Damian Meza

At RHSNM for inpatient rehabilitation following a spinal cord injury, Damian found something he’d been missing: hope.

That Tuesday started like any other for Damian Meza. At 5:30 am, he got on his motorcycle and left for work. But Damian never got to his job because an oncoming car cut off his bike.

Two days later, Damian woke up in the hospital, remembering nothing and experiencing extreme back pain. But he woke up. That fact was huge for Damian’s family, who counted the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to see his eyes again.

Though this was leaps and bounds of progress, the lifelong injuries Damian sustained in the accident would drastically change his way of life. Damian suffered a spinal cord injury, among other traumatic injuries, in the crash. Nurses told Damian that he would spend the rest of his life with paraplegia and no hope of moving his lower limbs again.

This news crushed Damian. As an avid car lover and racer, how could Damian ever do what he loves again without the use of his legs?

After spending 29 days in the hospital, Damian transferred to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico. There, for the first time since his accident, Damian began to feel hope. This hope took the form of Cooper and Linda (aka Mama Linda), Damian’s therapists at RHSNM and his biggest cheerleaders during his rehab stay.

When he first arrived at RHSNM, Damian couldn’t even sit straight up in bed. But by his discharge day, Damian sat perfectly upright and with a wide-eyed smile. Cooper and Mama Linda had taught Damian not to lose faith. They helped him find the motivation he needed each day and celebrated every win with him, big or small. Before leaving the hospital, Damian made sure to express his gratitude to them for all they helped him achieve.

Through the experience, Damian saw an already tight family increase their support for him tenfold. His dad has a new understanding of the spine, the body, and how our entire body works together. Both of Damian’s parents are very hands-on with helping him out.

Damian discharged from rehab 65 days after his crash, excited to just “be.” To be in his own home. To be with his family and friends. To be with his dog. And, of course, to get back to the car he loves — a Camaro, to be exact. Damian also looks forward to returning to the “Syn Club,” a car club of which he is the president. The whole time he was hospitalized, the club worked to support Damian by fundraising to help with his medical bills and associated expenses.

Though Damian’s life has changed, he refuses to let his spinal cord injury define him or his life. “You can drive a modified car with your hands,” Damian noted, adding, “You can use ramps as your friends.” Lowe’s and members of the Moose Lodge graciously and generously supplied materials to build a custom ramp and Damian’s home, too.

With the mindset of “I am me, I am not my injury,” Damian is taking a saying from Cooper and Mama Linda: “Miracles do happen.” He is determined to have full balance and beyond motivated to walk. Someday, Damian also hopes to get back to his work. With his family and his extended car club family, Damian believes “anything is possible when you don’t give up!”

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