal fusion surgery and had 8 titanium screws and 2 rods surgically implanted into my spine.

That last surgery in 2009 really changed my life. Since then I have been able to exercise, travel, finish my college degree and start my design career. I got married, expanded our business, started my own business and had minimal pain all throughout. Looking back I’ve packed a lot into the past 4 years.

Perhaps one of my motivations for working at such as breakneck pace was because I knew there were limits. Sure, I felt amazing for a long time but all of my doctors told me it would only be a matter of time before I had to slow down. Although the surgeries were over and the infections gone, they left permanent nerve damage, scar tissue, and other neurological complications that I would deal with for the rest of my life.

So here we are today. I am now 27 and in the past week my life has changed again just as quickly as this all started 8 years ago. Two weekends ago – again without an aggravating incident – I found myself once more in incredible pain and suffering from weakness in my left leg. I’ve visited my doctor and am currently undergoing tests to see what is going on and what the next 6 months will have in store for me. I am using a walking cane to get around and am mostly feeling quite confused.

But this time is different. Maybe it’s because it’s my third time stepping up to this plate. Perhaps I just enjoy what I do so much that I throw myself into my work so deeply that I am able to distract my mind. I definitely know it’s also because I have an amazing support system of family and friends that has multiplied exponentially over the years since this all began.

This time, I’m ready for battle. I’m pissed off and determined to hit this head on. I don’t have time for this nonsense when I’m taking on the world. I’ll rock my cane and yes, I will coordinate my outfits around it. Who cares if I can’t wear heels?  I prefer my work boots anyways.

This time, I also know that physical pain cannot possibly overwhelm my love for my work, my life, and all of the lovely people I am so blessed to have in it. There is one thing you come to rely on heavily as a designer and that is your intellect and being able to translate your ideas into something physical that can lead to positive human interaction. I view these recent changes to my body as a new window opening for me to look out of. I can now experience a different kind of living and discover different challenges and improvements I can make on the world as designer.

So please, if you have questions, ask! If you have ideas, please share them. If you have concern, it is much appreciated, and your good thoughts and energy are always welcome. My main goal in life is to leave things better than when I first found them. I look forward to walking this new path and seeing how my experiences can leave a positive impact upon others in this world.

Thank you all for the light and love.

10 responses

  1. Lisa Bick

    Oh Katie. I had no idea. And as you also know I am not good at social media and reading what everyone writes. I am shocked, dismayed, worried, frightened and so many more emotions. What in the world can I do for you beside love you and admire you and send all hope and karma and good thoughts your way. Xoxoxo

    1. Katie

      Oh sweet Lisa, there is nothing else you can do, and nothing else could mean more to me! I cannot thank you enough for all of the love and kindness you’ve given me!

  2. Merrilee

    Dear Katie, I am in awe. Having had no idea of your challenges I was in awe of everything you’ve been doing anyway! You are a creator. You are using your creative abilities to share in tangible and positive ways. I am sending you back positive energy. Those of us who love and know you will continue to support you. Thank you for sharing and please continue to share so that we can come with you on this journey. Lots of Love, Merrilee

    1. Katie

      Thank you Merrilee! I sincerely appreciate the love and good energy. I will be sure to keep you updated.

  3. David Cottington

    You do not know me, but I went to college with your dad. He was an exceptional athlete who’s career was shortened due to a knee injury. I will never forget his will and determination to rehab his injury. Seems like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. Katie

      Thank you David! Great to hear from you.

  4. Sarah

    Sending you strength and love Katie!! You are so positive and amazing. Love you!! xoxo

    1. Katie

      Thank you Sarah! Love you too!

  5. Kimberly Fober Yates

    Katie, I think you are very strong to share this, and I hope you find that you are strengthened by the community you trusted with the sharing. I hope you are comfortable with me praying for you. Your upbeat attitude and positivity are an example to us all. Wish I could give you a hug and take all the pain away!

    1. Katie

      Thank you so much Kimberly. Your support and prayers are much appreciated and of course welcome. I’ve been saying quite a few myself. 🙂 I am happy that I shared this and plan to share more as things progress.

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