I will never forget the day my Dad told me “Your brother might never walk again”.
His injury happened August 3rd of 2008. I was in Europe with a friend and called home randomly that day. I felt like I needed to talk to my parents. They did a good job hiding that anything was wrong; they decided to wait to tell me when I got home, 5 days later. I could hear something in my mum’s voice though and I knew something had happened. First I asked how our dog was, she was 12, getting older. She was fine. Then I asked how my grandma was, she was suffering from dementia. She was also fine. Then I got a horrible feeling in my stomach. Logan and I are only 15 months apart and have spent our entire lives pretending we were twins. Our bond is undeniable. I said, “Logan… How’s Logan.” My mum’s voice quietly said Logan is fine, he’s just fine. And then she hung up.
The moment I found out what happened is still a complete blur in my mind. I remember coming through the international arrival gates and the look on my family’s face was one I can hardly describe. My mum grabbed me and wrapped her arms around me, my brother took my bag and my family walked me into a corner of the arrivals section. My mum was shaking and I could hear her crying softly. I had no idea what was going on but knew it was something beyond imaginable. In hindsight this was probably the worst place to break such heart wrenching news to me, but my parents couldn’t hold it back any longer. My Dad leaned me up against the wall, fighting back tears and told me Logan had had an accident, and that it was severe. He told me he was in the Intensive Care Unit at Vancouver General. He then said, “there is a chance your brother will never walk again”. All I remember doing was screaming at the top of my lungs and then collapsing to the ground in a hysterical ball of emotion. I couldn’t quiet process it all. Then my dad said “Logan wants to see you.”
The car ride to the hospital was silent. My parents asked a few things about my trip, but it all seemed completely irrelevant. They explained to me that Logan had been on a mountain bike, flown of the handle bars and had fractured his C5-6 vertebrae. He had immediately gone for emergency spinal surgery to cage the fractures and protect his spinal cord. His spinal cord had not been severed, only bruised and a 1% chance remained for him to walk again. He was paralysed from the neck down with very little arm movement. When we arrived at the hospital I stared in disbelief at my brother. He had tubes and wires attached to every part of him, a neck brace on, compression stockings…and the most unbelievable thing of all…a smile on his face. My tears instantly stopped, I wrapped my arms around him and asked him how he was. He looked at me told me something I will never forget. “Hailey, you don’t need to cry, I am going to be okay.”
From this day on, it was been a roller coaster for both Logan and my family. We have watched him overcome huge adversity, struggle to adjust to his new life and gain independence. Logan has faced setbacks by smiling and laughing through them. He marvelled at his improvements. I remember the first time he sat up in a power chair, the first time he drank non-thickened water, when he figured out how to hold a cup, when he got the use of his biceps and one tricep back, when we went out for a picnic for fish and chips, the first time he wheeled himself around in a manual chair! In the 7 years since his injury happened, I have never once seen Logan break down. I’ve seen him get frustrated but only when people are trying to over step his independence, or when others are crying for him. He’s always said “I’m not upset about it, why should anyone else be.” When he was discharged home after months in both ICU, the spinal cord speciality unit and SCI rehab, it was amazing. He sold his power chair with the attitude that “if I can get around in my manual chair, I’m not using a power chair.” We figured out how to transfer him into my car and soon we were hanging out like old times, going to friends’ houses, “wheeling” around the neighbourhood and going to the movies. Logan now is living independently in his own home.
But a positive attitude doesn’t change the fact that everyday Logan is face is challenges. Think for a moment about not being able to get yourself out of bed in the morning, not being able to shower yourself, not being able to just go wherever you want, not being able to put in a pair of runners and head out the door. There is so much about having a SCI that we don’t think about. And it isn’t our fault, it is just that we don’t see it every day. But I do. And now I know how hard life is for him. The things he has to worry about that we don’t even have to think about… constant bladder infections, the worry of pressure ulcers, burning your hand on a cup of coffee because you can’t feel how hot it is, waiting for your care aid to show up so you can get up in the morning, getting constant respiration infections because your cough reflex isn’t strong enough, or having to go to bed at the exact same time every night. Life is all about making adjustments, and having a SCI is a huge one. What Logan has taught me through this whole journey of his is to smile in the face of adversity! Life can be challenging, but what makes it easier is your attitude. Logan has never stopped believing that one day he will walk again. But even if he doesn’t, I am confident that he will continue to live life as one of the happiest people I know.
As you know, Run Like a Girl is a partial non-profit company and we believe in giving back to various charities and organizations that have affected our lives. Both myself and Dayna have had family members suffer from spinal cord injuries so it seemed fitting to donate to a cause supporting that.
This year, we are donating the Rick Hansen Foundation which supports people with Spinal cord injuries all over the USA and Canada. Rick Hansen is famously known as “the man in motion” and is the first paraplegic to wheel across Canada. Rick Hansen focusing on SCI’s being “silent”. Unless you or someone you know has a spinal cord injury, it is not something you think about or even see. The Rick Hansen foundation has programs geared to improving the life of those who have SCIs.
Life in a wheel chair is NOT any easy one. And even thought you’ll rarely hear Logan complain about it, I know he has his struggles. We hope that we can help in some way. So please, on June 4th, get your running clothes on, lace up your shoes, and head out on your favourite route with some friends for a 11 or 21km run, wearing our BE Fearless bib, and support us in supporting people with SCIs. Run, for those who can’t run!