It happened July 24, 2009 on a nice windy Friday night. I had just come from a nice outing with my boyfriend, my mom and her boyfriend. When we got home (We all live in the same apt building) it was only 9pm so my boyfriend, 2 friends and i just stood outside like we normally did on some nights since it was summer. After one of my friends left to go to work i kind of glanced and seen 2 guys (that i didn't know) standing on the other side of the building next to the 2nd entrance of the apt building which was about 50 feet away from where we were standing. No one thought anything of it and we continued talking. They stood there for what seemed like a good 15 Min's, and All i can remember is a car passed by me and i turned around to look to my right (i was facing the drivers side and the other 2 were standing on the passenger side of the car) i started to hear pops and tried to turn around really quick but when i did that's when i was hit.
I remember everything just going in slow motion and my eyes kind of rolled back and i started falling to the ground but i caught myself. When i finally got there (which seemed forever), i started trying to crawl on my arms and at this time i was on my stomach. My arms were going in slow-mo each time i lifted em and my legs felt like they were going thru the concrete like a big bugs bunny hole was there basically like my whole lower half had fallen off (later learned because of the shock wave to my spine from the bullet ricocheting) . It was by far the scariest things I've ever experienced in my life!! As i looked over to my left i could see my friend laying on the other side of the car his eyes were wide and i kept telling him "I'm hit, I'm hit".and he jolted straight up coming towards me. Now at the same time i was looking for my boyfriend because he was standing on the same side as the guy. When i spotted "him" he was a few feet away like he tried to run but he was slowly starting to sit on the ground. My heart started pounding as i called out his name.. to my relief he got right back up and started coming my way (he had been hit in the back but didn't know at the time he just said he felt pain and itching). They turned me on my back and i just laid there told somebody to go get my mom. I could hear her screaming and askin 'is my baby dead if she is im not going over there' Ahh! It was so heartbreaking, but i managed to call out to her and told her i was OK (or still alive at least idk about being ok).. I started not being able to breath and i could hear the paramedics and different people asking me was i alright.. I still didn't know where i was hit! It was just chaos. A lot of people and lights and sirens and officers EVERYWHERE but all i was looking at was the sky wondering when someone was gonna get me off the ground to safety. Finally a police officer kneeled down next to me and he slightly pulled down the left side of the hoodie i was wearing and i could feel blood trickle down my arm close to my shoulder and im thinking 'thats it??'. I was hit in the left shoulder, at a angle where it went straight thru my bone and thru my back hitting my spine. After laying there trying to stay alert (i kept blacking out cuz i couldn't breath!) everyone was over there by me and the paramedics came with the stretcher and took me off. The ride in the ambulance was so bumpy and painful. I remember them cutting most of my clothing off and my mom trying to jump in to ride but they told her she couldn't. It was the longest ride ever because i couldn't breath and they kept talking to me trying to get me to stay awake. I was so frustrated and in disbelief that all of this was happening to me. It was like a long *** BAD dream.
Needless to say i had bleeding in my left lung AND it collapsed which caused me to have to have a chest tube put under my left breast. The interal bleeding had it not been caught soon enough would have been what would have killed me... I had to be transferred to a trauma hospital which was 40 Min's from where we live. The doctor's couldn't figure out why i had feeling in my legs but couldn't move them. Turns out i have Brown Sequard Syndrome (My right side has no temperature sensation but works fine, the left side has all feeling and sensation but is the leg that's partially paralyzed/motor loss). The bullet hit at the T3-T4 level directly on the nerve and they left it in there for life. The facility i was in is like a Medical School/College/Hospital so you know i was going through it in there with those student doctors and nurses; good times and iffy times... I stayed there for about 2 months mostly going through rehab in the spinal cord injury center. It was a LONG, HARD process but i thank God everyday that i made it through it i seriously wanted to give up. Its been 4 months since my injury and i am happy to say that i am now taking steps with a walker but i get tired quick and my knee has alot of pain since i don't have a leg brace yet. I am proud because i started doing that all by myself, since i don't regularly get to rehab. I'm going to outpatient rehab but i can confess that I've been slacking off... Another thing i wanted to add was at first i couldn't move neither of my legs. My right leg came back before i even got discharged, and the left one is coming along but slowly. Nothing was originally wrong with my arms they've been fine from the beginning, even though the left shoulder got hit which i am surprised. I feel i got VERY lucky and God was definitely on my side that night!
Please feel free to leave comments or ask any questions as I've gone through what most paraplegics have (the slew of medicines, the bowel & bladder problems, I'm still in a wheelchair also). I am NO LONGER on any medications anymore after ALL the medicine they had me on and i am proud of myself. Believe me that nerve pain is noo joke! I got through all of this with Faith and the love of my family and friends and prayer... It does work. I kept a good attitude and some days i do get depressed and bored out of my mind. If it wasn't for my laptop or phone i would have been in a looney house by now!! It's been a learning experience for me with all of the research and learning i have done on Spinal Cord Injuries, Nerve Damage, all kinds of stuff. I'm currently considering studying to become a neurologist or something in the Advanced Medical Field in the future. So something good has actually come out of this!
Thanks for reading my story! God bless & Good Luck to anyone that's going through this or knows someone who is.
UPDATE: July 13th, 2010 the shooter was sentenced to 41 years, other shooter still free. I am now walking/limping more un-assisted but only around my apt. I lost most of my muscle/endurance sitting around for a year and stlll have to use a wheelchair when i'm out because my body is so weak... But please believe i ditch that chair for as long as i can!
UPDATE OCTOBER 16TH, 2011: Everything is still pretty much the same for me, still surrounded by my loving family 24/7. I was discharged from Physicual Therapy they feel i can do whatever exercises on my own.. I STILL have to walk assisted of course, i find it easier to use a walker instead of Crutches. I also still have to use my wheelchair outside of home for long distances (shopping, etc). Right now i am focused on losing the excess weight that i gained from being down so long, which will definitely help me with moving around and endurance. Its alot harder to move with weight when u have a Spinal Cord Injury! LoL. Just trying to keep a positive attitude throughout it all.
UPDATE JANUARY 20, 2013: Hello all, Gosh its soo many replies and views on this story. Thank you all for all of your wonderful comments, i have read them all individually, some more than once. I just wanted to come in and update. Its been 3 years and 5 months since the injury. Everything is still the same since the last update. Still have to use my chair when shopping, when i'm on campus, or going long distances. I could walk better but i walk so slow i'd just rather use the chair. Now when i say 'walk' i don't mean like a normal person, I limp or 1-2 step walk and only for short distances. Hey, its better than nothing right? I don't want anyone to go "oh you're not a para lady", I am a incomplete paraplegic, alot of us do regain the ability to walk mostly with braces, a walker or a cane. When i'm in the house or short distances i walk using a crutch or holding on to the wall. Not to mention the slightest little thing can throw me off balance (like turning my head quick) and i'll be on the floor embarrassed ...LoL. . I'm so happy, proud, & relieved. Also recently started college courses for my degree in Graphics Communications which i have really been basically doing 10 years now since high school but figured i'd go on & get certified once i got over the depression. Haven't had any major tragedies in life other than when this happened so that's a blessing. Hmm what else. I'm desperately trying to work with diff doctors to get some kind of leg brace instead of a AFO. I really believe this will help me as far as balance wise so i can walk even better, since that seems to be the only noticeable problem i have now. Other than that still thankful, still positive, still living =). Willing to help whenever i can, tell my story and bring awareness to this rare disability. Thanks again to everyone. I'll continue to update twice a year or whenever something big happens. (I should start a blog huh?).... Take Care Until Next Time! =)