By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN who once dreamt of becoming a model was left PARALYSED from the neck down after she was ACCIDENTALLY SHOT as she celebrated Christmas but says that her injuries signalled a new beginning for her life, not the end.
Nyree Stevens-Credle (28) from New York, USA, was out celebrating Christmas Day 2009 with her friends when an altercation broke out between one of Nyree’s friends at the time and someone else at the party. When Nyree’s group of friends left the event, her friend was being followed by the person at the party who she had an earlier argument with and to Nyree’s shock, her friend pulled out a gun in defence and the whole group started to run away together.
As Nyree stepped up onto the curb she was accidentally shot in the neck and she remembers falling to the ground, her whole body going numb and people rushing to get her to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Nyree woke up in hospital two days later and initially had no idea that she was paralysed as doctors told her it was the pain killers that were making her feel like she couldn’t move but a few days later her family broke the news to her that she had completely severed her spinal cord at C3-C4 and was now quadriplegic.
Nyree had once dreamt of becoming a model and travelling the world and was devastated by the news because she thought that she would never be able to achieve her dreams as she had to adjust to a new life where she relied on people to help dress her, bathe her and feed her.
Whilst adjusting to her life changing injuries was emotionally and physically difficult, Nyree is now a mentor for people who have recently become disabled through injury to show them that their injuries don’t have to signify the end of their life, but the start of a brand-new one.
“On December 25, 2009, I went out with friends to celebrate Christmas. Little did I know that this was going to end in a horror story. Someone who I considered a friend got into an altercation with another person and they began to exchange words inside the party,” said Nyree.
“When we were leaving, they began to follow my friend. She then pulled out a gun and that’s when we all began to run. As I tried to step onto the curb I just fell to the ground. I knew something was not right because my body went numb, all I remember is that I was praying to God saying, ‘please don’t let me take my last breath here’.
“People were trying to put me in a car to rush me to the hospital and at first I thought I got shot in the head but I was wrong because that’s how hard I hit my head on the curb when all I was trying to do was get a cab and go home because I had to work the next day.
“When I woke up two days later I had all types of tubes down my throat, and I was in massive pain and I was aware that I had been shot. I could not eat or drink anything for days. It was like torture.
“I was in a room by myself with no TV or nothing. I couldn’t even talk because I had a tracheostomy. So everyone had to read my lips, it was such a difficult time for me.
“I had no idea that I was paralysed, at first they told me it was the medication that had me feeling like I couldn’t move. My family finally broke the news to me and I was in disbelief. I’ve never met anyone in a wheelchair that was paralysed from getting shot so that was the last thing on my mind.
“It affected me not only mentally but physically and emotionally, I had gone from not depending on anyone to needing people to help me with absolutely everything and it really took its toll on me.”
Nyree was in hospital from December 26 to January 8, before she was transferred to a rehabilitation centre for two months before being allowed home in March 2009. The person who shot her was sent to prison for eight years and has now been released.
Since becoming disabled, Nyree has met other people living with disabilities who have helped her to accept her own circumstances and she is determined to enjoy the life she has and has even been skiing, parasailing and skydiving which is something she never thought would have been possible.
“Since I have been with my disability, I’ve learnt so much about many other disabilities and I see many people who are in a worse situation than me. I’m still able to voice my opinions and tell people the things I might need with help,” she said.
“I’m able to still go outside and enjoy life. Some people are less fortunate, so this helps me accept my injury.
“It’s so important to be there for others and to have them share their stories. I just try to show them that this is not the end, just a new beginning to a new life.
“I hope to become a role model and influence to many people with disabilities, I would love to show them that this is not the end you can still live a normal life, just a different type of normal. I would like to become an advocate for people with disabilities.
“If you can’t stand up stand out. Always keep hope and faith, never give up on yourself.
“Remember God only gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/sittin_pr3ttii/