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  • Jeremy Raeszler

The Placebo Effect

I had been in the hospital for 6 weeks after my motocross accident. During my time in the hospital there was always someone helping me or doing things for me. All I had to do was go to therapy sessions a couple times a day and lay in bed and read books or do crossword puzzles.

I will never forget the day my wife brought me home from the hospital. I was so excited I was able to finally leave, I was finally going to be able to get back to my life. Albeit, it was going to be a slow process, I mean I did loose feeling in my legs, but at least I got to go home so I could recover and get back to life. I still didn't seem to realize that this was my new life. Crippled. Different. Needy.

I was wheeled out to the truck where my wife had parked. The nurse opened the passenger door of the truck, set a step stool down for me to place my feet on and we were ready. As I reached for the door handle to pull myself up she quickly stopped me and said NO, don't use the door! It will swing towards you and knock you over! I don't remember exactly how anymore, but eventually I was in the truck and we were driving through Las Vegas on our way home! The harmonious tones of the traffic around us and the smell of life made me feel alive again. I had never thought about these things before, I only knew about things I could see, not about the life's other sensory attractions....its soundmarks and smellmarks. I remember laying my head back, my hands in lap, closing my eyes and just feeling the light vibration of the vehicle through the seat. I was going home.

We pulled into the garage at our home and my wife helped me back into the big, clumsy hospital wheelchair. I was so excited to be home! I could see our dog, Dakota, again! I pointed my wheelchair towards the door in the garage that led into the house as she was getting my bag out of the back and this was when I first saw the big 8" step up into the house through the garage door and I thought to myself, "Umm, how am I...". I think my wife noticed my discomfort and quickly told me that we would just go in the front door of the house, there our neighbor had built a small wooden ramp so I could be wheeled into the house. I quickly agreed, wanting the feeling of discomfort and pain in my heart to go away.

We got to the front door, we stumbled through the process of getting the front wheels up the little hump onto the ramp, holding the screen door open, trying to open the main door, and getting the wheelchair through without breaking anything. The anxiety was quickly building in me....there I sat in the entryway to my own house, alone and incapable of doing anything I could before. Our dog was jumping at my legs begging for attention but I couldn't feel eyes were swelling up with tears as it had just at that moment, my life was over as I knew it. I couldn't do anything I used to be able to do. I couldn't take out the garbage because the garbage cans were in the garage and how could I get into the garage with that big step down into it. Not to mention how was I going to carry the garbage if I was in a wheelchair? How was I going to get into the backyard to work on the hot tub or the swimming pool? How was I going to work on sprinklers when they broke? How was I going to live my damn life? I lost control. I cried so hard that my cheekbones hurt, I struggled to breath, & I couldn't even sit upright. I begged and pleaded with my wife to take me back to the hospital.

She tried her best to comfort me and tell me that it was going to be ok. At first I couldn't even respond to her, I was crying so hard. But her love and tenderness slowly calmed me down. Enough to where I agreed that I should just go to our bedroom and lay down. She tried to push me but I pulled away and told her that I wanted to do it...I mean I was going to have to at some point. I wheeled myself down the long hallway to our bedroom, through the doorway, and to the bed. The therapists had taught me how to use a slide board, a board that you placed on the side of the wheelchair cushion and your destination so that I could scoot to the bed. But the bed was to high, the slide board wouldn't even reach the top of the mattress. I fought back tears and thoughts of disbelief. My wife suggested that rather than me going to a different bedroom in the house that we could blow up our giant camping air mattress and I could lay on it in our room with her. Youu will see in this photo an office chair between our bed and the air mattress, I would transfer from the wheelchair onto the office chair and then onto the air mattress. I was depressed. Depressed beyond anything.

After 3 days of lying on this air mattress, not eating, not sitting up, not doing anything but crying myself back to sleep I was getting bored, haha. I knew that I needed to get up and if I wanted to have those feelings of accomplishment and the support of friends I needed to get out of this bed and go back to physical therapy. I asked my wife to schedule my first out-patient therapy session and the healing process had begun. The next morning I got up with my wife, we figured out to get me into the bath and cleaned up. We pulled on some shorts and a t-shirt...socks and shoes and I was ready for therapy. I was so excited yet nervous! It felt like I was going to a new job for the first day. I didn't even want to be in the house when the hospital van came to pick me up so I asked my wife to help me get outside. I sat in front of the house, looking around at my landscape, at my neighbors house, at the sky and I was finally happy again.

The van arrived a short time later to take me to therapy and the bus driver loaded me up, ratchet strapped my chair down, and off we went. When we got to the hospital, the familiarities made me feel at peace. I knew the building, I knew the layout inside the building, and most importantly I knew the people inside. I proudly wheeled myself into the hospital and immediately recognized the nurses, the doctors, the maintenance crew and it felt like a class reunion! I was so proud of myself for having left there and now coming back as not a patient, but just as a guy who was there for physical therapy. It was like going back to a class reunion.

As I went back to therapy and I was getting stronger I started to research spinal cord injury recovery. I wanted to learn more, I wanted to see if I could walk again. I wanted to work hard. But, if you search the internet all you will find is information on how to cope with a spinal cord injury, how to cope with depression, how counseling and antidepressant medication has been shown to have the best results. That wasn't going to be how it least not for me. I testify to you that regular exercise or physical activity and being with friends can improve your mood.

Our thoughts shape who we are and who we will become, as well as influencing our physical well-being and our emotional state. If you want to become stronger you need to think about how you can make it happen.

If you believe you can, you will. If you don't believe you can, you won't.

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