1 Split Second

by Tim Syfert

                       The 1 Split Second That Changed My Life

At age 17, I had a tragic accident that caused my life to suddenly take a dramatic detour down a completely different road. On March 29th, 1973, I sustained a spinal cord injury on a trampoline that paralyzed me from the chest down. Being a member of my high school gymnastic team, one of the apparatuses I competed on was the trampoline, and on that day after school at team practice I was on the trampoline going through my routine and had a split second of mistiming on a maneuver and came down on the bed of the trampoline on the back of my neck breaking it which damaged my spinal cord. I was suddenly lying there on the trampoline in a whole different world. I couldn’t move much of anything or feel anything. Nothing seemed real. I was very scared and wondered what had happened. I was taken to a hospital emergency room and after taking x-rays of my neck the doctors put my neck in traction to try and get the bones to go back into place. It didn’t work, so on the fourth day into my injury they did surgery on my neck to fix my vertebrae. Before the surgery I still had some arm and finger movement but after the surgery it was all gone. I spent about a week in ICU then was put into a regular hospital room. I was in that room for about a week or so. After recouping from surgery, I was moved into the rehab hospital building behind the main hospital. I was taken to the 3rd floor which was a spinal cord injury ward. There were about thirty spinal cord injury patients on that floor. After a few days being there I slipped into a coma. They found me in it early one morning. The hospital contacted my mom so she came there right away.  My mom told me later that the doctors told her to prepare herself for her son’s death. They didn’t think I was going to survive. Thanks to my mom's and other family member's prayers, I came out of the coma around midnight of the same day when they found me in it. God gave me a second chance!

I spent the next two months or so flat on my back looking up at the ceiling. I had a neck brace on and my head was in a padded vice like contraption they attached to the head of the bed so I wouldn’t move my head to the right or left. There was a metal horseshoe shaped device that was screwed into my skull on both sides of my head just above each ear. At the tip of the horseshoe there was a cable attached that ran up towards the head of the bed over a pulley and then down towards the floor. There were 90 lbs. of weights on the end of the cable to keep my neck pulled in traction. This was a very tough time during my recovery because all I could do was lay there and think about things. I could not stop thinking about WHY this happened to me. How could I go from being a very active healthy athletic person to being totally paralyzed? It didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem fair. What did I do to deserve this? At times it didn’t seem real. I kept wondering if I was going to get better and recover from it. I was very depressed but knew all I could do was give it all time and see what would happen. Since I really wasn’t a Christian at the time, I didn’t turn to God for help and strength. I don’t think I ever felt mad at God but rather just at life.

After about two months being stuck in bed they began getting me up out of bed to begin physical therapy. I was given a powered wheelchair so I could get around the rehab hospital myself. By this time my right arm had gained just enough muscle function to operate the chair’s lever control. I still could not move my left arm much at all, it just laid on top of two stacked pillows that were sitting on my lap. Physical therapy was very tough and tiring. It was difficult trying to move paralyzed muscles. The exercises they were doing to my arms at times were very painful. Slowly but surely I began to get more muscle movement in my arms but mostly in my right one. They fitted both my left and right arms with special light weight wrist/hand splints. The right one had a little device on it that held a fork or spoon so I could learn to feed myself. It was quite a task trying to feed myself. The constant messes I was making while trying to feed myself was very humiliating. Nothing was easy. It was a battle to keep from getting extremely depressed. I just couldn’t believe how different my life was.

About four months into my ordeal, I was parked outdoors on the 3rd floor balcony enjoying the outdoors. It was mid-summer at this point. I heard the door opening and out came rolling another patient. He saw me and came rolling over to where I was. He was 25 years old and a preacher. We were just chit-chatting a bit and then he started talking to me about God. He asked me if I was a Christian and I said yes. I told him how I went to church all throughout my childhood, so I thought I was a Christian. He then asked me if I had ever prayed to ask Jesus into my heart and life. I said no. I had not heard of doing that before. He explained to me what it meant to do that. As I was listening to him I began to realize that maybe I really wasn’t a Christian. He asked me if I would like to pray with him and ask Jesus into my heart. I said yes, so he led me in a prayer to invite Jesus into my life. I got saved out there on that 3rd floor balcony of the rehab hospital in the summer of 1973. A couple of months later I was finally discharged (Sept. 29th) from the hospital after being there 6 months. It was always interesting to think, that I entered that hospital and nearly died, but I left it with eternal LIFE!

It's amazing how God can take something tragic and cause something good to come out of it. At the time of my accident I really didn't have much interest in God or church, but He caused the words of a fellow patient to touch my heart that brought me to His saving grace.

Our lives can be so unpredictable. I would have never imagined I would have the accident I had and nearly die at such an early age. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, or even an hour from now. Don't take the risk of slipping into eternity without receiving God's gift of eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ!

"Everyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved."  Rom. 10:13

Dear Jesus, I know that I have done sinful things in my life, but I believe you died on the cross for me to wash away all of my sins. I also believe that God raised you from the dead. Jesus, come into my heart and into my life. I want the new life you have for me as my Lord and my Savior. Thank you Jesus, for giving me eternal life.

In your holy name I pray, Amen.




"For God so LOVED the world ....."  John 3:16



tumblr counter