A Dramatic Change of Life
By: Vicki Ross
Name: Susan Peterson
A life changing event
The injury rendered Susan mostly paralyzed from the neck down, requiring her to be placed on a ventilator. Over the next two weeks in the hospital, Susan hallucinated that balloons tied to her bed were dead people floating above her; that someone's legs were pressing down on her chest. She, later, was transferred to Westside Medical Center's spinal unit in Los Angeles. Her spirits were good, but the rehabilitation was exhausting and difficult. During the month of December, Susan spent eight hours a day in rehabilitation.
Simple things are missed
Holding out hope/The importance of family
A goal of Susan's is to learn how to work a voice-operated computer so that she can reclaim a little independence. The unit would control a wide range of electrical devices, such as lights, the phone, computer and TV. Other customized items she is looking to purchase include a special pressure-reducing mattress and a hydraulic-assisted standing frame that would allow her to continue with her range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. A portable ramp would enable her caregivers to bring her outside more easily.
While Susan has regained some motion in her arms, most of her body below the neck is paralyzed. She said this has done little to heal her physical and emotional injuries. However, Susan is not giving up hope of more fully recovering her movement and happiness. "I don't even mind being like this, at least if I feel good," said Susan, who used to work out at a gym six days a week. "I just want to feel good. People still think it's amazing that I'm happy half the time. I'm just grateful that my mother is still alive, healthy and able to be with me. Words cannot describe how important it is having her in my life. I don't think I could have survived this ordeal without her. My brother, Jeff, has also been a great help and has spent a lot of time visiting me. I also have a lot of wonderful friends and relatives who have been very supportive in donating their time and money to me. For that, I am very appreciative. "
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