Talking with a New Quadmom

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on March 24, 2022 # Lifestyle

Zack CollieI received a phone call this week from someone who had seen my son Zack Collie’s YouTube channel. Zack is a C-4 Quadriplegic resulting from a beach accident in 2010. He was 15 years old at the time. Somewhere around 8 years into the injury, there was a point when Zack was so bored. He was going to college but didn’t have a hobby. For years before, Zack and I joked around about making a video showing what it takes to get him ready in the mornings. No one knew the process; or had an idea of what it takes to get him to that point. One Mother’s Day morning, Zack asked to get his cell phone. We filmed his whole shower and morning routine. It was raw and not edited, but it went viral.

Zack started getting comments from all over the world. It was quite surprising and unexpected. We made all sorts of simple videos like working out, cooking, traveling and going on vacation, and doing daily errands. These videos allowed Zack to share his feelings on having an SCI and his daily life as a Quadriplegic. People seemed interested. It felt really nice to know that these basic videos were helping others.

It’s important that people who are going through the shock of this type of life-altering challenge know that they are not alone, and that life does go on after a spinal cord injury. These are the types of comments Zack and I received about his YouTube Videos. Having a support system is very important and so very needed. Knowing about a resource center like the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is vital. I can remember being in the hospital and getting a large manual type of book from the Reeve Foundation. It had so much helpful knowledge in that book. Hearing how others have survived this injury and getting my multiple questions answered by people who have gone through the same thing is the best way to learn.

Zack has been paralyzed for over a decade; he has first-hand knowledge of what life is like living in a wheelchair full time. I have first-hand knowledge of how it feels to be the mother of a child with a spinal cord injury and a full-time caregiver. It seems natural to us to help a newly injured person or family in any way going through a traumatic situation like Zack’s.

The new mom I spoke to had a familiar sound in her voice. Shock, still trying to accept that this has happened to them, and at the same time, she was evolving into a superhero with flowing adrenaline—this new energy to advocate and fight for her child. She was trying to absorb all there is to learn in a short time. Then the adjustment from the hospital to home is like bringing home a newborn baby for the first time. This is when I seem to talk to most families. But this mom was focused and on top of what she needed to do. I answered her questions as best as I could or directed her to others who may have a better understanding.

I want to provide a listening ear. Let this overwhelmed mom share her feelings and talk out all she is currently going through. This call was over 2 hours, we live in different states and have never met, but there is a connection when you interact with another person who's gone through a similar traumatic situation. It was as if we’d been friends for years. Hearing her share was like reliving the beginnings of when my son broke his neck—that scramble of trying to hold it all together. I never thought in a million years my teenage son so full of life and energy, simply at the beach hanging out with friends, laughing, swimming, would run into the water for the very last time and become paralyzed. I had zero knowledge about an injury like this, knew nothing about spinal cords, wheelchairs, and the “overall wheelchair world.” Now, almost 12 years later, this world has become normal. This new mom flooded with every emotion; I know that in time this will settle in, and they too will adjust to the unwanted new normal.

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

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.