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How Grey's Anatomy Saved My Life: SCI Awareness

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Efena Smiles

The Beginning of my Spinal Cord Injury journey

It all seemed to happen in slow motion. A loud, startling bang. The sudden whiplash. The medley of confused voices muffled in the background. The pungent stench of petroleum oil lingering in the air practically assaulted my nostrils. Tears welled up in my eyes, blurring my vision but somehow refused to trickle down my hollowed-out cheeks. I stared down at my legs willing them to move, but they were shaped like a scythe. Mishapen, bent and twisted, limp and lifeless. It was an endless nightmare; the stuff of grotesque horror flicks. How did this happen? Who are these random people? Why haven’t I passed out yet?

The Middle

Like a gruesome montage, a replay of scenes from Grey’s Anatomy flashed through my consciousness. I mustered every ounce of strength and said, “don’t touch me yet, something is VERY wrong and I can’t move my legs.’ Due to the proximity of the gas station and the smoke coming from the car’s engine, I told them exactly how to lift me out of the car. A chair was placed in the corner for me to sit, at a safe distance from the wreckage. Derek Shepherd MD, neurosurgeon at the fictional Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital in Seattle, Washington whispered in my ear, “take pressure off your spine and balance yourself on your knuckles – be in this position till you are placed on a gurney”. Obviously, this was a figment of my imagination but the words resonated in my subconcious.

The End

Finally, my dad’s Mercedes Jeep pulled up. He screeched to a halt. My saviour had arrived. I told them exactly how to lift me up and place me in the right position in the back seat. Again, my knuckles were my saving grace. Derek was urging me to go on…..Fast forward to three days after my first surgery, my surgeon said that the singular act of staying alert and alleviating the pressure off my lower back by using my knuckles as a ‘soft’ landing preserved my spinal cord, by miraculously causing a ‘loop’; a cushion preventing a complete cord break. Through the morphine-induced haze, a wide smile came on my face as I quietly thanked Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd.

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