Victoria Arlen is a triplet. Her mother gave birth to her and her two brothers. All three are mere minutes apart in age. Growing up, she was very good at sports. Victoria also loved to dance. She was a very active girl until 2006 when she was 11-years-old.
Two Rare Conditions
In 2006, Victoria was diagnosed with two rare conditions. The first is called transverse myelitis, and the other is called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Her doctors told her parents that each condition was rare and the combination of the two was incredibly rare. Due to her condition, Victoria lost the ability to eat, speak, walk, and even move any part of her body. She slipped into a vegetative state and told Victoria’s parents that she likely wouldn’t recover.
Trapped In Her Own body
For four years, Victoria was locked inside of her own body. She spent four years aware of what was going on, but she was unable to move and communicate. The doctors stated that she wouldn’t get any better and they had to feed her through a tube to keep her alive. Victoria could hear what was going on by her bedside, but she couldn’t tell her family.
Refusing To Give Up
The doctors believed Victoria to be brain dead, but her parents thought different. They set up a hospital room in their New Hampshire home, and they cared for her around the clock. She had an older brother and the two brothers who were the same age as her, and they talked to her every day. They let her know what was going on in the world. Her family’s conversations with her gave her the will to fight.
In 2010, Victoria defied all odds, and she woke up. This girl trapped in her own body for 4 years wakes up and exposes the truth she’d been forced to keep quiet. In December 2009, she first made contact with her mother. Next, she moved a finger toward her and then was able to wave her hand. Not long after, she could form words and sentences. Victoria was almost back to her old self except for her legs. She couldn’t move them. Her illness caused her brain and spinal cord to swell which caused permanent damage. The doctors said that she would be paralyzed from the waist down forever.
Returning To School
Even though Victoria couldn’t walk, she couldn’t wait to go back to school. On her first day back, the other students bullied her because of her wheelchair. She came home crying and didn’t ever want to go back. Her parents hated seeing their daughter this way, and they promised to do whatever it took to help her walk again.
Victoria always loved to swim. When she was in the wheelchair, she insisted that she would never be able to swim again. Her brothers thought different, and in 2010, they threw her in the pool. At first, she was terrified, but then she realized that she could swim. Finally, she had some freedom away from her chair.
Victoria swam all the time. In 2012, Victoria was 17-years-old, and she was part of the US team that competed in the Paralympic Olympic Games. She took home three silver medals and one gold medal. She even set a world record. She was proud of herself, and the world took notice. When she returned home from London, she was asked to be a guest lecturer. People started to recognize her everywhere she went.
In 2013, Victoria moved to San Diego so that she could participate in Project Walk. It is a program that helps paralyzed people stand on their own two legs again. Her mother went with her, and she trained hard every day. She hated being away from the rest of her family, so her family opened a Project Walk on the East Coast.
The doctors continued to tell Victoria and her family that walking would never be possible. She refused to believe this and on November 11, 2015, Victoria took her first steps. She worked hard and was then able to walk with the use of crutches. Finally, 10-years after she went into her vegetative state, she was walking on her own again. She didn’t need a wheelchair, and she didn’t need crutches. She proved the doctors wrong, and she proved that she was a survivor.
A parent’s worst nightmare is finding out that their child is seriously ill. This is what Victoria’s parents were told. They were told that their daughter would never wake up, but they refused to believe it. Rather than giving up, they took their daughter home to care for her there. Although she was in a coma, she could hear everything that was going on in her home. When she finally woke up, her parents were thrilled.
When she was told that she would never walk again, she refused to believe it. She started swimming and then she swam competitively. She won medals. Even though she was a world-class swimmer, she wanted to walk. She joined an organization called Project Walk and started making progress little by little. Not long after, she and her family started Project Walk near their home in the East Coast. Finally, Victoria was able to walk. She proved the doctors wrong and reached her goal. Her story is incredibly inspirational.