SPORTS, FITNESS & DANCE

On the Road Again: The Long Road Back after Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Randy Matchett

Ultramarathon Cycling

For years Ultra-marathon Cycling was my passion. I competed in up to five 24-hour races a year and had a life goal of competing in the Race Across America. In 2011 during a race I somehow got a Staph infection internally so I went to the Doctor and was given Antibiotics. Little did I know that this medication would change my life forever.

Spinal Cord Injury Surgery

My medication got rid of my infection, but I was one of the unfortunate many who had an adverse affect. The medication attacked the Myelin lining of my spinal cord and caused it to swell, leading to a full compression from C4 to T1. By June 2012 I was paralyzed from the chest down with minimal arm and hand function. My local healthcare providers were stumped so I made arrangements to be seen by Johns Hopkins. In minutes they knew the cause and put me in immediately for surgery. I had surgery in August 2012 to release the pressure and fuse C5 to C7. In October I had a second surgery to fuse C4 to T1 and wrap the entire area in a Titanium shield.

Navigating Life with a Spinal Cord Injury

After the second surgery I began intense therapy at Kennedy Krieger Institute and within weeks I was able to stand and walk with a walker. My sensation returned slowly and over the coarse of the next 18 months I learned to walk and use my hands again. I fought through the Clonus, hypersensitivity, muscle atrophy and the shut down of my Adrenal system. I fought back through a divorce, loss of my job, medical bills, and daily pain. Slowly I began to get my life back, although it was a much different life than I knew before.

New Goals With Spinal Cord Injury

I have continued to improve to this day, and earlier this year I was finally able to begin cycling again. I will never be able to get to the level I was at before, but I am making steady improvements. I have most of the feeling back and control of most muscle function, although I still have balance and speed issues. I continue to push myself every day, and I hope to be able to walk without a cane by year's end. My old goal was to compete in Race Across America. My new goal is to be able to one day compete in a 24-hour race. I hope to be able to complete at least 120 miles, much lower than the 300 to 400 of the past. But I will be more than happy to get back to that, regardless of the distance I am able to achieve.

I also have a goal to help others with life changing injuries and diseases. I want to help with my Instagram page, a future YouTube Channel, and by becoming a Certified Physical Trainer, specializing in helping those with disabilities. I hope that my story can help or inspire others, as much as others' stories have helped and inspired me. I will end by saying to always remember that every step is a good step. Every improvement is a gift and to never give up. You can do anything.

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