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I Love Life: A South Dakota Woman Triumphs Over Adversity

Sandie Jungers had just started her summer vacation when the unthinkable happened.  Sandie was riding on an all terrain vehicle with her 13-year-old daughter when it flipped in the air and came crashing down on her. 

“We were 10 minutes into our first run.  4 four wheelers went up ahead and I was following.   When I went up the road, my ATV came over backwards and landed right on top of me.  I knew instantly my back was broken.”

 After the ATV rolled off of her, Sandie was sprawled out on the hill with her back broken and sternum cracked.  Despite the overpowering pain, the 41-year-old mother of three children focused every one of her thoughts on a positive mental attitude. 

“I just decided at that time to choose my attitude.  I was still alive, I still had the use of my arms, I still had my family and friends and I was still alive.   I kept thinking about the many blessings in my life.”

 How did Sandie maintain a positive attitude in light of the excruciating pain? 

“My kids were with me and I needed to be strong for them.  My mom was also with me.  I didn’t want to be a whiner and complainer.  I just pulled myself up by my bootstraps and accepted what had happened.   As I was laying on the hill waiting for medical help, I kept my thoughts on positive images and being thankful for my life.  Love was constantly flowing through my mind.”

 Sandie remains paralyzed from the bottom of her ribcage down.  From first hand experience, Sandie says winning the mental battle is just as important as undergoing daily physical therapy.  The South Dakotan has learned to savor life moment by moment. 

”I look for opportunities to have fun.  Whether it’s just joking with somebody or having a blast with the physical therapist.  We joked, laughed and rejoiced in the accomplishments I made.  My attitude made their day and it certainly made mine.  I truly enjoyed what we were doing.”

 Instead of dwelling on the paralysis, Sandie keeps her attention on the people around her. 

“While in therapy, I listened to people I didn’t know.  I asked them how they were doing and what was going on in their lives.  In my life these days, I praise and compliment others.  I really tune into people and their needs.”

 In other words, Sandie takes the focus off her and it works. 

“It easier to do now because I’ve chosen my attitude.  Since I am positive, everything seems to fall in place.  I look for the good in everything and usually find it.”

 Sandie has also learned to live in the moment instead of wallowing in the disappointments of the past or worrying about future events. 

“Being present is being tuned into others when you’re with them.  It’s really focusing on the moment and shaking off all the other things going on on my life.    Instead of staring at my computer when someone comes in, I turn around and give full attention to the person.  Being in a wheelchair now, I have to turn around.  I can’t just crank my head because my back is fused.  I physically have to turn my wheelchair and look at the person.”

 Just as important is God’s work in Sandie’s life and the faith that has sustained her ever since the accident. 

“It started on the mountain while I waited for 45 minutes for help.  I know there was a reason for the accident and God will shed that on me sometime.  I just have faith that I can handle what God has given me.  Thank goodness I have a supportive family, friends and community.   Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

 Dale Carnegie once wrote, “Today is life.  Make the most of today.  Get interested in something.  Shake yourself awake.  Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you.  Live today with gusto.”  That’s just what Sandie Jungers is doing every minute of every day.

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