I am a T-5 paraplegic and have been in a wheelchair since 2005. My paralysis is not due to an accident but from having a tumor growing inside my spinal cord. We first discovered it in 2001 when I sneezed, had shocks go down my arms and legs and I know this wasn’t normal.
I called my orthopedic surgeon. He told me to get an MRI. When he called with the results I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was urged to get with a neurosurgeon quickly, which I did and was in Johns Hopkins within two weeks.
The results were good. After extensive physical therapy I was able to walk again with a cane. Then in 2005 the tumor returned. I went back under the knife at Johns Hopkins and had much longer physical therapy to learn how to deal with my new way of life in a wheelchair.
As I have learned how to live my new life I have created a number of tools to that add to my own independence and make my life easier or more comfortable. The My4Hands Independence Assistant is the first of these tools. I have several others in development.
After the initial surgery in 2001 I was left with no sensation from mid chest to my toes. I couldn’t feel touch or temperature below T-5. In that area in the nervous system between where I have sensation and where I don’t, my nerves don’t know what to do. So, the create phantom or nerve ending pain. This pain can be intense, reaching an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Hence, it can be debilitating.
I soon found myself withdrawing from my family and friends. The doctors said the only medication they could prescribe to “get rid of the pain” were narcotics based drugs. I wasn’t willing to go down this path. Over the course of several years, along with another man who had a similar issue with chronic pain we developed a way of living that gave us the tools to live a full and productive life even with chronic pain. The story of how we did this can be found at www.chronicpainanonymous.org.