Life changed drastically for Judy Aguirre last fall.
On the eve of Sept. 26, the wife and mother of two read quietly in her Van Buren dining room while everyone else slept. When she finally decided to retire to bed, she turned off the lights and headed in the dark towards the stairs leading to her home's second level. Walking through her kitchen to the hallway leading upstairs, Aguirre overestimated the distance. Believing she was stepping into her hallway, she stumbled down her basement stairs landing on her right side.
The commotion awoke the household and her 10-year-old son, Nicolas, called 911.
"I was out of it for 24 hours," Aguirre said.
The fall left Aguirre paralyzed. She spent two and a half weeks in intensive care where doctors worked to straighten out her spinal column, which resembled a staircase after the fall. Aguirre remembers the injury making it difficult to breathe.
"I wasn't event worried about being paralyzed, just being able to breathe. I couldn't take a deep breath," she said.
Suffering an incomplete spinal cord injury, Aguirre spent three months at University Hospital in physical therapy relearning how to breathe, move her extremities and feed herself.
"There was a little bit [of improvement] everyday," she said. "First my toes moved, then my ankles, knees and to my hips. It went right up my legs and kept me encouraged."
Aguirre returned home to her husband, Xavier, and children, Nicolas and 8-year-old Diego, right before Christmas on Dec. 21.
Despite the obstacles Aguirre has overcome, she is still unable to walk, let alone provide daycare to children in her home and taking care of her family as she did prior to her accident.
"It's hard, but we're trying to stay positive," she said.
Her right side sustained more damage than her left, leaving her right hand without feeling and her entire right side severely weakened. While Aguirre can move her left leg and put pressure on it, she can't quite stand on it yet. She needs help dressing, getting into her chair and around her house. With the support of her extended family, everyday tasks are accomplished such as laundry and cooking.