1/14/11

ZIKED

I couldn’t feel anything below my neck. I just had to lie there…I remember seeing my mom on the other side of the glass crying. I just kept saying  I’d be all right. I’m going to be fine.” 


says Derek Zike. The once 6 ft tall athlete now sits 4’11” in his new version of legs--a wheelchair. He laughs as he talks about getting used to the height difference when talking to people. Zike was playing in a typical January hockey tournament in Ann Arbor with his Chicago Fury AAA team. He was playing in the offensive zone when he lost an edge, slipped and slammed his head into the boards so hard it silenced the rink. Zike lied there motionless until he was transported to the hospital on a stretcher. 

“I spent about a month in intensive care because I regurgitated my food and about three months in the hospital total.” Zike suffered a fracture of the C5 vertebrae in his neck and was paralyzed. Zike doesn’t allow the moment that changed his life to settle in. He is quick to inform that this is just another challenge for him to get through. 


“I almost felt like I was prepared for this. I have been injured many times before and have played with the injuries. I have torn my meniscus and have severely injured my back twice before... I had a hairline fracture in my spine and played weeks with the pain before I found out what was wrong.” 

Zike smiles and laughs as if a hairline fracture in the spine is equivalent to a hangnail. He pulls out his iPad and scrolls through it effortlessly. He can use his hands and parts of his fingers now after months of rehabilitation therapy.  He can use his hands and fingers to eat, type and draw. 

“The hardest part of all this is the pain I feel. I get shooting pains down my arms and legs because my brain is firing neurons that aren’t going anywhere so I just have shooting pains…I don’t know if that’s a good sign or bad but I feel it.“  Zike can move his toes on command which is a sign that his spinal cord is slowly repairing itself. 

There’s one certainty and that is that it doesn’t matter if Zike is playing or just watching but his love for hockey has never waned. “I love hockey. I could never give it up. The minute I got to Miami I latched on to these guys (Miami’s Varsity Hockey Team) and I try to be around the rink as much as I possibly can.” Zike also has two younger brothers, Taylor and Sam, who also play hockey, “I just support them and work with them. I love the sport. I couldn’t not be around it.” 

His story has been splashed across many outlets and sources of media. Websites and Facebook have kept friends, family and fans updated on his status. MTV’s reality show “True Life” did a feature story on Zike’s rehabilitation. What is clear is that Zike is determined to walk again. It has been an honor and a privilege to get to know Zike.  If you want to get to know Derek Zike a little more, check out his awesome blog: http://zzderekzikezz.tumblr.com/

all photo credits courtesy of Derek Zike's Facebook

1 comment:

  1. Incredible story. One of my good friends was in a car accident last November, didn't fracture but damaged his C4 and is paralyzed chest down. It's so inspiring to hear about others overcoming it and I hope he'll continue to make the same progress Zike has been making. Thanks for sharing this girl! :)

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails