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Stories That Move You.

Randy’s positive attitude helped him overcome the odds to walk again after suffering an aortic aneurysm resulting in spinal cord damage.

Don’t give up. Take it one day at time.

Many of us have heard these kinds of motivational statements before. But when you experience a life changing event, these words take on a whole new meaning.

Randy Ribble, age 64, was enjoying an ordinary evening in May when it took an unfortunate turn.

“I was settling in for the night – and of all of sudden I couldn’t breathe,” says Randy. “I was gasping for air.”

He knew it was something serious and told his wife to call 911. Randy ended up passing out and doesn’t remember much of what happened in the following week.

Randy learned he suffered an aortic aneurysm, which resulted in spinal cord damage because of the lack of oxygen to his nerves. He was told there was a slim chance he could ever walk again. However, it was hard to comprehend what was going on because he was in a fog from heavy medications.

“They told me I was just lucky to be alive,” says Randy.

Aortic aneurysms are the thirteenth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 15,000-20,000 deaths annually.

Randy stayed in intensive care for three weeks at a local hospital. His stay didn’t go smoothly. During a procedure he had complications with blood clots, and later he experienced mini-strokes and respiratory failure.

After being cleared as stable, Randy’s doctor wanted him to start therapy right away. He was sent to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

But his stay didn’t last long.

During Randy’s first night, his nurse noticed discoloration on his legs and had a very hard time finding his pulse.

Randy was sent back to the hospital for another week with lower extremity problems. He needed a blood transfusion, and had stints put in.

He came back to Mary Free Bed with determination. Randy’s goal was to walk again before he returned home.

To help make this happen, Randy had a full schedule. He received care from physical and occupational therapists in the Spinal Cord Injury Program, seven days a week. He also received speech language therapy three times a day due to swallowing difficulties.

Randy enjoyed working with Mary Free Bed therapists.

“It was such an experience,” says Randy. “My therapists were so friendly, yet they worked you. You can tell they are professional and knew how to integrate therapy with your mind. They make you want to work hard.”

His never-let-up mentality was soon to pay off.

Around his fifth week of inpatient care, his physical therapist said they were going to use the parallel bars to try to get him to stand.

Minutes later he was in tears. Randy was standing.

“There are no words to describe it,” he says. “It was a miracle to me.”

Randy quickly progressed to taking little steps with the bars. A week later he was ready to use a walker.

He went 15 feet the first time, then 35, then 100. Randy accomplished his goal.

In August, Randy was ready to go home. But he knew the hard work was not over. He continued with outpatient therapy three times a week, and did his best to do at-home exercises.

“This place did a miracle. It was a great team effort. It was hard to leave this place,” says Randy.

There was still one more thing Randy wanted to get back – his driver’s license.

In March, he checked that off his list.

“I felt so relieved,” says Randy. “I felt so cooped up not being able to drive.”

His piece of advice for others in similar situations – “Just don’t give up. Take it day by day. You may be at a plateau with improvement, but then all of a sudden it will come to you.”

Charlotte Milligan, Mary Free Bed Writer

Charlotte Milligan writes for the Hope Restored blog and assists in managing Mary Free Bed’s website and social media.

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6 Responses to “Man Walks Again After Suffering Spinal Cord Damage from Aortic Aneurysm”

  1. Nick Green says:

    Looking good Randy!! Keep up the good work bud.

  2. Bob Busch says:

    I miss ya! Hope to see ya soon. Keep going on and on and on!

  3. Terri Ballard says:

    Randy you are an amazing person and an inspiration. I miss you and wish you well. Take care.

  4. Randy, you are a miracle and with the determination you showed has really affected a lot of people, with tears in my eyes I am in awe. You are a special person and you are a hero to people. Just stay like you are and just know that there are people out here that totally admire you and your efforts. I am one of them. God Bless you Randy. You are miss here. It has not been the same with out you.

  5. Vicky Watson says:

    Randy, I have know you for many years. Your down to earth attitued has
    served you well. We have all been inspired by your perseverance and your will. I pray that God keeps His arm on your shoulder.

  6. Sara Taylor says:

    You are amazing Randy! : )

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