On July 4th, 2007 I was celebrating our countries day of independence not knowing that by 9:30 PM, my life would drastically be changed forever.
My friends and I had been drinking pretty much the whole day at my friend’s bosses’ lake house. We took the boat out late that afternoon and cruised around in preparation for the fireworks display set for that evening. As we watched the fireworks, I decided to dive off the back of the boat, but unbeknowngst to me, we had drifted beside a sandbar with only 18 inches of water.
I was immediately paralyzed and knew right away that my life was in serious danger, as I lay face down and motionless. Luckily, after a couple minutes a friend of mine noticed that I hadn’t come back up, and he jumped in to rescue me.
I burst my C5 vertebrae and was told I would need daily care.
Due to swallowing so much lake water from almost drowning, I developed pneumonia and was put into a medically induced coma after Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) had set in. After recovering from ARDS, I was transported to the Shepard Center in Atlanta, GA. My days were filled with extensive physical rehabilitation for the next 8 months.
You’re basically as helpless as an infant for the first few months. The staff there was top notch, so I could see myself making improvements day-by-day. I continued physical therapy at Race to Walk in Mooresville, NC once I returned home and was cleared to leave the hospital.
I decided to finish my degree in the fall semester of 2010. With Catawba being both of my parents’ alma mater and living only a few minutes away, it was a no brainer that Catawba was where I wanted to get my degree. Having completed 30 hrs at NC State prior to my accident, I needed 90 hrs to finish my Bachelors Degree for Communications Arts.
I was immediately welcomed with open arms by the entire campus. At first there were a few difficulties becoming acclimated to life as a student, but the Student Health Centers (shout out to Dr. Nan Zimmerman, Sharon Newsome, Pam Barber, Robin Perry etc.) Disability Services quickly helped me adjust. Right away Dr. Z assigned me note takers, found electronic textbooks, and purchased an adaptable mouse for me to use. Every semester something new was put in place to help make life easier for me on campus.
Now as I complete my final semester it feels like I’ve been in a 15 rd. slugfest from all the exams coming up but now as I reminisce I realize how much I will miss this place.