What I Now Know: Brian Reaves

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 13, 2019 # Relationships, SCI Awareness

Dear Brian,

Today you woke up with a ventilator coming out of one nostril and an NG tube out of the other. The last thing you remember was being rushed out of your post-surgery recovery room and the doctor calling for a crash cart. You won’t be able to speak to your family who is currently bedside looking down at you, holding back their tears. You won’t be able to tell them “it’s gonna be okay” because that ventilator that is breathing for you is held in place by an inflated airbag on your vocal cords. Over the course of the next 10 days, you will fight pneumonia, infections, low blood pressure that causes you to blackout when you sit up and cottonmouth from being NPO. When they do finally pull the ventilator, you will have to endure excruciating pain from having several bronchoscopy procedures. This is where they will use a camera to look into the lower lobes of your lungs and suck out all of the fluid that has built up. They will do it at least three times and it's gonna hurt like hell because they can’t numb your lungs, but rest assured you will be able to breathe so much better afterward, so do it. You will be given morphine for your neck pain and it will take the pain away, but what you don’t know is it will make you hallucinate, and you will try to pull out the very tubes that are keeping you alive right now.

Over the course of the next two months, you will start your rehab at a VA facility. They are gonna teach you how to transfer, dress yourself, cook, brush your hair, shower, pee and poop. Yes, those last two things are different now, and here’s the rub…you will be doing all of those things from a wheelchair now. The therapist will spend hours with you each day training you to do all of these things and here’s what I want you to do…. listen to them and follow their instructions. The reason why your left hand works, and I am able to write this letter to you today is because of those therapists. All of their “goofy and crazy” activities of you twisting nuts onto bolts and then back off again is the only reason you don’t have a quad hand.

Okay Brian, we talked about the near future now let us address the distant future. I have no easy way to tell you this so I’m just gonna come out with it. Hold onto hope that you will walk again, but don’t stop living this second chance at the life God gave you, waiting for your legs to work again. Time is precious, maintain that hope but move forward. Embrace this, you will meet some wonderful people who don’t look at the chair as anything more than an accessory like shoes.

Over the course of the next two decades, you will ski Aspen, surf La Jolla shores, kayak, fish, handcycle, sail, and hike (wheel) through the lush forest on Maui and, best of all, you will meet the love of your life!! She will look past your injury, she will show you compassion, affection and will be willing to share the rest of her life with you.

I’m leaving you with this last bit of advice… Go and live your life, live it to the fullest and do it for those who cannot. Push for those who can’t!!!


Your future self

P.S. Invest in Apple and Bitcoin

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.