Help me WALK again.
After enjoying a night out with friends in Philadelphia , Christmas week 2011, I hailed a taxi to go home. That was my last recollection before suffering an attack where I was left for dead in a city alley. Many facts are unknown but investigators determined that I was most likely struck across the back with a heavy, blunt piece of metal three different times blindly from behind, causing various injuries to my body and spinal cord. Soon after I was found on train tracks with further severe injuries from the fall and damage from the train hitting me. The police investigated but were unable to find the attacker(s) or any other information as to the accident.
Everyone always hears of tragic accidents but no one ever expects they will be the victim. The reality that I was a victim became known to me as I drifted in and out of consciousness in the trauma unit with doctors over my body , tubes and wires, and a priest at my side. It did not become clear what had happened until the priest spoke with me, and I realized I could not move anything below shoulders from paralysis. Emergency surgery awaited me as I was facing the rest of my life in a wheelchair with a 10% chance of recovery to walk. I knew this would be the greatest fight of my life.
I spent 6 grueling months in Trauma, ICU, step-down units, and at a rehabilitation hospital - filled with struggle, frustration, anger, support, love, and the thought of never walking again. I was released home and it is then that I realized that without the help of full time nurses and doctors at my side my real fight would begin. My first weekend home was both sweet and bitter, I knew it was going to be incredibly tough and take every ounce of my mental, physical and spiritual strength to get through this injury. But I would beat it.
These physical, psychological, and emotional elements in and of themselves are daunting, scary, and overwhelming; but they are only part of the battle. The other critical part is the cost of care to treat my injury and recovery. The hospital and rehabilitation costs were just the beginning of a long, arduous process of dealing with insurance to cover and continue to pay for therapy that is essential to my walking again. It is estimated that the cost of the first year's care to treat a Quad spinal injury at one million dollars, $1,000,000. Subsequent years can cost on average $175,000.
Five days a week I am in Physical Therapy, both at an out-patient facility and home. My schedule is relentlessly tough and I give no breaks to myself no matter how much pain I am in or how easy it is to skip my exercises, weights, standing frame, stimulation bike, stretching, or other treatments. Now, 28 months since my injury, 21 months into therapy, I am able to move both my legs on my own (right stronger at present - but left will catch up), proving to myself and to the amazement of doctors that a full recovery is possible with the right support, love, and hard work. To date I have worked relentlessly to recover 75% of what the accident took away.
Until now I have relied on insurance and immediate family for help. I have hit many of the maximum limits with insurance. The personal funds I had available to pay these costs have been depleted. I am humbly asking for your generous donation to help with medical and related expenses such as: continued medical treatment, aqua rehab, exercise equipment, home healthcare, and hospital and doctors fees. Your donation, no matter how big or small, will be greatly appreciated to defray these costs. My goal is to raise $40,000, biggest components are a stimulation bike which costs $16,800, and to pay for further Locomotor Training (see video w treadmill) sessions which cost $400/hour 3 times a week.
Today I am a changed man physically, mentally and spiritually. This accident has been the greatest gift in disguise, replete with lessons on life that forever have made me a better person. With your help I also will become a changed man. With your donations, my guts and determination, the support and love of family and friends, and through prayer, I will walk again.
Each week I will provide update(s) on my recovery and what changes have occurred as a result of your donations - until I post a picture of myself completing a 5K race. Thank you!!!
VIDEOS of my recovery:
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All donations are tax deductible.
Some people look at me as if I have three eyes when they hear I have not walked again since those initial two times. The first try was because my legs told me to go and walk. The second was to prove to me it was real; and since, my legs have not requested to walk. So I haven’t. In the meantime I know what they are up to: recovery. I can feel the smaller, finer nerves running and connecting – all day and night. It is enough to drive me nuts most days of late - sometimes I jab them to settle them down. Some days there is not enough medicine in the world to take that type pain away. It is through pain we find healing.
There are many different types of recovery. Some I have learned from doctors and studies, otherwise I have used my own healing, and others in the injured community as a basis. My recovery has always been of the ladder type – step by step. My body gives me a sample of what is to come – then it will give it to me 100% in due time. It is spotty, chaotic, and organic – closely following the Quantum Physics model, which we know is how the body operates and heals. Not under the Newtonian, linear model: A-B-C-D, which is what Western Medicine follows, of which Physical Therapy is a part of that system.
My body continues to heal and recover almost daily. As my legs drive me crazy my core is advancing into full recovery. My shoulders and upper back are taking a hammering – my muscles are constantly sore. Some days it can be tough to wheel to the kitchen to prepare food. That is if I am able to get out of bed – each morning I awaken to feeling like my body was beaten throughout the night. I do not dream, pure black sleep – within two minutes of my head hitting the pillow. The question begets: where do I go and what do I do? That is a question for another time.
As my core gets stronger it means a world of change for me. I have begun to sit up so straight that I now I need to adjust to a new point of balance, once again making hot fluids and knives dangerous weapons. When I wheel around sometimes I almost fall face forward into the ground as my point of balance has changed in everything I do, and how. However I am now able get up from the couch using only my core muscles, whereas a week ago I could not. I can feel them engage and then witness them working to lift me – again, after five years – it can cause one to take pause and think on the bigger questions of life.
As time goes on so too does the nature of my updates, and my recovery: I continue to heal in ways that amaze me at every turn – growing inside as a person at the same time. Each is its own journey, with its own story. One part of my plan to give back is a book, a guide book of sorts for those who awaken to a trauma, unprepared, ill-equipped to get through it. The chapter outline was recently approved and so the writing will commence this spring, with plans to publish in late summer, early fall. Much is in the works to give back and start paying it forward. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for all the donations, prayers, words of encouragement, letters and stories of inspiration received – for they all give me the gas to get out of bed on those days I would rather not – Teeth to the Wind. Thank you! Steven
To say this journey of healing has taken me from the high seas without a captain at the helm, continued daily endless fight to regain my body below my neck, accidents, falls, slips, embarrassing situations, to the darkest parts of my soul as I graciously pursued my journey to slay my dragons: to the mountains, seas, and now to the stars, would not do it one slither of justice. To heal is not to recover, vastly different. Alas, also one of the many voids that exist under the current PT paradigm of which we are told will heal us. And one of the many issues and questions I hope to answer in the coming years through theory and practice.
As I have written about over the past five years each month the injury would change, thus throwing me for a loop. I spent endless hours reading and studying and listening to my body, figuring out the puzzle, until one day we began to speak the same language. I can never forget the words of a close MD friend when he told me: “Steven, you need to learn to love your body again, to know every part of it.” He could never have known just how true that statement would be for me. I often write of how my body talks to me, it orders food, tells me yes and no, is my ultimate guide. Our bodies want to heal, we only need to give them the right tools. Sooner you have a better relationship with your body, the healthier you will be.
A few weeks ago I began to feel yet another new feeling in my body. This feeling was unlike any other that I had experienced. It was if I had magic wander-dust being sprinkled about my inner legs. Long gone were the feelings of nerves running, bus lanes and micro signals alike, and all the other feelings I had experienced to date. My body tells me what therapy to do and when. My legs also instruct me when to stand, stretch, or when they need a break. As I sat in my kitchen making afternoon tea a thought came into my mind: Steven, go and walk.
There was no question whether I would heed such a message. So I left the kitchen and headed over to my therapy area. Keep in mind the weeks prior to this date my legs had been in major recovery mode – basically driving me nuts with aches, pains, and other strange feelings words would not do justice. So I popped up from my ottoman to stand at my walker – and then proceeded to step right, step left, step right, step left – before I knew it I had walked for the first time in five years. I had made it eight feet across my living room – at which point I said “Oh sh!t, now what?” – so I scooted backward to safety.
Since then I have walked one more time but my body has also made a major shift. So much changes in a body when you take it from standing to sitting, and the same in reverse. Gravity plays a much bigger role than you might realize, digestion for one example; now all the same is in reverse disarray. It feels as if I have the flu in every joint, each muscle has been torn, and every organ and function is adjusting to life soon to be vertical again. And that is very painful to say the least. Yeah, okay, next on the list; there is work to be done. Ahead still lies a long road to walking and running unassisted, so more important than ever to keep the support coming. I have a date to keep with MacKenzie at the Rocky stairs. It feels as if I were hit by a bus, thrice - yet I could not be happier. The Philadelphia Art Museum stairs await.
Not one part of this healing or recovery has been done alone. We are all together in this life, one shared conscious. There is not a day that goes by I am not eternally grateful for the love and support I receive daily. And as promised I will pay it all forward – stay tuned for what is to come in 2017. In the meantime, please take some time to celebrate this big win. It is a win for me, a win for you, a win for all. I am immensely grateful for all your donations to help with my recovery, prayers to fill my soul with love and light, words of encouragement and inspiration to help me slay my dragons, and the undergird support system to help me in ways words cannot do justice at this time. Please help me spread this amazing news by liking and sharing story – and if would like to write a message for all others to read, please do. It is all you who made this possible. From the deepest parts of my soul and heart I say thank you for helping me to walk again, my rebirth could not have been done without your endless love and support. Thank you! Steven
- I am now standing, my legs are weak, but the muscles are functioning and in time will work better together, get stronger, so can begin motor training of walking = vertical = walker. This week I started doing exercises on the Parallel Bars. It is HUGE, another game changer, and one step close to walking. See three attached pictures.
- My book is coming along well, and expected to be published in summer 2017. One possible title: “Oh Shit! Now What!? What to do after you wake up from a trauma.” The book will be meant to serve as a Self-Help Guide Book to those who wake up after a trauma and have no understanding of what to do next. It is a book meant for all, grammar to PhD, many are unaware of what to do, or how. I will attempt to help get them on a path of healing once out of the hospital, when the real work begins.
- I will attend UPenn in 2017.
- Also in 2017 I will be starting a new company with a partner from childhood. After five years of healing I have learned a few things I would like to share with others. My partner has a science background, post doc HMS, together we hope to create a health related company to help others heal. We both are very excited and looking forward to getting started by summer of 2017.
I still have a long road ahead of me. Legs training by no means will be a walk in the park – pun so intended. Please keep the support coming, and prayers flowing – much needed and super appreciated. I am fully aware and extremely thankful each day as I cannot do any of my recovery without the love and support of others. So on this Christmas Holiday I say a BIG and HUGE THANK YOU to my supporters. After five years I can celebrate Christmas again with a big smile on my face, with dreams of dancing by the fire. I hope this news makes all your smiles a bit brighter this beautiful day. Thank you!!! Steven
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2017!
As the mercury deepens and the coats pile on it is a time to be Merry, more importantly, also a time to be thankful. I am incredible thankful to my body for its results. Thanks must be given to my mind, soul and subconscious – for that is truly where the change happens. Getting to my goal of walking is no mistake. It is a collective joint-effort, we are all one, a shared conscious, we heal together. I am immensely thankful to all those who have helped me get to this point. And in 2017 I will start to pay it forward by helping others to get on the road to their own recovery, heal.
As my lower core is now in full on recovery mode that also means it is time for shoulder and neck pain again. Those muscles are the compensation group to make up for the lack of lower core as it heals. The bowel and bladder phase (been many of them) is coming to the tail end of an eight week reign of terror on my life. Funny too after my first day back to physical therapy when driving home I had three separate incidents, one almost making me have an accident as there was no place on the highway to pull over. I smiled and drove on. Such is the life of the road less traveled. Such it is when healing.
As I was unable to leave my home for some weeks I could not get to my outside physical therapy. I was a prisoner in my own home, unable to even go get milk and bread. There were many choices when it came to picking a new PT team. In the end I decided to go back to simple anatomy. Often in life, on projects or what have you, we get too caught up in the details. And though I have a better understanding of the body than most in medicine, how it operates, and heals, I, too, got caught up in things that were more a matter of throwing sh!t against a wall and hoping some stuck, whereas now I am getting back to the foundational key areas that allow one to build from: covering the basics.
Speaking on change, as the seasons change, Winter solstice is upon us (we start adding light back to our days), great change has also come about in me, myriad of ways. There is a native expression I love dearly: you get what you need, and need what you get. As much as no one ever wishes to be hit by a train, or someone else be struck by one, I got what I needed. I did not know it at the time. It is all part of the lessons I have learned, and continue to learn, which I hope to expand upon in the coming year through a book and other means to help others to heal. Just today it is my five (5) year anniversary of my accident. I am now 88% recovered, and soon will fully stand and start learning the motor to walk. It has been an amazing journey, one I never could have imagined, but certainly needed. I am a better person in every way as a result, and in 2017 I will rise again after five years in the ashes. Thank you for taking this journey with me. And thank you for your continued love and support! Happy Holidays! Steven
Hey Steven, I hope you're doing good, I wanted to thank you and share some extremely exciting news, because of you I worked harder than I ever have on my writings, found a producer and am going into production on the Blue Ridge Massacre in June, check it out on IMDB
Steven, you are so in my prayers and I am routing for you every time I read one of your updates, I am reminded of how powerful the human spirit is. How self-healing the body can be if we dedicate ourselves to it. Keep going! Sending you all my love.
Hi Steven, Sorry to learn of this. I wrote you a while ago on Facebook. Let me know if you'd like a visitor. Sincerely, Kelly
Bare feet in the grass activates different areas
Steven, I had no idea of your struggles. Stay strong. A healthy mind can compensate for any physical shortcomings. God bless buddy, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Merry Christmas buddy. Mark
With god all things are possible.
You will walk again and dance the night away once more :) ox you remain in my prayers!!!
YOu have are support & Prayers Cuz.. we love you