DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. —A Douglas County woman who thought she would never walk again after a traumatic injury is now preparing to walk down the aisle on her wedding day.
“That was definitely one of the hardest moments I’ve ever had to go through in my life.”
22-year-old Winston woman Marin Metz was on her annual dirt biking trip to the Oregon dunes on the Fourth of July weekend, when her life turned upside down.
“I was slowly going up the dune, get to the top you slow down, and there was a really sharp short razorback so I instantly started to nose drive so I bail doff my bike over the handlebars and the frame hit me straight in the back,” said Metz.
Instantly Metz knew something was wrong when she couldn’t feel below her waist. Her fiancé rushed to call 911. She was rushed to a nearby hospital before being life-flighted to OHSU for emergency spinal surgery.
“Initially when she got to OHSU she was as bad as it could be in terms of her spine function,” said her surgeon, Dr. Andrew Ryu, OHSU’s Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery.
On July 5th Metz underwent a 3 and a half hour surgery to remove pieces of broken bone pushing on her spinal cord. Dr. Ryu and his team helped stabilize her spine with a dozen titanium screws and two rods.
Dr. Ryu says typically only 5% of patients walk after this injury. I asked if there was a moment she thought she wouldn’t walk again.
“When I woke up I realized that I could feel my legs, the pressure of being touched, but I had no motion of my legs, so from there you kinda start to process being wheelchair-bound,” said Metz.
Metz spent the next week and a half recovering. 10 days later with the help of her physical therapist, she was able to safely stand with a walker and take her first steps since the accident.
“It’s just a lot to process, your mind is going through processing so much both positive and negative but when you overcome something like that it’s amazing,” said Metz.
Metz will have to wear a back brace for another month, she does physical therapy twice a week, and is excited to walk down the aisle on her wedding day! But it couldn’t have happened without the support of her family, and the amazing doctors, nurses, and physical therapists pushing her.
Dr. Ryu says he didn’t even recognize her, because she was standing in his office.
“I expected her to be in a wheelchair, but once I walked into the clinic space and she was waiting for me it was clear that she was waiting for me and my jaw dropped,” said Dr. Ryu.
Metz says the first thing she’s doing when the brace comes off is taking her engagement photos. Her wedding will be a few weeks after the one-year anniversary of her accident, next summer.