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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Eric Gibson

Eric Gibson sustained a spinal cord injury from gunshot wounds.  He now speaks to youth about the dangers of gangs and violence.

Hi my name is Eric; I'm 37 years old and a paraplegic.  When I was 25, I got shot five times in the back with a .357.  I was talking with two girls in a car when the drive-by happened.  One of the girls was hit in the center of her head and she died instantly. On the way to the hospital, I just kept asking the ambulance man to hold my hand while I prayed to God to save my life.  When I got to the hospital, they told me that I was paralyzed.

After about a week, week and a half, they shipped me off to a rehabilitation hospital.  I was feeling like these people were going to get me back up on my feet.  That's what I was told anyway at the previous hospital, "These people will help you get back walking."  So, I started my rehab program and I started going to therapy everyday.

They set up a parent conference meeting with you and your parents about your injury, the doctors and the therapist.  At this meeting, they basically told me that I would never walk again. I would never have any movement below the waist.  I would never be able to have an erection again.  I would never be able to bear kids again…and all these different things.  So, after hearing all of this, of course, I felt really depressed.  It took me a while to kind of start getting used to this new life I was going to have to live.  I just started praying to God and going more and more to therapy trying to, you know, accomplish everything that they wanted me to do.

I left the hospital after about 65 days.  When I was home, I found out all about some of the things the hospital tried to teach me like: bowel and bladder care, different transfers and how to watch out for your skin, for pressure sores and different things like that.  It was going to be a real test for me, this new life that I was trying to live.

I started getting into some spinal cord injury books.  I started going to the different websites, trying to learn about spinal cord injury.  I started wanting to be involved in my therapy.  I started learning my body, about spasms, and different things that were going on in my body.  I had to learn how to use my bowels all over again without having the muscles to do it.  I had to learn to do a bladder program, which involved emptying your bladder four or five times a day with a catheter. And all this stuff was new to me.  It was like I was a little bitty baby all over again and I had to grow up to be a man.  It was very depressing to have to do all these little baby steps, but with the help of prayer and friends I overcame it. 

After a while, I wanted to get involved with something where I could help people. So, I involved myself in a violence prevention program.  It was a program that was developed to talk to teens about drugs and gangs and different things like that.  And you know, I felt a sense of comfort there—that I could be able to share different things with these kids so they wouldn't have to go through what I went through.

Yeah…I went into a real mode for a while after my injury.  But, I came out of it, and when I did I knew that my mission with my spinal cord injury was to help people.  And now, when I look back on my life and all the stuff I had to go through, I never thought I would be able to get to the point that I am now.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship areencouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.