DALLAS — Nikki Lewis cannot feel anything between her neck and her pelvis, yet she’s regained enough strength to stand and even walk. And it’s barely been a month since doctors told her she might not ever do those things again.
“I’m so proud of her. So proud,” said her mother, Kim Martinez. “To see her fighting and progressing so much, I’m just so grateful. Her determination impresses me.”
Nikki broke her neck while boogie boarding in Maui on September 12. The accident that paralyzed her happened four days after her dream wedding.
She spent three weeks in Hawaii and has been at Baylor Scott and White’s Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas for one week, where Martinez is a nurse. Intense occupational and physical therapy is exhausting, but it is making a difference.
“It’s crazy that what used to be so easy takes so much energy,” Nikki said, taking a break after working with a therapist. “Got to squeeze this, think about that, do this. I can’t feel anything, and they’re like squeeze you’re butt, and I’m like, – 'I don’t know if I’m squeezing it or not!'”
After spending their honeymoon in Hawaii hospitals, Nikki’s new husband, Will, remains by her side at every therapy session. He said he knows why she is defying every odd. “It’s obvious isn’t it?” he asked. “Her personality.”
They have three children from previous relationships – a 14-year-old daughter along with 8-year-old and 10-year-old sons. “Kids are definitely the motivating factor,” she said. “I don’t want to go back home and make a lot of changes to our lifestyle. I want to get back to being 100%.”
While Nikki is focused on their kids, Will said his new wife is his rock. “I was like, why not me? I can endure this,” he said. But after watching Nikki’s determined recovery, “I knew that she was stronger than me,” he added.
“If we can get through this, we’ll be OK,” Nikki said.
“I thought if we could just make it through raising a teenage girl, that would be the hardest challenge known to man, but this might be a close second,” Will said with a laugh.
While Nikki’s recovery has been impressive, battles are still ahead. She faces another surgery to repair damage that is now more visible since some of the swelling in her neck has eased.
Friends are organizing several fundraisers, including a night at Chick-fil-A at the Gates of Prosper on November 5, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. More information is available on a Facebook page dedicated to Nikki’s progress.
“We were told the other day we literally went through our vows in a matter of days,” Nikki said. For better, for worse, through sickness and in health, they’ve proven that “I do” truly means “we will.”