The illness that changed my life.
I was born in 1983, but I guess my story really began on September 12, 1997. As as kid, I was your average child. I enjoyed playing with friends, hanging out at the playground and just generally having fun.
Another one of my passions was playing sports. From baseball to soccer, I loved participating in any athletic activities. But while I played, I had to be extremely careful since I had asthma.
I was never far from my inhaler, but I didn't want my illness to keep me from playing with my friends. So, I cautiously went through my life as I did everything I could.
Now, lets fast-forward to that fateful September day in '97.
I was an eager 14-year-old a month into my freshman year. My head was full of excitement and optimism as I looked to the future of my high school career, good grades, girlfriends and even playing on the school baseball and soccer teams.
But it wasn't meant to be.
For the past few days, I had been battling a cold, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There was always a risk of serious illness because of my asthma, but I had no idea it would lead to this...
That night, my heath slowly worsened and it became difficult for me to breathe. It seemed as if anvil was slowly crushing my chest. I stumbled to my parent's room and my dad rushed me to the Emergency Room after he saw my weakened state.
The doctors did everything they could, but nothing seemed to work. I was deteriorating so quickly, that the doctors decided to airlift me to the ICU at the local children's hospital.
Once I arrived at the ICU, my oxygen levels continued to drop and my right lung collapsed. As the doctors and nurses struggled to keep me alive, I drifted into a coma.
I awoke four days later with a startling realization; I was attached to a ventilator and lost the ability to move my arms and legs. To say I was scared would be gross understatement.
From that point on, my life would never be the same. I would now have to learn how to live life as a quadriplegic.
I spent the next month in the ICU slowly recovering and re-learning how to breathe on my own. Once I improved enough, I was transferred to the sub-acute unit. This area of the hospital was for patients who were healthy enough to be out of the ICU, but not yet well enough to be released. For me, it was simply known as home.
I would spend the next eight months in the sub-acute unit trying to regain my strength. My days consisted of hours of therapy, school work and numerous episodes of Judge Judy and Price is Right episodes. Even though I never fully regained the ability to move my arms and legs, I was finally able to go home in May of '98.
Back home, I tried to return back to some sense of normalcy. I went back to school, now with the help of an electric wheelchair and an assistant, and started to do the things I loved before. I now had to adjust to a new lifestyle. While some might be disheartened by being a quad, I simply took it in stride, and was determined to live my life, the way I wanted it.
I graduated high school in 2001, on-time with my classmates, and with a 3.6 GPA. I earned a scholarship to Arizona State University and decided to pursue a degree in Journalism. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU in 2006. I spent the next few years after college building a career in marketing before returning to the world of journalism with 12 News in 2015 as a Social Media Producer.
My experiences have taught me to enjoy every moment of your life, be patient and never give up hope. Being a strong person has nothing to do with muscles; It has to do with having the will, determination and courage to never give up hope.
When I was in the hospital, doctors were baffled by my paralysis. They could not figure out how I lost the ability to move my arms and legs. I spent months wondering if I would ever walk again and why I became a quadriplegic. While I was in the hospital, the doctors diagnosed me three different times, but nothing took.
Finally, after 2 years, numerous hospitals and tests, I was diagnosed with Hopkins Syndrome. It is a rare form of polio found in asthmatics, that causes paralysis in a limb after severe attacks.
There are less than 30 documented cases of the syndrome and I am the only documented case in the world with all four limbs affected.
Here are a few articles I’ve written throughout the years.