It’s More Than Not Being Able To Walk – Part Two

Living With Spinal a Cord Injury
Part two of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

Be HappyDidn’t even realize it but it’s been 3 years since I was injured. Time flies. Whenever I’m working out my right arm (my weak arm) and my brother sees my frustration, he tells me to be happy. Reminds me that just being able to move that arm is amazing because with my level of injury I should be on a ventilator or even worse, dead. Though living like this sucks It could be a lot worse and I am happy where I am today even though sometimes I may not seem it or feel it. My injury gave me a new life. It may be Far from what I expected and had planned for myself in 2011, but I would not want to change it or what I’ve been through for anything. Be Happy.”
– David Hudgik

“Most of all, I hate how restricted the world feels. I miss celebrations because I can’t get to the second floor of a bar. I have to meet my friends’ new baby on the front lawn because I can’t get into their house. Without my legs, the world feels like a series of obstacles and barriers. It makes me feel like I can’t be a part of regular life. It’s isolating.

Not being able to use your hands is even worse. I would be happy to never walk again if I could have my hands back—just to open the door, to crack my knuckles, to scratch my dog and make her leg kick. To give you the bird when you cut me off in traffic.”
– Jimmy Anderson
From  This Is What It Feels Like to Be Quadriplegic

“Before my accident I didn’t even consider spinal cord injuries. I had a paraplegic friend and admired his strength, how he dealt with his injury. Today I envy him a little, as he can move his arms and fingers without any difficulty. But hey, I know I’m doing well compared to others. People in other WhatItsLikecountries don’t have the fortune to have access to good medical treatment or rehabilitation – far from it! Many patients still die after their injury due to a lack of medical knowledge or facilities. I’m also fortunate to have the assistance and publically funded services which enable me to live a meaningful live. Nevertheless, I cannot wait to put my wheelchair in the corner and continue my ‘old life’…
– Wolfgang Illek
From  Photo Story: Living With a Spinal Cord Injury

What’s gotten harder over time?

“The gradual physical ailments, the secondary conditions —the sores, the broken bones, those kinds of things that other people don’t experience at an age—I mean I’m 33, and it only gets worse as you get older. I know that the aging process happens for everyone, to have it start happening so young in life, is hard to deal with.”
– Megan

What’s gotten easier over time?

“Everything.  Yeah, I would say literally everything has gotten easier.  Even the simplest things like eating sandwiches and not having them fall apart.  And the big things too, like getting out of bed in the morning, and getting dressed, and driving, and yeah, everything has gotten easier.  I can’t think of anything that physically has gotten harder.
– Molly

Visit the SCI Awareness page at David’s Journey to Recovery for more stories from people living with spinal cord injury.

This is the second part of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. The series is designed to help us all understand what living with a spinal cord injury is like for David and millions of other people around the world.


It’s More Than Not Being Able To Walk – Part One

Spinal Cord Injury Basics
Part one of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

“When I first heard the devastating news about David’s accident back in September of 2011, I thought I knew what it meant to have a spinal cord injury.  It meant that you couldn’t walk.  When my neighbor (who is a physical therapist) asked me what level of injury David had, I told her it was a C4-C5 injury.  She made an “Ohhhhh” sound indicating that was really, really bad. I realized at that moment that I didn’t actually know what it meant to have a spinal cord injury.  Since then I’ve learned that it’s more than not being able to walk.”
– David’s Aunt Kristen

A spinal cord injury occurs when someone suffers a traumatic injury to their neck or back that causes so much damage to the spinal cord that some nerves can no longer send messages to the brain.

The higher the level of injury on the spinal cord, the more dysfunction can occur.  David is a quadriplegic with a C4-C5 injury level.

People often confuse paraplegia with quadriplegia.
• Paraplegia is the loss of sensation and movement in the legs, and in part or all of the trunk, usually resulting from an injury to the spinal cord below the neck.
• Quadriplegia is total or partial paralysis in all four limbs, including the trunk, resulting from injury to the neck.

We all link spinal cord injury to loss of movement, but did you know that there are many other other serious medical issues associated with SCI?  Secondary conditions from spinal cord injury include pressure sores, respiratory complications, spasticity, and autonomic dysreflexia.

Many quadriplegics die as a direct result of complications related to pressure sores.  Christopher Reeve, the star who portrayed Superman, died of complications from an infection caused by a bedsore.

Spasticity is a side effect of paralysis that varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, uncontrollable leg movements.  Although it’s embarrassing, spasticity is not always a bad thing because it acts as a warning mechanism to identify pain or problems in areas with no sensation.

Autonomic dysreflexia (Hyperreflexia) causes the blood pressure to rise to potentially dangerous levels and can develop suddenly.  Autonomic dysreflexia is usually caused when a painful stimulus occurs below the level of spinal cord injury.  Anything that would have been painful, uncomfortable, or physically irritating before the injury may cause autonomic dysreflexia after the injury. If not treated promptly and correctly, it may lead to seizures, strokes and even death.

What is it like living with a spinal cord injury?  In our next installment we’ll share stories from people living with SCI.

This is the first part of our series for National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. The series is designed to help us all understand what living with a spinal cord injury is like for David and millions of other people around the world.

Please visit the SCI Awareness page at David’s Journey to Recovery to learn more.


Three A’s For September

A spinal cord injury brings with it tremendous physical, psychological and financial challenges. Despite the challenges, David tries to stay positive. On the anniversary of his accident he shared his thoughts on his Facebook page.


“Its been two years since my accident and I am happy the movement I have and for the life I am able to live.. I am thankful for my mom who has been taking care of me since the beginning and my family and friends who have supported me. Everyday may be a struggle but as long as I have a loving family such as I do now I know I will be ok. Thank you everyone for your love and support..”

September is National Spinal Cord Injury Month

Click image to enlarge.

Awareness Month
September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness MonthTake a little time this month to learn more about spinal cord injury.

• Every 48 minutes someone in the U.S. is paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.
• 273,000 Americans are living with SCI. (A recent study shows the number might be as high as 1,275,000)
• It’s expensive. Really expensive. Someone with an injury like David’s can expect $146,000 in expenses every year.

You can learn more about spinal cord injury, and ways you can help people living with SCI, by visiting the SCI resource page at David’s Journey To Recovery.

Award-Winning Comedy Web Series
Check out the web series “My Gimpy Life.”  The show centers around the awkward adventures of a disabled actress trying to navigate Hollywood in a wheelchair. Episode one is a very funny and eye-opening look at accessibility.





Helping David on His Journey: Caragh McManus

Caragh and David

Caragh McManus is David’s tutor.  After she started working with David she was inspired to do more to help. She shares her experience here.

My decision to move back to Keene from Boston was a difficult one for me.  I was leaving my profession as a corporate accountant to pursue a career in education.  I never realized that I would be given the chance to work with one of the most amazing individuals I have ever met.  At the start of school I was working as a substitute teacher when an opportunity came about to work with David.  The story of his accident had been told to me, but I had never met David personally until I was asked if I would be his tutor.  I was extremely happy when David agreed that he would like to work with me.  I am not going to lie, I was also a little nervous not knowing much about spinal cord injuries or how his spirit was after the accident.

My nervousness quickly subsided when on my first day with David he decided to pull a prank on me.  When I was going to change his brace for lunch I moved his hand to put his thumb in the proper place.  He let out a scream that stopped me in my tracks.  As he can tell you, I am Irish and turn red in any situation.  Needless to say, I turned bright red thinking I had hurt him, and on my first day!  I looked at him mortified and realized he had this giant smile on his face and was laughing at me.  From that moment on I knew that we would not only work hard in school but would have some fun along the way.

Working with David this past year has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  Whether I asked him to work on his homework, solve numerous problems in math, or work on a project, David did it with a smile on his face.  My time with David also brought an awareness of spinal cord injuries and spinal cord research.  David would come in to school and show me different advancements in science dealing with spinal cord injuries.

This piqued my own interest about the topic, and I decided to donate to the Spinal Cord Research Foundation to do my part in helping find a cure for these terrible injuries. David’s Journey to Recovery site has also given me the opportunity to help out any way I can to further his recovery.  Going to his booth during Pumpkin Fest and seeing the community come together to help David made me want to give even more.  I started using iGive, which gives a percentage of my online purchases to David, as well as spreading the word about this site to family and friends.  The site is wonderful and takes no additional thought other than using it to shop online.

I know that these small acts have helped, but I still wanted to do more for this fantastic, deserving young man.  After speaking with David and listening to what he would like to happen, I have decided to put together a 5K fundraiser for him.  On August 31st, 2013 at Keene High School, a 5K fun run in honor of David will be happening.  We are in the beginning stages of this fundraiser but are going to be working throughout the summer to make this run the most successful it can be.

David has changed my life in so many ways.  I try to live every day to the fullest and appreciate all that I have.  Working with David has also reaffirmed my decision to move back home and pursue a career in education.  Every day I am excited to go to work and help David accomplish his academic goals.  I cannot wait to see what he achieves in life, because I know he will do incredible things.

~ Caragh McManus

Story In Union Leader Highlights David’s Positive Attitude

David with Molly Hajjar at Crotched Mountain Ski Area ~ February, 2012

David with Molly Hajjar at Crotched Mountain Ski Area ~ February, 2012

Keene high student makes strides in accident recovery

February 11, 2013
GREENFIELD – Though a fluke accident on a trampoline left him a quadriplegic, David Hudgik’s positive attitude is helping him meet his new life head-on. That zeal was whyread more.

David Featured on WMUR News

David was featured in this video news story from WMUR news in New Hampshire.


Charity hockey game benefits disabled

Program teaches disabled how to participate in outdoor activities

The Boston Bruins Alumni and Crotched Mountain Wild Hockey game took place at St. Anselm College.

David Hudgik was a special guest at the event.

“The support is great. It’s awesome to be out here,” Hudgik said.

Read more and see the video

The Sentinel Catches Up With David

Photo by Michael Moore -  Sentinel Staff

Photo by Michael Moore – Sentinel Staff
David Hudgik and his father, Paul, are seen in their home on Old Walpole Road Thursday. The home has been adapted for David, paralyzed in a trampoline accident more than a year ago.

David Hudgik: Making progress with a smile

from, Sunday, February 10, 2013

If you come across a photo of David Hudgik, most likely he’s smiling. It reflects his optimism 16 months after being paralyzed in a trampoline accident at his home in Keene.

Life moves forward for the 17-year-old Keene High School senior and his family, even when they’re tempted to shake their fists at fate. But that …read more.

A Note of Thanks • March 25

This week, students from the Keene School District are helping to raise money for David’s HelpHOPE Live campaign, and this has made me think about a young boy from Keene whose remarkably generous donation last year touched my heart.

Kavi Neva is in the 5th grade. In December, with his mother’s help, he made an online donation to support David. He included this message:

Dear Mrs. Hudgik, I wanted to donate my allowance to help David get better, because I love to ski too. I hope that I see David on the slopes soon. We hope to see you at school soon. Happy Holidays, Kavi Neva, grade 5.

His gift touched me because I remember very well being Kavi’s age and saving my allowance to buy something that I really wanted. Giving away an allowance, saved up carefully over many months, is probably the last thing any 5th grader wants to do. But Kavi did – how kind and generous. Thank you again, Kavi.

I also want to thank ALL of the young people who have supported David — in so many ways. You are such an important part of David’s life and an inspiration to all of us.

David’s Aunt Kristen