"A Christopher Reeve-Type Injury"
The doctors had no way of knowing that Matthew Keil was a huge Superman fan and long time admirer of actor Christopher Reeve when they gave their initial diagnosis. "He has a Christopher Reeve-type injury," they told the family.
Matt was on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq in February 2007 when he was shot by a sniper. The bullet hit his spine, clipped his left lung and an artery. Matt and his family were told that he would never be able to move anything again from his neck down and that he would be on a vent for the rest of his life.
"My first reaction was shock," recalls Matt's wife, Tracy, "I didn't even understand… After the initial shock, it was like, ‘What does this mean?'"
Intent on learning as much as she could about spinal cord injury and recovery and what help was available, Tracy called the Paralysis Resource Center (PRC). "When Matt got an injury similar to Christopher Reeve's, I immediately thought to call the foundation. The PRC sent me a ton of information. They sent me books, all kinds of resources. Everything was helpful."
Tracy read about how Reeve dealt with his injury and how he progressed through his recovery with his wife and family by his side. "We got married six weeks before Matt got shot," she says, "For us starting a family was always part of our plan. And just learning about how life with SCI would be on a day-to-day basis really helped a lot."
For Tracy, the PRC was much more than a source of information. "I didn't know anybody who knew about spinal cord injuries. I called the PRC and could talk to someone. That was a really good feeling. Just knowing that I could sit and talk with someone, and knowing this person had dealt with families like ours a lot before calmed me down when I needed it most."
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