The Setbacks Leading To The Comeback


This is a hard time of year for me. It’s filled with defeated moments. Five years ago today I had to drop all my classes because I was too sick to keep up after being hospitalized. The unknown then is now very much know as Chronic Pancreatitis.

Two years ago I was in the hospital in Nashville after having fought so hard to be better. I was finally going to my dream school. I had a good group of friends. I’d also started taking on some pretty cool opportunities.

I’d had surgery six months before that was supposed to “fix” my liver and pancreas issues. I don’t regret that surgery it saved my liver. It was defeating to then at the end of the semester to be forced to come back home to regroup and get answers.

It took a long time and suffering to get that Chronic Pancreatitis diagnosis. Now though the treatment has been very effective and most days I can eat without pain.

Then as many of you know in December there another shoe that dropped. A routine eye exam led to yet another setback.

It’s been a hard year. Multiple brain MRI’s CT scans and more needles than I can count. In the form of spinal taps, blood draws, and IV’s.

Psudo Tumor Cerebri, what’s that?! It’s when your brain is drowning in spinal fluid to the point it mimics a brain tumor. You get all the symptoms. Vision loss, headache, balance issues, relentless vomiting, pain.

I have surgery scheduled for Wednesday. To place a shunt and alleviate the pressure on my brain.  I’ve never looked forward to surgery the way I’m looking forward to this it means hope and relief.

Yesterday, in preparation for that surgery my best friend shaved my head. We had fun with it, it was a freeing experience. We carved the name of my favorite song and a butterfly in the side of my head. It was my turn to take control. I’m donating my hair because if it had to go it might as well do some good!

So what’s next? I really don’t know. I hope getting back to Nashville. Living life that doesn’t include constant pain. A boyfriend? (Really hoping for that). Graduating college and building a life I’m proud of.

For now though it’s one day at a time. One foot in front of the other.  Remembering that somedays it’s okay to just survive because that means there’s most likely a tomorrow.

Live a good story





“Just enough to get your head above the water, Just a step to get your feet on solid ground”
These three people mean so much to me. They did something I’m pretty sure they weren’t planning on. They gave me my will to live back.

We’re rewinding a few years but the first time I ever heard Lifted… I needed hope when hope was missing. So to hear “When it feels like hope is missing even just a little bit can be enough to raise the corners of your mouth” In a song I can’t even explain that moment.

So glad I was a fan of the people to my left and right and took a impromptu trip to Nashville to see them and ended up meeting the guy over my shoulder by total chance. I fangirled when he said he wrote Lifted. He had no idea how sincere I was that it’s my favorite song. He’s well aware now because I remind him often.

I’m sure most of you can identity a song that’s changed your life. The best thing is I had the opportunity to tell the people who created that song that it changed my life. Music, is powerful! It heals even if it can’t fix it, it makes things better even if just for the 3ish minutes it plays.

This song, it’s my go to on the darkest nights and the brightest days. Trust me when I tell you it’s saved me from giving up more times than I can possibly count.

Two Story Road is about to take the world by storm. Fred, has a song climbing the charts. They deserve all this and more .

They’ll write other songs that’ll make more money and get more notoriety. They’ve already accomplished the ultimate goal though making something that makes a difference.

Brandon, Jamelle and Fred this is your thank you note the best way I’ve ever articulated it.

Love Always,


P.S. Amber if you read this thanks for being game for that crazy adventure trip to Nashville.

So What Now?

In life most people fear the bad. Bad news, bad grades, losing a job, rejection, failure. We all at some point have experienced times when that fear becomes a reality whether that’s a short period of time or it seems never ending.

Sometimes if we’re lucky we expect the shoe to drop, we can see the bad thing lurking out there in the distance. Those are the times coping is easier because you are mentally and physically prepared for the curveball life is throwing.

More often than not though everything is fine and then it’s not, in an instant your world changes. It’s in those moments true growth happens, when you learn how tough you really are.

The first week of December I went to the eye doctor for a run of the mill appointment and left with the news that something serious was wrong. In the weeks since then there’s been lots of questions, lots of tears, and lots of doubt. You know, no one excepts the worst from the routine things.

Fast Forward to now after too many sleepless nights, medical tests, prayers and mental breakdowns, things are clearer now but still just as frustrating.

So what now? There’s only two options fight like hell or give up. So I’m fighting because there’s too much to live for. Too many good things to see and experience.

Fighting sometimes looks like laying in bed because doing anything else is impossible. Somedays that’s good enough because surviving today means you’ll most likely see tomorrow. Other times fighting looks like using every ounce of energy to get through whatever the day holds.

As humans we get so caught up in everything but honestly all we can do is take each day as it happens cherishing the good and hanging on through the bad. Tomorrow can worry about itself. We have to get through today to see what happens next.

The next time you feel slapped in the face with something you don’t think you can handle… remember you’ve handled all the trials and triumphs so far and are still here to tell the story!

Live a story worth telling


“It’s been a little while”

You know, physical pain eventually manifests itself in mental demons. This is a story of one of my darkest days, a story I’m still here to tell.

February 2017, Every bite of food even water made me sick. I had a headache from hell too. It’s an awful reality when the very thing  you need to survive is very thing that’s killing you.

One evening, I decided I just wanted the pain to stop. I hesitated though for a moment & looked at my phone. I was surprised to see an unexpected message from a friend.

“Hannah been thinking about you-it’s been a little while” followed by “how are you?”

Looking back now I cringe because in my reply I said “There’s really no good way to answer that”. They were unaware how truthful my reply was.

I tore up the note I was holding and got myself back together. Promising myself even on the darkest days. To remember I’m still breathing which means I still have a purpose.

In the midst of your own pain you can’t see it but people still care. Be kind to yourself and remember you are loved even when you feel unloveable.

If you find yourself in a similar situation I encourage you to find a temporary reason to keep living. Sometimes that’s something trivial wanting to see a movie, or listen to an album you haven’t heard yet.

The most ironic part of life is the pain you’re feeling now will fade even when you don’t see a way out. Choose to keep going.

Why every birthday is a celebration of surviving another year

I rarely share this and to many of you you’ve never heard what went down 22 years ago to lead to my August 12th birthday. My dad decided to share what shaped our lives that day and I’m deciding to share his words here!

Hey Guys!

Certain days and events shape our lives. Below is a reflection on one of those life shapers in my life 22 years ago. August 12, 1993.

…..with the lives of both my wife and daughter hanging in the balance. The bullets below outline the timeline between 6pm and 6pm
· 8/11/1993 –
o Noon – a beautiful day. Have taken the day off work and taken my wife out to lunch. She’s 28 weeks into her pregnancy with our first and only child.
o 6pm eastern – onset of symptoms preeclampsia
o 10:30pm eastern – full eclamptic seizure at our house.
Medically my wife stopped breathing for the next 45 minutes. No blood-flow to her or our baby. Her body is shutting down.
o 10:40pm ambulance arrives – I pick up all sorts of large furniture to move out of their way. {no idea how this happened}
o 10:50pm ambulance leaves, taking an alternate route to nearest hospital [We learn later that there was a massive wreck that had shut down the interstate. If we had left for the hospital earlier, all this would have happened in our car……]
o 11:15pm eastern – wife begins to breathe via life support and oxygen gets to our baby for the first time in 45 minutes
o 11:30pm eastern – it’s clear that our child had to be delivered or there was no chance for either of them
· 8/12/1993
o 2am – my wife is transferred to Christ Hospital where she worked as a Labor & Delivery nurse
o 4am – my wife enters the Operating Room. Many of her co-workers + me are in the OR … fearing the worst. I pray it’s a girl because they’re stronger!
o 4:45am – our Daughter Hannah is born. 12 weeks early. 3lb1oz. kicking and screaming I’m thankful we had names picked out so I didn’t later get in trouble……..
o 6pm – Hannah struggles to breath, is placed on ventilator, and is transferred to NICU at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.
I now have my wife in ICU at one hospital, my daughter in ICU at another
My wife with more IV lines than I could count, and my daughter on full ventilation to keep her breathing
· 8/20/1993
o I’m given the news by both my wife and daughters doctors that they think they will both live
o There is discussion that our daughter may never see, hear, walk, talk….

That day Hannah, showing her gumption and will power, turned over in her isolette
· Mid-September 1993
o Both wife and daughter are home

· August 2015
o Hannah moving to Nashville to continue studies in Journalism/Communications. Lauded by University of Cincinnati professors as award winning writer with a special passion and ‘voice’ in her written and oral communications.

For Me Everyday is CP Awareness Day

It’s been forever since I’ve blogged. A lot the reason why is my CP. It sounds silly to say that but it’s true. I had debilitating left hip pain for awhile and I finally caved and went to the doctor.

In October I found out I needed major hip surgery due to my hip being out of the socket. If you’ve been keeping up with me at all you know I had surgery January 30th. “Peri acetabular Osteotomy” Big words meaning breaking my pelvis and femur repositioning it in the socket and then holding it together with nails. My life since then has revolved around recovering and rehabilitation of my hip.

I wrote a blog for National CP Awareness Day last year. If you haven’t read it yet I recommend you do. It talks about my life with CP up until that point.

Little did I know that a year later my life would be turned upside down by Cerebral Palsy. When I wrote the blog last year I never imagined I’d be writing this one in the middle of recovering from a major hip surgery.
CP it’s self isn’t progressive. However, due to my spasticity and the way I walk my left hip worked it’s way out of my pelvis.

I’m realizing more and more that everyday of my life is CP Awareness Day. My friends & family know that they need to be close by for me to grab their arm. Before I leave the house even before my surgery I have a conversation with myself trying to figure out if I’ll need my walker, crutches, scooter or wheelchair wherever I’m going.

Most of the time I bring one of those things along just incase. I’m blessed with friends who are willing to cart around whatever assistive devices I need. Whether I’ve brought them or not they’re willing to be there to help me walk if I need it.

Driving is it’s own challenge for me, I drive using hand controls. Learning to use those has been an adventure but it’s a challenge I haven’t backed down from.

Having CP means I’m no stranger to stares, comments, people talking behind my back about the way I walk. I was told I’d never be able to walk and at the age of six I took my first steps independently. The people who make those comments or stare, don’t realize that every step I take is me defying the odds. They also don’t realize how hurtful those comments are.
I could let those negative things keep me from living instead i choose to live my life… That doesn’t mean the negativity doesn’t get to me sometimes it does!

I’m an independent person so asking for help used to be hard but I know it’s unavoidable at times, especially while I’m recovering from this surgery. I used to feel the need to apologize when I lost my balance or was unable to stand when we were taking a picture or something. I now know that that’s crazy and I don’t need to apologize for those things.

Cerebral Palsy may slow me down at times but it will not stop me from living life to the fullest.

– Hannah

Why I talk about CP

A little over 21 years ago a little girl was born after her mom had an eclamptic seizure. When she was born dr.’s didn’t know if she’d survive but she did. At around 2yrs old she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Her parents were told she’d never walk but at 6 she took her 1st steps independently. Having the ability to walk was something that little girl was so proud of but she would need a wheelchair for school, long distances crowds etc. If you haven’t figured it out yet that little girl is me.
When I was younger I never talked about my CP. My family & friends just accepted me for me & CP rarely came up. In fact many of my friends in high school never knew why I use a wheelchair. My parents always told me CP is what I have not who I am so I never saw the need to discuss it.

That’s all changed over the past few years. I’ve been asked by people why I now talk about CP… It’s is still what I have not who I am but that’s exactly why I feel the need to discuss it. Ever since I’ve been in college and the real world it’s became painfully clear that CP NEEDS TO BE DISCUSSED so people understand that.
This blog it’s self was inspired by discussion involving Dr.’s lack of CP knowledge.


Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term and many with CP aren’t able to tell others about how CP makes them feel or what they wish people understood. So I decided it’s up to me to start talking.


If I could write a letter to me.

Sometimes I hate sleepless nights but sometimes I think they’re when I do my best thinking. I was listening to Brad Paisley and ‘Letter to Me’ came on. “If I could write a letter to me and send it back in time to myself at 17”. I loved the song when it first came out because at the time I was the teenager he was writing to.

As I was listening I thought about a conversation I had with my mom the other day, we were watching Parenthood and I’m not sure what triggered it but I had a major breakdown. I was reflecting on how stressful everything had ever been but at the same time I had this ah-ha moment that yes things suck or have sucked and frankly still do. I’m in a better place now than I was at 17.
So this is what I’d say in a letter to myself…

Hey Hannah,

I know right now you don’t see how you’ll graduate high school let alone go to college. When it comes time for graduation I promise you won’t fall walking across the stage and as much as your legs hurt it’ll be worth it. Also when Dad goes to video remind him to make sure the video camera is focused on you and he doesn’t end up just filming his watch as you walk in.
The summer after senior year will be amazing and you’ll be able to see the ocean take every second in and take a ton of pictures.

College will present it’s own set of challenges… It’ll take you longer than other people because of things that you aren’t able to control. I’m just telling you this now so you don’t beat yourself up about it.

People say that your love of Carrie Underwood is ‘just a phase’ it’s not. Although that statement shouldn’t be a surprise to you. You’ll meet amazing people because of it and make amazing friendships with people you would’ve never expected. Also keep your eye out for a Duo called “Two Story Road” they’ll have a big impact on your life and are really just awesome people.

Save every birthday card from Aunt Betty because when your my age you’ll wish you had.

When you take sign language give your teacher a heads up about your CP it’ll make your life so much easier in the long run. That class will open your eyes and heart to a whole new passion and purpose.

Believe it or not you actually become comfortable enough with your
Cerebral Palsy that you begin talking about it openly. Oh while we’re on the subject as much as you hate the idea of getting a walker it will make your life so much easier, do it! Just remember you’re much more than the way you walk. Remember that little girl Alena who had CP? You end up becoming friends and plan something really cool.
Keep in touch with Riley do everything in your power to be a part of her life, if you don’t you’ll grow apart and miss her more than you’d think.

Lastly, I hate to tell you this but you end up with a whole new set of medical problems you’ll feel like your body hates you. (I feel that way now as I’m writing you) don’t give up on life keep fighting… I don’t know the outcome of all this but I want you to be ready to fight with all you have.

I know you don’t know how to do this now but learn to love yourself and stop worrying so much! (I still struggle with worrying but maybe if you start working on not worrying now it’ll won’t be an issue anymore.)

See you in the mirror,

So that’s my letter to myself what would you write in a letter to your younger self?

P.S. I promise a CMA fest recap post is coming soon

I’m letting go so give me one more chance.

Although I’ve heard the song thousands of times there’s something about Jesus Take The Wheel that will always give me chills.
I’ve loved the song from the very first time I heard it at the age of 12. The song has grown with me and just always been there. From my mom being in the ICU in 2006 directly following my first Carrie concert. Speaking of which, There’s nothing better than being in Cincinnati hearing Carrie say “She was driving last Friday on her way to Cincinnati.” To surgeries and sicknesses I’ve endured myself. JTTW has always been a constant. As some of you may know my dad is a minister so at first I was drawn to the Godly message of the song. But it’s so much more than that.

About 2 years ago I had what could’ve been a really bad wreck. We were “on our way to Cincinnati” headed back home from my Grandma’s house in Tennessee. It had started to drizzle rain and these were curvy back country roads I was unfamiliar with and before I knew it I was off the road and smack in between two sets trees. I’d got the car stopped with only inches between the front set of trees and the hood of my car. And there was about a foot between the trunk of my car and another tree. As shaken up as I was I know that Jesus had literally taken the wheel and it wasn’t mine or my Dads time to go. From then on the meaning of the song became a little more concrete.

When I was in Nashville earlier this month I had the honor of hearing Carrie sing Jesus Take the Wheel from the front row of the Grand Ole Opry. They call the Opry the Mother Church of Country Music, and when Carrie sings that song there’s no truer statement. You can feel God’s presence.

Life had been extremely stressful over the past 2 weeks since I got home from Nashville. Filled with sleepless nights trips to the ER and spending the day at the hospital with my mom so she wouldn’t be alone. Watching her struggle while I’m struggling myself is almost too much to handle. But on nights like tonight I cling to the lyric,

“Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I’m on
Jesus take the wheel”

It reminds me that God is always in control even when we can’t do it on our own. All we have to do is let go and surrender control to him. Its okay to not be in control and God is always there to take charge of the wheel for us.

~ Hannah

I crash and I break down… I’m only human

I broke down yesterday simply because I was showing my mom a picture of my friend and I from graduation and my wheelchair was off to the side behind us. I’ve had this mental block my whole life where I want to stand in pictures I don’t want to have my wheelchair / walker / crutches in them either. I broke down again today because I was just frustrated with needing my scooter. Everyone close to me has never made an issue out of it. My cousin Tahli always says “it’s not an issue it’s just a matter of what chair will work best for whatever we’re doing.”
Over the past few years it’s quite obvious to me that I put these mental stumbling blocks in my path. I’ve talked about how I struggled with getting / using a walker again. People have said to me “Han I think you’re trying to give up because you’re using you’re crutches & walker again!” I adamantly deny that because deep down I know it’s what I HAVE to do right now! But in the back of my mind I HATE the fact I have to do it…
Fast forward to a half hour ago. I was on YouTube watching videos of Carrie Underwood performing at the Opry. I was about to close the app when I noticed this video in the suggestions and for a moment I was bummed because CP hadn’t been on my mind… I thought why is that suggested I don’t want to watch that I want to escape and watch more Carrie Videos!!
After watching a few more Carrie videos I decided to go back and watch it. I realized the reason it was suggested God knew I needed a reminder to keep trying and keep moving forward… even when it’s hard and I feel I’ve failed. I needed to be reminded it’s not easy but I can do it! I can either keep moving forward or choose to give up…
I choose to keep moving forward,