Overdosing on Happiness With A Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Abigail Ortiz

The Spinal Cord Injury Battle

If I would have known then what I know now, my life would be completely different. Let me elaborate: having agreed to an ACL reconstruction with Meniscus repair surgery is notably my biggest regret in life. Let me explain why that is. That surgery, which was one I never wanted to have in the first place, was the triggering cause of me suffering from a life changing spinal cord injury and being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. I go in for a knee repair and come out with a damaged spinal cord, an auto-immune disease, paralysis, loss of sensation in my body, loss of basic bodily functions, just to name a few. “I have been doing this surgery for 30 years, and I have never seen anything like what happened to you” “For a girl who almost died, you look good.” Those were the only words the orthopedic doctor who operated on me had to offer. Those pitiful words did not formulate a good enough answer. “30 years and it had to happen to me??” was my only response. I went from being a great runner to being paralyzed. Truthfully, no answer would ever be good enough. I tore my ACL and meniscus playing Rugby, and I immediately grew hate and fear for the sport I loved. I beat myself up feeling guilty for playing such a rough sport. I thought “Man if I would have just focused strictly on running this could have all been avoided.”  It is valid to say that I would definitely not go through with having the surgery if I knew what the result would be. I’ve come to learn that in this life we don’t get to pick and choose our battles. Instead we are handed a battle, many times not being well equipped for that battle, and somehow we just have to see through it. It feels like a suicide mission at a first glance. I realize that it is okay to lose a battle because winning the war is the one that counts. I learned to turn my problem into a gift. My greatest success in life is a byproduct of my biggest downfall in life. Isn’t that something?  If I would have known beforehand the result of that surgery, then I would not know everything that I know now. Yes I would feel normal, I would be healthy, I would be running my races and doing obstacle courses, and really living my life to the fullest through adventure. However, I would not have been driven to learn everything that I have in the last 6 months. I have grown more as a person in the recent months then I have my entire 22 years of life.

True Happiness Is Really Possible With A Spinal Cord Injury

One can learn a thing or two from a person living with a spinal cord injury. For one, weakness isn’t always a negative. Through my weaknesses I was made stronger. Strength is not limited to one’s physical abilities. Strength is a package: mental, emotional, and physical. In the beginning stages of my injury I lacked strength in all three of those categories. At first I did not quite understand the severity of my injury. I simply knew that my life had drastically changed overnight, and I wasn’t sure if it would ever be the same again. I did not ask too many questions because I did not even know which questions to ask. I was utterly confused and distraught.  I went from being this super jolly and active girl to being depressed and immobile. I was convinced that my life was completely destroyed; as much as I wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it was being shielded by the thought of years of recovery, or so that’s what it felt like. However, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The speed of the recovery does not matter because forward is forward. The miracle is not the moment; the miracle lies in the journey of recognizing who God is, and who I am through Christ. It is not about the healing but about the journey of knowing that God is there for me.

The Stages & Emotions When You Have A Spinal Cord Injury

To name a few: Recovering paraplegic, sick, diseased, suicidal, disabled, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and spinal cord injury. These are a few of the labels that have been given to me from one injury. While my symptoms make me a candidate for these labels, these labels most definitely do not define me as a person.  These labels are nothing more than just negative words. My ability in Christ is stronger than my disability in this world.  Let me elaborate a bit on that “suicidal” label. There are many stages and emotions that one goes through when suffering from a spinal cord injury. I acknowledge that everyone who has suffered or is suffering from a spinal cord injury has their own unique story and experience. One of the emotions that I picked up was “suicide.” It was never who I was before the injury. Before the injury I was a very jolly, happy, active, and adventurous person, but in the midst of the traumatic experience I became the complete opposite of all those characteristics. I was carrying too heavy of a load in such a short amount of time. It was no longer just recovering from an ACL surgery. It was recovering from a spinal cord injury, living in chronic pain every second of the day for months, learning how to do active daily life activities all over again. In short, I was an infant in a 22 year old body. I was no longer independent, and had to rely heavily on the help of my family from moving my legs for me, to driving me to various doctor’s appointments, to speaking and writing on my behalf, etc…

My Failed Attempts at Suicide

The primary reason I became suicidal was because of the physical pain I was in. I have always been one to have a high tolerance for pain, but the physical pain I was experiencing from this injury was unreal and nothing similar to what I had experienced in my entire life. At the hospital I told my family multiple times that I wanted to be euthanized because I didn’t think my body could take any more of it. It was an intense and intolerable burning on the inside of my body. I felt as if I was being stabbed by a thousand needles and someone was torching all of my body parts, and my blood was boiling. This was the pain I felt every second of the day for months, and not knowing when it was going to finally subside was terrifying. The pain medication I was on did not seem to be doing a good enough job. In fact, sometimes I felt it made it worse. I had attempted suicide when it was just the drizzle part of my storm. I overdosed on my pain killer’s because I did not want to wake up in pain anymore. When that had zero effect, I attempted to take my life away with a stab to the heart from a knife and a slit to the wrist to bleed out. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I couldn’t take my life away with the knife, but I was desperate. I went to my brother at about 4:30am asking him to please kill me but make it look like suicide. Of course he was not going to do this favor for me… this goes to show how out of mind I was. I was rushed to the emergency room at the same hospital where my knee surgery was performed. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come. After expressing the intense back pain I was experiencing, not being able to pee for days (btw this is very painful), having had a fever, having just had knee surgery, I revealed that I overdosed on my pain meds because of all these symptoms. I was immediately viewed as mentally ill and my symptoms were completely neglected. Speaking the truth was my biggest mistake at that moment. It did not matter that I said I was not depressed, it did not matter that I said I had never attempted suicide before and that I was just in severe physical pain. I was immediately viewed as a “suicidal” patient.  I knew I was not, but it was their authority over mine. As a result, I was admitted into the hospital’s psychiatric unit and that negligence and incorrect protocol caused me to suffer further damage. For example, I went into the hospital on my own two feet walking, but a few hours later I was paralyzed because the injury was progressing. It was at the psychiatric unit, after I unknowingly received an anxiety shot, that I experienced a few falls alone in my room not understanding what was going on. This was 3 weeks after having knee surgery, so I did not have a full range of motion in my knee, meaning I couldn’t bend it all the way. Best believe that knee bent all the way when I took those falls, and I was so sure I tore my ACL and meniscus once again. With all of this, I never knew or thought it was paralysis. I just figured my legs weren’t working at the moment. A full body MRI a few hours later revealed lesions in my brain and in my spinal cord. My spinal cord was inflamed and then the hospital realized that I was never suicidal but really suffering a medical issue. I was discharged from the psychiatric unit and admitted into the neurology unit. That still wasn’t even the worst part, but I’ll spare the details of what happened afterwards. I have learned that there is an immense difference between being suicidal for emotional reasons and becoming suicidal because of physical pain. The hospital failed at differentiating the two. However, one thing is true of both: the person attempting suicide is not acting from their right state of mind. At the moment suicide seems to be the easiest and fastest solution to ending pain once you realize nothing else is relieving the pain. When the pain got even worse I threw in the towel. I began to think of putting myself in dangerous situations that would raise my chances of dying, I would hope that I could be a victim of a Chicago shooting, I would look at knives every single day thinking “one good stab to the heart Abigail and this could all be over”, I would hope that when I got in a car a vehicle would strike my side of the car killing me instantly. If it is one thing I am glad I sucked at it was definitely attempting to take my life away. I never really wanted to die, who seriously wishes to die at 22 years young?! I have always been a goal getter and there was so much in life that I had yet to accomplish. The plan I had for myself was death, but God’s plan for me was far greater. He saw something in me that this injury and pain did not allow me to see in myself. He pulled me up from that pit of destruction, and every day it is a gift to be alive and overcoming this injury. I’m thankful that God revealed to me another way out before it was too late. To God be the glory.

My Stance On Western Medicine

I’m not completely anti-western medicine, but you can say I am not the biggest believer in it either. I’ve observed a lot about western doctors and medicine throughout this traumatic experience with my health. Let me just speak my heart out for a moment. A hospital is the wrong place to get well in. It seemed as though the more time I spent at the hospital the more sick I appeared and became. The negative hospital environment was slowly killing me. I remember contemplating how to escape from it by the 3rd week being hospitalized (no kidding) Like straight out of a movie, I was trying to figure out an escape plan on how to run away, but I knew my weak body would not allow me to get passed the hospital entrance, and my family would flip out. The minute you fall asleep someone comes in to draw your blood/take your vitals/shoot you in the stomach with insulin and blood thinning shots, the food is toxic, the “rent” is hella expensive, I could keep going but I’ll end the list here. I went to the hospital to “get better” and I came out worse than I walked in. With that being said, I’m definitely not a fan of and neither do I trust western medicine/hospitals/doctors. Western medicine has transitioned from how can we help this patient to how much money can we get off of this patient and their disease. They prolong your disease and symptoms by giving you these expensive treatments that simply make you worse. Why? It seems though that they make a heck of a lot more money trying to kill people then trying to help them recover. Western medicine falsely advertises health. They do not promote healing but instead they put a bandage over the wound. They treat the symptoms, but they don’t exactly treat the source of what caused the illness in the first place. If they cover up the symptoms and don’t treat the source of it all, how could one possibly recover? Western doctors are not trying to empty out hospitals; they are trying to fill them. They have to maintain the flow of money, and how could they possibly do that if patients get better? They maintain themselves rich by keeping the sick “sick” or even making them “more sick.” It’s unfortunate to say, but I can’t help that these are the observations that I have made. I could be wrong, but then again it makes a lot of sense to me and everything that I have gone through with them. I’m not saying all western doctors are bad and swayed by the money, but I know that a handful of them are.

They Told Me I Couldn’t. That’s Why I did Recover from a Spinal Cord Injury

When I was in the hospital, the doctors informed my family that I would not be able to walk anymore. I received the “typical” prognosis of every other person suffering from a spinal cord injury. I remember my family crying the night they received this news just outside my hospital room. Next thing you know they’re coming into my room with crying faces kissing me on the forehead and whispering “I love you” while I laid in bed in excruciating pain. I did not exactly understanding the situation and neither could I ask questions because I was just so out of mind. The only thing that made sense to me was thinking that I was dying and they were just coming to say their goodbyes. Seriously, it was like a scene straight out of a movie. My family never told me I was paralyzed because they knew that if I knew, it would completely destroy me. That word “paralyzed” alone is extremely terrifying. As crazy as it sounds, I never figured out that I was paralyzed. That word just never crossed my mind. Although I knew I could not feel my legs, could not walk, had to be carried from wheelchair to wheelchair, and my legs had to be moved for me…I just thought I had to learn how to walk again. I didn’t understand why, I just knew my legs weren’t working, and I set my mind to learning how to walk again. Every morning a team of doctors would come and evaluate me: test my arm and leg strength, prick my legs with a needle, and ask me questions. Every time they pricked me with the needle I could not feel it one bit. I remember saying “you can jab that needle in my leg and I would not feel it.” I had to learn from the very beginning from how to lift my legs, how to stand with the help of a therapist and a walker, how to take small steps in place, to finally taking a few steps forward. It was by far the most challenging thing and every single moment was an opportunity for me to have an emotional breakdown. All I could think of was “What in the world is going on here?? I am a runner! Why are my legs not working??” I guess I didn’t ask questions because I was under the impression that my family was just as clueless as I was. The hospital was going to perform a spinal tap on me that would reveal what I had, and results from that wouldn’t arrive for another 4-6 weeks. I didn’t even know they had estimated diagnoses for me until way after. Thankfully, my paralysis only lasted for a little over a week because I managed to learn how to walk sooner than later thanks to my dad. He helped me out so much; he’s pretty much the one who taught me how to walk again. Although I was very unbalanced and uncoordinated and still couldn’t even feel my legs, it was a step in a positive direction.

Commencing to Live again and Not Just Exist

The beginning stages of my spinal cord injury were very ugly and painful. It was something that not only affected me but my entire family as well. My mom had to quit her second job to take care of me because I was heavily dependent of help, so that affected my family emotionally and financially. I cried as I knew I suddenly became a huge burden to my family. They of course didn’t see it that way, but I felt it. I thought it would be easier for them if I just died. It wasn’t until I got a full understanding of what really happened to me that things got even worse. I was already lacking physical strength, but now I was emotionally and mentally weak as well. Every day my family would consistently ask “how are you feeling?” That was a question I hated answering because it always felt the same: I was in severe pain, I was depressed, I was suicidal, and my life was destroyed. Eventually, I asked them nicely to not ask me how I was feeling because I wanted to work on being positive and not thinking or verbally speaking about the pain. They respected my request. I had a radical mentality change that changed my life forever in a positive way. I began doing a ton of research on the mind and how powerful it really is, I began to read a ton of books, and I learned about God in a way that I had never heard before. This was the turning point of this rotten injury and illness. I went from being depressed and suicidal to extremely hopeful and happy about my future. Although western medicine believes or says that there is no repairing the spinal cord and that some of my symptoms are permanent, I refuse to believe that. Their negative lingo and prognoses are simply reflections of their limitations. They said I would be paralyzed for years if not life, but I learned how to walk in about a week and a half of them saying that, so I don’t plan on stopping now. I’m just going to continue to defy their reports. It has now been 7 months post ACL surgery and 6 months post spinal cord injury and I’m driving again, I’m walking, I am jogging on a treadmill, and I am rehabbing my surgically repaired knee. I’m slowly but surely getting back to my regular independent routine. With each little victory that I fulfill, I feel a little more healthy and normal. To the doctors that said I wouldn’t walk again and labeled me as “sick” To the Spinal Cord Injury that tried to destroy my life at 22 years young, To the auto-immune disease and severe chronic pain that drove me to attempt suicide…I’m coming back from a place that western medicine says there’s no coming back from. I feel so unstoppable. The words “permanent” and “un-repairable” don’t exist in my book. I will make a 100% recovery because it its mine for the taking. The first doctor’s report is never the last report.

I Discovered My True Happiness Along The Way regardless of a spinal cord injury

I’ve always believed that angels walked the earth in the form of genuinely caring beautiful human beings. This experience just highlighted that truth even more for me. After having gone MIA for some months, I decided to finally come out and let everyone in the loop as to what happened to me. Once I began to speak out on why I went away for so long, I received an overwhelming amount of love and support from friends and even strangers. My support system doesn’t just consist of my immediate family, but now I have like a social media family. It’s really awesome. My primary love language is words of affirmation, so everyone’s encouraging comments spoke volumes to me. Every bit of uplifting messages has had a real and positive effect on my recovery. I have met some really amazing individuals whom have changed my life for the better and are seeing me through this injury. It warms my heart to know and have people in my life that believe in my health just as much as I do. That they believe with me that I am going to make a 100% recovery from this injury regardless of the facts of a spinal cord injury. Although some of the symptoms are persisting and I am not completely normal yet, I can genuinely say that I live a sweet and beautiful life. It’s only going to get 1000 times even more beautiful and sweet once I am fully recovered, and that excites me! I am on a happiness spree for the rest of my life. I live everyday with joy, and that is how I have chosen to live out the remainder of my entire life. When you realize that your thoughts makeup the fabric of your reality, you begin to think more wisely. Every day I do my best to overdose on happiness because it’s shown to have a positive effect in my life, and I can’t get enough of it. I strongly believe laughter is the best medicine, so I dedicate myself to watching funny videos/movies and spending time with people who make me laugh. I am programmed for success, and nothing could ever get in the way of my true happiness again.

Your Mind is a VERY Powerful Tool

The entire time I was hospitalized, which was about a month, I didn’t have a clue of what I was really dealing with. My family knew a lot more than I did, but I was under the impression that they were just as clueless as I was because the hospital was going to perform a spinal tap that would reveal more information. I didn’t even know they had 3 estimated diagnosis for me. I did, however, find it strange that a lot of people I had not seen in years were coming to the hospital to visit me. Stuff like that usually happens when someone is dying or they are dealing with some serious health issues, I didn’t catch on to it though. It was odd, but I didn’t ask questions because I was just utterly confused the entire time being hospitalized. I thank God that my family never discussed my medical issues with me because I realize now that the fact that I was clueless to a lot actually benefited me. Let me explain: I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading books on how powerful our minds really are. I believe 100% that our minds are our most powerful tools, and we literally become and attract the things that we think about and say. Here is my personal experience with that. A few months ago my co-worker went on maternity leave, and on her last day I shared these words with a close friend of mine: “Man I wish I was going on maternity leave but not be pregnant.” I’m not even kidding. About a month later, I tear my ACL and Meniscus and guess what?? I have to take a leave from work, and it wasn’t a maternity leave… it was a medical leave. I cried ! I thought “I’d much rather be working than being on an awful medical leave.” Here’s the one that really struck me: so I’ve been a runner all my life. It’s always been my passion! My freshman year of college we watched a documentary on the lives of quadriplegics and paraplegics in my English class. After seeing that film I put this fear inside my head where I told myself the following words: “If I were ever to be paralyzed, I’d rather be dead” I told myself this every time I went running, which was very often. I loved my legs so much, and, unfortunately, the fear of not having the ability to use them clouded my mind. I never once shared this fear with anyone or said it out loud. The weekend before my surgery I had a conversation with my brother where I expressed to him how nervous I was to have the surgery. He had the surgery the year before I did, so he understood exactly what I was going through. Before going into surgery, you think of the most ridiculous things I swear. My biggest fear was the anesthesia, was I going to wake up from it or not. Then I thought “ what if when the doctor slices open my knee he sees that there is a bigger issue at hand and he ends up amputating my leg or something?!” That is the moment when I shared my biggest fear with someone for the first time ever. You’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this. 3 weeks later I’m paralyzed, and now I’m a recovering paraplegic. My biggest fear in life became a reality because it was a fear that clouded my mind and our thoughts shape our reality, no kidding. When I realized this truth my heart dropped so hard I said “Holy Hell this stuff is real!!” So now that I’m fully aware of what my thoughts are capable of, you bet I changed my way of thinking completely. I’ve always been a pretty positive person, but this injury was not allowing me to be that jolly spirited person I always was. I was thinking pain all day and thinking negatively about my future because my life at the moment felt completely destroyed. I was only attracting more pain into my life with my way of thinking, so now with the revelation I’ve had I don’t let negative emotions or thought inhabit my mind or life. I literally cannot afford getting mad, being stressed, thinking angrily because I profit nothing positive with mentality like that. With that being said, my positivity is at an all-time high now. I live everyday joyfully and in laughter.

It’s The Belief That You “Can’t” That Keeps You Impaired

If I had a dollar for every time a doctor told a spinal cord injury patient that they will never walk again... BUT they did ! I would be rich. I wouldn't even describe it as a miracle because the possibility was always there. Doctor's love being the bearer of bad news; they almost do it with a smile even. Western Medicine is destroying lives with their choice of words, not saving them. They should do us all a favor and prescribe bottles of positivity and faith instead of toxic medications. It's the belief that you "can't" that keeps you impaired. Believe that you can and you will. My family received the same prognosis as any other spinal cord injury patient… that I wouldn’t be able to walk anymore. My family did me a tremendous favor in not telling me this! Let me explain why. I never knew I was “paralyzed.” I simply had the understanding that I could not walk and couldn’t feel my legs. I didn’t know the “why” part of it all. That “belief” of being paralyzed was never stored in my mind. As a result, my paralysis did not last as long as the doctors reported. I learned how to walk a week and a half later. It was a major shocker to everyone because I still couldn’t even feel my legs, which is why I was very unbalanced and uncoordinated. If my family had told me that I was paralyzed, I’m 100% sure I would still be in a wheel chair and bed ridden today. It was the belief of not knowing that saved me from years if not an entire life of paralysis.

A Hospital is The Wrong Place To Get Well At

I went into the hospital in a bad state, but I walked out in even worse conditions. I attempted suicide before it got even worse, so you can imagine how much more suicidal I was afterwards. I was under so many medications from nerve pain pills, to blood thinners, to narcotics, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, and a whole lot of other toxic pills. I was taking about 10 pills in the morning, pain meds throughout the day, and another 10 pills at night, followed by 2 insulin and heparin shots to the stomach every day. It’s like everything they were doing to me had a risk of something else happening. For example, because I was on such a high dose of steroids, it made my sugar levels rise significantly, so they addressed that with insulin shots because if not, I would risk getting diabetes. As a result, they monitored my sugar levels throughout the day. Because I had inability to empty out my bladder, I had to get straight cathed multiple times at the hospital. If you aren’t familiar with what that is, basically they stick a tube up your female part, and they poke your bladder forcing the urine to come out. As you can imagine, it does hurt, and every time I was risking catching an infection from a foreign object going up my private area. A lot of times I refused to let the hospital straight cath me because I hated the discomfort. Then they told me that if I didn’t get straight cathed, I would risk kidney damage or failure because once my bladder would become full, the urine would need to find room and make its way to my kidneys. Quite frankly, the hospital didn’t do a thing to make me feel better they were killing me more than saving my life. The more time I spent at the hospital the more sick I became and appeared. It’s like I was slowly dying. I lost a ton of weight, my legs got very skinny, I was bruised in my arms, stomach, and legs. I was weak in every aspect, and they intentionally suppressed my immune system. I was being treated with a high dose of steroids through an IV and another treatment called “Plasma Exchange,” where my blood was being completely washed out. It was kind of like a blood transfusion but not exactly; I had 5 sessions of the plasma exchange. That left an ugly scar on my neck because they inserted a catheter in one of my central veins in my neck.

Mentally Preparing To Die

There were many points in this injury where I was so sure I was dying. One day at the hospital I cried hysterically in my room with my mom beside my bed holding my hand tightly as I told her “Mom I feel like I am dying.” She cried so hard with me, and she prayed over me like never before. I was mentally and physically prepared to die and leave the pain behind on that rotten hospital. Another time at the Acute Rehab Hospital, I called my brother crying hysterically saying “I can’t take it anymore, my body wasn’t made to tolerate this pain.” Seconds before that call I stared at a knife thinking of a quick way to take my life with it. I didn’t have the willpower to do it though. Because of my initial attempt at suicide, my brother responded in extreme worry “calm down calm down, I’m coming!” I responded in tears: “no don’t come there’s nothing you can do to make it go away brother.” He was at my hospital room in about 15 minutes trying to keep me calm. No words could help me in that moment. Another instance at my house, my mom slept with me one night, and the pain had reached a new and very high intensity. I didn’t want to wake my mom up, so I cried as quietly as I possibly could in severe pain just trying my best to take it. I was as still as a rock because the slightest movement caused more pain. I was SO sure that was my last day on earth. I was struggling with breathing, it’s like my breathing slowed down significantly, and I couldn’t tell if my heart was beating too fast from the pain or slowly coming to a stop. I thought to myself “Man my mom is going to wake up to a dead daughter.” It hurt to have that vision on my mind, but I was ready to die. I didn’t die that night, and, at the time, I didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried because that meant I had to continue living in pain. I cried that morning telling my brother “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die…but I can’t take this anymore.” My family was a nervous wreck, not knowing what to do, and wanted to take me back to another hospital. The hospital I was at had already told me “We’ve already done everything there is to do for what we believe you have. There is nothing else.” Those words were literally cancerous to my ears. I went to the hospital to “get better” and I left in practically dying conditions. It’s like they discharged me to die at home. I refused to go to any other hospital after that. I preferred to be in dying pain at home then to be trapped in a miserable hospital room. For months I was ignorant of my situation. I woke up crying nearly every day saying “I can’t believe this is a real thing mom, how can someone live this way, this can’t be real!” I would literally pinch myself because I thought I was living a nightmare. Other times I cried because I didn’t know what was wrong with me, so I didn’t know what to say to people when they asked me questions like “How are you? or what’s going on?” I was completely and utterly distraught, traumatized, and confused.

Breath In My Lungs Doesn’t Mean I’m Alive

When I finally found out what REALLY happened to me… I completely died on the inside. There was breath in my lungs, but I was dead on the inside. I never knew I was suffering a spinal cord injury… the hospital did a horrible job at communicating with me and using complicated medical terminology. They told me my spinal cord was inflamed, but I didn’t know what the heck that meant. I then learned that the inflammation damaged my spinal cord, and there was no repairing the spinal cord once it was damaged. I thought to myself “ No, no, no there is no way! There is no way that I am staying like this!!” I thought my life was completely over at 22 years young. I had so many plans and short term goals set for myself, and everything was falling into place before this rotten injury. I was supposed to begin my career as a correctional officer in August of 2016, earn my degree by 25 years old, and buy a house by the age of 26. Then my life took a major detour, and I found myself living off the savings I had put away for my house in the future.  I began thinking way into the future and my thoughts were these: no guy is ever going to want to be with me the way I am now, sick and in pain, and regardless I wouldn’t dare allow a guy to be with me like this…it’s embarrassing. I’m never going to get married, I can’t have kids, so I won’t have a family of my own, I won’t be able to go back to school or work. I can’t tell you how many times I cried and how hard I cried thinking that was going to be my reality. I’m an adventurous person, an adrenaline junkie, an outdoorsy person and just the thought of never getting to live my life to the fullest as I was few weeks prior…it was frightening. As I said, I had breath in my lungs, but I was entirely dead on the inside. I wanted to die more than ever putting an end to my miserable life.

A Spinal Cord Injury Messed With The Wrong Chick !

You  don’t really know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have left. My brother would remind me continuously that he was proud of me because I was strong. I, on the other hand, cried because I didn't see an ounce of strength in me. I didn't have a choice but to deal with and handle the pain, the injury, and a completely new life. I didn't have the will power to attempt to take my life away, but I felt like a coward for wanting to die. No one could truly understand where I was coming from because didn't have the slightest idea of what I was really dealing with. It's one thing to visually see what I'm going through, but it's another thing to live it. Thankfully, I found my strength along the way after I had nothing left. I didn’t know how strong I was until now, seeing how far I’ve come from this injury and illness. I’m extremely proud of myself to say the least, and not in a boastful kind of way. I just really didn’t think I was going to make this one. I had rendered myself defeated. I may have lost a battle, but now I plan on winning the war. My goal is to reach 100% before the end of the year, which is like 3 weeks ago. What happens in 2016 should stay in 2016. I really don’t want to bring this injury and illness with me in 2017. However, whatever the result may be… I must remember that the speed of my recovery does not matter because forward if forward. It’s unfortunate that I don’t have an exact or estimate timing as to when I will be 100% recovered, but I know that it’s going to happen. This is one of those things that you can’t give up on ever. I will keep fighting for as long as I have to because that’s who I am: a fighter and a survivor.  I was introduced to an online ministry that changed my life. Through this ministry I learned about God in a whole new light, in a way I had never heard before in my entire life of growing up in church, but it made so much sense. This was the turning point of this spinal cord injury. I had this radical mind change that happened overnight. I then got hungry to learn more about healing. I am a heavy advocate of healing. With all the research I have done, I believe in healing whole heartedly. There is no such thing as “incurable” or “un-repairable” or “permanent.” Western  medicine speaks words of death not life. The information I’ve learned in the recent weeks was literally the difference between life and death for me. It was extremely impactful, and it wasn’t until I completely changed my way of thinking that I began to see a positive turnaround from this rotten injury.

No Amount of Money Could Ever Change What Happened

To sue the hospital or to not? That is the question. I think I should at least give it a shot. I remember while in the hospital my family was talking about taking action to sue because I had fallen multiple times, but I was much too concerned about getting better to even think about money. I was however, worried with each passing day I spent at the hospital. I didn’t have a clue as to how much each day was costing. I thought “how the heck am I going to pay for this debt?” Then I just completely shut out the financial stress because my health was more important. The hospital is so slow at trying to make you feel better, but they are very quickly to send you the bill. I was getting hospital bills while still in the hospital, ridiculous. Honestly, I don’t plan on paying a single dime back to that hospital. They didn’t do a thing to make me feel better; they made me 100 times worse. I don’t know how or when those medical bills are getting paid, but not by me. In addition, I pray that my and my family's traumatic experience with western medicine/doctors sparks a change in hospital policy and protocols so that other families don't have to experience what my family and I did. It's no secret that what happened to me 6 months ago was 99.99% the hospital's fault. There were multiple opportunities where if the "correct" protocols were taken... my spinal cord injury could have been completely prevented. The surgeon didn't even medically clear me to have the surgery even though I asked about it. He was much too concerned about his financial gain he just wanted to rush me into surgery. I would say I have a fault too with being so quick to believe the doctor when he rushed me into surgery even though I was always skeptical about him. It wasn’t a life or death situation, so I should have been more persistent with my "no." I have a fault for not getting a second opinion because I thought I was in good hands since it was supposedly one of the "top" hospitals in the City... looks can be VERY deceiving though... Heck I probably would have been better off having my surgery at St. Mary's, no kidding. I always think of that... like what REALLY happened in that operating room man. No amount of money will change what took place 6 months ago, no amount of money will reverse and erase the trauma and pain, no amount of money will make my spinal cord new again, but I just pray that this doesn't happen to any one else ! 
Don't be so quick to believe the doctors when they give negative reports please :(  that's all I have to say. They make mistakes too! They're regular humans like us, and they don't know everything.

My Observations on Western Medicine/Doctors

After being told I needed surgery, I cried and asked “What are my chances of running again?” Running is my passion, so I needed the assurance that I was still going to be a runner afterwards. The doctor responded with “there’s a 90% chance.” I quickly thought “What?! Why is that not 100%?!” 90% was never a good enough percentage for me. When we are talking about surgery, percentages are a huge deal. This was my life and my health we were talking about. I didn’t want to treat it like it was a test at school where 90% is passing and it satisfies. That should have been more than enough evidence for me not to go through with the surgery, but so many people around me from my own family told me I needed to get the surgery done as soon as possible. Little did I know what was really going to be the end result of that surgery: I went through with it, and my whole life was flipped upside down. How did I go from a 90% chance of running to a 0% chance of ever walking? That’s a question that I’ve asked myself multiple times. What the hell really happened in that operating room? Where did things go terribly wrong? What did I do wrong?? I was recovering exceptionally well anticipating the days of running my next race, so it didn’t make sense how ugly and damaging everything turned out to be. Unfortunately, these are answers I’ll probably never get answers to. I’ve come to realize that a surgeon’s job is to slice people open. That’s how they make their living, and if they aren’t slicing people open they aren’t making money. I had every right to be skeptical about the surgeon who operated on me. He never genuinely cared for my health and well-being, he cared more about his wallet growing. Of course he would disagree with me if he were to read this. I hope one day he does read this, and has a change of heart. I’ve learned to never again let a doctor scare me into a surgery when it isn’t a life or death situation because they might just turn it into a life or death situation like they did already. I’ll say it over and over again: Western Medicine Doctors are not trying to empty out hospitals but rather trying to keep them filled to capacity in order to maintain the flow of money. Doctor’s no longer ask “How can we help this patient?” but rather they ask themselves “how much money can we make off of this patient? How many expensive treatments can we give the patient before possibly killing them?” They deliver the bad news with a smile on their face. It disgusted me. I remember when the neurologist came to my hospital room the second week to finally show me my Brain and full Body MRI, she did it with a smile. She began pointing out the lesions in my brain and spine and the inflammation in my spine like if it were something pretty. I swear she was cheerful delivering this news. If only she knew how painful it was inside my body. One morning another nueroglogist came into my room saying "I don't get it... everytime we come into your room you have a really depressed face." My initial thoughts were, "well I look depressed because of all the medications you have me on and the treatments you've given me." I wasn't depressed at the moment because I didn't even know what was going on; I was distraught. Her words, however, offended me greatly. I felt it was an ignorant question because "heck who wouldn't be sad after not seeing the light of day in over 2 weeks, having your life complelety changed, and living in constant pain." If only they knew what they did to me.  I didn't fully understand my situation, but I was offended. I'm not a confrontational person, so I never talked back just kept silent and cried like never before. As a result, they put me on anti- depressants, and when I refused to take them they said it was to manage the pain. I don’t have to be a western medicine doctor to understand how they truly approach sickness. They aren’t saving lives at all but rather destroying them. They keep the sick “sick” or worse make them “more sick.” It’s unfortunate and ugly, but this is the observation I’ve made, and it’s pretty valid to me. It’s not just with my spinal cord injury and sickness but with a whole lot of other sickness such as cancer. That’s a big one! They treat cancer with chemotherapy and radiation which practically puts the patient in worse conditions and more pain, and “maybe just maybe” they survive, but hey whether the patient dies or not the hospital and doctor gets paid at the end of it all. I’m tired of doctors using words such as “incurable” and “permanent.” I can’t tell you how destructive those words are to a patient. They were death for me. I don’t believe in such foolishness anymore. When someone tells you “you can’t” it’s simply a reflection of THEIR limitations, but that’s all the more reason to defy their words and show them that you CAN. I used that as fuel to keep myself going. I will continue to strive for my 100% recovery. God wants me well, and his best is 100%, so I’m not settling for anything less than 100%. This is my life, my health, and I’m going to be stronger than I was before this rotten injury. Just watch me. :)

A Note For My Family <3

I say this a lot, and I could never get tired of saying this: My family is MY DREAM TEAM .  
This Spinal Cord Injury is something that affected all of us not just me. They all cried with me, and cheered me on the whole way. I know for some time I became a burden to them all because I was heavily dependent on their help, but they never forsook me. They remained strong for me, and did their best not to cry in front of me to keep me strong.  In sickness and in health they are there for me!! I will always be in debt to them for all their love and support. Ortiz clan all the way! <3 My family has been so amazing with me throughout everything.  From the moment I called my brother saying "I think I tore my ACL I need you to carry me in the house" We prayed before knowing it was torn, we prayed after finding out it was torn, we prayed before surgery, we prayed after surgery, and we just prayed even harder when things got worse afterwards. I come from a family that has a ton of faith. We never stop praying.  I would be 6ft below ground if it weren't for you them and their immense love and support. They make my life sweeter! Mom, Dad, Omar, Ariana, and Adriel… I love you deeply !!

The Guy Who Wasn't Intimidated By This Rotten Injury and Disease

I cried thinking no guy would ever like me the way I am as a recovering paraplegic, but you saw passed the the injury, the disease, and the symptoms. I've always been really hard on
myself, so I wouldn't allow myself to be with anyone the way I am regardless because it's not my best version. Although I was never looking for a partner especially not at this time in my life, I got the chance to know you and meet you. You are the reason why I had never gotten into anything with anybody else because no one I've met before you was a "Gus," and it's unfortunate that after 3-4 years of being single, God sends me what he had set aside for me all along: an exceptional guy, with a huge heart, a loving family, and the list goes on...and now I can't be with him the way I want because I just won't allow myself. 
You are a great listener and very understanding of my situation. I appreciate that so much and it makes things a lot easier, but unfortunately one could never fully understand my end of the stick. I'm not pushing you away. I want to keep you close because you've been good for my health. I want to give you the best because you deserve the best things in life, and although I do feel good enough for you,
I'm not exactly at my best. I'm not the person I'm capable of being and the person I'm supposed to be... not yet but I will be. It hurts that I can't give you an exact answer as to when that time will be...
You didn't sign up for any of this and you can walk away at any point you want, but you give me the assurance that you're not going anywhere. You're going to see me through this, and I couldn't have a better person to experience my recovery with alongside my family. In sickness and in health. I appreciate you so so much !! You have brought so much joy and happiness into my life in the recent weeks. You really do make me feel like I'm healthy and normal again. When I'm around you I forget about this rotten spinal cord injury. That's how I know I'm going to get better ! Thanks for being a part of the journey. You came Into my life at the precise moment when I needed someone as yourself, with a beautiful heart that reflects on the outside and through your actions and way of being. You aren't intimidated by my "disease" or my battle with this rotten spinal cord injury and all its symptoms, but you genuinely care and believe with me for my 100% recovery. At a time like this... the fact that you choose to remain by my side speaks volumes. My heart is incredibly warmed.  You are such an angel and a blessing to my life.

What I acknowledge Vs. What I Believe

What I acknowledge and what I believe are two totally different things. I acknowledge that "Western Medicine Doctors" say that the Spinal Cord is un-repairable and some of the symptoms that come with it are permanent/lifelong, but I don't believe that one bit. Their negative reports are reflections of THEIR limitations not mine. If I were to believe their toxic words, I would be struck because I know that my beliefs makeup the fabric of my reality. I know and believe I'm going to make a full recovery. However, one of the hardest things now is not knowing the "when.” When am I going to be normal again? When will I go back to the way God created me: healthy? I'm not going to lie, it's difficult waking up every morning and having these symptoms still persisting like they belong to me. Noooo they're trespassing right now, and they've gotta go. I’ve had to make so many accommodations and changes to my life because of this injury. From the clothes I wear to the amount of time I spend outside of my house. My wardrobe consists of joggers and t-shirts. At the moment, I am not able to wear more than half the clothes that I own. Only a person suffering a spinal cord injury would truly understand why. I’ve always had the tomboy style, but I really can’t wait to wear a dress again and feel a little more beautiful and girly. Spinal Cord injuries are not like a regular cold or flu where you have an estimated or exact recovery time. I just know that I'm ready to be done with this. I've been ready 6months ago. However, if I would have been healed 6 months ago I wouldn't have known everything I know now. I wouldn't have grown so much as a person. Pero like okay I'm Forreal super ready now man. I'm going to overdose on happiness and laughter every day for the rest of my life. That is a promise!  Illness is horrendous but also a great clarifier. We get well not only to get well but to do something. I am a runner, and I plan on still being a runner. I have learned a couple things from this illness: a reaffirmed value of my family, health, faith, and life. I found out that there are some doctors who are all too quick to pronounce doom, but our job is to never underestimate the power of positive emotions or the incredible regenerative powers of the mind and body. God created our bodies to be self healing, but we have to activate that healing with positive vibes and a positive mentality. I'm overdosing on positivity because God didn't create me "sick." I don't plan to stay like this !!


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