"Initially, I did not realize my spinal cord injury"

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15 years ago, Julia Macchietto from Austria suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury at TH12/L1. Julia is always in a good mood and lives her life to the fullest - on the wheels of her "Ferrrari".

Please share with us how you sustained your spinal cord injury?
I had a car accident on May 15, 1999. It happened in the evening, when I drove into a ditch near my hometown St. Michael. Why did this happen? I don’t know and I have no memory left. All I know is, that I didn’t wear a seatbelt.

What was your first thought after the accident?
At the hospital in Salzburg, I was placed in an artificial coma. Besides my spinal cord injury I had a dangerous contusion of my lung. Nine days later I woke up and my first thought was: "My poor car is broken!" At the beginning I didn’t realize that I was paralyzed. Even later in the rehabilitation, I’ve always thought: "I don’t care. I will walk again anyway."

How has your life changed since your injury?
During the first few years I fought against this fate with all my strength: I was several months in Bad Häring (Austria) for rehabilitation and later at the hospital in Vienna for further therapy. At some point the daily routine of the strictly structured therapy was too much for me. I decided not to continue with it. Instead, I decided to live my life again to the fullest. I’ve accepted the spinal cord injury and my "Ferrari".

Which are the biggest barriers in your everyday life?
Well, public toilets are usually to tight for me. You have to arrange enough time for all your activities and of course you always need help from others. Besides I would really like to mow my lawn by myself.

What are your personal goals?
I’ve started with skiing and hand biking. Plus, it's fun to model. I’ve already made my first experiences at the Life Ball. And I've fulfilled a big dream and built my own house. Of course there are also days, when things are not going so well. But I have a strong social backing, a great family and awesome friends. I feel free and that's important for me, because I've always had a mind of my own.

What are your dreams for the future?
My greatest wish is to go on a mountain together with my friends. They do it pretty often and I follow them by car as far as I can. But it’s not the same. I want to feel the joy of reaching the summit once again.

What are your hopes for spinal cord research?
I have been following the developments of spinal cord research, especially in regards to freshly injured patients. Probably it’s too late for myself, but I hope that there will be a cure found for acute spinal cord injuries. Of course I wouldn’t say “no”, if there would be a cure for me too.

Thank you for the great chat Julia!

Did you also sustain a spinal cord injury after an accident and are you interested in sharing your personal story? Just write us a short and informal message to office@wingsforlife.com. We would be pleased.