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Kim’s ”New World”

By February 17, 2015No Comments
Beautiful Kim.
This is the tale about a beautiful woman that I (Keira –from Epic Enabled) have known for 10 years. I always knew her to be a vibrant, sparkly and adventurous woman. Today she is still that!

Kim Sanderson born in 1975 has been in a wheelchair since tragedy struck in September of 2010. Her story will unfold in an intense 5 part series including words from her daughter Kaylin.

The beginning

So Kim, what happened in your accident?

I had gone to Mozambique on a holiday with a friend, and one evening we went to visit a friend a short drive away. We sat around having drinks (I had 2), dancing and chatting. Then around midnight I decided to dive into the pool. Everyone was inside and I was alone. The moment I dived in I remember hitting the top of my head and instantly was paralyzed, but put it down to a concussion. My body turned to cement, dragging me under, my hands were not working and my voice was a whisper.

Panic started to set it and I tried to call for help but only a faint sound was coming out even though I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I was still being dragged down until I felt a hand reach out, and I was pulled out.
Kim in physio.

After more than 48 excruciating hours and flights I arrived at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. I was in ICU for 7 days being stabilized then operated on and diagnosed as a C6/C7 complete injury which is commonly known as a quadriplegic.

I am essentially paralyzed till under my armpits, this is my break line. Although I have limited grasp in my hands and fingers they are becoming much stronger with time and exercise. Many doctors will tell you there is only room for improvement up to 2 years after your accident, then no more. But ask any quadriplegic and they will tell you this is not true, it continues. Our bodies are always repairing, changing and getting stronger.

I had not hit my head hard, it was just a bump! Apparently the pressure travelled down my spine and ‘blew out’,my C7 vertebrae.  My doctor said to me that I was very unlucky, most people would have walked away with a sore neck or a bad headache. I was osteoporotic which literally meant I had soft bones.

I have full mobility of my arms and shoulders and because of this I am classed as a tetraplegic. Most people with my injury are paralyzed neck down and cannot use their arms. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. You learn to count your blessings and be very grateful for everything.

I spent 30 days on my back in Groote Schuur SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) ward then 3 ½ months in a rehab at rehabilitation centre in Mitchells Plain- they are brilliant.

I also had 3 more major operations to try improve my mobility and general quality of life over the next year. Hysterectomy, hand operation and tummy augmentation. That first year was hell and I spent more than 8 months in hospital!
What were your greatest fears at first after you had been told your diagnosis?

Every day was scary, each day had something I realized I couldn’t do. Day 1 I couldn’t feed myself, couldn’t drink water, couldn’t hold a glass. Day 2 couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t feel my bladder, couldn’t go to the toilet, and couldn’t brush my hair. Day 3 I couldn’t turn myself, couldn’t sneeze, couldn’t hold a pen, couldn’t write, couldn’t laugh, couldn’t cough. You see every day was scary as hell and I was living in an ongoing nightmare. Then I went to bed at night, woke up and realized it was happening all over again!
There was a lot of fear about the uncertainty of the future, where to from here?!

Independence was probably the greatest fear as I was always very independent and always busy. How was I going to look after my 4 children? My kids were always on my thoughts.

Another fear was being a burden to others. I don’t believe a person realizes the magnitude of what’s going to change or what has happened at first. Every day is a new challenge and one slowly realizes life as you knew it has gone. It’s been almost 5 years and I still find there are things I never realized I can’t do. But you always find a way!

Kim and her daughter, Kaylin.

Keep tuned for the next installment of Kim’s ordeal that life has thrown at her. Next she will be telling us about her challenges, what it was like going back home and how it has changed her relationships with loved ones.

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