Recovering After A Spinal Cord Injury
I was 24 years old, and in my last year of optometry school when a virus struck out of nowhere. It presented as the flu at first, but I developed an autoimmune reaction and my body just started to attack itself. I had meningitis and complete swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Things went downhill very quickly and I was on a ventilator, paralyzed from the nose down in less than a week. The worst part? Every test was negative. All of the professionals had no idea what the virus was or if I was even going to make it through the next 24 hours. I even ran a fever of over 104 degrees for multiple days in a row!
Slowly, the plasmapharesis and high dose steriod injections started to work. I was able to get off the ventilator and go to a spinal cord rehab hospital. After several months, I regained full upper body strength. Now, after exactly two years, my injury level has progessed from C1 to T9. My MRIs are miracuously normal and I'm working every day to regain strength in my legs with the hope of one day walking again.
Throughout everything, I've come to find out that I'm a much better athlete in my wheelchair than I ever was on my two feet. Adaptive sports have brought me so much happiness and adventure than I ever thought possible. I've learned to sail, surfed twice with the Life Rolls On foundation, tried adaptive skiing, gone indoor skydiving at iFly's all ability nights, and have plans to do so much more. I have a friend who said it best- "life is too short not to have adventurous wheels."
I recently moved back to school by myself and am excited to see patients again while I finish my last year of school. I have learned to celebrate the small victories in life and that a smile and positive attitude can go a long way.