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March 1st 1999




The World at Our Feet
Richard Fuchs

I entered a local medical facility to have a spinal fusion, little did I know what was in store for me, what changes would take place that would effect the rest of my life. First off, there was a large dura leak encountered during 10 hour surgery. As I woke up in the recovery room, I didn't know what had happened to me, I felt little movement in the lower half of my body from the waist down. As the recovery time worn off, I questioned what went wrong during my surgery. It was explained to me, that there were some problems, and the doctor would explain it to me and that I had nothing to be concerned about. I excepted this information, and was sent to my room. I was instructed that I would have to stay in bed flat for the next few days. Nothing else was explained. I questioned why I had little feeling from the middle down. All lips were sealed on this subject. I cried for several days. If I couldn't walk, what was I going to do. I had a family to support, a wife I loved dearly, and grand-children I wanted to be able to hold and have fun with during their formative years. I wanted to be productive person, not an invalid, and a burden to my family.

During the the next few days the recovery process went slow, and I needed answers. If my condition at this time wasn't enough to content with, it was discovered that I also had a broken back. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. Little did I know the pain and emotional ups and downs I would have to endore during the many man hours of rehab.

While I was recuperating, I received a beautiful purple wheelchair, and several other types of medical equipment, delivered to my room. I questioned what I was going to do with the wheelchair (as if I didn't already know), and I was told that I would be in it for a very, very, very, long time - because I was a paraplegic.

As I sat in my hospital room, I poundered over the many questions that were going through my mine. I was fitted with a "turtle brace" which was used to stablize my back from the fractured area. I would have to wear this brace all the time 24 hours for the next 11 months.

Since my rehabilitation continued for over a year and a half, my therapist instructed me on how to use the wheelchair, how to shower, how to transfer properly, how to get from point A to point B. It was easy for them, they weren't paraplegic. Their life was not disrupted, in a span of several days, as mine had been.

Before my SCI, I was a teacher who could walk. Now I was a teacher who was strapped in a wheelchair trying to walk, with little progress. I was a 'newie" as it is called. I needed more information regarding my disability. During my rehab. I consulted the hospitals library. I received many pages of informative information that would help me both emotionally, as well as, physically to regain my strength to overcome my disability.

During the next eleven months, I put my learning ability to use. I refused to let my SCI at level L3 - S1, become a drawback. I had come a long way, and I wasn't going to let a little thing, like a wheelchair, suprapubic catheter, urine tubes and straps around my legs, and loss of lower body movement, get me down.

My goal, for the next coming months, was to return to school, and be a productive teacher as I was before my surgery. It was at this time, that I decided to become a paraplegic motivational speaker.

Since my injury, I have been asked to speak at many organizations regarding my disability. I try to relate a positive attitude, and deliver informative talks, sprinkled with a bit of humor.

I have devoting this site to all the para/quads out there who would like to join, and if you are a "newie" this site in geared towards you. We can work together to find answers regarding your SCI.

I may travel with my wheelchair, but it can only go so far! With your help, we can reach a star!

If your organization is looking for a paraplegic motivational speaker, and you live in the Salt Lake City metropolitian area, please contact me at the following e-mail addresses | Link at: Paralinks

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