Have you ever had that nightmare where you are trying to run, or scream, and your body just doesn’t respond? Imagine if that were your reality for a day.
For Victoria Arlen, that was her reality for 4 years.
What It Was Like To Be “Locked In”
Victoria was the perfect picture of health when she was young. She was bubbly, happy, and active. She loved dancing and swimming and she participated in both regularly. But at 11 years old she started to get sick.
She came down frequently with illnesses such as the flu, asthma, and pneumonia, and then eventually she started to become paralyzed. She couldn’t move her legs some days, she had difficulty swallowing, and eventually lost feeling in her feet.
The doctors told her that she had two rare immune diseases which were damaging her brain and spine and causing her nerves to die. As Victoria’s health began to decline, her family was told that she was in a paralyzed vegetative state and because there was no diagnosis or treatment, she should be taken home.
Her family put her in a hospital bed on the ground floor of their home where she would live out the rest of her short life. Or so they thought.
For the next 4 years Victoria remained mentally alert, able to hear and understand everything going on around her, yet unable to control her body or give any sign to her family that she was locked inside.
She said, “I was really scared. I knew if I just stopped fighting, I wouldn’t be in pain or suffering anymore — but dying was the easy way out.”
So she spent these years working on positive thinking and strengthening her mind. She focused on getting better, praying, and visualizing what her life would be like when she was healthy again. She is certain that this positive thinking was what gave her the strength to get better.
The Road To Recovery
In 2009, at 15 years old, Victoria was still completely paralyzed and suffering from seizures sometimes 20 hours a day. Her doctors finally found a medication that they thought would put her to sleep, but instead the seizures stopped and Victoria found that she could control her eyes. From that moment on things began to get better.
Over the course of the next 6 months Victoria regained feeling in the upper part of her body, and eventually was able to move around in a wheelchair. She was in a wheelchair for 10 years, and although the doctors told her that she would never walk again, she never gave up hope.
Not only did she learn to walk again, she later won a gold medal in the 2012 Paralympic games in London, became a semi finalist on Dancing With The Stars, an anchor for ESPN, and the new face of Jockey underwear.
What Do YOU Stand For?
When sharing her story, Victoria said, “People see the outside…but really, what do you stand for underneath? And for me it’s all about faith, gratitude and hope”.
And her story is truly one of inspiration. No matter what others see on the outside, you are something unique underneath all that and no one can take that away from you. What do YOU stand for?