Steph was a makeup fanatic who was supposed to start cosmetology school the next day. However, that night she fell asleep while driving home after a friend’s birthday party in Las Vegas.
When she awoke, she couldn’t move. The 20-year-old’s car had plunged off an overpass, and she was told she was now a C5 quadriplegic–her spinal cord was damaged at the fifth cervical vertebra.
It was a big change.
Steph was lucky to be alive, but she didn’t feel lucky in any sense of the word at the time.
She soon found out that the quadriplegia diagnosis did not mean all four of her limbs were fully paralyzed. Rather, both her arms and legs had impaired mobility.
She remembers her first attempt to apply makeup at a rehab facility.
“I was a having a really rough day,” said Steph. “I was really depressed and upset about my life. I talked to my occupational therapist about it.”
She gained a fresh outlook.
With the help of Steph’s therapist, she discovered ways to use her hands to open a mascara bottle and apply it to her eyelashes, even though her fingers had limited mobility and strength.
It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. It became the spark that ignited an entirely new mindset toward her new life.
She finally overcame her fears to follow her purpose.
It took more than five and a half years for her to reach the point that she felt good about sharing her makeup techniques on social media. And she learned she has an eager audience who wants to hear and see all about those techniques!
Her Instagram page has over 114,000 followers. But it was The Doctors show that was her first effort in speaking about the accident before a live audience.
She shared her story.
She was invited to appear on The Doctors television show this year and answer questions about her story.
ER Physician and star host of the show, Dr. Travis Stork, was impressed at how makeup became an integral part of her actual recovery.
“Not just your emotional recovery,” said the doctor adding, “But even the physical part.” Steph agrees that practicing makeup application has made her stronger and increased her function.
“It was complete therapy for me,” she said.
Dr. Melamed, a doctor on that same show, believes she has recovered two levels of functionality and now has the ability of a C7 quadriplegic. “The higher the injury to the spinal cord, the more damage,” Dr. Stork, another doctor on the show, explained.
However, because she uses her wrists and palms to grasp and open containers, she developed carpal tunnel syndrome from overuse of those physical motions. “I need my wrists!” Steph said.
Dr. Melamed told the live and television audience that this is not an uncommon problem, and it’s easy enough to fix. “It’s’ a simple procedure,” he said. Melamed even offered to, completely free of charge, see Steph and help her in her ongoing recovery.
Life for Steph was looking up!
The show, known for its on-air surprises, planned a good one for Steph. She had an unexpected visit from Anthony, who was one of the EMTs who saved her life. Steph couldn’t believe it!
“I just feel so blessed to be able to see you!” said an overwhelmed Steph. “I’m so grateful that you’re here. Thank you so much!”
“In an EMF’s career you only have a handful of calls that stand out, and Steph’s was one of them,” Anthony told The Doctors. “I always wondered about her recovery process.” He had searched and found her through her Instagram page and reached out to her.
He learned that Steph’s wheelchair was broken and she was using a friend’s for now. Her manual wheelchair had caused problems anyway, since it aggravated her carpal tunnel issues.
The Doctors reached out to Project Walk in Los Angeles. They offered to give her free physical therapy for a year – but there was more! Colours in Motion created a custom wheelchair, tailor-made just for Steph.
“I guess the only request we have of you is, just keep inspiring!” Dr. Stork concludes.
Source: Paralyzed Beauty Vlogger Turns Tragedy to a Viral Triumph from The Dr.’s.