At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cory Moses of Brooklyn, New York, chose to bike around the city whenever possible rather than use mass transit. He also genuinely enjoyed biking, but on Oct, 25, 2020, as he was pedaling through his borough’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood his life flashed before his eyes .
“I was just kind of strolling and someone with a parked car just opened their door, and I ran into it. Right after that the SUV behind me ran over me and that fractured six ribs and severed my spine,” Moses, 27, said of the bicycle accident that left him paralyzed before he started on the road to a remarkable recovery.
Moses describes losing feeling below his waist soon after he was hit, but he says getting into the ambulance caused the most pain he’s ever felt.
“When they straightened me out to do that, my nerves started going crazy so my body felt like it was electrocuting itself so that was probably the most pain I felt during the entire situation,” Moses recounted.
As for the drivers who caused the accident, Moses says they managed to slip away before authorities arrived on scene.
“The person who ran over me stopped to argue with the person who opened the door about whose fault it was and when they heard the sirens, they left, they drove off and they never got caught,” Moses said of the perpetrators, but worrying about those responsible was the last thing on his mind.
Moses underwent five surgeries after the accident, four on his back and one on his arm, over the course of three months. He had suffered a Type C spinal injury with displacement.
Although times seemed tough and life as he knew it was over, Moses tried to keep a positive attitude to get him through the year-long recovery and rehab that awaited him. He says doctors told him he “may never walk or feel my legs again.”
His physical therapists provided him, “virtual lessons every morning to help me build up strength and get more independent within the household while I was still very injured and still learning how to move around in the world, do things like cooking, getting in and out of the bathroom and getting myself dressed,” he said.
Moses spent two and a half months in in-patient rehab, and he says that was the most intense part because of the mental toll it took on him.
“We really focused on fine motor skills and homing in on the small things to make the larger adjustments. … It feels like your kind of working towards nothing so mentally it messes with you,” Moses said.
Moses lost about 50 pounds while in the hospital, so part of his recovery included regaining his strength. He maintained high spirits by picking up wheelchair-based sports like parafencing.
“I went to fencing and started that, and that got me out of the house and was something that was active since I wasn’t working or anything and kept my mind going,” he said.
Throughout most of last year, Moses dedicated his life to rehabilitation, but he also knew he set a goal shortly after the accident: He was determined to accomplish that goal of walking again. “I’m walking with braces and forearm crutches most of the time. My braces actually broke because I’m too active for them apparently,” he said of his walking ability.
Moses, once deemed paralyzed and wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life, is now up a moving around on his own. Moses credits his faith and strong support system that helped him get back on his own two feet.
“I practice Buddhism, and that’s really gotten me to a level mental state, and it’s taught me to find happiness where I am,” Moses said.
His message to others facing life-altering challenges that make them want to give up in the face of adversity: “Really focus on your faith, whatever it is, because that allows us to see light where there isn’t any and it gives us something to look forward to,” Moses said.
With a newfound passion for artificial intelligence and robotics since going through his recovery, Moses is shifting his career goals into that area of engineering. He’s also on track to becoming a winning para-athlete. He won two competitions in January in parafencing and plans compete again this weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.