Aaron's Journey

January 6, 2011

Two Septembers ago my mother relayed some heartbreaking news to me. The cousin of a longtime friend of mine from childhood had been vacationing at the beach in Wildwood, NJ and after diving in the ocean head first, he hit a sandbar and was paralyzed. I played with Aaron (who is a couple years younger than me) often when we were little and was close to his cousin's family growing up so this news was both surprising and saddening.

"How far up his spine is his paralysis?" I asked her, hoping for the best. She said she wasn't sure.

As time went on I only heard bits and pieces of his condition from my mother who spoke occasionally to his aunt (our neighbors of 30+ years).
Aaron had been paralyzed from the chest down. He was transported to a trauma unit in Atlantic City where he underwent surgery and was placed on a ventilator. Later, he was moved to Magee Rehab in Philadelphia where he remained for over two months!

In November at Select Specialty Hospital in Harrisburg, doctors attempted to wean Aaron from the ventilator. It was unsuccessful. Aaron came home on December 8, after which his condition improved. On February 2, 2010, he was weaned from the ventilator. He has had no respiratory issues since!

He is now participating in an aggressive therapy program at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI) at Kennedy Krieger in Baltimore. He is working on a home therapy program ICSCI developed. Initially diagnosed as an “ASIA A”, the worst possible injury (ASIA E indicates normal function) a week later he was upgraded to “ASIA B”. When ICSCI evaluated him in January, he was still a “B”. During re-evaluation in May, he moved up another level to “ASIA C”. This means that his body is responding, trying to recover the neurological connections it needs for his muscles to begin working again. See video below for his latest progress.

Unfortunately, ICSCI (a one of a kind, cutting edge program) is NOT covered by the PA Medicaid program, so Aaron must hold on to his COBRA coverage. Though excellent coverage, some of the costly cutting edge therapy and equipment Aaron needs is not covered.

His family and friends have been organizing fundraisers and trying to spread the word about Aaron's Journey. Recently they ran their second annual Conewago Trail Fundraiser.

If you too would like to help Aaron pay for his unreimbursed medical expenses and any living expenses that he can’t cover since he is unable to work, please follow this paypal link to donate.

The fund is being administrated by attorney Kevin Dolan.
Checks should be written to:
Aaron’s Journey
P.O. Box 267
Elizabethtown, PA 17022
I'm sure any amount would be helpful to Aaron and his family. If you can't afford a monetary donation, please just stop by and leave him a word of encouragement. Says Aaron on his blog "Thank you to everyone for your continued support, monetary, moral, or whatever form it comes in....it is appreciated more than you know."

Aaron’s road to recovery is likely to be a long one and there are no guarantees but one thing he knows for certain…. If you don’t try, you fail (which is the header of his blog and a permanent message tattooed on his arm).

His mother began the blog shortly after Aaron was hospitalized to keep family and friends updated on Aaron's recovery. Now, Aaron himself updates it regularly with photos, videos and his thoughts about the day.

In a recent post he says, "As unhappy as I am with how things have progressed, or haven’t for that matter, I need to remember where I was just a year ago.  I remember spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my ex fiancĂ©e, Jaime, and her family.  It was a great time, but what a hassle.  Not for myself, but for everyone else, especially her.  It was a huge task just to load all of my equipment into the van.  I was still dependent on oxygen, had my trach, ventilator and I could go on and on.  I still can’t move my hands.  I still can’t walk.  I’m not where want to be, but I’m so much better than I was a year ago.

I can breathe on my own, something I thought I would never take for granted.  What a simple thing, I’m sure none of us, we ever think about losing.  Life is tough.  I’m not always the happiest person.  I get down.  I think most of that is to be expected.  My life will never be the same but I’m certainly thankful for what I do have.  The best family and friends anybody could ask for, an amazing group of people around me that are willing to give and do so much for myself and my family, generosity of people and businesses throughout Elizabethtown, Middletown and many many other places and I could go on and on.  

I just wanted to express my sincere thanks to anyone who has done anything for me since my accident, whether it was prayer, making a meal, stopping by to say hello, participating or helping with the fundraisers, donating money, etc. That’s it for now!  I promise you I will try to check it more often.  Please keep praying – I’m not walking yet!


Follow Aaron's Journey Blog Here.
Follow Aaron on YouTube Here.
Follow Aaron's Journey on Facebook Here. 

And thanks Grosgrain readers for taking the time to read his story! If you would like to share his story please copy the code below to paste into your blog sidebar.

9 {comments}:

marcy harriell | oonaballoona said... Best Blogger Tips

thank you for sharing this, and heaps of love to your cousin (who has an amazing smile!)

i wonder if starting a blog or etsy donated shop would help?

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh he's the cousin of a childhood friend of mine. She and I were next door neighbors since birth and remained friends and even went to the same college. So when her cousins would come over we would all play together.

Andrea said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow, what a story. Thanks for sharing, I will go check his blog.

Yannie said... Best Blogger Tips

We'll pray for his total recovery...

MushyWear said... Best Blogger Tips

I will remember him in my prayers tonight and ask God for a complete and total healing.

willowbird35 said... Best Blogger Tips

My heart ached reading this story. Two years ago my dear father in law came down to visit us on his motorcycle and had an accident and is now a quadraplegic. Reading Aaron's story was very similar to Dad's own story. He, too, spent months at McGee in Philadelphia. Aaron is somewhat lucky, though, that he got into some of the trials at Kennedy Kreigel. Dad hasn't been that lucky. And we know, the longer he goes without intense work to his injury, the more likely that it will be permanent. Dad is considerably older than Aaron too. My heart goes out to them. Thank you for sharing this story. It proves how precious life is and how, in an instant, it can be changed forever. - Karen

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad's situation. I'm always praying for a day when science can find a way to regrow nerve cells. He is in my prayers!

Ana said... Best Blogger Tips

My heart goes out to him. You are such a good friend to share this and want to help him.

Ashley J. said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh man, I'm crying... This is incredibly sad.
Look at him though! He's doing amazing, and in such a short amount of time!
He's gotten more handsome, too ;)
If only we had money. I'll be donating a percentage every week once I get my shop running!

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