Finding a Way Back: Steve’s Story

Attorney and former patient Steve Goodell sustained a spinal cord injury during a bike ride with friends in Fall 2016. Today on the blog, he updates us on life since his accident.

On October 15, 2016, I was on my Saturday morning training ride with a large group of cyclists when I crashed and landed awkwardly on my head. I stayed conscious and immediately began losing feeling in my legs and chest. Fortunately, an EMT, Robin Wahl, was on the ride and knew what to do. In those crucial moments, she kept me stable and made decisions that may have saved my life. I was helicoptered to Cooper Medical Center in Camden, where I stayed in the ICU for two weeks.

From Cooper, I was released to Magee, where I stayed until early April 2017. Magee’s slogan is “Believe in a way back.” At first, the slogan didn’t resonate. I mean, I had a spinal cord injury and was not going to learn to walk again. But by the time I left Magee, I had confidence that there would be a way back for me. My life would certainly be different, but it would still be a good life.

So where am I now? I’m technically diagnosed as a quadriplegic with a C5 incomplete spinal cord injury. I’m paralyzed from the chest down. I can move my arms but not my hands. I have trouble swallowing so I receive all my nutrition through a tube. I still get physical therapy, and I go to Philadelphia twice a week for swallowing therapy. When I’m not in therapy, I try to work. My clients and my new law firm, Parker McCay, have been wonderfully understanding, and each day I am able to do more and more. We bought a van that can accommodate my wheelchair, and we’re completing renovations that will make the house accessible. I get out as much as possible and see people regularly at home.

None of my recovery would have been possible without the community of support I’ve enjoyed. My accident uprooted Laurel, Molly, and Emily’s lives as well as my own. They have been with my every step of the way (so to speak). I’m in awe of my wife Laurel’s ability to keep our lives intact while being my principal caregiver and keeping her own full-time job. My partner Michael picked up my law practice and carried it for a year.

I’m not going to try to name everyone else, because there are so many family members, fellow cyclists, neighbors and friends from Lawrenceville, lawyers, clients, and friends from childhood, college, and law school who have supported my recovery, as well as all the doctors, therapists, nurses, and aides who helped me heal. The outpouring of love and affection has been at once humbling and life-affirming. It’s all of you out there who have prayed for me and written notes of support and visited me and kept my spirits up that allowed me to pull through, and to find a way back.

Photo: Here is a picture of one of my proudest moments, the September 2017 meeting of the NJSIAA Executive Committee, at which I resumed my seat as general counsel.

To read more Magee patient stories, click here

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