Jeff H.

Jeff H.

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It started out just like any other day for Jeff Houze, a 35-year-old stay-at-home father of two beautiful girls. He spent the day just like any other, playing with his daughters, preparing their meals, and taking them for a walk through their neighborhood. Around 7 PM that evening, Jeff noticed a sharp pain in his back. He took some ibuprofen and laid down to rest. An hour later, the pain had not subsided and Jeff started to feel numb in his left leg. He knew something was not right and he called a friend to take him to the ER. Over the course of a few hours, Jeff’s numbness progressed and he was no longer able to move either of his legs at all. By the following morning, he was paralyzed from the waist down.

The result, an arterio-venous malformation of the spine, suffered from a spinal hematoma. A collection of blood vessels had swollen and were compressing his spinal column. Jeff was taken to surgery where the surgeons had to shave off a piece of his spine in order to remove the collection of blood and relieve the pressure on his spinal column. When he awoke after surgery, Jeff was able to move his arms again, but still had no movement in his legs. He spent the next week in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit where his recovery process began.

On admission to Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital, Jeff was unable to sit up on his own. He remembers being so discouraged because he needed the assistance of two people – one in front of him and one behind him – just to sit up in his bed. Additionally, in order to move from his bed to a chair, Jeff required the use of a sliding board to transfer him over. Together with his therapists, Jeff set himself a personal goal that day – he was going to sit up and transfer with the help of just one person.

A strong-willed, motivated individual, Jeff surpassed that goal in just three days. On day three, he was able to sit up and transfer to a chair without any personal assistance and without the use of a sliding board! From that point on, there was no stopping him. With the continued support and encouragement from his therapists, Teresa and Kerri, Jeff continued to set and achieve even higher goals. After three weeks at Gateway, Jeff was walking hundreds of feet using a walker and able to independently complete regular tasks of daily living. He reiterates that in addition to the never-ending support of his amazing fiancé, it has been the support and encouragement from the staff here at Gateway that has helped him stay strong and push through the therapies, even when he didn’t want to.

Jeff recalls being very depressed when he arrived at Gateway. He worried that someone was going to have to take care of him for the rest of this life. He struggled with the idea that he would never again be able to care for his two precious daughters. Jeff gives credit to everyone at Gateway, “I now know that I can not only take care of myself, but I can be 100% dad to my kids again. Gateway’s medical rehab team has given me all of the tools that I need to succeed! I could not have asked for a better place to rehab. Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital has given me my life back!”

When asked what advice he might give to someone else in a similar situation, Jeff says, “Don’t ever give up. The only time you fail is when you stop trying. That has been my mantra.”