MIRACLE ON 91ST STREET: Surviving The Impossible

By JOSEPH PARENTI • January 17, 2015

Imagine waking up from a coma in a hospital bed and realizing that your connected to three life support machines, unable to eat or speak and the entire left side of your body is paralyzed.

This was the situation I found myself in after my car was broadsided by a stolen vehicle traveling at 80 mph. I suffered a traumatic brain injury, three heart attacks and whiplash so severe my head and neck were twisted to one side and stuck in that disturbing position.

I spent 7 months in 3 different hospitals trying to recover not only from those injuries but some additional ones caused by the neglect in the first hospital, namely advanced pneumonia and severe bed sores.

I was in a coma for three weeks and stuck in bed for over three months. Consequently, I had to slowly re-build my body through physical therapy. Due to the head injury and the medications I was on, I couldn't sit upright without getting dizzy. The physical therapist would come to my room each day and raise the adjustable bed upright for a few minutes at a time. Once I conquered that task, we worked on standing, walking with a walker and eventually walking on my own. It was a long, tedious process.

My vocal cords and epiglottis were paralyzed. Therefore, I was unable to speak or eat. Luckily for me, that hardship was only temporary. When they began working, albeit slowly, I was able to start eating again. I had to start with the basics, like a child. Soft foods such as pudding or yogurt and work my way up to solid food. Once my vocal cords started functioning again, I was also able to begin speech therapy.

I was truly blessed to have someone from my family with me every day. My mother and my sister were with me daily. My brother stayed with me every night until 8 p.m. My parents also hired a private duty nurse to stay with me from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. After the disastrous neglect at the first hospital, my family wanted to ensure I had twenty-four hour coverage and was properly cared for.

Throughout my 7 month journey, I endured hospital neglect, incompetence, frustrations and the feeling of wanting to give up. I kept pushing myself, all the while dreaming of the life I wanted.

It is now 26 years later and I'm happy to say I'm almost fully recovered. I was able to go back to my profession as a CPA, although the doctors had their doubts I would ever function at that capacity.

The one physical issue I still deal with is the pain and stiffness in my neck. I suffer from osteoarthritis which has actually improved since the accident. I attribute this to chiropractic treatments and Bikram yoga.

I've detailed that experience in my book titled, "Miracle on 91st Street" available on Amazon or through my website, http://www.miracleon91st.com/

This book or my survival would not have been possible if not for The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department. To show my gratitude, a portion of my profits from the sale of this book will be donated to them.

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