LEARNING & EDUCATION

six.eight.eleven

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Kylie Schalz

My Story

On June 6, 2011 I went in for a very routine back surgery to correct the scoliosis in my spine. The plan was to place two rods on each side of my spine to straighten it. During the surgery my surgeon was placing the last screw at the T4 vertebra. Suddenly all motor and sensory was lost on the monitors and the surgery was aborted. My surgeon had made a drastic mistake. He punctured my spinal cord with the probe while attempting to place the screw.

I woke up paralyzed from my chest down, unable to move or feel anything from the T4 level and below. In a matter of minutes I went from a Division 1 athlete to paralyzed. I woke up and was told I would never walk again. I spent 8 days in ICU before being transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to begin my journey.

I spent 4 months at RIC undergoing extensive physical therapy in an attempt to defy the odds and walk again. It began with the slight wiggling of my toes and eventually grew to sitting up on my own, crawling, standing and eventually taking steps for the first time. Each small goal continued to be achieved all leading to the big goal of WALKING.

I left RIC walking with the aid of forearm crutches. Something neurologists and surgeons all told me would be impossible. I continued my physical therapy and push every day to get stronger and better. I now walk to work in New York City every single day with the aid of a cane. I do not let my spinal cord injury define me. It is a part of me and I carry the struggles and triumphs of my journey with me wherever I go. I never once believed I would never walk again. I believed that impossible was nothing.

Fitness and Goals

I now use fitness to drive my progression every day. I am in the gym lifting, I use Peloton cycle to strengthen my legs through spinning, swim and I handcycle around New York. It is my goal to train for marathons in a racing wheelchair and eventually compete in the Paralympics.

I continue to disable my limits everyday. Just because I have a spinal cord injury does not mean I cannot live the life I love. Challenges are made to be overcome. I would rather live a life filled with challenges, because a life with challenges is so much better than no life at all.

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