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One Year Later: Nicolette Jenkins Attributes Her Recovery to the People She Supports

n jenkinsA little over a year ago, Nicolette Jenkins’ life changed forever. Last July, the developmental specialist at Brice’s Creek in New Bern, was driving home with two of her children when the tire of her Ford Explorer blew out, causing the car to swerve off the road, flip multiple times and pin her under the debris.

After being cut from the vehicle and flown by helicopter to a trauma center, Jenkins learned that she would lose her left arm. Thoughts of her children, who survived the accident, kept her strong and she surprised doctors with her positive attitude.

Even though Jenkins only stayed in the hospital one week, another surprise for the doctors; she still had a long road to recover mentally and physically, and to learn to live with just one arm. But she credits much of her recovery to watching the people she supports at New Bern.

Photo at right: Jenkins credits much of her recovery to people she supports and the help of her co-workers

“I learned a lot of stuff from working here [at Monarch] when I got into the accident. When I was in the hospital I thought about how people we support do things and they taught me many things. I thought about the techniques of how Vanessa puts her pants on and I thought ‘I can do that too.’ I thought about the people I support, I should be paying attention to them, and I learned from them.”

Shortly after she went back to work last year, Jenkins received a prosthetic arm, and says she is still adjusting to it. The prosthesis is a full arm, attaching at the shoulder, and because of this, Jenkins says it’s more complicated to use, which is why she doesn’t wear it often.

But even without it she has learned how to do the same tasks she was able to do previously. “I learned how to do everything with one hand, even change the beds,” Jenkins said. Although she noted that the biggest challenge was relearning to do everyday tasks, the kind most of us don’t even think about because they come so naturally. Even simple things, like opening a bottle or a can of soda, Jenkins has had to come up with creative ways to accomplish those.

Today, Jenkins is not only adjusting to a new way of life, she is also out to teach others a thing or two about living with a disability. “People assume they have to do things for you. When I’m at the grocery store they ask, ‘Ma’am, do you want me to help you put that in the cart?’ This is what people don’t understand, I’m the type of person where I want to try to do it myself before I let someone else. So if I need help I will ask.”

Regardless, Jenkins has remained positive. She is thankful her children have recovered and are living healthy lives, and is appreciative of the support her co-workers have given her throughout her recovery. She also said she loves to accompany the children she supports in New Bern when she takes them on outings or to play games. For her, the best part of the job is making them feel part of the community.

Jenkins remains thankful and optimistic and said, “It’s amazing to me the stuff I can do with one arm.”


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