by Michael Segal
You could hear a pin drop.
Then, some sniffles in the mob of thousands.
Eventually, after what appeared like an eternity, the crowd roared with applause as the ambulance took him away.
His name is Kevin Everett and he was playing for the Buffalo Bills football team. He was hurt — hurt very badly trying to make a tackle on a kickoff. The blow injured his spinal column causing a paralysis. He could not give the “thumbs up” to the crowd, no matter how hard he tried.
Meanwhile, back home in a small town near Houston, Kevin’s mother was watching the game in a sport’s bar. Very few things in life are worse than watching your “baby” on television not being able to move.
His fiancee was also near Houston washing her car. Soon she would find out the horrible news. Soon, everyone would find out the horrible news as the doctor reported in a TV news broadcast that Kevin was in critical condition — his life was at risk, never mind the fact that he possibly might never again be able to walk.
Luckily, Kevin’s doctor who was in the ambulance with him, tried a new procedure to immediately cool his spinal column. Also, he was fortunate he had a neurosurgeon waiting for him at the trauma hospital.
Slowly, and very slowly, he began making progress. Eventually, he was stable enough to be flown to The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), a rehabilitation hospital near his home in Houston. At TIRR he continued making great progress. He took his first steps there.
Mind you, very few people who sustain that kind of injury are ever able to take a first step. But he did, and he continues to keep proving the experts wrong.
When he appeared and walked on the Oprah show recently, he proved to have made a miraculous recovery. If you had not known him or his story, you would not have realized that he had an injury that almost cost him his life.
Back at TIRR, many patients are obliged to learn to deal and cope with dramatic changes after those life altering experiences. A person, often, is simply thankful for the small things — like being able to brush one’s teeth, tying one’s shoes, combing one’s hair, etc. Quite often the small things in life are really huge. Often, it takes much time to deal with the many losses. However, with a positive attitude, support, as well as many other factors, life, after a spinal cord injury can be very successful.
The proverb, “Be thankful for what you have and do not dwell on what you have lost” is a great attitude. The patients at TIRR realize this, and people everywhere should accept that proverb, since everyone in life experiences some kind of loss. That is the definition of being human.
Kevin Everett and so many others are trying to show the world that life is not over when one sustains a major loss. In fact, perhaps, for many it is just beginning. Perhaps the reason Kevin Everett healed so miraculously was because of the care he received in the ambulance, or in the hospital, or in the rehab hospital, or because of his excellent conditioning, or because of his faith, or because of so many other reasons, or a combination of the above.
Today, he is doing great and helping others.
Many people, who have sustained a spinal cord injury, as well as those who have not, possess the desire to get better. For many, that equates to being more independent. People want to believe that getting better is possible. People enjoy stories with happy endings. And people want to be positive.
Kevin Everett’s story reminds us that sometimes there are happy endings.
— Michael Segal