In the summer of 2010 I dove into a shallow lake and immediately lost the ability to move any muscle below my jaw. I have since made an extraordinary recovery even though I still suffer from nerve damage in my left arm and leg. I don't feel pain or temperature on my right side. I'm currently 22 years old and finishing up my bachelors in Civil Engineering at Purdue University. I am also in the process of starting a charitable foundation called "I Feel Home" to help victims with similar injuries re-adapt to living at home. Please AMA

Comments: 70 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

TheInundation17 karma

Aren't stem cells amazing?

zcioroms49 karma

Anytime I discuss the issue of stem cells with someone who opposes it, the first thing I ask them is "If you were in my position, you would honestly deny the treatment?". Shuts everyone up

TheIllusiveMan13 karma


zcioroms9 karma

Slow and tedious. I'm still regaining more movement to this day but the majority occurred over the course of the first few months

lilpeedee13 karma

Do you fully attribute your recovery to the stem cell therapy?

zcioroms19 karma

Definitely not. The first paramedics on the scene did an incredible job of bringing me back to life and ensuring no extra damage was done to my spinal cord. The surgeon was simply amazing, the best in the country. And my physical therapists pushed me as hard as I could go from day 1. And of course support from family/friends

T1mac9 karma

How long was it from the time of your injury to the first movement of your extremities, and then to full walking (can you give us the timeline)?

zcioroms21 karma

1 week-first voluntary movement in my right arm 6 weeks-could breath on my own again 10 weeks-stood up for the first time/first voluntary movement in my left arm 12 weeks-fitst steps forward 16 weeks-kicked the wheelchair and did most of my getting around with a cane 9 months-ditched the cane

Wrestlingisgood8 karma

Did you get one of those handicapped parking plaques, if so, how did you feel when non handicapped people parked in your spot.

zcioroms18 karma

Happens way more often than it should. My biggest pet peeve is people who actually have a plaque but only because they're fat. But I guess that's what I get for living in America haha

AltruistAvenger6 karma

Could you send some words of encouragement to this woman?

She's in a similar situation and would appreciate the good vibes.

zcioroms6 karma

I would be more than happy to!

catsgelatowinepizza4 karma

Were you in a relationship at the time of the accident or have you gotten involved in one since? How has all this affected the relationship emotionally and physically?

zcioroms15 karma

No relationships as of yet. Been rebuliding my sex drive and overcoming psychological hurdles such as body image issues and self esteem. At this point, almost 3 years post injury, I still am exhausted at the end of the day taking care of myself so I know it wouldn't be fair to commit myself to any girl before I know I can give 100% of the attention and care she would deserve.

Retserof_Mada4 karma


When I was 17 years old I broke my back in a car accident and was paralyzed from the belly button down. The picture of you in the NYT article brought back a huge flood of memories for me. I had 3 vertebrae fused and a steel rod clamped to my spine. I'm 36 years old now and have nearly full use of my legs and only 3 small pockets of slight numbness on my stomach and legs. I wish I had seen this AMA when it started. I don't really think I leveled off in my recovery until about 4 years later. Keep fighting my friend! Me as a 17 year old punk.

EDIT: Me as a 36 year old punk also.

zcioroms3 karma

This is awesome. I met a gentleman in physical therapy, in his 60s, who was taking his first steps 30 years after his accident. Stories from people like you are what keeps me motivated. Thanks so much for the comment!

legendairy4 karma

Lets say you were to get into a moderate car accident, and received whiplash. Could your spine possibly sever again, or is it actually stronger now?

zcioroms5 karma

My neck is actually a lot stronger now, reinforced with titanium

ARKB1rd443 karma

When you go through airport security does your jaw set off the metal detector?

zcioroms3 karma

Haha no even though the first time I went through I had a doctors note just in case. Its a surprisingly small amount of metal

ARKB1rd442 karma

How much was put in?

zcioroms3 karma

Just tiny ass screws, the majority of the reinforcement came from the bone graph. The metal isn't even necessary anymore but taking it out would require another surgery which I'm in no rush to do

not_x_or_x_not3 karma


zcioroms3 karma

The first E.R. doctor said I'd be lucky to breath on my own again without a respirator let alone walk but I always kept the story of Kevin Everett in the back of my head. He had a similar injury while playing with the buffalo bills and had an amazing recovery. That helped ease my mind some (along with the drugs)

claudia33 karma

What did you do to keep busy during your times of healing? Your story is amazing and you are an inspiration!

zcioroms7 karma

reddit, reddit, and more reddit.

ButtsMcGeezy3 karma


zcioroms2 karma

My initial surgery they cut bone out of my hip and used a titanium mold to recreate the damaged the vertebrae. They cut into the front of my neck then flipped me over and then went in the backside. The surgery took about 3-4 hours. As far as therapy, I was at RIC in Chicago and they're constantly pushing the envelope of experimental therapies. It's the place to be for rehab in this country

desmosabie2 karma

Do you have a youtube channel ?

zcioroms2 karma

I should make one. I have all the videos of my "firsts". Thanks for the suggestion!

desmosabie2 karma

Post the name here so I can subscribe please ? Should you make one....I would love to see them.

zcioroms1 karma

Definitely. I will literally begin collecting all the videos from my family members tomorrow. I'll drop the name of the channel once I set it up

denanner2 karma

Just want to say what you achieved so far is incredible, I wish you all the luck with setting up the charity. Also just wondering as to what your long term prognosis is?

zcioroms1 karma

The problem with spinal cord injuries is they're very unpredictable and doctors are still learning a lot. It's pretty much just a matter of getting a little stronger every day and recreating all my muscle memory. My "hard drive" was pretty much wiped clean

denanner2 karma

Sorry just one more question, how'd you deal with the pain of physio and having to relearn it all? I shattered two bones in my arm and that was one of the worst things I had to go through.

zcioroms2 karma

I would be lying if I said I handled it well. There was a lot of cussing at my physical therapists at the beginning even though I had traech and couldn't talk, they knew very well what I was mouthing

CeeDiddy822 karma

Wow, crazy story!

Is the theme song for your organization "I Feel Home" by OAR?

zcioroms1 karma

I grew up listening to O.A.R. and I would listen to them in the hospital so I had to pay homage to them somehow

appleannieee2 karma

How did it feel fully walking again for the first time? What was your reaction?

zcioroms2 karma

Standing for the first time was a crazy feeling. It was the most satisfying stretch ever

Hedrews2 karma

Have you heard about or been in touch with the Jack Jablonski family in Minnesota?

zcioroms1 karma

I have not but I'll give it a google