We never heard the words Jeff will never walk again the entire time he was in the hospital.
I think there's two reasons for this.
The first is because I never asked. Even when the attending doctor in the ER came out to tell me the extent of Jeff's injury, something prevented me from asking that specific question. It was probably fear of the answer.
The second, I think, is because Jeff's injury is so much more than not just being able to walk. And no doctor was going to go down the list of what Jeff would have to regain in order to accomplish that. We figured that out on our own.
There's so much that would need to heal and "wake up" before Jeff could ever think of walking again. First and foremost, he would have to get off the ventilator by regaining sensation and control over his diaphragm. Then he would have to move his arms. Then his hands and fingers. Then gain control of his torso. Then get back his bladder and bowel function. Then his hips, thighs, knees, and feet. Finally he'd have to build up an enormous amount of lost muscle mass to take ... one ... step.
I'm not talking about the kind of step paralyzed people take when they are hooked up to "walking machines" in rehab. Those certainly are highly advanced therapeutic devices, and have done a lot to help people's bodies move in ways they never dreamed would happen again.
I'm talking about the kind of step he can feel. The kind of walking where his body just does it automatically, without thinking. The kind of walking most people do effortlessly each day.
Please don't think I'm pessimistic about the chance of a recovery for Jeff. It's just that with everything we've been through, we have to face reality head on. The chances are very slim that Jeff will ever walk again. We will never lose hope, but in order to live day-to-day, hour-by-hour with this injury, we also have to remain realistic.
Besides, walking is overrated, right? Jeff's wheelchair is so advanced that it offers him a tremendous amount of freedom he wouldn't otherwise have. And at this point, walking isn't even on our radar. If it presents itself as a real opportunity down the line, we will gladly accept it. But for now, Jeff's main goals remain to try to wean off the vent, and try to, one day, regain some arm movement.
I've heard Jeff say multiple times that he would give up his legs for the chance to be able to move one of his arms. If he could strike a magical deal, he would have his legs physically removed from his body, giving up all hope of ever walking again, to have the use of just ... one ... arm.
So I could touch my family again, he told me.
I would take that over walking any day.
Evie and Daddy "walking" together at the park.