Michael was born June 2, 1999 to Shawn and Shelley Carlson. His little sister Jane came along a few years later.
Michael grew into a man who enjoyed working with his hands, being outdoors, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing and other sports. Michael was a captain both his Junior and Senior year for one of the most physically demanding high school sports, Nordic Skiing. In addition, leading his team as a captain, Michael competed both Junior and Senior year at the State Competition.
On August 19th, 2018, Michael’s life changed when he went to a nearby lake to swim after working a very hard day at his summer construction job. He met up with friends, eagerly dove in to cool off from the August heat, and unlike his friend who dove in beside him, Michael did not come to the surface. Michael struck the bottom of the lake with his head and watched the surface fade away while struggling to make it up for a breath of air. He could not move his arms or legs though fighting frantically to make it to the surface. Michael held his breath as long as he could before he went unconscious and remained under water for a couple minutes. When Michael didn’t resurface, his friend began searching for him, and thankfully he brought Michael out of the lake and performed CPR, and called for help.
Michael was brought to the nearest trauma hospital. He had taken in an immense amount of water which caused drowning and his heart had stopped. He was intubated and put into a medically induced coma and soon after, brought into surgery. At about 10:30, there was a knock on the door at home. His mom, Shelley, went to the door and was greeted by two police officers, who explained that Michael had been in a serious accident and was at the hospital. The entire family raced to the hospital and Michael’s sister, Jane, collapsed in hysterics at the shock of seeing her big brother, white faced, intubated and unconscious.
The damage to his C5 vertebrae was significant. The front half of this vertebrae was removed and replaced during surgery. His spinal cord may have been partially severed, has experienced bruising and is still in the recovery stage of his healing. This type of injury is classified as a quadriplegic – but the medical team has made it clear that a minimum of 6 – 12 months is needed for the spinal swelling to go down.
After his accident Michael spent many weeks in the hospital, both in the ICU and in the hospital’s rehab center. Michael then moved to the Courage Kenny Center to continue his rehabilitation. Michael works very hard each day, and continues to gain strength in his shoulders and biceps. Michael does have tingling sensations from his waist to his toes, which can be common in an incomplete spinal sever. We are very grateful for this. We are immensely hopeful that Michael will walk and regain full function of his hands and bowel/bladder. He is incredibly fit and motivated. To say that our son is a hard worker is a gross understatement. This area of his character lends well to the very hard work involved in his recovery. He has recently been able to ever so slightly move the middle finger of each hand and his big toes. We joyously celebrate each incremental achievement and understand that his success is measured in small but important milestones.
The life changes that occur after such a catastrophic event are overwhelming and affect not only the person who is injured, but their family and friends. We take for granted that we can walk, hold a fork, lift up our head, take care of our own personal needs and generally live our lives without too much help from others. Our hope for Michael is that he will continue to improve and that we can provide the specialized care and equipment needed to achieve that goal.
There are many things that Michael will need to help with his day to day living as well as ongoing restorative rehabilitation. The tools and medical supplies are incredibly expensive.
Specialized Restorative Therapy Program – $64,000 per year
The ABLE program delivers a complete fitness and wellness program that incorporates locomotor training, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), the Giger MD therapy device and guided fitness activities to challenge muscles and movement below the level of injury. Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s ABLE program is one of only six community fitness and wellness facilities nationwide that are part of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network. NRN is leading research on spinal cord injury. Dr. Susan Harkema, head of NRN also is doing epidural stimulation research. This therapy is vital to Michael’s ongoing recovery.
Rotating Bed – $20,000
This type of bed allows Michael to be rotated properly and consistently without interrupting his sleep. This helps to alleviate bed sores and skin breakage, which can lead to deadly infections.
Manual Wheelchair – $12,000
This wheelchair helps Michael to continue to develop muscles. It is made of a very light weight metal and designed and fit specifically for Michael.
Van – $40,000
We have chosen to fundraise for Help Hope Live in part because Help Hope Live assures fiscal accountability of funds raised and tax deductibility for contributors. Contributors can be sure donations will be used to pay or reimburse medical and related expenses. To make a tax-deductible donation to this fundraising campaign, click on the Give button.
For more information, please contact Help Hope Live at 800.642.8399.
We are grateful for any help we receive, and anything will help. We also ask for your prayers, and we believe God is in control.
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11
Shawn, Shelley, Michael and Jane
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In honor of Michael Steven Carlson
Help Hope Live
2 Radnor Corporate Center
100 Matsonford Road
Radnor, PA 19087