Wheelchair bound Girl Scout springs into action to save nurse - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Wheelchair bound Girl Scout springs into action to save nurse

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Jenica Miller Jenica Miller
Some of Jenica's patches. Some of Jenica's patches.
Julie Barksdale Julie Barksdale

FLOYDS KNOBS, IN (WAVE) - A young Floyd County girl kept a cool head and actually cared for her caregiver. She's a special young lady and she's getting a special - and rare - award for her actions.

Not your average middle schooler, in her 11 years, Jenica Miller has endured more than most of us ever will.

"I can't barely raise my arms up at all," she explained. "I can't even get it off my armrest unless I have help."

Jenica has what's called Type II Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

"It is a degenerative muscle disease that's inherited," said mom Julie Barksdale, who explained it leads to weak muscle tone.

"Jenica was born a healthy bouncy baby girl with perfect APGAR scores and by the time she was six months old, we noticed she wasn't meeting her motor milestones," she said.

Jenica now lives her life in a wheelchair.

"She is completely dependent on another adult to get her medicine for her," Julie said.

Grandmother, Juanita Oakley, Julie and Jenica have adapted. A home health care nurse steps in when family can't be around. One day last September, Jenica's nurse got sick.

"She was crying because she did not feel good, her head was pounding and she could barely walk without falling over," Jenica remembered.

Jenica has been well-trained. She's been a Girl Scout since the second grade and learned the lessons well.

"I learned to keep calm and don't freak out when something bad happens," she said.

So although she was scared, she took action, "And I kept talking to her because I didn't know if she was going to pass out or not and I didn't know what to do if she passed out but I had a plan."

She figured out who she would call if her nurse couldn't and then, despite her difficulties, unlocked the front door so help could get in.

"I laid down my chair because my lateral is - when I lay it down, it raises my arm up so that way I can get the deadbolt undone," Jenica said.

Julie said, "Had she fallen forwards and fallen over in her wheelchair when she was trying to get the front door unlocked she would have been stuck that way."

For her efforts, the Girl Scouts decided Jenica needs to be awarded. Her nurse wrote the letter that helped her get the Medal of Honor which said, in part, "that day Jenica and I switched roles and she took care of me and deserves to be acknowledged for her actions."

It's from her actions that Jenica hopes we all learn a thing or two:

"It shows that people in a wheelchair can do things and that they aren't just sitting in a wheelchair," she said. "They can actually do stuff in the world."

Only about 30 of these awards are given out each year and the Girl Scouts are planning a big reception Monday night just for Jenica. Her entire troop will get to be there to celebrate her achievement.

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