I’ve come to realize that this project is a lot about defying the odds and squashing stereotypes. Trey Lariscy exemplifies that. Trey doesn’t remember much about his accident, but he has worked daily to not let that fateful day define him. Since Trey doesn’t have much recollection of the day or a lot of the recovery process, his wife, Tobi, stepped in to help tell their story. I am inspired by this man’s tenacity to succeed. After an accident left him as a quadriplegic, Trey pushes for independence. In fact, Tobi, told me that he insists on opening doors for her when they go out. If this man doesn’t inspire you to push past whatever mental or physical blocks stand in your way, I don’t know what will.
“The scars on his head are there because when the accident happened, the log truck pulled out in front of him, and he hit the back end of it. And so the logs came in, and we’re not exactly sure, but it’s from where the logs grazed, hit the top of his head.” Tobi Lariscy said.
“I was on my way to work, it was foggy and raining and dark, 4:30 in the morning on December 10. From what I’ve heard I hit the back of a log truck that had pulled out, off the side of the road. It was invisible.” Trey Lariscy said.
“He was at Memorial in the trauma ICU for two weeks after his accident, there was probably about an eight or nine day period where we weren’t sure if he was going to make it or not. That period of time, Memorial’s job was to keep him alive and get him past that point. He was on the ventilator and that kind of thing. He is a level C5 and C6 quadriplegic. So he is paralyzed from the chest down, which includes his hands. Which obviously compromises the use of his lungs, so that’s why he was on the ventilator and life support in general. And then after that he was transferred to the Shepherd’s Center in Atlanta, the Shepherd’s Center is a spinal cord injury facility. They specialize in spinal cord injuries and brain injuries. We chose him to go there just because their therapists and their doctors— that’s their target point. So we sent him there in hopes that he could have the best recovery and they could teach him the most about living with something like this. So we were there for four months.” Tobi said.
“How long was I on the vent? When did I come off?” Trey asked.
“He was on the ventilator obviously the day it happened, which was December 10, 2013. He came off of the ventilator, in the middle of January, so four and a half months, was away from our children. I could see them periodically, they were brought their periodically, but most of all there was that separation from them that was very difficult. He probably doesn’t have a clear recollection of anything, actually starting to realize what was going on until probably, the middle of January, just because there was so much medication. He also had a brain injury along with the spinal cord injury, it wasn’t as severe as the spinal cord injury. It was something that would heal on it’s own. It was quite a while before he could start to realize what was going on, and right as that started to happen he had to have a second surgery. Which is a sacral flap surgery from a pressure ulcer that he got while he was at Memorial, that was significant enough for a surgery. That’s a pretty major surgery for someone like that. So when he started to kind of realize what was going on the sacral flap surgery happened, and that really set him back. The infection had gotten all the way to the bone so he was on the strongest antibiotics that they could give him and the antibiotics made him very sick. He had to be on bed rest for four weeks, he could not get out of the bed at all. He was being turned every two hours. He doesn’t really remember a whole lot from that period of time either, so that was kind of a set back. So then coming into March when he started to be able to get up from that surgery, things started to really clear up for him.” Tobi said.
“The scar on his neck, the long one, is where they went in on the front to the back in his spine, and took the C5 vertebrae and the C7 vertebrae and fused them together and put a cage around it. It’s a metal plate and screws, that’s how they fused it together, and then they put the cage around it just to protect it. They did that because his C6 vertebrae, it was like mush. That’s how crushed it was. They also did that through that scar, they removed all of that C6 and then fused them together. He also cracked his C2 vertebrae, and his C5, but that was not significant, that would heal on it’s own.” Tobi said.
“A goal overall for our family is to just learn to value life and our days and our minutes and to make your life count. So many times we just get caught up in all the busy stuff. You know, this stuff gotta be done, or this person needs to do this, or I need to do this, you just have to slow down and put things in perspective, and really figure out like, is thirty minutes one-on-one with my child more important than something I’m volunteering to do, that yes is important is it really of eternal importance? We have a strong faith and we know that God has gotten us to this point, so for us to appreciate and value and live with purpose and for us to be able to reach others in the same way. That’s our goal as a family.” Tobi said.
“I’ve had a lot a personal goals that I have reached and still work on. Driving. I drove back in June, I went back to Shepherd for a six-week outpatient rehab. That was the first time I drove since my accident. First time I drove using my hands, so I was freaked out, but it wasn’t that bad. So I am still working on getting the hand controls put in my van, but I’ve got everything else ready to go except that. I’m working on that, and other things that help me be as independent as possible and not need the help. I want to get back to work. That’s my main goal.” Trey said.
“I kinda accepted it as something I am not really going through, it’s really just a time learning to adjust, it’s a new way of life. It’s not something you really get better from. I mean, you can improve, your function can if you’re quadriplegic, but I mean it’s going to affect the rest of my life. It’s not something I am going through, it’s a fight, it’s just new. I do every little thing I can.” Trey said.
“Last night when we were at the fall festival, he got out on the dance floor and was dancing with the girls, and we danced together for the first time. It’s little things like that, you have these big life goals but the little things are so important too.” Tobi said.
“One of my goals is to be able to get on the floor from my chair… on purpose. Purposefully get on the floor and hang out with the kids, and get back up. It takes a little while but I can get back up to the couch from the floor.” Trey said.
“That’s something that only 1% of quadriplegics are capable of doing. To be able to do floor transfers like he does. He’s accomplished some pretty major things.” Tobi said.
To continue to follow Trey’s recovery process, check out his Facebook page here.