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My Life Changed in Seconds....

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! =)

Airrika Airrika 26-30, F 20 Responses Nov 29, 2009

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Wrong place wrong time. Been there and doing that . Life has beaten me down, not quite into submission if that is even possible for me. I think you make for a good writer just from your story.

Hi, I recently read your story. My office managers brother in law fell from a roof will working and broke his back and shattered his spine. They say he will never walk again.
Do you believe life came be enjoyable again from a wheel chair?? I would love if you would agree to talk to John and cheer him up.....would you do this??. I am just a dentist in this office but I feel so bad and wish I could do some thing........bartel

Great story. I'm so glad to hear you able to walk a little now. Hey I'd be glad to at least be able to do that. I'm also a incomplete paraplegic. I've regain sensation on my lower waist. I just have a little sensation from my knees down. Other then that, I can move all my upper body. I have hope, its been six years. I've been in my wheelchair. I just really need to try and help myself. Than always worried about others, maybe I'd be walking a little. I read your story and thank you for making me realize, there is hope!! Take care and God Bless. <3

I am so proud of you

I am at T9 I thought your story was very inspired I'm glad that you got to move on

Bless your heart! I am alone with my two cats. no friends, no one understands or even wants to understand....I am in a wheelchair, paraplegic.......can use a walker some and still drive but I get tired easily and I hate going grocery shopping and having to carry it all in by myself! Music I guess is my main outlet so far. oh and God for sure, for it has been by His Grace that I am even here.

wow you are so strong . you are my hero!! god bless you and keep you for all you've been threw .

U are great girl thanks for your story Here's a hug......

Airrika, thank you for posting your story ! I am so sorry this happened to you ( and everyone else )

I am a qualified physical therapist and now a medical student. I have often wondered what the experience was like for my patients. You are a truly amazing person! Keep up the good work :)

Hi Airrika, i am doing a course at presant about Paraplegic's and Quadriplegic and one of our questions is if you don't mind answering it is.What activties were you able to particapate in before your incident and the ones you were not able to do after the incident or have you found ways to be able to do these activties still after the incidentYou are a very brave and encourageing women and i wish you god's blessingThanking you..

Hi,<br />
<br />
It is glad to know that you are recovering on both counts i.e physical and emotional. Being an hindu, I can confidently say that whatever happens, happens for good. the incident may belong to your present life karma or of any past life, but this suffering is make you free of the past and must be making your sub-consicous soul free and lighter.<br />
<br />
Regards,<br />
<br />
Chentnya

Wow. well then. i hope you know when a doctors say it cant be done it usually can. have you researched bioinformatics or cybernetics? and do you take lots of vitamins? technology will be getting to fully replaceable parts in our lifetime.

You guys have been through it. But it's so amazing to read how positive and encouraging you are. There's a web site that has really encouraging stories and some good info. Disaboom.com Check it out and see what you think.

Arikaa ur hot lol :)

Hello Airrika,<br />
I am a black woman, 7 year paraplegic. I am a Christian, mother, teacher, woman, friend and so much more. My hope and wish for you is that you would be blessed everyday. <br />
Everyday is a wonder and a miracle. <br />
There are so many issues that paraplegics face daily. Everything I learned about this condition, I lived! (and am still living).<br />
Stay encouraged. Encourage yourself! I pray that you have a good support system. It does not take a village, just one or more caring people who love you and want to help make your life easier.<br />
In return, you just be a blessing to them in anyway you can or anyway they let you. <br />
Trust me, with God, everyday gets better. <br />
I never appreciated life the way I have in the last 7 years. There are many issue, especially the bowel/bladder issue, and the menstrual cycle issue! However, I am so grateful that I am able to care and clean up behind myself. I am always discovering ways to better care for myself through trial and error. <br />
But you know what, I am so thankful that you have mobility coming back in both legs. I cannot walk and do not have movement or feeling in my leg, however, I am still believing God and am grateful for all that I can do. <br />
I recently met a beautiful, black woman, my age, 46, who is a quad. She has little to no movement in her limbs. She has a great support system. She is a diva and the most courageous person I know. Meeting her has made me more appreciative of life. We relate to each other and are friends and support for each other.<br />
Airrika, may God bless and keep you. My email address is annettetyler77@yahoo.com. Please feel free to contact me.

I was in a car accident which left me paralyzed from the waist down, they say that i will be able to walk again with therapy. Its been 2 years now, sometimes i have good days and bad days i really try to stay positive, but it gets hard sometimes, i just want to get back on my feet, work, and get life back to something familiar.

im glad doing so well we have court this month to see what happens to the guy that shot me. hope to hear more good knews from you. right now i dont have no movement in my legs but i started going back to cardinal hill for thearoy so im still hoping and praying.

I know what your going through. I have a gunshot injury to the spine also back in 97. its been hell for me. I live with extreme spasms and pain. I hate being paralyzed I mostly hate the pain and spasms that follow the injury. Since you can stand some thats a good thing. I cant anymore. My story is to long to post but I have a website at: http://www.jeffreylramsey.com please drop by. God Bless, Jeff

I am so sorry for all you've gone threw <br />
thank you for posting this