Events surrounding the incident…
Sjuny was involved in a major motor vehicle collision and almost lost her life. Unresponsive and unable to move at the scene, paramedics had to rush her to the closest hospital. Sjuny was missing for almost 6 hours before her mother was contacted and informed of the severity of her condition.
Sjunseeargn sustained extensive injuries. Rendered quadriplegic by doctors, Sjuny sustained what is called an atlanto-occipital dislocation. This type of injury occurs when the head separates from the neck causing injury to the spinal cord. This is the highest possible spinal cord injury that often results in death. This is also the same injury sustained by Christopher Reeve – “Superman”. Sjuny was paralyzed from her neck down and could only communicate by blinking her eyes. In addition to this injury, she sustained others.
Sjuny was in rough shape, but continued to fight and on April 10th, she underwent extensive surgeries to stabilize her spinal cord injuries. Although the surgery would not “fix” her, it was a necessary part of the process in order to allow her to be safely moved for bedside care and eventually allow for her safe transport back to Buffalo, New York.
The days after the initial surgeries… Sjuny remained in the ICU on a ventilator, unsure if she would ever be able to breathe on her own again. In the following days, she had several more procedures. These procedures included a bronchoscopy in response to a collapsed lung and a tracheostomy. She also had an IVC filter placed to prevent potential blood clots from traveling from her legs to her lungs. She was treated for pneumonia.
Sjuny remained in the ICU in Atlanta for two weeks. On April 20th, she was stable enough to be flown via Angel Flight to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York where she could be surrounded by her children, family, and friends.
The ECMC days…
In the following days, weeks, and months, Sjuny endured many trials and adversities, many highs and lows. On a daily basis, she dealt with the frustration of not being able to communicate easily and effectively with her doctors, nurses, therapists, family and friends. She communicated by mouthing her words and with her eyes. She will tell you, however, that she communicated very effectively and it was us who were not effective receivers of this communication. She was fed via a feeding tube that went from her nose down into her stomach. We did not know if she would ever be able to eat “normally” again. But through all of this, she never gave up. ECMC and the entire staff became her home away from home and her second family.
When she was able, she worked almost daily with physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. She learned how to breathe on her own again, how to cough on her own again, how to swallow and eat on her own again. Miraculously, and due to her hard work, she has now regained some function of her arms allowing her to be able to hug her two children along with some of the other tasks it was thought she would never be able to do again. She remains wheelchair bound and still needs a fair amount of assistance with some of the activities of daily living but she has made tremendous progress.
This story – Sjuny’s journey – is one of strength, perseverance, belief in God, compassion, drive and unwavering heart. Sjuny’s journey is not over and she is passionate about empowering and inspiring others by sharing her testimony and the many lessons she’s learned… so watch out!