I'm a quadriplegic. I was injured 8 years ago in a BMX accident. People have expressed interest on what it's like being quadriplegic. Ask me anything. I'm extremely hard to offend and no question is too awkward. Let's do this.

my original post

heres my proof

Edit: I was asked to plug this sub and I think it's a good idea /r/spinalcordinjuries

Edit: thanks everyone for all the questions and the positive vibes I really appreciate it. I will keep trying to answer as many questions as possible even if I have to continue tomorrow. Here is a video of me in the exoskeleton inaction. I didn't know how to upload it so here it is on my instagram

Edit: thanks again everyone but I need to go to sleep now because I have an early-morning for physical therapy coincidentally. Like I said, I'll continue to answer questions tomorrow and will try and answer all the PMs I got too. stay awesome reddit strangers. In the meantime here's some good organizations to check out






Comments: 3486 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

brett-5362 karma

Hello! I'm a software engineer at a large tech company (whose products you likely use every day) who works on accessibility.

What is the biggest annoyance you run into using software and the web on a daily basis? What can we do to make things better?

therickles3824 karma

I'll have to think about this and get back to you. I want to make sure I give you the best answer I can. I'm terrible at thinking of the spot right now that with all these questions

Novazilla3300 karma

Just how close are we to having an ironman suit?

therickles8188 karma

That information is classified

annshine2568 karma

What's the realistic goal and the dream goal for you in using the exoskeleton?

therickles7474 karma

I'm like Forest Gump. I just like walking.

iWanheda2334 karma

oh hey, I saw your post earlier, and I've been waiting for this AMA since then, would you mind telling me what company made that exoskeleton and how much does it costs?

therickles1939 karma

I'm not exactly sure on cost but here's the website

SkyHawkMkIV2266 karma

That exoskeleton looks really sleek. How much does the whole thing weigh?

therickles2172 karma

Not entirely sure, but not a lot

PizzasbyPapa1925 karma

How heavily involved in BMX were you at the time of your injury?

therickles2972 karma

Pretty involved. It's all I did. I worked at a bike shop. I rode my bike every day with friends. Went on trips constantly to skate Parks or just looking for places to ride

Fwev1872 karma

Can you still feel your penis? And can you ejaculate? If not what do you do in your free time?

therickles2582 karma

Sadly no. I haven't had an orgasm since I could walk. Honestly I don't know if I can ejaculate. I watch a lot of TV in my free time

QuestionNark1751 karma

Would you completely remove the body parts that don't function properly and replace them with cybernetic parts if we had the proper technology?

therickles2677 karma

Hell yeah

AxellSwim1598 karma

What is the best and worst part of your day that might come as a surprise?

therickles4185 karma

The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. (I don't actually drink coffee). The worst part is not being independent. I need help with everything. With eating. Getting things. Not being able to go to the bathroom on my own.

cobaltpolicebox1189 karma

How long after your accident did you come to terms with your situation?

therickles3307 karma

I don't know if I've ever come to terms with it really. I accept where I am now and Still trying to move on but I have both good and bad days

jgb9191184 karma

How did you get access to an exoskeleton?

therickles2512 karma

My mom found it online as a trial and signed me up. When I went to use it the trial was already over but they decided to use it as physical therapy anyways

TimmyOutOfTheWell1155 karma

I'm not 100% sure what quadriplegic means but how do you type?

Also do you still miss BMX and what do you do now instead?

therickles1726 karma

I use a combination of both voice recognition and typing with my knuckles one letter at a time since I have no use of my fingers. If I'm on my phone though, I have it velcroed to my armrest and I use my thumb to type and navigate.

andywuhoo1140 karma

C5 complete here! If you don't mind me asking, what level are you? I'd be cool if I could try something like that!

therickles1212 karma

I'm C4-C5 complete. If you get the opportunity to use one definitely do it

leopardangel945 karma

Do you feel physically comfortable? I mean, I understand that you'd feel numb but is that something you have been able to adjust to and become familiar with?

therickles5570 karma

I guess so. I forget a lot of times that I can't feel so sometimes I'll hit my foot and instinctively yell ouch then remember that I can't feel it. I get surprised by my farts a lot too. Since I can't tell when I have to fart they just happen. i then look around and see who did that and I'm like oh yeah that's me

odkfn839 karma

Firstly, you're inspirational as shit.

Now, questions!

  1. Given that you injured yourself in a BMX accident I take it you were active before - has that made being a quadriplegic particularly hard?

  2. What does the future look like? With physio how much improvement can you expect?

  3. Have your hobbies/general interests changed post-accident?

  4. How do you stay so positive? It's such an amazing outlook to have on life.

Apologies if you've already answered any of these, I'm about read now!

therickles1431 karma

  1. it's made it very hard.
  2. no idea what the future looks like but I'm hopeful for the future with technology
  3. well besides BMX I also love playing guitar so that's another thing I can't do. But now I have a huge fascination with space. I'm trying to give voice acting a go. And I watch a lot of TV and movies
  4. I just try and laugh at everything as much as possible

asaleem839 karma

I know this question is very vague, but how do you go about your daily life? Things like school, using the restroom, hanging out with friends, etc...

therickles2875 karma

I just applied to go to VCU so we'll see how that goes As far as restroom, to go pee I have what's called a supra pubic catheter. It's a catheter that comes out of my abs that drains into a leg bag hooked up on my ankle that I have to have someone drain To go poop I sit in a chair with a hole in it then someone shoves a suppository up my ass that makes me go. Then if all the poop doesn't come out someone has to reach in with their finger, which is called digital stim, and scoop the rest out. Then we roll the chair into the shower and someone bathes me. I do this every other day in the morning. Hanging out with friends is just like it used to be except I'm always sitting down

MichaelBergenMD812 karma

What's a typical day like for you?

therickles2331 karma

I get out of bed. Which I need assistance with. Someone dresses me and puts me in my chair. That I either listen to music or watch TV. Trying to read stuff. A lot of times I get sucked into the dark hole of reddit. Then I go to bed which I also need assistance with. Then repeat

RHeegaard660 karma

Assuming you can use the exoskeleton, would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

therickles1709 karma

One Horse sized duck. Then find a way to domesticate it and then give it to my brother. He loves ducks

nopenopechem580 karma

how did you become quadriplegic??

therickles2040 karma

I broke my neck in BMX accident. I was trying to grind a handrail and I was going to much at an angle and my bottom bracket caught the rail so I flipped it went headfirst into the ground. No I was not wearing a helmet. The doctor said if I were wearing one it would've killed me giving my neck the extra leverage to internally decapitate me. Having said that I do believe that everyone should wear a helmet. Mine was a freak accident

last_callout492 karma

How's the dating life going? I mean you're Iron man so I imagine you're just killing it out there. Also wishing you the best on PT and recovery!

therickles1342 karma

it's meh. The last girl I dated said the chair was too hard for her. But I can't be mad at her because she was honest and upfront with me and to be honest it is pretty hard. Luckily I have some awesome friends that really make me feel loved

TsunamiParticle452 karma

Does the exoskeleton also give you function in your arms? Or is it only to assist with mobility?

therickles534 karma

It only assist with mobility

NydusHerMain414 karma

How has your relationships been with people before and after the accident? Did people just stop hanging out with you because of the accident?

therickles1192 karma

Yeah some people have disappeared but some of my relationships and friendships have grown to a new level that I never thought possible. I've had some friends do more than what's asked of them. I can truly say that I love them with all my heart.

ElRedDevil350 karma

What is your inspiration when you're feeling down? What keeps you going so infectiously positive ? - Love from Holland

therickles947 karma

When I'm feeling down I try to remind myself that I'm still alive. I may not be able to do what I used to but I still have a lot of potential. I also have the ability to choose which something that can never be taken away from me. I also have the greatest friends and family the anyone could ask for. They're always there when I need them. I try to stay positive and laugh at myself because if I don't the injury wins

BigSphinx334 karma

What are your dreams like? Are you injured or paralyzed in your dreams, or do you have full mobility? Thank you for sharing :)

therickles917 karma

My dreams are still the same. Depending on the dream I can be paralyzed or not. Mostly I'm walking in my dreams. It's really weird because I think to myself oh this is so easy why the hell am I still sitting down.

michugana329 karma

What was the biggest moment in recovery from the time you were injured until now?

therickles856 karma

I've had a couple. When I was first injured I had actually no use of any my limbs. I was also on a ventilator. So I couldn't eat or speak. When I was finally taken off the ventilator and could eat again that was a pretty big moment. Then I slowly regain use of my left arm. Then seven months later came my right arm. And then three years ago I started regaining use of some of my left wrist

AsCoolAsSlicedBread303 karma

What is your favorite leisure activity?

therickles525 karma

I just like being outside and hanging out with friends. It's hard to pinpoint exactly my favorite leisure activity is since I'm on the spot

themanny300 karma

Okay... So... If they offered you built in fog machine and lasers... Would you wear that bastard all freaking day?

therickles667 karma

You forgot the disco ball

toadythefrog288 karma

What is it like walking in the exoskeleton?does it feel like it's holding up your body weight well or not?

therickles610 karma

It's hard to explain but it's awesome I can't help but smile when I'm using it. It's so strange seeing my feet move below me and not being able to feel it. I forget how tall I actually am. It holds me up pretty well but I still need three people around me at all times. One person behind me to hold my hips. Someone in front to guide the walker. And someone to my side to hold my chest in case I lean too far forward

vers_le_haut_bateau287 karma

How can I help you and other quadriplegics?

I used to ride my BMX when I was a kid and I fell plenty of times. Through sheer luck I never got hurt. Life isn't fair. I want to know how can make your life better.

therickles999 karma

Do you have any spare spinal cords laying around? Just treat us like any other people I think that would be the best way to help

Smmoove273 karma

Can/do you still jerk off, and if so how?

therickles2873 karma

I can't. I've touched by dick though and it's really weird since I don't have a feeling below my chest. Feels Like I'm touching someone else's dick. So I guess you can say I've had a gay experience with myself?

GameIsStrong225 karma

Did you lose touch with close friends after the accident?

What new hobbies did you pick up after the accident?

therickles401 karma

Yeah. Some friendships were based solely on BMX and sometimes people just grew apart regardless Still trying to find new hobbies, any recommendations?

GameIsStrong430 karma

Start a podcast, especially if you're looking into voice acting.

Write a book (audiobook).


The first two are things I enjoy listening to, so I'm biased in my recs.

Farpafraf186 karma

How many times have people asked you if you can jerk off?

therickles421 karma

It's usually the first question once the awkward barrier comes down

Bushvas167 karma

Guess I'll ask here instead.

How is your stomach muscles? (where is the injury/complete or incomplete?) Doesn't seem to be much stability from the waist up on that suit. I've tried the ekso bionic suit, and there you have like a backpack strap in addition to what you have in this pic. Maybe making it very different to operate? Anyway, really cool to see someone else in almost the same situation as me!

therickles199 karma

I have no use of my muscles from the chest down but the exoskeleton grabs my stomach it holds me up pretty well

coffeeandbowties163 karma

T7 Incomplete here! I've used an exoskeleton and had a lot of fun with it.

Do you find it heavy and tiring? I did after awhile and I was wondering if that was the general thought.

Wishing you well :) http://i.imgur.com/YY3XCqR.jpg

therickles71 karma

Nice! I'm a little tired afterwards but not that much

SeabearsAttack121 karma

This may sound dumb, but where do you see yourself in 10-25 years? Do you think technology will make your quality of life significantly better? What type of things do you see yourself wanting to do?

Thanks in advance!!

therickles262 karma

I don't know where I'll be in the future but I do hope I'm walking. I do think technology who do something amazing. Some things that I would love to do would be something space related. I love science in Space. Maybe working at a telescope or something? I also like to give standup comedy try. I'm also trying to learn voice acting so I'd like to see if that whould get me anywhere

porcupicnicotine93 karma

Where do you find the motivation to continue pushing? I guess I am asking how you rose out of what I anticipate was a dark depression when you became quadriplegic. I don't know if I could find the strength within myself.

therickles168 karma

Just laugh and Make sure you have people around you that you can talk to

Acerial89 karma

Tits or ass?

therickles389 karma

I was a tit guy for a long time but now that this squat fad has come around I'm starting to really like butts

A1-Broscientist84 karma

What exactly does your physical therapy consist of? Is your therapist just there to make sure you don't fall or is she actively teaching you how to use that cool ass exoskeleton?

therickles189 karma

Therapy consist a lot of strengthening what I do have and also maintaining what I don't. Ordinarily I do physical therapy in Baltimore at Kennedy krieger Institute but I'm doing it now in Richmond as a test run in case I get into VCU. The exoskeleton is good because it's good for my bones by weight bearing. I also use a FES bike for my legs. I attach electrodes to my muscles and it fires as I ride the bike. This helps keep my legs from atrophying and it is good for cardio

plnts70 karma

What's something that you're burdened by that you didn't expect to be a problem as a quadriplegic?

therickles187 karma

Quite a few things. I have a strong opinion of inclines now. I have to be constantly aware of my body now. I have to do what's called weight shifts a lot. Basically my chair will lean back to 45° angle to relieve pressure off of my ass. If I don't I'm susceptible to a pressure sore. I've had one last year it was the worst thing ever. You can feel your butt getting numv when you sit too long but I can't which is why have to do pressure releases. This also means that I have to be turned when I sleep in bed. So in the middle the night someone will turn me to make sure I don't have constant pressure on one spot. Another thing is, and this is me in particular this doesn't apply to everyone, I can't sweat. So I have to drink a lot of water and be careful in the heat. If I'm outside I usually have one with me to pour on my head to cool me down. And of course going to the bathroom which I answered in another comment

Uhhlaneuh66 karma

Have you ever considered a stem cell transplant to regenerate some feeling in your body?

therickles115 karma

I would love to but it's still in early phases in the US

corvette171065 karma

Are you first in line for experimental exoskeleton stuff or are you a customer/commercial supporter for stuff already on the market?

therickles103 karma

Just a customer/commercial supporter

Theblueblue63 karma

Hey man, what's your favorite movie?

therickles218 karma

Shawshank redemption. And any of the MCU movies

surgicalapple41 karma

Are you part of any research or clinical trials?

therickles134 karma

Not yet, I'm keeping my options open for the right one. Because depending what you signed up for you can accidentally close the door to others that could be more beneficial

phosphorhesper19 karma

I must say, I am truly amazed at your positive attitude and sense of humor. As a person who deals with depression and negativity every day (and yet probably has vastly more minor problems to deal with than yourself), I'm wondering, how do you manage to stay so positive? You are an incredible inspiration, my cyborg friend.

therickles39 karma

I feel like I answered this is another response but if you have depression my advice is going talk to someone. Professional help helps more than you think. Just keep your chin up buddy

_reedv11 karma

What's your favorite kind of girl scout cookie?

therickles3 karma

Thin mints! Pop those things in the freezer then go to town