Weston WV Man, Paralyzed From the Neck Down, Dreams of Becoming a Bodybuilder
Weston, WV— On September 12, 2012, Jamie Butcher was involved in a devastating car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. The car in front of him, which had no working brake lights, slammed on the brakes, causing Jamie to rear-end the car at 35 mph. Jamie was transported to the local hospital emergency room, where a CT scan suggested that nothing was wrong beyond being in shock from the accident. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
The emergency room staff removed Jamie’s neck brace, and his wife, Lisa began to help dress him with the assistance of Jamie’s father. When Jamie attempted to stand, he started sliding off the bed and insisted that something was badly wrong. The emergency room staff, with the assistance of Jamie’s family, wrestled him back into bed, all without the neck brace. Jamie, who had no sensation from the neck down, demanded to be sent to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, despite the objections of the hospital staff, who continued to insist that Jamie was merely in shock. At Ruby, Jamie underwent a thorough neurological evaluation and an MRI, which showed a herniation of the C3 disk pressing on the main electrical pathway from Jamie’s brain. Jamie’s surgeon, Dr. Scott Daffner, removed part of the C3 vertebra in order to remove the disk material pressing on Jamie’s spinal cord. Dr. Daffner then used cadaver bone, 2 plates, and 8 titanium screws to stabilize Jamie’s cervical spine.
Taking One Day at a Time
Dr. Daffner told the Butchers, “Once the lights are back on, it’s up to Jamie to start the engine and make it run.” Jamie was only the third person Dr. Daffner had treated with the exact same injury. One of those people was not able to walk again and the other person is able to walk with a cane. At first, Jamie was unable to control his body from the neck down. His first task in physical therapy was to slide his fingers back and forth with a penny under each finger. Jamie was infuriated that he could not will his body to cooperate. Naturally, his emotions overcame him. During the difficult weeks following surgery, Lisa was Jamie’s rock, living with him in the ICU and taking an active role in his treatment and therapy. Dr. Daffner encouraged the Butchers to take one day at a time.
Pain pills don’t begin to touch it, so [Jamie] deals alone with his issues, taking no meds at all. Medical Cannabis would be amazing to see approved in this state .My husband can move much easier and receives far more relief and benefits from medical cannabis. — Lisa Butcher, Jamie’s wife
Holding Onto the Dream of Bodybuilding
When Jamie left Ruby Memorial twelve days later, he walked out using a cane. Jamie’s dream was to become a bodybuilder. At first, Jamie couldn’t even feed himself, so it felt like his dream was slipping away. In the hospital, Jamie wasted from 190 lbs. prior to his accident down to 127 lbs. During their first year at home, Lisa brought home a $40 set of dumbbells she purchased at Walmart. Slowly, Jamie began the long journey toward his dream of being a bodybuilder. Today, Jamie can walk, although slowly, and can even run. He still battles foot drop and leg lag due to his neurological issues. Jamie also experiences the “pins and needles” sensation common to people with nerve damage, has reduced sensation to heat, and cannot tolerate cold. Every day brings new and different challenges and Jamie has continued to have to learn to slow down and take Dr. Daffner’s advice to “take one day at a time.”
Jamie has continued to focus on weight lifting and bodybuilding as part of his recovery. Pain pills do not even begin to treat the pain, tremors, and muscle spasms Jamie experiences on a daily basis. The only thing that has given Jamie any hope is cannabis, which remains illegal in WV. Because of the stigma and legal issues surrounding medical cannabis, on a day-to-day basis, Jamie deals with his neurological issues without medication. If Jamie had access to safe, well-regulated, legal medical cannabis, his entire quality of life could be changed for the better.
Last week, at the age of 35, Jamie voted for the first time in his life in WV’s May 10th primary election. Jamie wants to make a stand for himself and other patients who would benefit from medical cannabis reform in WV. Jamie is passionate about voting for candidates who support medical cannabis reform and speaking out about the benefits he’s experienced from cannabis as part of his personal recovery.
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