On October 15, 2013 Jesse Sternberg’s life was changed dramatically. He was a passenger in a terrible car accident which caused him to become a quadriplegic. Though we can’t take away his pain or frustration, there is one area where we can help, and that is financially.
Jesse was just embarking on his college career when his plans were violently derailed. Jesse was always smart, athletic and mentally tough. His toughness and humor shone through as he was brought into the ER, knowing he had a broken neck and other injuries. After the nurse had notified his parents she asked if there was anyone else he wanted her to call. He said, “Yeah, can you call God and ask him to fix me?”
December 13, 2020
Wow – it’s been five years since the last update! Turns out time flies whether you are having fun or not! Here’s a quick recap of the past 5 years since the last update:
2015 – Intensive physical therapy at Next Steps – Jesse’s progress was slow, but noticeable. Unfortunately his injury is bad enough that PT alone could not get Jesse to independence.
2016 – we evaluated different options for something more than physical therapy to help Jesse recover. Applying for different clinical trials, talking with doctors around the world, we traveled to Cleveland and Miami in search of something to help him. Jesse was invited to be in a Clinical Trial at the Miami Project, but he had to wait until he was 22 due to FDA requirements. So we stayed in Chicago until January and moved to Miami in January 2017.
2017 – turned out the clinical trial was much more risk to Jesse than possible benefit. Despite losing a year for something that turned out not to be in Jesse’s best interests, the move to Miami was still a success. The wheelchair community in Miami is amazing. So many other paralyzed people welcomed Jesse with a warmth and generosity that he instantly felt better in Miami and learned so much from these new friends. In fact, he met the best friend anyone could ever ask for in Miami. Joel has been a great friend and mentor to Jesse having been hurt at the same age and willing to help guide him through accepting his injury and learning to live with it. It was tough leaving Miami at the end of 2017, but the goal was to get back to Chicago, pursue new treatments and plan for Jesse to eventually move to Miami permanently.
2018 – we revisited Cleveland, talked with doctors in China and Thailand, applied for clinical trials and learned that epidural stimulators being tested at University of Kentucky were the new hot thing for paralyzed people. So we applied for Kentucky’s clinical trial only to learn that there were 2,000 patients who applied ahead of us – for a trial of 50 people! We had to find another option!
2019 – the other option for an Epidural Stimulator was Thailand. As crazy as it sounded, we learned they had completed 75 patients and one of them was a surgeon from Canada. He was nice enough to speak with us about how it benefited him and with that knowledge, Jesse and his dad booked a trip to Thailand to get Jesse an epidural stimulator implanted on his lower spine. Result: it has worked to stabilize Jesse’s blood pressure allowing him to get off blood pressure boosting medicine. At times he can use it to reduce spasms. He has used it to help strengthen his core, but overall, it has not changed his life since it has not allowed him any new independence. We didn’t think it would, we want for the benefits he has gotten from it, but there was a chance it could have helped him more.
2020 – everyone knows this has been a tough year for all of us. The pandemic really put a limitation on disabled people and people who are in clinical trials that suddenly were put on hold. For Jesse, we had planned nerve transfer surgery having visited the top neurosurgeons in the country over the winter of 2019-2020. The surgery was of course canceled due to Covid, but that may have been a blessing in disguise. That’s because in the interim, thanks to Dr. Justin Brown in Boston, he referred us to Dr. Jan Friden in Switzerland as the only doctor Dr. Brown knew in the world who would have a chance of getting Jesse’s triceps and wrists working again!
Dr. Friden and his staff have been incredible as they have met with Jesse twice on Zoom meetings and continue to coach him and prepare him for the surgery and rehab. The surgery was originally scheduled for December 3rd, but with Covid spiking in Switzerland they had to postpone the surgery until next year.
It is this surgery and rehab that we are currently asking people to donate toward. The costs will be at little over $250,000. There are no doctors in the US who provide this type of surgery, but if you search Dr. Friden’s name on PubMed you will see his has authored or co-authored over 200 medical journal studies in his career and is truly “the real deal”!
Please donate generously, Dr. Friden is confident he can get Jesse’s right arm and wrist working again and is hopeful they can do his left as well. This treatment, if successful, will actually give Jesse a lot of the independence that he has been fighting for over the past 7 years. We very much appreciate every donation and well wishes – as tough as Jesse’s life is on a daily basis, to see him fighting through it and working so hard to get his independence back is what keeps us all going. Thank you!
November 19, 2015
I guess time flies when you’re not having fun too! Given the comments we’ve heard lately, it was time we did another post to bring everyone up-to-date and dispel a few myths.
Things are far from “normal” and that’s one of the many things that upsets Jesse. The fact is there have been no posts because we are all so busy trying to care for and support Jesse as well as do our jobs, work on his therapy and treatment options, take care of the house, pay bills and do all the other things that keep us all so busy these days.
Jesse has continued to amaze everyone at his rehab clinic with his ability to work so hard in therapy, with how fast he catches on and does things and with his pure athleticism. He continues to build up his core and his arms/shoulders. That said, he still has a long way to go (sometimes it feels like it is too long for him) to get to the point where he can do almost everything himself instead of being dependent on others for most all of his activities of daily living. He hates that and who could blame him?
“Things must be getting easier” – not really. True, we’ve learned how to do certain things better, but as far as his injury and his recovery, things really are not getting easier. Possibly the opposite as it has already been over 2 years and his recovery still has so long to go. So the passing of time just builds anxiety and stress as any recovery from spinal cord injury takes a long time and Jesse is part of the immediate gratification generation, not a good mix.
“If there’s anything I can do, just ask…..” – we hear that from many of our friends and really appreciate it. With this update and the large network of people who read these updates and all the people who YOU could forward this to, we are hoping people can help us with the following:
Referrals for a live-in helper for Monday through Friday. He really wants someone closer to his age that he can connect with and enjoy working with on his recovery. Male or Female, good English skills, and most importantly closer to his age than his parents’.
Keep spreading the word. We want to thank everyone again for your generosity and support. But he’s still millions short of what he is going to need over the next 10 years. So please feel free to forward this update to anyone and everyone in your contacts. We are trying to use what little money he has in his medical care fund for new treatments and bringing him wherever we need to for any treatment that can bring back his hands and sensation.
Final words: Jeff Sebert of Sebert Landscaping and Great Impressions Landscaping is not only a great businessman, but he’s a great humanitarian. His company is currently building Jesse a backyard oasis. A place where he can spend time outside with friends, do archery, build bon fires, hit the hot tub and play games. We will post pictures and a more formal thank you on the web site once it’s done, but we had to mention it here since it is happening right now and the gift he’s giving Jesse is nothing short of amazing. Thank you Jeff, Stephen, Lou and everyone working on the project, we can’t thank you enough!
Final words 2: We have a lot of other people to thank and a lot of other people who have made a difference in our lives and Jesse’s. We have a long way to go and we know that if Jesse keeps pushing, eventually he will get enough recovery to be happy again. We love you all and will try to do these posts more often. Thank you for your support.
December 4, 2014
Jesse, I just happened to stumble on your website. What I found is a person who has immeasurable strength and tenacity. I wish you all the best. Continue to fight, persevere, you are going to get better. Sincerely,
July 17, 2014
What a champion you are Jesse! So wonderful to hear the latest news and the feeling you are getting back. We continue to pray and think of you. Such hard work you are putting in but it is really paying off! Keep on keeping on!
Diane Offenburger and Chris Skidmore
May 27, 2014
Congratulations Jesse on being accepted to the Kennedy Kreiger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland! I know you are going to make HUGE strides in physical therapy there. We are all pulling for you Jesse - keep on getting better! YOU ROCK!
April 19, 2014
We are saddened to hear of your car accident..We are praying for you and will send a gift of currency..Stay calm stay focused, Moses split the sea and Jesus walked on water..love to you, We are Lincoln Prairie..Liza Ohman..Nick De Filippis..Damiane Velez..Pilar Santilli..