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Thread: For tetraplegic life is not over, only changed

  1. #1

    For tetraplegic life is not over, only changed

    For tetraplegic life is not over, only changed
    Posted 2 days ago

    ST. CATHARINES — There's a photograph on his living room shelf. His girlfriend and him, arms wrapped around each other, their first day on the beach in the Dominican Republic.

    It was March Break, three years ago. A long overdue holiday. They had the week ahead of them.

    Thirty-something Troy Fraser was in his second and final year in the environmental technician program at Niagara College. He'd got tired of working odd jobs, scraped together enough money, and put himself through school.

    His girlfriend, Marvi Alba, was and still is working as a personal support worker at the Heidehoff Longterm Care Home. She'd come from the Philippines for a better life and was working as a nanny when they met through a friend. They'd been together for five years when they took this, their first — and last — trip to the Dominican.

    In the photo, they're perched on the edge of a lounger on the beach. Troy hugs her from behind.

    Three days after that moment in time was recorded, their lives were forever changed.

    Troy dove into the water, off a breakwall by the resort, and never walked again.

    The medical term is tetraplegic. He can move his shoulders and arms, but has no movement below that. He can't open his hands. It took 12 days to be transported back to Canada. And over a year after the accident to finally return home with Marvi.


  2. #2
    nice article

  3. #3
    cool article

  4. #4
    Senior Member Leo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Yankton, South Dakota
    ONLY Changed, yeah a LOT

    It's hard to put into words, he says. Finally, he offers this: "They're just moments."

    And in his life, he plans on having many more of them.


    No one had to tell Troy he was paralyzed.

    He knew it. As soon as his head hit whatever it hit underwater. It was instant. He couldn't move his legs. His arms. "I made my peace," he says. All he could do was bob like a cork and hold his breath until he blacked out.

    Marvi saw him dive, but not come up. She waded towards him. He was floating, face down.

    When she flipped him over, she knew it was bad too. His eyes were rolled back. Lips blue. He was unconscious.

    She braced his lower body on her knees, cradling him in her arms, and started breathing into his mouth.

    Between breaths, she yelled for help.

    On the third breath, he coughed violently and took one long, gasping breath.

    He was alive.

    His first words to Marvi: "I'm f----d."


    These days, everything in Troy's life is scheduled.

    March of Dime workers arrive at 9 a.m. to do things like get him out of bed, brush his teeth and dress him.

    ParaMed comes at lunch, dinner and at bedtime.

    He's thankful that Marvi doesn't have to do all that.

    "I want her as a girlfriend, not a nurse," he says.

    They've grown closer. More open with each other. They see each other's weaknesses in a positive way. Push each other, to make each stronger.

    He's accepted the fact he will never walk again. He has hope, but calls himself a realist. He doesn't grasp at an intangible cure.

    "Either you deal with it, or you go to dark places," he says.

    Still, there are moments of frustration. Like when there's something simple to do, and he can't do it. Like put on his jacket.

    The person helping him pushes him forward. Troy can stretch out his arm, but someone has to pull the jacket over it. Then the other arm, other sleeve. Then shuffle his jacket so it's not all bunched up. If it's uncomfortable, he can't move his shoulders. Maybe his sleeves are rolled up inside the coat.

    "I can't fidget and fix it myself," he says.

    Patience was one of the first things to be learned.

    Going out means calling ahead to make sure venues are accessible.

    When he saw Marilyn Manson at Toronto's ACC, he was put in the wheelchair section so far away, "it could have been you down there playing," he says, laughing.

    When he saw Star Wars in Concert at Copps Coliseum, two ushers lifted him from his wheelchair into an aisle seat.

    He quickly learned to swallow his pride.

    "Life is not over," he says. "It's just changed."

    Three times a week, he works out at Brock University. It's good for body and mind, he says.

    He cardio trains on an arm bike, his hands secured to the pedals. He pulls rubber resistance bands up from the floor. And his leg muscles are given electric muscle stimulation that makes them move so he can pedal sitting in his wheelchair.

    Beyond medical care, there are three things that help him survive. His friends. Marvi. "If it wasn't for knowing I had Marvi by my side ...

    "I had someone strong standing next to me, giving me a kick in the ass."

    And, lastly, in his own words, his "smart ass" personality.

    "I have kind of a dark sense of humour," he says, smiling.

    Even in his own predicament. Case in point. He wants to skydive. Did it before, why not now? "What's the worse that can happen?" he begins.

    "Break my neck?"

    Besides, he's already been up in a glider. And if he has his way, he'll Edge Walk at the CN Tower.

    "I'd wheel around the perimeter, check out the view, be the first guy in a wheelchair to do it," he says.

    "If they'd just get back to me."

    Seems he's emailed a request. Several times. And he's still waiting.

    "Life's not over," he says. "I just gotta do things different, to do the things I used to do."


    There's one thing he doesn't want: sympathy.

    Maybe empathy. Understanding. But he has no patience for people who treat him like, in his words, a delicate piece of china.

    Then there are the strangers who approach him and say things like: "Ohhhh, you're such an inspiration. You must be so strong."

    If you could hear his voice, it has a definite, mocking-sarcastic undertone. And he's smiling.

    "I feel like saying, you don't even know me.

    "I could be a complete (idiot)."

    He's neither a china doll nor an idiot, he says.

    He's just Troy.


    The Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario provides programs and services to help people living with a spinal cord injury to become more independent, self-reliant and to live fully in the community. On Monday, they are having a Roll and Bowl fundraiser. For more information visit

    2010 SCINet Clinical Trial Support Squad Member

    "You kids and your cures, why back when I was injured they gave us a wheelchair and that's the way it was and we liked it!" Grumpy Old Man

    .."i used to be able to goof around so much because i knew Superman had my back. now all i've got is his example -- and that's gonna have to be enough."

  5. #5
    Junior Member Tina G. West's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Boulder, CO
    Blog Entries
    Nice find!

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