Keith Napier, a Regional Champion, tells his story

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on January 20, 2020 # Lifestyle

By guest author Keith Napier, a Regional Champion

My name is Keith Napier. I am 57 years of age. I received a SCI in February of 2014 from a motor vehicle accident. I was employed through the State of Indiana as a State Eligibility Manager in Family Social Services Administration/Division of Family Resources, had over 21 years in law enforcement, and over 20 years of business management and ownership. My wonderful wife and I enjoyed life to the fullest.

Keith NapierIt all changed that day in February. I have no memory of what led up to the accident, but I remember every flip and roll that Sebring Convertible took. When I completely awoke, I was in Frazier Rehab and was unable to move from my injuries. That was 10 days later. I was diagnosed with a C5/C6 SCI. I was unable to use my call button. Water stung when it hit me to bathe. I had NO control of my body temperature and was always cold.

I once was choked at Frazier and was unable to get the call button. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Suddenly, the door swung open and a nurse came in. She was unaware of the situation. She took quick action, then it was ok. I hold the nurse (Laura Farnsworth) in high regard to this day. She deserved a medal for her heroics. She is and always will be family to us. I really don't think I would be here without her showing up. I use this as a reference to show where I started this journey at. I have maybe four minor memories from being in the ICU at the University of Louisville.

Two months later, I left the hospital to go home. My family had made extensive changes to our home to accommodate my needs. I was terrible with the power wheelchair. We had no van. I was scheduled for PT/OT immediately. I thank The Reeve Foundation for assistance to get to and from the therapy until a van could be obtained. I did therapy for 2 years straight, missing few days.

Lots of hard work, prayers, and determination passed. We got our first van about two months later. My rewards were small, but things kept improving. Life as I knew it changed, not only for me, but also for everyone around me. My wonderful wife had to prove that she could care for me on her own before I could even go home from Frazier with her. She did it!

My wife worked at an Indiana State Park. Her district manager asked her to bring me to work with her, as I was unable to stay by myself. That was a blessing! It helped her to use her Family Medical Leave Account more to our advantage. It also helped her to better run her office. She was the Office Manager. During the time that we were able to do this, I continued to improve. Being able to interact with patrons and staff helped me tremendously.

We found that tear-away/snap pants are the best for our situation. They are available at Walmart, sporting goods stores, and online. Doctors and therapists love them, and caretakers will too. They can be purchased from $20 to $30 and they last a long time. I take my old ones to a seamstress and have them cut for shorts in the summer. This works out great, is inexpensive to do, and saves me money in the long run.

I also made sure to eat well in order to fuel my body. I eat an orange at least five days per week. They are 62 calories and may help to reduce or eliminate UTI's. I also eat fresh honey regularly. Two and a half tablespoons are only about 100 calories. Honey offers a lot of benefits and can be added to recipes. I also almost never use sugar. I prefer all-natural Stevia, which has no calories and can be bought at many grocery stores. I also drink at least two bottles of water daily.

In May of 2016, a friend referred me to Dr. Mark Grubbs in Akron, Ohio. After X-rays and an MRI, it was determined that I had severe spinal stenosis. He did surgery to clean that up, and the results were amazing. My blood pressure was 46/22 the week before. I was on two blood pressure medications, taking them at multiple times per day. We couldn't regulate it. I had surgery on July 6, 2016, and my blood pressure improved immediately. I haven't taken anything for it in over 3 ½ years.

I have gotten stronger. I can't stand or walk yet, but I can touch my shoes, feed myself, get my own water, brush my teeth, and get my daily medications and take them - just to name a few. Prayer doesn't hurt either. I strongly believe in God.

I have sat on a mat unassisted for over 10 minutes. My bowel and bladder continue to improve. Before the surgery, my bladder held well under 200. Today, 300, 400 up to 600 isn't unusual. I never use enemas and seldom use stool softeners anymore. We have my bowels on a schedule, and I eat a variety of foods. While I still require assistance, they move regularly and without accidents.

I continue to impress my doctors every time they see me. My right hand was dropped and I was told that I would never use it. But despite my doctors’ predictions, it continues to improve. I can pick up wide, lightweight items with it. Empty soda cans, bottles, etc. It's not dropped anymore. I just completed a six-month check-up, and everything looks good. I continue to have improvement, especially in my hands. I am doing the Community Fitness and Wellness program at Frazier twice a week, 12 months per year. Currently, I am in University of Louisville Research to receive an Epidural Stem Implant. My doctor will determine my eligibility for the program. Prayers are certainly appreciated!

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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.