[ C6 INCOMPLETE spinal cord injury ]
Hi! My name is Dana, and I’m excited to be a part of the Injury Co-Op and hope to be a source of moral support and a resource for anyone struggling with the after effects of a spinal cord injury. I’ve been injured for over ten years and while I still learn new information every day, I do have a pretty extensive knowledge of all things SCI. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’ve been paralyzed ten years, because when I close my eyes it feels like yesterday that I was a carefree teenager with no idea of the turns my life would take.
The summer in between my junior and senior year of high school was going to be the best summer ever. I had a part-time job, was able to drive finally and had great friends with plans of lazy beach days and mall shopping trips before we had to make our final decisions about college in the fall. Life and all the world had to offer was there for the taking.
Yet, that summer never came to be. Early one Saturday morning, I was stopped at a red light on my way to Busch Gardens when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a Mack truck barreling down on me. In that split second with nowhere to go, I realized he wasn’t stopping.
I slowly came to and immediately knew something was very wrong. My head was in the floor board of the passenger side and my legs were on the driver’s seat. A man, who I didn’t know, was talking to me and rubbing my leg gently. In that moment, I realized I couldn’t feel him. It took quite some time and the Jaws of Life to get me out of the car. But, the damage had been done. At the hospital, I was diagnosed a C6 quadriplegic.
My summer, that was supposed to be filled with innocent fun, ended up forcing me and my closest friends into growing up faster than we were supposed to. My large family was rocked to its’ core and my faith was tested to the extreme. Days were spent in PT, OT, and RT and slowly we all tried to put our lives back together. That is the thing about SCIs, they don’t just affect the person injured; they affect everyone the person knows.
With their support and love, I was determined to get better and show the world that I wasn’t going to let this injury define my life. I went back to high school full time, two months late into my senior year, and still managed to graduate with honors. When graduation came, it was my friends who carried me up the steps so I could cross the stage. This is only one small example of the dedication of my family and friends to see me through, no matter how hard it was for all of us.
I went on to college, had my daughter, built an accessible home and now devote my time to therapy at the Center Of Recovery & Exercise (CORE) and to advocating on behalf of the SCI community. There are still the occasional bad days, but the good days far outnumber them. I hope my life can be a testimony to others who are newly injured that you can still accomplish so much, push the boundaries and live a full, happy life. Just like my Mom always says, “Sky’s the Limit!”
Please don’t hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or just need someone to listen. I wish you well on your own journey to recovery and happiness.