Something Powerful

Tell The Reader More

The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.


  • Bullets are great
  • For spelling out benefits and
  • Turning visitors into leads.

DiversityNursing Blog

Girl Who Was Paralyzed Surprises Her Favorite Nurse By Walking

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Apr 23, 2015 @ 09:40 AM

wheelchair 3 resized 600

 If you ever needed any evidence that nurses care vastly about every single patient they encounter, this is it.

A video posted last week on Facebook shows a nurse reacting as one of her patients stands up for the first time in 11 days.

The story as, posted by Texas mom Becky Miller:

“Our daughter, Bailey, had complete paralysis from the waist down for 11 days with no explanation as to why. This video is one of her favorite nurses coming onto her shift and not knowing that Bailey had started walking this day.”

The nurse immediately bursts into tears upon seeing Bailey, screaming, “Thank you, Lord.”

Miller said Bailey had no feeling or movement in her legs the day before. Doctors did not know what caused Bailey to lose feeling in her legs.

Commenters on Reddit immediately took the opportunity to commend nurses, and all of the work and long hours they put in daily.

“Nurses are great people,” one commenter wrote. “You’d have to be humanitarian to be a nurse.”

Topics: paralyzed, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, medical, hospital, patient, treatment

Bride paralyzed in crash learns to walk down the aisle for wedding

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

By Eun Kyung Kim

Even before she had a groom in mind, Katie Breland Hughes knew she wanted to walk down the aisle at her wedding on her own two feet.

It became one of her initial goals after a horrific car accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. But first, she needed to survive her injuries.

1D274907467175 today paralyzed bride wedding 141219 02.blocks desktop large resized 600

“Honestly, I had so many skin graft surgeries and so many burns, my first goal was just to sit up in the bed," said Hughes, now 27. "I was literally at rock bottom."

In October 2011, the Louisiana personal trainer and physical therapy assistant missed a stop sign while driving home from an appointment with a client. A truck hit her vehicle broadside, and Hughes went flying through her windshield. She landed in a ditch and, seconds later, her burning car landed on top of her, searing her back.

Conscious throughout the ordeal, Hughes knew she was either paralyzed or that her legs were amputated because she couldn’t feel either one.

“Immediately, I started asking myself all the physical therapy questions. Is my spinal cord severed? What kind of injury is this? How far up? How low down?” she recalled for 

At the hospital, doctors told Hughes that she would never walk again. But during a nine-hour surgery to insert rods and plates along her spine to stabilize it, they learned that Hughes' spinal cord wasn’t severed as they originally thought. 

“That was all I needed to hear to keep pushing forward,” she said. “That was kind of my prayer.”

1D274907462478 today paralyzed bride 141215 02.blocks desktop medium resized 600

After her 100-day hospital stay, Hughes went home and immediately started training. An athlete all her life —she was supposed to run a marathon the week after her crash — exercise had always given Hughes an emotional outlet. After the accident, her love of exercise proved critical to her recovery, and to attaining the new goal she had created for herself.

“I told my sister from the beginning, I will not get married — whoever it be to, or whenever it happens — I will not do it until I can walk down the aisle. I just won’t be in a wheelchair,” she said. “So that was always a goal. I didn’t know the next year it would actually happen.”

Hughes heard about a Michigan trainer who had worked with other paraplegics. She reached out to him and flew to Michigan to begin training.

“The first time I talked to her on the telephone, she was like, ‘Look, I don’t want to be in this chair forever. I understand what happened to me, but I want to work hard and see where I can get,’” said Mike Barwis, a strength and conditioning coach who frequently works with Olympic and professional athletes. 

It was during a session with Barwis that Hughes moved her legs for the first time since the accident. 

Meanwhile, Hughes had reconnected with a former acquaintance, Odie Hughes. She initially worried about meeting him again now that she was in a wheelchair.

“I didn’t know how he would accept that, or how he would feel about that,” she recalled. “But it was like he never even saw the chair, he just saw me. He believed everything with me. If I told him, ‘I think I can do this. I want to try this,’ then he would be my biggest cheerleader.”

Within three months, they were engaged. Hughes started the clock: She had nine months to get on her feet. Barwis said he had no doubts they could make it happen.

“Katie is a vibrant person. She has an amazing personality and she’s very driven,” he said. “Her mentality has been one of absolute determination.”

But while working to build up the strength in her legs, Hughes also had to plan a wedding. She also opened a gym she started in her community of Bogalusa, about 70 miles north of New Orleans. 

There was also the issue of finding a wedding gown. 

“I actually bought three dresses. I didn’t like any of them,” she said. After getting ready to settle on one of them, she received a call from the cable network TLC, asking if she wanted to be featured on the show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” Hughes flew to the Atlanta bridal store featured on show (the episode airs Jan. 2) and finally found a gown she was happy with.

“Everything about it was perfect,” she said.

Except she never practiced walking in it until the day of her wedding. "I didn’t want anybody to see the real one," she explained. So instead, she practiced using one of the other gowns. She started in a full-body brace, then with a walker before moving on to two canes. Finally, she used two leg braces that went up from her feet to just above the knees, all while holding on to a person on each side of her.



On her wedding day, Sept. 20, Hughes walked down the aisle, on her own two feet, holding the hands of the two men giving her away: Her dad, who stood to her right, and Barwis, on her left. 

As excited as she was, Hughes said she never anticipated the nerves she experienced as she stared down the aisle at her guests.

“I felt like this was everybody’s fairytale ending. This was the story they had been following for so long and this was the ending they were waiting to see,” she said. “So I felt like there was a lot of pressure but there was no greater reward than getting to the end of that aisle, for sure.”

Waiting for her there with a huge smile was her fiance.

"When her foot caught that slip my heart stopped. But she just held it together like a champ," said Odie Hughes. "I had complete faith in her."

He said he never for a second doubted the woman he considers "the most stubborn person I know" 

"When she said she was gonna do it, it was a done deal," he said. "Never one doubt in my mind she'd not only make it down the aisle but she'd do it in dramatic fashion. That's my Katie." 

Months later, Katie is back at work, keeping busy with her physical therapy patients and running her gym, Katie's Shed, where she teaches various cardio and full-body workout classes.

1D274907462479 today paralyzed bride 141215 03.blocks desktop large resized 600

She enjoys newlywed life and said it helps to have a partner who is familiar with life-altering injuries: Her husband once broke his neck during a car accident that left him with metal rods in his legs.

“Me and him both just really understand how quick this life is and how short it can be made,” she said. “We really value each other and the time we have together and with our family. We know first hand how quickly it can be taken from you, so we try to make the best of that.”

Hughes still uses her braces, alternating between them and her wheelchair, depending on the circumstances.

She speaks at local and regional events about her accident and hopes her story will inspire others to reach beyond traditional expectations.

“A lot of people would say, ‘Okay, I did it and now I’m going to be content with my progress right now.’ But I think contentment is our worst enemy a lot of times, just being content with where you are,” she said. “You should always try to excel forward and move forward and continue to reach goals and set new ones.”


Topics: paralyzed, exercise, injuries, spine, bride, wedding, walks, car accident, survive, skin graft, physical therapy, paraplegics, training, nurses, doctors, hospital, patient, surgeries

The Man in the Iron Lung

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 01:27 PM

By Barry Hoffman

paulalexander1 resized 600

Paul Alexander's most impressive accomplishment is something most people never think about.

He taught himself how to breathe.

Alexander, 67, is a victim of the worst that polio had to offer children in the late 1940s and early 1950s. At the age of 6, he was completely paralyzed by the disease, his lungs stopped working, and he was literally thrown into an iron lung.

Alexander has been in that iron lung for 61 years because he remains almost totally paralyzed, able to move only his head, neck and mouth. He is one of an estimated seven people in the United States who are still living in an iron lung, and yet he has had a long and successful career as a lawyer. 

"Over the years, I've been able to escape this machine for a few hours at a time by teaching myself voluntary breathing," Alexander said recently as he lay in the iron lung at his home in Dallas, Texas. "I have to consciously push air into my lungs, something that's done involuntarily by just about everyone else. It's hard work, but it allows me to escape this infernal device, if only for a little while."

Alexander "escapes" the machine most often when he is litigating a case -- his specialty is family law -- or gives a speech.

While he sometimes condemns the contraption that keeps him alive, Alexander is most grateful for his iron lung, whose machinery is essentially unchanged from the first ones that were put in use in the late 1930s. His machine, in fact, is the same one he entered 61 years ago.

"It is my cage, but it's also my cocoon," he said, as the iron lung issued a noticeable whishing sound, an almost uncanny replication of normal breathing.

But we're getting ahead of the story.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the nation's first mass polio vaccine inoculations, a time when hundreds of thousands of grade school students -- many of them throughout the South -- lined up in school gymnasiums, stuck out their arm and gritted their teeth as a nurse gave them Dr. Jonas Salk's experimental vaccine.

The shot was literally a game-changer. Most of these children had seen at least one or two classmates come to school on crutches, paralyzed by the ravages of polio. More than a few knew other students and friends who had died from the disease. 

So 1954 signified their liberation during the summer -- they could return to public swimming pools and play in the rain and eat in restaurants and not be afraid that they would wake up the next day with a fever and terrible leg pains, which could rapidly lead to paralysis.

That's what happened to 6-year-old Paul Alexander in 1952, two years too early for the Salk vaccine.

"I remember it was really hot and raining, something that is sort of rare for Dallas in August," he recalled, "and my brother and I had been outside playing, running around and getting wet when the rain started.

"Our mother called for us to come in for dinner, and I remember her taking one look at me -- hot and wet and feverish -- and she cried out, 'Oh my God!' She ripped my clothes off and threw me onto her and my dad's bed and called the doctor.

"She knew right away that I had polio. I don't know how she knew, but she knew. I remember feeling hot and feverish, and for the next few days, I stayed in the bed and didn't move. I remember I had this coloring book, and I felt this compulsion to color as much as I could, sort of like maybe I wouldn't be able to do it in the future."

Why didn't Alexander's parents take him to the hospital? "Our family doctor said that all the kids with polio were at Parkland (Dallas' big municipal hospital), and he didn't want me there with the other kids because maybe I had a better chance to recover at home," Alexander said.

But all of that became moot about six days later when he could no longer move and found it difficult to breathe: "I remember having terrible pains in my legs, and breathing became really laborious. So they finally took me to Parkland."

And that's when the most horrifying event occurred before Alexander's long battle with polio could even begin: "I had become immobile; I don't think I could even talk, so the hospital staff put me on a gurney in a long hallway with all the other hopeless polio kids. Most of them were dead."

That would have been Alexander's fate, too, if not for Dr. Milton Davis, a well-known pediatric cardiologist who was examining all of the children in the hallway. "He took one look at me, gathered me up in his arms, and I think he performed a tracheotomy on me almost immediately so I could breathe," Alexander said. "And the next thing I remember, I was inside an iron lung."

And then he blacked out.

Alexander woke up weeks later still in the iron lung: "The pain was still there, although it seemed much less to me, and the iron lung pumped hot steam through a thick plastic water pump into my chest. This kept the mucuous loose enough so I could breathe." 

He couldn't see through the steam at first, and he couldn't talk. But Alexander said he found some sort of determination within himself as strong as the iron in the device that was keeping him alive. "I decided I was going to fight this," he said. "I was going to have a life."

Eighteen months later, his parents brought him home. They stayed with him in shifts, fed him, helped him with school work (he was still enrolled in elementary school) and encouraged him to keep up his curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.

"My mother lobbied the school district for home-school learning, something very rare in the 1950s," he said. His dad fashioned a writing implement for him, similar to a T-square, which Alexander would put in his mouth and move around with his neck muscles in order to write.

Through their efforts and his own fierce determination, Alexander graduated high school as the class salutatorian. "I would have been valedictorian but the biology teacher gave me a B because I couldn't take lab," he joked.

Scholarships to Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the University of Texas in Austin allowed Alexander, with the help of a paid health aide, to get an undergraduate degree and then a law degree. He returned to the Dallas area and became associated with an Arlington law firm for a while, but eventually established a private practice that still handles everything from family law to financial cases.

"With help from a medical aide or one of my friends, I can get out of the lung and attend functions in a wheelchair or argue a case for a few hours," he said. "But I always have to remember to tell myself to inhale, exhale, inhale."

Alexander came to the attention this year of the leaders of the Dallas area's Rotary clubs through one of his doctors, Alexander Peralta, Jr., who is a Rotarian from Duncanville, Texas. 

Rotary International has been working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eliminate polio worldwide, just as smallpox has been eradicated.

"One of our clubs, which is well-versed in modern technology (the Dallas e-Club) went to Paul's house and made a four-minute video with him," said Bill Dendy, District Governor of District 5810, which has 65 local Rotary clubs in the north Texas area.

"What none of us realized at first is what a compelling story this is, not only Paul's triumphs under difficult circumstances, but also what a terrifying experience it can be, just sitting in the presence of that machine that keeps him alive. The iron lung personalizes the horror all those thousands of kids went through a little more than half a century ago," Dendy said. The video they made has been submitted to the local PBS station in Dallas. 

Since making contact with Alexander, various district Rotary clubs have volunteered to make improvements to his house -- an old ramp leading to the front door was replaced -- and to be available to take him to his appointments. Throughout his life, Alexander has had a combination of help from health aides provided through the government and friends who pitch in.

Alexander said his iron lung is no longer supported by any company on an ongoing basis. The last company to service his machine, Philips Respironics, no longer does so. "So now, we have to strip spare parts from other discarded iron lungs to keep us going," he said. So far, it hasn't been a problem, he added: "There are only seven iron lung users left, so I don't think this is going to be a big problem of supply and demand."

How did he accomplish so much -- and keep his sense of humor -- while being virtually immobile for more than 60 years?

"It all starts with love," Alexander said. "My parents raised me in love. They taught me never to give up. They taught me the importance of relationships. They were always there for me.

"So, naturally, I had to reciprocate. And you know what? They were right. Anything is possible."


Topics: iron lung, polio, smallpox, breathing, paralyzed, lungs, health, healthcare, nurses, doctors, medical, vaccine, patient

Recent Jobs

Article or Blog Submissions

If you are interested in submitting content for our Blog, please ensure it fits the criteria below:
  • Relevant information for Nurses
  • Does NOT promote a product
  • Informative about Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Agreement to publish on our Blog is at our sole discretion.

Thank you

Subscribe to Email our eNewsletter

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all