Walking with Anthony

SPINAL CORD INJURY AWARENESS MONTH

INTRODUCING SCI HEROES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

This September, we aim to raise SCI awareness by sharing 30 different stories from 30 individuals with SCI, highlighting their tragedies and triumphs each day on our social channels and website. Walking With Anthony receives thousands of grant applications every year from individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in desperate need of help. Each story has the same underlying theme: these brave heroes need mental, physical, and financial guidance and support. 

SCI HERO

Zahra Ali

SCI Hero - Zahra Ali

In 2010, I started having an electrifying pain initiating from the back and moving up to the right arm. I took it lightly until it started interfering with my day-to-day routine, and I had to stop going to school because of the sharp excruciating pain. There is a general lack of awareness in our country about spinal cord-related issues therefore, my parents did not have any idea that this would turn into something serious. However, I went to an Orthopaedic surgeon and he diagnosed that I had tuberculosis of the bone. There was no proper testing to determine this and yet he prescribed me heavy medications. As I started with the medication, my condition got worse. Along with the pain and hard collar on my neck, I started feeling weakness in my lower limbs. On one or two occasions, I fell while walking. Instead of getting better, my situation worsened. One night, I slept with incredible pain in my body and general uneasiness. The next morning, I woke up in a paralyzed state. I could not move my legs, or feel them. I was rushed to the hospital, and the Orthopaedic surgeon that had treated me before suggested that I needed emergency surgery.

The first surgery that I had was actually supposed to be a biopsy of the material that was pressing my spinal cord, but the surgeon ended up removing a part of my vertebra without any prior consent. Consequently, my spinal cord became unstable and the biopsy was sent out for testing. After testing, it was diagnosed that I had a giant cell tumor of the bone. People usually have this type of tumor on their knees, ankles, elbows, or any joints, but in my case, it was on the joint between the neck and spine. It was a rare case and my situation had become sensitive. I went in for another surgery which was a decompression surgery. Most of the tumor was removed and four of my vertebras were caged using a metallic wire. There is still some part of the tumor that was not removed in the process because it required an incision similar to an open heart surgery without any guarantee of success. Therefore, I did not go ahead with the process. After the surgeries, I was supposed to get into rehab but my country did not have any facility to ease the process. I was discharged from the hospital without any guidance or further treatment plan. It was incredibly difficult to manage my lifestyle with spasticity, lack of information to handle my bowel and bladder, limited movement, and no clinical support. I designed and managed my rehabilitation on my own. With physiotherapy and acupuncture, my body started getting better and more flexible. However, there was still no backup regarding my lifestyle. Consequently, I had to manage that myself too.

With time, I started learning basic life skills to survive as a paraplegic. There was a lot of adjustment and I’m still trying to understand my body after 12 years of getting an SCI. Every day brings a new challenge, but I have and am growing. I completed my education and I am working as a creative and content writer for the past 7 years. I have self-published two books and working on the third one. I am also a freelance screenwriter. Moreover, I am a social activist for the basic rights of persons with disabilities. I have created an association with an organization to actively pursue my activism.

The biggest problem that I faced in my journey was the lack of resources to manage my SCI. There are no rehabilitation centers, or support groups to help me create a better lifestyle for myself. If it wasn’t for my family and friends, I wouldn’t have come so far. With their support, I was able to create an almost independent lifestyle for myself, and yet I am working on it.

I am struggling to find reliable rehabilitation facilities. It includes equipment and lifestyle support. Moreover, I need a consultation to build my life in a way where I can handle SCI effectively such as finding a fitting solution for my bladder management. I am yet struggling to be completely independent to be able to pursue the life I want.

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More SCI Heroes

Please share these stories during the month of September to help us raise awareness for spinal cord injury:

Rhonda Williams
SCI Heroes

Rhonda Williams

I am a C5 C6 quadriplegic who had a car accident when I was 16 in 1989 in Virginia. Through the many years of living as a quadriplegic I have had ebbs and flows. I met my husband while living in...

David Wieselmann
SCI Heroes

David Wieselmann

I was Mt. Biking with friends up in Vermont after work. We were cutting down a hill at the very end of run, and my front wheel sunk in some soft dirt. I went over the handlebars and did a...

Stephanie Nichols-Rodas
SCI Heroes

Stephanie Nichols-Rodas

I had a car accident May 6th,2017, early in the morning on my way to work. Another car was going to hit me, so I swerved and hit a concrete median while merging on to the freeway. I flipped 3...

Eden Hoelscher
SCI Heroes

Eden Hoelscher

On December 23, 2015, our five-year-old daughter, Eden, collapsed on the ground after doing a backbend on our living room floor. Within 30 minutes, she was paralyzed from the waist down. She was...

Rebecca Koltun
SCI Heroes

Rebecca Koltun

On March 13, 2021, I was skiing with some friends in Vermont. While I do not recall the day itself, I was told that I had a very bad fall. I woke up in a hospital in New Hampshire, paralyzed from...

Rob Balucas
SCI Heroes

Rob Balucas

hey, i’m rob This part of my story starts in 2015. That year was a shaping up to be a breakout year for my business and me. My business, a boutique creative agency, was on track to grow by 12%...

Stevie VanAusdale
SCI Heroes

Stevie VanAusdale

I was in a car accident the summer going into my junior year of high school. I was with 4 friends. We made the poor choice of throwing water bottles at other cars, which caused one car to chase...

Casey Ellin
SCI Heroes

Casey Ellin

On June 1st, 2013, when Casey was only 26 years old, he had an accident at Jones Beach that forever changed his life. After diving into the ocean, he fractured his C4 – C6 vertebrae, leaving him...

Michael Kim
SCI Heroes

Michael Kim

38 years old father of two young children, PARALYZED. This fund is set up for Mike's family during a time of incredible heartache, to help them navigate a long road of recovery and treatment....

Anne Nelson
SCI Heroes

Anne Nelson

I was a passenger in a car accident. After emergency personnel rescued me from the car I was taken to Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, AL where emergency surgery was done to stabilize my spine....

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DISCLAIMER:

Walking With Anthony receives thousands of grant applications every year from individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in desperate need of help. Although we are not able to directly support every individual, for your participation you will receive valuable resources regarding mentorship, mental health, community, advice, and education to help you on your SCI journey. 30 stories will be chosen to share on social media, and those individuals will also receive $200 of wellness supplements to aid in their recovery.

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