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.
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.
The information provided in the Paralysis Resource Center was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 1U59DD000838-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Reeve Foundation and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.