Human spirit prevails

Human spirit prevails
Human spirit prevails | Clay Wilson
For Clay Wilson, tests of the human spirit came swift but survival was a reflex. Events within each person’s life can determinewho or what they become. There is birth and there is death but what comes between can often make or break the human will and its very survival is put to the test. Wilson was released from The Med in Memphis with “post traumatic above-knee bilateral amputation secondary to being run over by a train.” Wilson’s estimated blood loss was approximately 500 mls and after evaluation of his injuries in the shock-trauma area, he underwent a guillotine above-knee amputation above the tissue at the original amputation site. Wilson had also suffered from an area of subarachnoid bleeding as a result of the “man versus train accident” which occurred on November 1, 2007. Wilson has no recollection of the incident. His last account of what took place was that he was on his way to work as an independent landscaping contractor within the Memphis community. He recalls waiting to “catch a bus in East Memphis, across from St. Francis Hospital.” This was two days before the accident. He awoke with the belief that he had somehow been struck by an automobile. Wilson had incorrectly assumed that he had broken both of his legs. “A friend had come to visit me in the hospital, after I had been in ICU for twenty days. I had mentioned my legs and his response was, ‘Clay, you don’t have your legs.’”. In addition to the staggering realization that he was indeed a double amputee came the harsh truth that there were no nursing homes/rehabilitative centers in the Memphis area that were willing to accept him as part of his rehabilitation. This was due to what was deemed insufficient insurance. Robert Craft, director of Hillview Nursing Home in Dresden was introduced to Wilson and a window of hope was opened. Craft was “instantly impressed by Clay’s determination” Craft received confirmation from Hillview’s corporate offices that Wilson could indeed receive rehabilitative care in Dresden. Wilson had never heard of Dresden, let alone Hillview but he was already challenging the estimates of when he would walk again. Since his arrival he has brought an uncompromising determination and zest for life that has impressed those with whom he has come into contact. Hillview prides itself on creating an inviting atmosphere beneficial to the rehabilitative process. Wilson has two dogs which have been “adopted” into the care home by its staff. These dogs stay by his side and even sleep at the foot of his bed. One of Hillview’s employees, Karen Carmichael, R.N. adds that “Clay, early on, would comfort the other wheelchair patient’s. He would talk to them and give them encouragement—either by an inspirational word or touch of the hand.” Carmichael states that Wilson’s physical strength and condition at the time of the accident have made his journey through rehabilitative therapy much smoother. She notes his “abdominal strength” as being important to him achieving his goal of “walking before the anniversary of the accident which took his legs.” Wilson’s therapy includes the process of learning to walk all over again with prosthetic legs. As he attends physical therapy, the dogs walk beside him. To date, he has taken two steps with his prosthetic legs. Karen Delmonte, occupational therapist for Wilson, has stated “Clay will sit awake at night and talk endlessly with the elderly patients, then hand me a list of crafts that he ‘knows they need’, such as velvet paint-posters for them to work with.” Even in Wilson’s darkest hours he has reached out and given comfort to those in need. As a professional gardener, Wilson has undertaken restructuring the grounds of Hillview. Rusty Bloodworth, Manager of Atnell Property Investments and former employer of Wilson recalls, “the level at which he takes landscape to an art form is impressive. Wilson can calculate numbers within his mind and amaze those who had the pleasure of knowing him, a truly gifted individual.” The adage of “doing what you can, where you are, with what you have” defines Wilson. He has been involved in a twelve step recovery program and has used this accident that can shake the very foundation of an individual and transformed it into a recovery process – both spiritually and physically. Wilson’s spirit is that of such incredible resiliency that when he is asked if he felt that God had “allowed” this incident as a catalyst for change, he responds by saying, “God gave me my life.” Wilson is remarkable in that he is forever conscious of the fact that he is a miracle. His determination is uncompromising as he uplifts the spirit of those around him with a story of survivability. He is doing it all, quite literally, a step at a time.

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