Home for the Holidays: Hunter’s Story

For most people, the holiday season is a time to reflect on the past year and all of the ups and downs that came with it.  It is a time to appreciate the little things that we know are actually big things and to enjoy time being close to the ones we love. For Hunter Zondory, the holidays this year were extra special.  After spending nearly two months at Magee recovering from a spinal cord injury (SCI), Hunter made it home just in time to celebrate the holidays with those that are most important to him. I had the pleasure of catching up with Hunter during his one-month follow up visit at Magee where his doctors, nurses, and therapists were all thrilled to see him and the amazing progress he has made. Hunter overcame a lot in 2016 and is excited to see what the New Year has in store for him!

Ashley Owens: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hunter Zondory:  I’m 18 years old and was enjoying my freshman year at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA before being hospitalized.  I’m a very athletic guy who enjoys staying active. In high school, I ran cross country and track and did pole vaulting which I really liked. Most of my life I have been wrestling which is how I ended up sustaining my injury. I ended up landing on my neck the wrong way while doing a wrestling move and just happened to tweak it. Aside from sports, I also have an artistic side and like to draw. Throughout my hospitalization, I was lucky to have ongoing support from my family including my parents Vicki and Steve and my brothers Zach and Mason.

AO: Tell me about your first couple of days as a patient at Magee.

HZ: It’s actually hard for me to remember a lot about my first couple of days at Magee. I was really tired due to limited sleep in the previous hospital. I remember being wheeled off to my therapy sessions and falling asleep within the first few minutes! The therapists would try to ask me questions and I would be out of it. Once I was able to start actually staying awake, some of the first things my therapists worked on with me were trying to keep my body up and balanced on the mat and rolling. My speech therapist Aimee worked on getting me to use a louder voice and worked on strengthening up my swallowing muscles so I could eventually eat and drink again.

AO: What advice would you give to someone else going through a similar situation?

With help from his therapists, Hunter walked out of Magee on his discharge day.

HZ: A piece of advice I would give to someone going through a similar difficult situation is to just take it one day at a time. Recovery is not going to happen all at once, and you are going to have good days and bad days. You need to work hard and take it each day at a time. With hard work and dedication you will see progress in the future.

AO: Where are you now? What have you accomplished since you’ve been home?

HZ: I’m now beginning to be able to walk around my house with a walker and sometimes even without a walker if someone is really close by. I try to be really independent by helping out around the house and doing things like folding laundry and doing the dishes. I dress myself and feed myself each day which I wasn’t able to do when I first came to Magee.  When I have free time, I also like to stay busy by putting together puzzles and building things with Legos. I’m currently receiving outpatient therapy three times a week through Drayer rehabilitation services where I continue to work on my physical recovery. I’m definitely keeping busy!

To read more patient stories, click here.

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