His Story: Black & Blue Athlete

I am a quadriplegic living with a C4 spinal cord injury.

Imagine being a healthy, athletic 15-years-old with the world ahead of you. In the blink of an eye, your life changes as you sit, a passenger in a rollover car accident, leaving you a classified quadriplegic. How would you cope with this? How do you imagine your family would handle this news? Think of your friends, how do you think they would respond to such surprising news?

I was in the final days of my sophomore year in high school when I was involved in this rollover car accident. I was discovered with a broken neck, breaking my C4 vertebrae. Conscious the entire time, I could hear the firetruck and ambulance sirens. After the car rolled over four times, I tried standing up but was unable to move any part of my body, I could only move my eyes. I felt scared and could not believe this was me and my situation. I knew my body so well as an athlete, and not, I couldn't understand anything about my body's response to the accident. I was paralyzed from my shoulders and down. This was so unpredictable and completely life altering.

In order to remove me carefully from the car, the top of the car was cut open. I was then placed on a stretcher into the back of the ambulance. I lost my muscles in my diaphragm, but was able to whisper my Mom's phone number to the EMT. I arrived to Denver Health where my Mom met me. She was in tears, frightened for me. Surgery began immediately on the back of my neck, before a second surgery on the front of my neck.

I was on a ventilator, had a halo brace (a metal brace that circles and attaches to your skull, used to keep your neck from moving), g-tube (Gastrostomy tube: a tube inserted through the abdomen that delivers nutrition directly to the stomach enabling hydration and nutrition to the patient), and a neck collar brace. I spent four days in that hospital before being transferred to Craig Hospital.

The doctors told my mom and I that I would never walk, talk, move my arms, or even breathe on my own again. I wouldn’t listen to them, because I fully believed, that with time, I would do all of those things again.

Growing up, I was an active, outgoing young boy. I dedicated much of my life to soccer! As a freshman in high school, I made the varsity soccer team. This was a huge accomplishment for me then, that would have helped my future in soccer, very much! Ever since I was 3-years-old, I set my mind on becoming a professional soccer player!

It took me a very long time to adjust to living with this injury. It was difficult for me to maintain a hopeful outlook on life. With hard work and perseverance, I relearned gratitude! I find it easier now to find what I am grateful for; I feel blessed and am simply happy to be alive, at all! My goal now is to live my life to the fullest as an advocate for those in like-situations.

I needed to recieve from many forms of therapy in order to come to where I am today. This is why places like Neuro RehabCare are vital, without such support. I don't know that I could ever regain a positive attitude about life without businesses like these. I received my support near home, in Colorado, and fully support rehabilitation centers in the like! I received Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, practiced on the FES bike, pool therapy, adaptive yoga, massage & acupuncture.

Throughout all of the challenges, my sister, mom, and I stayed collectively motivated, positive, and strong. We knew things would eventually get better; we never quit believing it. My close friends were just as supportive!

My mom was always there with me. She never gave up on me and exampled so much patience! She has been by biggest advocate. Both my family and friends continue to encourage and motivate me to push through in therapy. Because of my support system, I feel a passion for life and will continue to work hard toward my life goals.

Through adaptive sports, like power soccer, I am finding independence again! Freedom through mobility means the world to me, and has truly been life-changing for my overall well-being and mood. Freedom through mobility has drastically changed my whole perspective on life. It has given me an indescribable adrenaline rush as I play the sport I've always loved so much! I also enjoy activities like scuba diving, riding in a hang glider plane, sail boating, adaptive fishing…what we set our focus on is what we will have, and being able to pursue these hobbies and fun things has always been my focus.

Today, I continue to inspire people with my story, conveying the message of finding gratitude in all circumstances. I echo, "Do not take anything for granted because you never know when you'll have something for the last time."

Life is such a precious gift and it is important to cherish

every moment of it. It is truly a blessing to be alive and able to

impact so many lives, supporting others along the way. In just a matter of seconds, my life changed forever. Despite every challenge I’ve endured these past eight years, I have kept motivated and dedicated.

I became an Ambassador for a home healthcare agency called PASCO, a Keynote Speaker, Peer Mentor for Craig Hospital, and a Public Figure/Influencer on social media. I find joy when inspiring thousands of individuals, from all over the world, showing them my elasticity and stamina. I can walk again! I will never give up on maintaining my passion for life. I am committed to defy the odds daily and keeping gratitude. I believe this state of mind is what has allowed my body to follow suit with my goals.

Places like Neuro RehabCare change peoples lives for the better. I needed a safe place to have hard days and good days, make large strides and have unconditional support. If you are in a like situation, make it your goal to reignite your passion for living with me and facilities like Neuro RehabCare.

Follow Tyler Wesley's story on Instagram @t_wes44 !

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