4 Years Ago I Was Told By Doctors That I'd Probably Never Move Anything Below My Shoulders Again

By Paul • June 2, 2014

I suffered a C5 incomplete SCI from a football hit October 2009. My neck was broken, my spinal cord bruised, compressed and bleeding. I was paralyzed from the shoulders down. I was rushed into emergency surgery to stabilize the spinal cord.

After a few weeks I was classified by a team of neurosurgeons, neurologists and physiatrists as C5/6 sensory incomplete (I could kind of feel when someone touched my legs), motor complete (can't move below injury level at all). The team says I will live rest of my life in a wheelchair (maybe ventilator too). I was dependent on catheters and suppositories to pee and poop, and I was breathing through a ventilator after they performed my tracheotomy. Basically I couldn't move, talk, pee, poop or breathe for the first stage of my recovery, and doctors weren't optimistic about any of those things getting better, ever.

3 weeks post injury I had somewhat of a breakdown, I tell my mom and football coach during a visit that I can't recover. SCI. It's too hard. The doctors say not to set such unrealistic goals. Their advice is to try and regain use of my arms. My coach tells me that to have any chance at healing I have to decide now. Give up or keep going. I decided I don't ever want to live wondering "what if". I will use all my willpower to get anything back that I can. It took me a week of willpower to get off the ventilator, first breathing on my own for a minute or 2 at a time, gradually up to hours, and then days. The trach was taken out once I could last 3 days with no ventilator.

Today, 4 years after breaking my neck and becoming a wheelchair-bound C5/6 quadriplegic; I am walking full-time.

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