A week after my accident I was flown to Shepherd Center in Atlanta where I underwent strenuous physical rehabilitation. They were going to teach me what I needed to know about living from this point on as a quadriplegic. I actually don’t even remember too much of the first week after my accident. I really only recall getting loaded up in the airplane and flying to Atlanta. I still wasn’t fully aware of the severity of my injury. I remember once I got to Shepherd Center being transferred to a bed and then asking them to un-strap me so I can move. They explained to me what happened and how I was paralyzed because of a spinal cord injury. I didn’t really say too much after that and I just thought to myself that I’ll be fine because my body was just in shock or something. I didn’t know anything about spinal cord injuries at that time. My life was very different all of a sudden. I felt lost and didn’t know where to go or what to do.
The next few months were really hard both mentally and physically. I was surrounded by people with all kinds of different spinal cord and brain injuries. I was in constant pain and playing guinea pig to all kinds of medication. I had severe nerve burning pain where I had no sensation and I felt like being thrown into a bathtub full of ice water would be the only thing that could make me feel better. I also had serious uncontrollable body spasms that would have thrown me out of the wheelchair if I did not have a chest strap on. Another issue was not having control over my bowel and bladder, which was very embarrassing. There was medication to help me from urinating on myself but not so much when it came to the other thing. It was quite embarrassing working with a cute physical therapist and then all of a sudden make a mess on yourself. It seemed like that happened to me every other day. So at this point, I’m trying to live with the fact that 80% of my body is dead weight because I can’t move it and I could make a mess on myself at any time. Let’s not forget to mention my crazy body spasms and unbearable nerve pain. The pain medicine I was on caused me to throw up every morning for the longest time.
After a few weeks, I finally had a breakdown. It was just too much to handle. I’m not the kind of guy that cries and that was the second time I’ve ever cried in my life that I can recall. It was a well needed cry. I continued pushing and doing what needed to be done because I had to be strong for me and my family. I spent 8 hours a day doing physical rehab and learning about what comes with a spinal cord injury. Pressure sores, urinary track infections, autonomic dysreflexia, neuropathic pain, spasticity, and much more. You would think just being paralyzed was enough but it’s much more than that. I learned how to transfer to bed and other surfaces, dress myself, use a catheter, feed myself, brush my hair and teeth, stretch myself, sit up, and other things that use to be so simple you don’t even think about how to physically do it. These are things that became challenging. My hands are paralyzed too and it made everything so much harder. Imagine going through your day without being able to use your fingers. Seriously, take a moment and think about it. It’s worse than not being able to walk. I had to learn different techniques for everything and simple things that use to take seconds now take minutes.
I’ve come along way since being at Shepherd Center over 7 years ago but I still face challenges everyday. Life is hard and very frustrating at times but I’m still pushing…I’m still making it! I definitely have a new found strength through Jesus. He is my strength, my comforter, my healer, my guider, my SAVIOR! I can do so much more than I ever thought I couldn’t do. I’ve made it through trials I never thought I would. There is always light at the end of the tunnel! Just keep pushing and you’ll see …
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Phillipians 4:13
– Devyn (The Quad)