On August 31st, I sustained a traumatic C3-C7 injury to my spinal cord. I was chest deep in the waters off Narragansett beach when, facing the shoreline was hit by a wave from behind. Despite a one month survival rate of approximately 25%, I survived. Facing extensive medical care and rehabilation that extended over many months and the long road that followed, my life had changed forever and this is part of my story.
Tom Pepper, videographer.
About the Author:On August 31st, Gary sustained a traumatic C3-C7 injury to his spinal cord. He was chest deep in the waters off Narragansett beach when, facing the shoreline he was hit by a wave from behind. While it remains unclear if the sustained injury was a result of the wave’s initial impact or the subsequent blow he suffered upon hitting his head on the sea floor, we do know that his injury caused immediate paralysis. Unable to lift his head above the water to breath, Gary, with the aid of his wife DeeDee and four good Samaritans was rolled over and dragged onto the shore whereupon aid was immediately summoned. Able to communicate and entirely cognizant of his situation, Gary informed the first responders of his paralysis and requested tracheal intubation- but not before stating he wanted to receive treatment at Brigham & Women’s hospital in Boston. The EMTs, noting the severity of his condition transported dad to South County hospital in preparation for transit to the Brigham, however unable to find a suitable pilot for a successful Medivac, transferred him to Rhode Island Hospital, the closest Level 1 trauma center, via ambulance.