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I have no doubt that, despite my paralysis, I will one day walk again.
I’ve always had a positive attitude: When I put my mind to it, I can do anything. The word “if” isn’t part of my vocabulary.
So I have no doubt that, despite my paralysis, I will one day walk again. And though I may not walk out of St. Anthony’s Acute Rehab department, one day I will walk back in as a volunteer.
My life changed this spring, to put it mildly. In April I was cutting tree limbs, preparing to build a treehouse for my five-year-old daughter, Alexis, when one of the branches swung back and hit me, knocking me off the ladder. I sustained a thoracic spine fracture with dislocation, an epidural hematoma, and complete spinal cord injury.
Just one hour after I was rushed to St. Anthony’s, to maximize my chance for recovery, neurosurgeon Fangxiang Chen, M.D. performed surgery to decompress my spinal cord and stabilize my thoracic spine. After the surgery, I was kept in the Intensive Care Unit for standard spinal cord protocol treatment for one week, and I regained sensation in my lower abdominal area.
As one of the first tasks for my rehabilitation, I learned to use a wheelchair. More than anything, I wanted to be on hand for my daughter’s preschool graduation ceremony. My therapist in Acute Rehabilitation, Geri Tyrey, learned of my wish and obtained permission from Sandy Lehn, manager of Acute Rehabilitation Therapy Services, to escort me on a surprise visit to the commencement ceremony. As I wheeled in the auditorium at Sherwood Elementary School in the Fox C-6 School District, Alexis was ecstatic; my wife, Crystal, was in tears; and there were few dry eyes in the audience.
I’ve now progressed from complete to incomplete paralysis, and face a long road of physical and occupational therapy. But Dr. Chen, my therapists, my physiatrist, Harmeen Chawla, M.D., and others have given me a sound footing on which to move forward. And Dr. Chawla says my positive attitude will help me considerably as I tackle my rehab work.
St. Anthony’s is a phenomenal hospital. Other hospitals wanted me to come for rehab, but I chose to stay here because of Dr. Chawla. I’m glad I did.
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