Eric LeGrand: What I Now Know

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 03, 2019 # What I Now Know, SCI Awareness

Dear Eric,

Right now, you are in the hospital trying to sleep but the noises — the constant beeping of the machines are keeping you awake. You were just told you have a spinal cord injury. The last thing you remember is laying on the football field after a fourth quarter play went wrong. It was so hard to breathe, impossible to speak, and you were scared. You had your coach, the team, and your mother by your side. You prayed it would be fine. It had to be fine.

By now, you realize the tackle was far worse than you imagined. The nurses take shifts to keep you company at night so your mom can rest and you are not alone. What you don’t know but will soon learn is that the doctors told your mom you fractured your C-3 and C-4 vertebrae and gave you a zero to 5 percent chance of regaining neurologic function. They said you would never walk, never move anything below your neck, and you may never eat solid foods again. But they don’t know you. They don’t know the titan inside your soul, the mental and physical strength you built from being a top athlete. The word never does not apply to Eric LeGrand and you will prove them wrong.

You proved them wrong a few weeks later when you came off the ventilator and took your first few breaths unassisted. You proved them wrong when you ate Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital and the food tasted awesome. You proved them wrong when you pushed yourself every day at therapy and started to regain function and sensation below your neck. You proved them wrong when you graduated from Rutgers and gave the commencement address. And, you continue to prove them wrong as you take on new challenges and set ambitious goals for your future.

The reason you have this drive and stamina to keep pushing are the people around you. From the moment you were injured, your family, friends, coaches and teammates formed a protective huddle. They kept your spirits up, always smiling and cracking jokes. You will realize the closeness and strength of your family, especially your mom who has always been your hero but she transformed into a real-life Wonder Woman. She learned how to take care of you and made your health and recovery her No. 1 priority. She is the defender of your future and never lets any obstacle stand in the way of your success.

Right now, you are scared and that’s fine. You will be scared, frustrated, and even angry some days. But, for every bad day, there will be ten good ones. For every set back, there is an even bigger win within reach. And, any moment of sadness is washed away by the joy of having so many people cheer you on. Your future is brighter than you ever imagined, and you will meet people — celebrities, athletes, politicians — who will be moved by your story and grounded by your determination. Your voice will reach millions and you will have the chance to help so many people facing paralysis by giving them hope. You will work with the Reeve Foundation — Superman’s Foundation — and raise over $1 million for spinal cord research.

As you approach ten years post-injury, you will not look back or ask, “Why me?”. You will only be excited for what’s next and realize your spinal cord injury is only part of you, not all of you.

You will believe anything is possible. And, you are right.

Eric LeGrand