How I Ended up in a Wheelchair | Simply Channon

How I ended up in a Wheelchair at 32

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If you have seen me you today I'm in a wheelchair and I have shared how it all happened but decided to share my story here. Maybe having my story online I can help someone that might be going through or feeling like I am.

My story isn't like most but regardless of how I ended up in a wheelchair the fact is this is my life. Before jumping into how it happened we need to go back and start from the beginning. 

When I was younger I spent my time in a dance studio or gymnastic gym. I made it to level 8 in gymnastic and had national awards in the dance world. All I did was be in the studio 6 days a week or at the gym 5 days a week all the way until I was 14. As freshman I made varsity gymnastic team and with that means training for harder skills.

I knew that I had to have so many hard skills in each routine to allow me to have scores high enough to make it to state and the next level in gymnastics. One night I was practicing a double back flip with a twist on the floor. I started in a blet that had ropes so coach would pull up as I flip therefor not crashing or hurting myself. After a few days we moved to open floor with only spot and mat at landing area. Everything was going fine until it wasn't.

I still to this day can't exactly remember what happened but mid air I had lost where I was and opened up way to early. By doing this I ended up landing on my upper back causing my lower back and legs to came banging to the ground. I couldn't breath because I had the wind knocked out of me but once I calmed down and was able to breath I walked away. Little did I know I had just blew my disk and had fragments all in my spinal canal.

The pain was so bad that walking I could barley walk just 1 block and continuing gymnastics is out of the question. I haven't stepped foot in a gymnastic gym since that happened, at 14 my dream was over in a blink of an eye. Due to my age the doctors and surgeon wanted to push back surgery for as long as possible. To try to deal with the pain we did cortisone injections and let's be honest we all know those work for maybe 48 hours so it wasn't the best fix.

I was also put in a back brace to help with stability and keep my spine for slipping. Being the stubborn person I am I choose to push through the pain and continue to dance because I wasn't ready to loss two dreams. So I choose to continue 6 days a week dancing until 17 when the pain won and I could barley walk. At the young age of 17 I had my first back surgery where they removed all the crushed disk pieces, shaved of bones and other stuff. I had to wear my back brace for 4 months afterwards and then would wear it when the pain was bad again. Looking back this surgery was just a Band-Aid fix and should have choose to have the fusion at 17 but that's not how it went and it's okay. Hindsight is 20/20

Fast forward to 2020 I am 32 years old and having that same excruciation pain in my lower back and legs. I always knew I would have to have another back surgery but what I didn't know was it would change my life forever. October 2020 I had my second back surgery this time a fusion of the L3-L4 vertebrate and I walked in the hospital only to roll out.

When I had woke up my right leg was numb, I had no reflex in my right knee and my knee kept buckling every time I would try to take a step. I was told its normal after a back surgery to be numb and I have to give it time to heal an allow the swelling to go down. So 2 months went by with no change and at this time I am diagnosed with drop foot. This required me to wear a foot brace called an AFO that would keep my foot up when I try to walk along with using a walker when walking.

January I had a CT to check only healing and to see if there was anything that could be causing the complications. To my surprise we found that the surgeon had screwed one of the screws directly into my spinal cord causing permeant nerve damage and so much more.

At this time there is still time for the nerve damage to be reversed as long as we get the screw out of my spine. Because I had surgery 2 1/2 months ago I had go back to the original surgeon to have it removed. So going back to my original surgeon for him to deny that damage telling me it wasn't from him and he wont remove the screw. So I went to another surgeon only to be told me they would not touch me until I was 1 year out from this surgery regardless of the damage being done.

With the original surgeon my only hope to remove the screw he misplaced and possibly allow me to repair my nerve damage, I never gave up. As things are getting worse and the chance of recovery is getting slimmer and slimmer with each passing day I go and get 5 other neurosurgeons opinions, in hopes the original surgeon would remove the screw. Not 1 not 2 but all 5 neurosurgeons confirmed the mistake, confirmed the damage was from the screw being misplaced and sent their recommendation for screw removal surgery to the original surgeon.

By now I am falling all the time, numb from the waist down, bladder and bowel disfunction, the pain is worse than before surgery and my right leg is getting weaker and weaker. I went back to the original surgeon 4 more times being denied each time to remove the screw. When I finally hit the 1 year mark I start looking for a surgeon to remove the screw.

So I start calling the surgeons that I had already seen for my second, third, fourth opinions only to find out it was so complex that I needed to go downtown Chicago to the spine institute. Luckily for me, I had already seen a neurosurgeon down town as my firth opinion which meant I didn't have to wait months to get into him since I wasn't a new patient! Little victory lol

After meeting with him we learned that the damage will be permanent and the bowel and bladder function will never return normal. Even though we knew the damage was permanent, the pain of having a screw in my spinal canal was grounds for surgery. So after he had a meeting with his team they agreed to remove the screw.

At 34 in March 2022 1 1/2 years later, I went back for my third back surgery to have the misplaced screw removed. By this time I have already been fitted for my wheelchair and am learning all the things that come with living with a spinal injury. The surgery was a success at removing the pain which was the whole reason so, I was very happy about that. If you deal with pain you know just how exhausting pain is to live with both mentally and physically.

Here we are today and I am learning how to live as a wheelchair user, finding out how not accessible the world is in a wheelchair, struggling a little mentally and trying to not feel guilt as a mom with my new found limitations. I have also lost my drivers licenses due to my right leg being damaged but once I complete some wheelchair driving classes and have my car equipped, then I can get it back but its expensive. Let's say between surgeries and appointments work had to be missed and things are tight.

I have my good days while having bad days. I struggle with that fact that a surgeon put me in a wheelchair, refused to fix it even after 5 others opinions and gets to walk around like no big deal. Not only did he take my ability away, he took my ability to feel or enjoy sex away, he took my kids able body mom away, he took my freedom away, he took the life I had before this away. All because he was too proud to admit he messed up and fix his mistake.

I know you hear it all the time but stop waiting for the perfect time, it wont come. There will be no prefect time so just do it, whatever it is just do it. Life can change in a blink second so don't waste any min of it. 

Channon 

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