On January 14, 2013, 26-year-old Greg Cortez of Corpus Christi, Texas, hadn’t thought about death or dying, or how his life forever could be changed in an instant. After watching a Houston Texans NFL football game with his buddies, he went bar hopping. Less than an hour later, he was knocking on heaven’s door. “I knew I was dying and never would see my family and friends again,” Greg remembers.
“I made my peace with the Good Lord, believing I’d see Him face to face soon.”
The Night it Happened
The day before the Texans football game, Greg had worked the night shift at his job, gone home at 6:00 am and slept for about 4 hours. He had a few drinks while watching the game the Texans lost. Then Cortez and his friends went bar hopping. Since he had the next day off, he knew he could sleep and rest then. He wasn’t drunk, but he was affected by his lack of sleep. They left the bar at 2:00 am.
“I had a new truck,” Greg explains. “So, of course my friends rode with me. When I dropped my last friend off, he said, ‘Why don’t you stay at my house and sleep until you wake up?’ I explained, ‘No, I’m okay. I’ll drive on home.’ My friend asked, ‘Are you sure that’s the right thing to do?’ I told him, ‘Yeah.’ My friend asked me to call him as soon as I got home.”
Greg had decided to take the Beltway home but then took a feeder road through the rural countryside, since he didn’t have new tags yet. He kept falling asleep.
The next thing Greg remembered hearing was a loud bang. He woke up, got out of the truck and saw he’d hit a curb so hard, the tire had popped off the rim, and bent his truck’s frame. Greg looked around and discovered he was in the middle of nowhere – no cars, no streetlights and no houses. He called his friend at 3:00 am and told him, “I need your help. I’ve just come off the Beltway, going toward Pasadena.” The friend answered, “I’m on the way.’”
While his friend stayed on the phone with him, Greg saw a car coming down the road with three men who asked, “Do you need some help?” Greg told them he did, but then he got a bad feeling about them. The men seemed somewhat odd. The guys went back to their car, supposedly to get some tools to help.
But when they returned, one of the men had a gun and started yelling, “Give me your money. Give me your money.” The other two men moved behind Greg to prevent him from running.
“Hey, man, just calm down,” Greg told them. “I’ll give you my wallet and car keys – whatever you want.” Then one man asked how much money Greg had. When Greg told him he had about $3, the man with the gun became very upset and insisted he was lying. Greg handed him his wallet. All the while, Greg’s friend was still on the phone and heard every word. When one of the men saw Greg’s cell phone, he took it away.
All three of men started walking toward their car. But just then, the man with the gun turned around and shot Greg in the neck. The entire event took place in less than 5 minutes.
Greg Cortez Survives a Gunshot Wound to the Neck
After Greg was shot, he fell to the ground, still conscious, and watched the three men jump into their car and hurriedly drive away.
“I tried to get up, but I couldn’t,” Greg remembers. “I was completely paralyzed from the neck down and didn’t feel any pain – just numbness.
In my mind, I thought, ‘I’m going to die. Nobody’s here to help me. Nobody will know what happened to me.’ I thought about my family and felt I’d never see them again. I started praying to make peace with God, so, when I died, I’d go to heaven.”
Greg heard sirens off in the distance and soon an ambulance appeared. Although the first responders were trying to persuade him to stay awake, the rapid blood loss caused Greg to passeout as soon as the medics carried him to the ambulance. He later learned that the medics felt his condition was so critical that they called in a helicopter to fly him to the hospital – afraid he wouldn’t survive an ambulance trip.
Greg Describes His Rehab Stay at Memorial Hermann
Greg was flown to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. “When I woke up 2 days later, I was in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) with a breathing tube down my throat, and I couldn’t talk,” Greg recalls. “My doctor told me, ‘You’ll probably be in a wheelchair the rest of your life. You’re a quadriplegic and are completely paralyzed from the neck down.’ That’s what my parents heard too.
“But by the grace of God, while still in the hospital, I discovered I could move my arms and a few of my toes and that I had feeling below my waist. I was diagnosed as a C5-C6 quadriplegic.
“Today, I can move my arms and my legs and have limited hand function. I can walk on a walker, if someone’s with me. To get to this point, I’ve gone through rehabilitation at TIRR Rehabilitation Center (TIRR). However, I’m still pretty much in a wheelchair all the time.”
How Greg Discovered Wheelchair Rugby
During Greg’s first year of rehab at TIRR, one of his therapists took him to a wheelchair rugby scrimmage and introduced him to some of the players. He told his therapist, “This is really cool. I didn’t know there were activities like this for people who use wheelchairs.”
Like most people, Greg didn’t understand what people in wheelchairs went through to survive and to function before his accident. As he watched that practice that day, he recognized the intensity of each of the rugby players. When he saw players knocking other players’ wheelchairs over, he thought, “That’s really scary. I wonder why they don’t get hurt?”
Greg considered wheelchair rugby to be a kind of football, except it was played by people using wheelchairs.
He loved football. Greg told his therapist, “This might be something I’d want to play. I think I can do this.” So, he joined the TIRR Texans wheelchair rugby team. Today, Greg continues to play once or twice a week when he can.
“I want to become one of the best [wheelchair rugby] players on our team.
I’m often asked, ‘What would you tell people who’ve had recent spinal cord injuries and don’t know what life holds for them?’ The first thing I’d tell them is, ‘Don’t give up, and don’t let your accident stop you from living the life you want to live. Don’t sit at home and feel sorry for yourself, because of the things you can’t do.’”
Video: 2017 USQRA Nationals – TIRR Texans vs Northridge Knights
Greg goes on to say, “Although, you may lose some mobility, you still can do anything you want to do, just like anyone else. You just may have to learn to do what you want to do in a different way. But don’t let your lack of mobility stop you from doing anything you want to do.”
“You still can have a great life, you can get married, and you can have children. There’s plenty of life still left for the living for people who use wheelchairs.”
Why Greg Cortez Appreciates the Thoughtful Design of Cure Catheters
Men all over are switching to Cure Catheters. Greg’s no exception – and here’s why he made the switch.
“I discovered Cure Medical from Steve Kearley, a member of my rugby team. Steve is the vice president of a medical supply company that sells Cure Catheters. I really like Cure catheters because they’re easy to insert, and I don’t get that friction and burning sensation when I cath.
“Cathing is very comfortable with Cure Catheters, and I don’t have any problems using them,” Greg says.
I’ve been using [them] for about a year now. I like the non lubricated regular Cure Catheters. I apply the lubricant myself. I’ve found these catheters work best for me.”
Order a free sample like Greg did and see the difference for yourself when you CHOOSE A CURE!
To request free samples of the Cure Catheter® or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
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