I contracted Transverse Myelitis July 9, 1967. I was paralyzed from the neck down and diagnosed with TM between C5-C6 vertebra, I was 17 years old. I lay in my bed not able to move for about a month before I was transferred to a rehabilitation center. In other words I had a lot of time to think about had happened to me, that’s when I made up mind to fight this disease. I built myself back to a point I was walking, not very good, but good enough that I was able to go back to school and earn a degree. I was stubborn and didn’t listen to anybody telling me that I couldn’t do anything. I took a job at Stryker Corporation as a draftsman and worked my way up through the ranks, I got married and my wife helped me with the rest of my rehab. We played a slow game of tennis; we joined some bowling leagues over the years and even played golf. We had two boys that helped me also. About 10 years ago I started to slow down, don’t know if it was the TM or old age. TM forced me to retire and accept disability. I’m still working hard to maintain my health. I’m limited to an electric scooter to get around; however, I feel I will be walking again sometime. I have the support of an amazing trophy wife and some amazing family, doctors and therapists. Even my runner friends in the neighborhood have supported me by wearing the TM bracelets to marathons and triathlon’s they compete in. I feel honored that they would do that for me. It gives me encouragement to keep being the best I can be. Maybe someday I will be able to at least walk the streets with them.
Even though TM has knocked me down I’ve had an amazing life. I need to thank my wife Lou Ann, my kids Mike and Mark, my daughter-in-law Amanda and my grand kids Connor, Kaitlin, Tyson and Raegan. All of them have contributed to helping me to continue with my rehab and quality of life.
I hope someday the researchers and scientists will get a handle on the cause of TM. Until then, all I can ask is that people spread the word about this debilitating disease and promote awareness just like they do with breast cancer and MS.
This is a Passive Therapy Bike to strengthen my lower extremities, I can pedal this bike until I get tired, then, the bike takes over while I rest and can pedal on my own again.
Learning to walk harnessed on a treadmill at Spain Rehab. It takes a lot of personnel to do this.
This book tells my story from birth until today, how I grew up and persevered through the challenges of Transverse Myelitis, I believe this is an inspirational story that shows people that they can overcome adversities.