"A Shockingly Stereotypical 28-Year-Old Bachelor Life"...with Quadriplegia

Part 1 of 3

Here at Wellthy, we're humbled and motivated every day by the incredible people who help us out as experts and care coordinators. One of our favorite experts, Thomas Cloyd, is especially unique...he is more active and involved than most people we know and yet he suffered a devastating spinal cord injury (SCI) that resulted in quadriplegia. Thomas is a wheelchair rugby player and an MBA student. He also helps run the SCI research and fitness focused nonprofit Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis.

“3 1/2 years ago, I dove off a pontoon boat into a sand bar and drove my C-5 vertebrae into my spinal cord, which resulted in me losing significant function below my chest as well as in my arms and hands. Medically speaking, I am at C-5/C-6 ASIA C quadriplegic but…that really is an arbitrary descriptor.

I can bend both wrists up (which is crucial for my independence), but can’t clinch or move my fingers or thumbs (which stinks). My shoulders and biceps are fully functional but I have limited tricep strength, which makes lifting my body difficult. Below my chest I have inconsistent sensation and nonfunctional muscle movement, but somehow my calves still pop (truthfully it is because of spasms and electrical stimulation).”

All of these physical limitations make life more difficult, but it is far from over. Through constant adaptation, interaction with peers of similar injury, poorly masked frustration, indefatigable help from others and a lot of private effort, I live a shockingly stereotypical 28-year-old bachelor life, and I mostly enjoy it. I get in/out of bed, shower, shave, feed myself, transfer in/out of my car, drive, push my manual chair everywhere, work, party, travel, everything, independently. If you work your butt off and are willing to fail (as a C-5/C-6), you typically have enough function to figure out a way to use your new body to do things on your own.”

In the next blog in this three-part series, Thomas takes us through a typical day in his life. He shares tips for living with quadriplegia in part 3.