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Stories That Move You.

Guest Blog by Jamie Spore, Mary Free Bed alumni

JS_SpinaBifida_HSHello. My name is Jamie Spore and I have been an L2-L3 paraplegic since birth. Thirty-three years ago, I was born with the spinal cord defect called spina bifida. Since then, a wheelchair has been my main mode of transportation.

I did use full leg braces and a walker for a few hours each day until I was 12 or 13 years old. That’s when I stopped using the braces and walker altogether because they were heavy and cumbersome. I continued to have weekly physical therapy sessions and attended the annual comprehensive spina bifida clinic at Mary Free Bed until I aged out it. After that, I did range of motion exercises and therapy on my legs, but I didn’t use them and I didn’t think much about it, because I can’t feel them.

I have always believed that life is too short for regrets. But if I have one regret, it was giving up the use of my legs.

Fast forward several years: In June of 2011, I acquired a very large, stage 3 pressure ulcer on my sacrum and ischium. After my aunt had been diagnosed with terminal cancer six months earlier, I decided to participate in a Relay for Life, which had me wheeling around the local high school track for 24 hours straight. This extended period of time in my wheelchair resulted in that large, deep, ugly pressure sore.

I spent the next 23-plus months on bed rest to heal that sore. Due to the extensive damage to my skin and underlying tissues, I have spent more than 31 months on bed rest over the past 3.5 years.

In the brief periods when I have not been …

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Pain Center 3

Living Beyond Your Pain – A 6-week course to help ease your pain and improve your function

Who: For people with chronic pain, headaches and fibromyalgia who want to improve their pain management and quality of life.

What: Pain is like quicksand. The more you fight your pain, the more of your life is taken away. This class will teach you the skills you need to get out of the quicksand you are caught in and back into living the life you want to live.

Learn to accept the things you cannot change, choose how you want to live, and take the steps necessary to get where you want to go.

The course outline:
Week 1: What pain is and why controlling it is not the answer
Week 2: What do you value?
Week 3: Your thoughts are not what they say they are
Week 4: Mindfulness: The answer when your mind isn’t
Week 5: Are you willing?
Week 6: Committed action (and what’s holding you back?)

Participants will receive a copy of the Living Beyond Your Pain workbook by J. Dahl & T. Lundgren upon which this class is based.

Where: Classes are held at Cathedral Square Center at 360 Division Ave. S. Free parking available next to the building.

When: Wednesday April 15, 2015 3:30 – 5:30 *note extended class time
Wednesday April 23, 2015 3:30 – 5:00
Tuesday April 28, 2015 3:30 – 5:00 *note different day
Wednesday May 06, 2015 3:30 – 5:00
Wednesday May 13, 2015 3:30 – 5:00
Wednesday May 20, 2015 3:30 – 5:30 *note extended class time

Registration: Call The Pain Center at 616-840-8070
$395 (insurance not accepted; covers entire class and workbook)

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From The Grand Rapids Press – Sunday, February 8, 2015
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GRPress new Mary Free Bed

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From The Grand Rapids Press – Sunday, January 11, 2015
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Pretty Faces – The Story of a Skier Girl – Trailer from Unicorn Picnic Productions on Vimeo.

The new documentary, “Pretty Faces: The Story of a Skier Girl,” isn’t about the photogenic qualities of the ladies who pursue extreme winter sports. Rather, it’s a celebration of the passion and skill that drives some women to push boundaries and seek greatness on the rocky faces of snow-covered mountains.

“Pretty Faces” – which has been touring North America since September 2014 – makes its Grand Rapids’ debut on Saturday, January 10, at Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St. SE. The screening is part of a benefit for the Summer Journeys Scholarship Fund to “inspire and promote girls in skiing and outdoor adventure.”

Doors open at 7 p.m. for pre-film festivities, including a benefit ski raffle for cool prizes donated by local businesses and sponsors. Tickets for the event are $10-$12. In keeping with our commitment to health and safety, folks from Mary Free Bed also will be on site to fit and give away a limited number of helmets.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 10.25.16 AM

Staying Safe While on the Slopes (or Ice)

Whether you ski, snowboard, sled, ice skate or play hockey, don’t forget to strap on a fitted helmet before taking part in the wintertime fun. If a fall or other accident occurs, know the signs of a sports-related concussion.

According to Stephen C. Bloom, D.O., Medical Director of Mary Free Bed’s Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Programs, symptoms of concussion include:

  • Irritability
  • Nausea (with or without vomiting)
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling foggy
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sleeping patterns or appetite

Most people – 90% – don’t lose consciousness with a sports concussion. And nearly half of athletes don’t report any symptoms.

Every concussion is …

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From The Grand Rapids Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015
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By Beth Loechler Cranson, Mary Free Bed Communications and Media Relations

Thanks to a donation from the Ella Bullis Foundation, all the pediatric patients at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital will continue to receive a stuffed dog or bear during their rehabilitation stay.

Ron Bullis, founder of the Grand Rapids-based Ella Bullis Foundation, was on hand to oversee the Dec. 23 delivery of about 100 stuffed animals. This is the first-time gift from his foundation, created in 2009 to honor the memory of his daughter who was born prematurely and only lived for 18 days.

The stuffed animals aren’t new to Mary Free Bed, however. They come from Bedside Healers, a Michigan-based company. Each one has a strap so the animal can be attached to a wheelchair, bed post or even a child’s wrist.

And the donation came just in time, said Mary Free Bed’s inpatient office assistant Linda Boyatt. “I was down to just one bear.”

In addition to a stuffed animal, Mary Free Bed endeavors to supply each pediatric patient with a fleece blanket made by the Mary Free Bed Junior Guild and a Mylar balloon.


“The bears are a fun thing and they build camaraderie among the patients,” said Boyatt.

The Bullis Foundation was venturing into new territory with this donation, Bullis said. Most often, it pays expenses incurred by parents with children who are hospitalized for long periods of time. The foundation has assisted families in more than a dozen states.

“It is challenging and very rewarding work,” said Bullis, who runs a financial services firm.

A fall fundraising event at the Kent County Conservation League generated the $1,500 the foundation paid for the stuffed animals.

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From the Grand Rapids Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014
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