DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

Defying The Odds

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

April Otwell

Early Life

I grew up in the boondocks of Little River in Lasalle Parish Louisiana where we did nothing but stay outside until it got dark. We wanted nothing more than to be building forts, climbing trees, riding ATVs, playing in the mud or even just picking flowers. We traveled fifteen miles to and from school everyday and even more some days when we needed to go shopping. The closest neighbors were about a mile from us. It was much simpler times back then. My dad was an oilfield rig manager and my mom was a stay at home mom who took care of any and all problems we had. My dad only came home once or twice a year so my parents grew apart and finally my mom wanted a divorce so that she could find someone who would be home all the time. It was a very messy divorce that lasted a few years. It was decided that we would move to Bandera Texas, which is about 45 minutes from San Antonio Texas.

February 28, 2009

We had been in Bandera for about a year and life had finally started to settle down from the move. I had friends and even a boyfriend, who I was head over heels for. I had just turned 14 and thought I knew everything. I was becoming a handful if you want to know the truth about it. I loved school, but I was getting bad grades because all I wanted to focus on was my relationship with my boyfriend.

So one morning my mom told me that we were going antique shopping and I could invite my best friend to go with us so I would have someone to entertain me. I got in the shower and washed my hair and put on my make up just like any other girl would do when I got ready to go somewhere. As soon as my friend arrived, we jumped on my four wheeler to blow dry my hair because I was not a girly girl. The ATV we had brought back from Louisiana and we had some trouble with the brakes so we cut the back brakes so that the wheels would be free to turn. It was obviously the wrong thing to do. You have to know that I had been driving ATVs since I was seven and I had become very cocky with it. I could drive backwards, side saddle, with my feet and all other kinds of dangerous moves.

I was driving around a curve that was sharper than I expected it to be and I was going so fast that I didn't have time to slow down. I stood up trying to get the back brakes to work, but when they didn't I panicked and grabbed the front brakes which threw me over the handle bars. I landed on my head and was knocked unconscious. I woke up in the intensive care unit of the hospital, University Hospital San Antonio Texas.

I knew right away that something was wrong because I could not move any of my body parts. They even felt as if they were out of place because they felt like they were up above my head when they were really down at my side just laying there. My mom stood up and told me that I was now paralyzed from my neck down. When I landed on my head, I broke my C3, C4, C5 vertebrae in my neck, and when the guy that found us saw me in the middle of the road he instantly pick me up and the disc that were broken slid forward crushing my C4 vertebrae and pinched my spinal cord. I was instantly a quadriplegic. I could no longer move anything from the neck down and according to the doctors I would never move anything from the neck down again.

A week later my lung died from collapsing and I had to get a tracheotomy insert in order to keep my lungs from completely collapsing and me drowning in my own body. I was told that because of my injury I would most likely never be able to breathe on my own again and I would be stuck on a ventilator for the rest of my life.

Seven years later

In 2016 I celebrated my 21st birthday and now I'm trach free, I can use my right hand and I have the basic use of my arms. I was told I had less than a 50% chance that I would ever be able to use my hands or my feet again. I was determined to prove the doctors wrong and I have so far. I have defied all the odds that were against me and I will continue to defy the odds that are against me no matter who steps in my way. If you would like to hear where I am today and how my recovery and how life is going after my spinal cord injury, please watch my YouTube videos and like my public figure page on Facebook under the name April Otwell. Www.facebook.com/aprilotwell123

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