Sittin’ Sexy Part I

Jun 23, 2014
Tagged with: Sittin’ Sexy Part I

My name is Daniel Mellenthin, and as far back as I can remember, I have tried to squeeze every last drop I could from life. I was born in Alton, Illinois and lived the first 20 years of life as an able-bodied person, enjoying backpacking and rock climbing, meeting all sorts of people, four team sports in high school (two in college), choir (in HS and college), playing jazz trumpet, Improv. Comedy, Phi Alpha Literary Society at Illinois College and various plays and stage performances.

Things changed pretty drastically in 2006.

I was in a near-death car accident that summer; I don’t remember the incident, thankfully, but it was likely due to a blend of exhaustion (working 70 hour weeks!), general inebriation (there IS something to thinking you are 20 and Superman), and “burning the candle” several-ways-too thin between work, finishing up my Associates. I was not sleeping, but I should have been. Hindsight’s one Hell of a thing, no?!

On impact, I was launched through my locked driver side door, flying about 30 feet through the air, where a conveniently placed sidewalk stopped my fall…headfirst. My spinal cord was instantly and severely damaged, breaking my c1,c3,c5-7, with my c6 figuring it might be cool to hang out on top of my c5 for a while (Uhhh, it’s not supposed to do that, in case you didn’t know); I was only 2 ½ blocks from my house.

I was outfitted with a halo, rushed to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, and sent to the ICU. The initial prognosis was grim: that first night, I was given a 1 in 200 shot to survive, with doctors anticipating little functional return. Placed in a medicinal coma, there was also question as to whether I would deal with substantial TBI. However, when I came out of the medical coma I surprised doctors by cracking a few jokes and asking what I could do to improve my situation moving forward. My outlook was not always Sunny, but if you know me (and don’t worry, you’ll get to), you know I don’t like being told what I can’t do.

When I woke from 16 days of medical sedation (in which, I am told, I would forget I was badly hurt and heartbreakingly have to be continually reminded, perceiving it as the first time each time), following a 108 degree fever, days of mind-bending hallucinations, and two dangerous bouts with pneumonia, my right arm was paralyzed completely and my left eye blind. As you might imagine, I was quite pleased to find all my body parts had not been paralyzed. . I was released from the ICU and straight to rehabilitation. I LOVED rehab; here was something I COULD control, the effort and hard work I put forth was a chance to improve…and that’s all I could ask for. By the end of 8 months of rehab, I could sit up straight, transfer myself and had substantially improved the strength and function in my right hand, so that I could now button my own shirt. Also, by this point I was pretty consistently cracking jokes, talking shop with other newly injured people, and flirting with specific nurses and OTs.

Hey, you can take the tiger out of the jungle…but he’s still a tiger.

 

NCHPAD articles:

http://www.nchpad.org/618/2576/Physical~Activity~Guidelines~for~~Adults~with~Disabilities

http://www.nchpad.org/1197/5828/Get~The~Facts

http://www.nchpad.org/609/2561/Exercise~Induced~Change~in~Psychological~Well-Being~among~Spinal~Cord~Injury

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Daniel Mellenthin



  • NaRetta Forrester

    You are a light in a place full of darkness. Love your outlook on life and great to know that you can still be you when life went in an unexpected direction for you.

  • Amanda Warner

    You truly are a ray of Sunshine. I really want to keep getting to know you…you are such a fascinating spirit. Thanks so much for sharing your story, can’t wait for part II!!

  • Sunshizzle

    I really appreciate hearing that, Amanda!I think its going to be a lot of fun, particularly as I get deeper into aspects of relationships, sexuality, health, societal misconceptions and biases… Oops! Can’t give it all away too soon haha 😉 I look forward to continuing forward with getting to know you better as well.

  • Sunshizzle

    I wouldn’t want to be anyone else, and couldn’t if I did haha! Thank you for the kind worI am rather under the impression that we generally control the ebb and flow of our own lives. More than anything, I think it’s important to take personal ownership and be mindful of the fact that this is YOUR life.