DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

Second Chance At Life After Paralysis

Maily Phan

The Accident That Caused Paralysis

On May 8, 2011,  I came home from work and decided to go out with a friend to grab a bite to eat but never made it there. This is the part where my life changed tragically in a matter of seconds. My friend lost control of the car on Highway 99, and the car flipped over three time. I rolled out of the car, into a ditch, and tried to get up. That's when I knew I had paralysis because I couldn't feel my legs. Laying in that ditch felt like I was there for hours, but it was only 15-20 minutes. My friend came out of the car and started yelling "Maily!! where are you??" All I could do was wave my arm and said "over here!" A witness stopped and did a report and I heard a little boy's voice saying, "Mommy, I saw them but they were going too fast" while crying. After that, two men came and helped me and asked "are you okay? Where are your shoes!?" I was so hurt that I was irritable at the same time. I kept cussing at them. When the ambulance came, I kept asking them if I could call my mom, and they kept telling I had to wait until I got to the hospital.

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The Emergency Room & Phone Call To My Mother

When I arrived to the hospital, the first thing I remember was asking the nurse if I could call my mom and they finally let me.  The first thing she said when she answered was, "What?" I told her that "I got into an accident, Mom. Don't yell at me." That night in the ER was hectic because it was Mother's Day, and a lot was going on around me. After the surgery, I was on many pain medications, so it was all a blur. I had to wear ridiculous neck and back braces for a couple of months to help with the paralysis. I hated these braces, but eventually got used to them.

The Paralysis Diagnosis

I don't remember what my reaction was when the doctors told me I was diagnosed with paralysis/ incomplete T12 spinal cord injury. I was switched from the 9th floor to the 3rd floor to wait to receive an okay from the doctor that I was ready to be transferred to the 4th floor (rehabilitation floor for PT and OT). Two weeks in on the rehab floor, I fainted and my regular nurse wasn't present. Nobody one knew what happened so I had to take cat scans to see what was wrong. I was moved to the 5th floor. That night, I had to have surgery to drain the fluid out of my rib located on the left side of my body. I spent 2-3 weeks on the 5th floor, which held me back from making any progress and caused me to be on bed rest. I also wasn't eating enough so I had a feeding tube put in my body. I was so sick, and the meds were making me irritable. Overall, I spent 3-4 months in the hospital. I had so many things holding me back from going home on the discharge date. UTI's are a pain in the ass!

Finding my way back to God & Accepting Paralysis

When I finally returned home, a friend invited me to church. I found myself getting closer to God. It was the one thing that I needed most, a relationship with God. Before my accident, I felt lost, and didn't attend church as when I was a kid. I told myself "I'm here to get closer to God and know Him more." Nothing else mattered at the time besides adjusting to the new lifestyle I was given with paralysis.

Traveling With Paralysis

I also went back to school for a semester until it was too overwhelming for me. I just wasn't ready. I took on a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas for my first time in my chair with a few friends, and didn't know what to expect. Now, I have been on about five trips since then. Vietnam tops the other trips because it was a 17 hour flight! I have always been optimistic from the beginning. I always had walking again on my mind. With and/or without assistance, I would be fine with it. I knew God was beside me through this journey, so I wasn't worried about what was going to happen.

I live life to the fullest taking risks and opportunities that come my way. This second chance at life gave me a whole new meaning of how I shouldn't take life for granted and my perspective/point of view also changed. I have learned so much in the past 5 years than I ever did in the past 20. I might sound crazy, but I'm glad and grateful for everything that happened to me. I wouldn't have it any other way. I learned the hardest way who would be by my side through tough times. I am blessed to have met so many people that God has allowed me to cross paths with during this journey of mine. I have learned to forgive, and have faith and persistence. Also, I didn't know I had so much strength to be strong until being strong is all I had.

I learned that I really love traveling. I always have the travel bug and do things that I would probably never do when I was able to walk. I'm grateful to be able to live a life where I was once walking and now in a chair because not everyone is fortunate to be able to say that or even compare the two. It's not easy, but nothing is impossible. Do what scares you, you'll be surprised what the outcome would be!

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