Health Plus: Overcoming paralysis - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Overcoming paralysis


WATERLOO (KWWL) -- It is tough to imagine, but virtually overnight a young eastern Iowa mother went from healthy to paralyzed.

Tara Thomas has her story in Health Plus.

Last year severe neck pain led Suzzanna Dell to get an MRI.

The scan revealed an abscess on her spine.

And that led to surgery at Iowa City to remove it.

"They told me that I was gonna be a quadriplegic and that I wouldn't walk again. That my family possibly needed to start looking at some longterm care facilities because they didn't know if I'd be able to come back home," said Suzzanna Dell, paralyzed from surgery.

But the wife and mother of two girls would not take this diagnosis lying down.

She was determined to beat the odds.

Enter therapists at Covenant Medical Center's Inpatient Rehabilitation in Waterloo.

"She couldn't even sit up on the edge of the bed on her own without falling back or over to the side," said Jill Harlan, occupational therapist.

Occupational therapist Jill Harlan says it was the 29-year-old's mental toughness that literally had her back on her feet months later.

"One thing that has really stayed with me along with Suzzanna's success is when she left the rehab unit her mom came up to me and she hugged me and said, 'Thank you for bringing my daughter back,' and that really was something that has stuck with me," said Jill.

Dell says giving birth and taking steroids for Crohn's disease likely caused the growth on her spine.

"When I'm having those hard moments, remind myself that it could be worse. I could be on a ventilator that's breathing for me. I could be in some type of assisted living and not have a second chance to be a mom again and hopefully get back to work soon," said Suzzanna.

Her next step, to return to work as a respiratory therapist.

Online reporter/News Anchor: Tara Thomas

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