Meet my good friend, Luke! He is a quadriplegic, just like me. We met at physical therapy about 3-4 years ago and have been encouraging each other in our recovery ever since.
I love hearing other spinal cords injury survivor’s story and wanted to share that experience with you. Their stories are always powerful and never the same. Luke will share details of how he was injured, what his transition to a wheelchair was like, how his faith was challenged, and more. I hope you find inspiration and encouragement through Luke’s story.
Name, age, injury level?
My name is Luke Shelton, I am 27 with a c5-c6 incomplete spinal cord injury.
Why are you in a chair?
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my brightest moment but on July 30th, 2010 I was swimming with some friends in an above ground pool and I was jumping off the deck doing a kind of shallow dive where you just skim through the water and resurface but the third time I jumped, I jumped too hard and it sent me into more of a front flip/dive and my head hit the bottom and instantly broke my neck. After that I was floating face down and couldn’t move anything but my head and ended up drowning. Soon after one of my best friends named Ryan who was with me realized something was wrong and pulled me out of the pool, performed CPR, and saved my life!
What was it like in the hospital?
So, after the accident I was life flighted to Miami valley which sadly was my first time in an aircraft, but it was still cool! (I’ve always loved airplanes and was in school to be an aircraft mechanic) My hospital stays went well considering the severity of my injury. It was sad having to rely on people for every drink of water and every bite of food, but God blessed me with an amazing family. Lots of friends and family came and it was sadder seeing their reaction than anything else. I stayed at Miami valley for 2 weeks and went to rehab at OSU for 5 weeks.
What was it like realizing you are paralyzed?
Scary! I knew the second my head hit that I was paralyzed. It’s terrible trying to move and being still as stone especially when you’re under water. Right after my injury I had high hopes that it wasn’t permanent and I credit my return of movement to my early faith but as the months and years went by my belief in a full recovery dwindled, I still don’t count it out though!
Did you lose friends? Did they treat you differently?
There were definitely people that quit coming around so can you really say they were friends? My best friends didn’t go anywhere! I can’t really say anyone has treated me differently, maybe viewed differently by the opposite sex but that’s about it.
What was the transition from able bodied to disabled like?
It was very tough mentally and physically. It takes time re-learning how to do things like feeding yourself, getting out of bed, getting dressed and countless other things but I have great friends and family that helped me get through the hardest parts. Since I was 19 when I got hurt it was definitely sad seeing my friends grow into adults and get their own houses, cars and having kids and I feel like I’m still stuck at 19 but honestly, it’s great motivation!
What Is physical therapy like? Have you gained movement? If so, how was that experience?
Physical therapy like most things, the quality varies so it’s important to find therapists that really care about the work they do. Therapy, especially for SCI patients, is difficult and challenging but also very important for your health and recovery. With my incomplete injury I have gotten a lot of movement back. It started with a toe about 4 months after my accident then some leg movement until I was able to stand up about 6-8 months post injury and from there PT has brought me a long way. After 8 years I am very independent for a quadriplegic and am able to stand up and walk with a walker by myself and even without a walker recently!
How was your faith affected?
My faith was affected for the better! I have been a Christian believer as long as I can remember but before my accident, I was young and dumb, drinking and partying with friends, etc. It may sound crazy but as terrible as it is being paralyzed, I’m thankful for what happened because it pulled me out of the worldly mindset of just working to have nice things and have fun. If I never would have gotten hurt, I’m sure I would have all kinds of cool toys and story’s to tell but where would I be spiritually?
What is your life like now?
My life now is great, I can’t complain about anything except my own laziness! I have way too much free time and I feel pretty guilty for wasting so much of it but that’s about to change!
What have you learned, or do you have any wisdom you have gained in the past years?
Well first of all never dive into a shallow pool! 🙂 Early on after my accident I prayed often for wisdom like King Solomon did and God delivered! Although I’m nowhere near Solomon’s level of wisdom I have learned so much about the scriptures and many other things since my accident but with that wisdom comes responsibility and that leads me to the final question.
What are your dreams?
There’s only one thing to do with the wisdom God has blessed me with and that’s to tell people the truth. The truth is that mankind is no cosmic accident. We didn’t evolve from pond scum by chance over millions of years. Where there is design there is a designer! All life whether plant or animal is unimaginably complex and there’s just no way it could have happened without a Creator. That same Creator loves us so much that He willingly sacrificed Himself on the cross to cover our debt so that we can live forever with Him. That being said, I would like to go into apologetics, or maybe be a college professor someday at a Christian university! For that I need an education and I JUST DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL but you gotta do what you gotta do!
Thank you for taking the time to read my story!!