Romy Camargo is a paraplegic and a founder of the Stay In Step Foundation. He will tell you that while his life has changed, his dreams haven’t. Sadly for some, the road to recovery is painful and many consider suicide ending all hope. Romy is speaking out to offer ‘tips’ to give others hope when maybe the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem so bright. He is remarkable soldier who is building one of the only SCI facilities in the US that concentrates on the recovery of spinal cord injury victims and their families with first-hand knowledge of what it is like to go to war. Even though he is paralyzed he still remains on active duty and has one of the most impressive battle stories ever told.
Romy was shot in the neck and in critical condition which resulted in his paralyzes. He endured months of conditioning and rehabilitation to improve his overall condition and quality of life. Many individuals would have accepted this as a ‘new way of life’, but not Romy. He wanted to return to active service. He presented his case to a 16-man panel that was formed by the Surgeon General of the Army stating that his only option to improve his physical health and paralysis, was to go to Lisbon, Portugal and undergo the Olfactory Mucosa Autografts procedure which consists of grafting Olfactory nerve cells onto the injured portion of the spinal cord. Romy then became the first Active Duty Service member in the United States to undergo this type of stem cell/nerve regeneration transplant. Even with the surgery, as every paraplegic knows there is still an uphill battle. After having spent nearly two hours each day driving to and from a rehab facility, Romy and Gaby decided to create their own facility, a facility for the future. One that has rehab programs and equipment that allow quadriplegics and paraplegics the ability to stand and exercise.
Here are Romy’s 5 tips to help anyone during recovery, maybe a difficult time in their life and talks about the after math of war.
- Mindset of Steel – You have to stay focused and positive, even in the most difficult moments. This takes tremendous discipline.
- Heart & Soul – I connected at a whole new level which allows me to rise up and serve so many more people. I’m not “dis-abled” rather en-abled now.
- Faith – Unwavering faith is critical. My wife and I know that everything happens for a reason and for us this blessing is to serve and support so many more with spinal cord injuries.
- Commitment – It’s grueling the rehab, schedule and lifestyle. But having personal commitment and the commitment of your partner/care giver is so important because you can’t do it alone.
- Courage – You often are facing the unknown with rehab, illnesses, etc. Muster courage to face each day as a new challenge and know that the outcome will be what it is.
There are so many soldiers that end up with an endless struggle not knowing where to turn. The facts are sobering:
- 250,000 Americans have spinal cord injuries, and approximately 11,000 injuries occur per year.
- Just over half of the people with spinal cord injuries are paraplegic, and slightly less than half are quadriplegic.
- Initial hospitalization costs average about $140,000. For someone injured at 25, lifetime costs average $428,000 for paraplegics and over 1 million for quadriplegics.
- The risk of suicide is highest in the first five years but 86 percent of high-level quadriplegics rated their quality of life as average or better than average.
Visit Romy Camargo for more information.