|Young engaged couple set goals of rebuilding body, building future
|Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2012 9:05 pm
| By KEVIN BOWDEN
Adam Cooley is about to embark on what he and his fiancée hope is a life-changing journey.
Cooley is a native of Hickman County, Ky., and a former correctional officer at the Obion County Jail.
He is engaged to Jen-nifer Davis, a graduate of Obion County Central High School and Murray State University, where she earned a degree in exercise science with an emphasis in athletic training.
Cooley, 25, and Miss Davis, 24, were both standout high school athletes. He played basketball for Hickman County High School and she was a three-year starter for the OCCHS Lady Rebels’ basketball team. She recently completed a four-month internship at ESPN-Wide World of Sports at Disney World® in Orlando, Fla., and is now working at Abernathy’s Harley-Davidson in order to be close to her boyfriend.
Both their lives took an unexpected turn nearly four years ago.
On July 12, 2008, Cooley was enjoying an evening with friends and decided to go for a swim. He dove headfirst into an above-ground pool, hit the bottom of the pool and suffered a burst fracture of his spine (C5 vertebrae).
He underwent spinal surgery three days later at St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
That surgery was followed up with therapy, but he stopped therapy in January 2009.
He has been living with his grandmother in Clinton, Ky., ever since and is confined to a power wheelchair.
One of his goals is to be able to stand next to Miss Davis when they get married next spring.
Cooley does have full range of motion in his shoulders but has no manual dexterity and no feeling from his chest down.
It’s a dramatic change of circumstances for a man who was working in construction and had plans of going to college.
Now, Cooley is very limited in what he can do.
He has to use braces on his hands in order to eat.
He spends most days watching television, on the computer and playing video games.
Cooley and Miss Davis have gone to the movies in Paducah, Ky., but they hardly live the normal life of an engaged couple. Yet, they are inseparable.
Miss Davis is standing by her man and will be there for him when he travels to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta April 23.
“I want him to stay there as long as he can,” she said. I’ll be there with him the whole time. I’m the main reason he can go.”
They will live in an apartment connected to the Shepherd Center while he undergoes therapy. One of the prerequisites for his being accepted to the Atlanta hospital is he must have someone who can stay with him and take care of him.
Cooley and Miss Davis have dated for 61⁄2 years and only recently got engaged. Miss Davis is quite proud to show off her engagement ring and her face lights up when she lifts her left hand.
Now, Cooley and his fiancée are hopeful his admission to the Shepherd Center will improve his quality of life.
“The main focus is getting his strength back up,” Miss Davis said. “We’ll know more when we get him down there and they evaluate him.”
For Cooley, his goals are pretty simple: “Get stronger … be more independent.”
“I have no idea what they’re going to do,” he said when asked about what he expects when he gets to the Shepherd Center. “I just want to go down there and do the best for my dad.”
It was at that point the interview became very emotional for Cooley. Shortly after his accident, his father was diagnosed with aggressive kidney cancer and Cooley said just when he thought things couldn’t get much worse, his father died on Aug. 15, 2010.
Cooley, who was very close to his father, is using him as motivation. He will also have Miss Davis there beside him in Atlanta as additional motivation.
The rehabilitation process for Cooley comes with the additional burden of the costs involved with his stay at the Shepherd Center. Although his insurance will pick up 80 percent of the costs, he is still faced with covering the remaining 20 percent and the Atlanta apartment will cost the couple $100 a day.
A special account has been set up at First Citizens National Bank in Union City for anyone who would like to help the couple out with their expenses. Donations can be mailed to the attention of Candy Whipple, c/o First Citizens National Bank, P.O. Box 1017, Union City, TN 38281.
Miss Davis has also set up a Facebook page that can be found by searching Adam Cooley fundraising information.
As they prepare for his journey to Atlanta, there is a definite sense of determination and optimism shared by Cooley and Miss Davis.
The Shepherd Center is a private, not-for-profit hospital that is recognized as one of the nation’s leading hospitals specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries.
The 132-bed rehabilitation facility employs more than 1,400 people and is ranked among the 10 best rehabilitation hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
“Each year Shepherd Center treats hundreds of people who have recently sustained a spinal cord injury,” the hospital’s website states. “From the time of acute admission through outpatient follow-up, our spinal cord injury program provides a full-continuum of care to those who have sustained any level of spinal cord injury — paraplegia, quadriplegia (including those who are ventilator dependent) or dual diagnosis (spinal cord and brain injury).”
Cooley is scheduled to spend six to eight weeks at the Atlanta hospital, where he will receive specialized treatment for his spinal injury. Miss Davis will be right there with him throughout his rehabilitation.
“Six to eight weeks; and hopefully more,” Miss Davis said with a smile.
She is trying to get into a physical therapy school, but is delaying her career in order to be with her fiancé during his stay at the Atlanta hospital.
The Shepherd Center was founded in 1975 and last year admitted 913 people to its inpatient programs and another 535 to its day-patient programs, according to the hospital’s website. The facility regularly sees more than 6,300 a year on an outpatient basis.
“Patients at Shepherd Center get more than just medical care; they get an experience that brings healing and hope,” the website states.
It is that pledge Cooley and Miss Davis are counting on as he begins this new phase in his journey to recovery.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 3.1.12