I’ll never forget waiting in the emergency room, shaking with uncertainty and fear. I thought to myself it couldn’t be as bad as what i was imagining in my mind. The hospital phoned me to come in, but maybe they did a courtesy call for Tyler. Maybe he broke his phone in the fall and couldn’t use it. I asked how he was doing and they told me they couldn’t discuss it until I was in the building. It seemed like a long time waiting there in that room. That day is a bit of a blur. They called me in and I walked into Tyler’s room and I immediately knew it was bad. He was in a neck brace, and saying over and over again that he couldn’t feel his legs. I still didn’t believe it. It took us months to accept it actually happened and he wouldn’t get any movement or sensation back.
On March 22nd 2019, Tyler fell 15 feet from an interior loft and fractured his C3 and T5 vertebrae, with spinal damage at T5. He is now paralyzed from the nipples down.
Even before his accident, our little family had overcome unbearable adversity. On March 22nd 2016, I went to the hospital with severe head pain and vision loss. I spent a week in the stroke unit before I was rushed into emergency brain surgery. I had a brain abscess caused by bacteria getting into a weak wall in my heart and reaching up to my brain. I went for a second brain surgery a week later and spent a month and a half in the hospital. It took me months to recover and I was left with 50% vision, epilepsy and brain injury side affects (brain fog, dizziness, exhaustion, migraines).
I was six months pregnant when I had my brain surgeries. Although healthy, our baby girl was born with a rare eye disorder called Duane Syndrome. Our first daughter was also battling health issues at the time. She was height stunted, sleeping most of the day, anemic and looked physically ill. Later, just before her third birthday, we learned she had Celiac Disease. She had severe damage to her small intestine, but two and a half years later she is doing well, but still healing.
Tyler spent almost two weeks in the intensive care unit, battling two collapsed lungs, broken ribs and pneumonia. He was extubated at one point and was going through respiratory distress and had to be re-intubated. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to watch in my life. Tyler’s Mom and I held each other and cried in the corner before they asked us leave the room. After four months Tyler came home from the rehabilitation hospital. Coming home was a huge adjustment, having to navigate a smaller space that wasn’t designed for a wheelchair user.
In rehab he was going to physiotherapy and occupational therapy everyday, learning to navigate in this new world of living with a physical disability. Then he was home and reality hit. This was his new life. It felt like we kept telling ourselves that it would be better when he got out of the ICU, when he got out of the hospital, when he got into the rehab facility, when he got home. Well, then he was home and it was harder than ever. Daily tasks like parenting became more difficult for Tyler. On top of that he was dealing with accessibility in the home, pain and muscle spasms, and grief.
The one year anniversary of Tyler’s Injury is coming up next month and so much has changed. He plays sledge hockey, wheelchair rugby, he works out at an adaptive gym twice a week and has recently tried downhill sit skiing, which he absolutely loved. He’s planning on trying out sailing and water skiing this summer.
There are many unknowns in our future. We were just started to resume normal life when Tyler also became disabled, and now our lives have been derailed once again. We are optimistic though, and looking at this period of time as an opportunity to figure out exactly what’s important to us and what we want out of life. I think there’s a lot of happiness in our future and our daughters have benefited from having two parents who have been through trauma and showed them resiliency, love and self acceptance.
– Follow them on Instagram at @the.four.carrs