In 2018, on another routine work day as a maintenance director for Walker County facilities, Marvin Cannon was on the roof of one of his precinct buildings, overseeing a repair, when he stepped through a pane of transparent fiberglass that had blended in with the roof, and continued to fall twenty-five feet to the concrete building floor. Or this is what he is told. As Mr. Cannon recalls, the moment he realized he was falling – he lost consciousness. When he awoke, his life had drastically changed: though somehow no bones had been broken below his waist, there was severe damage to the right side of his body – including a nearly shattered elbow that continues to cause problems today – not to mention a number of vertebrae that had been battered in the fall, resulting in Mr. Cannon’s need for a wheelchair. A wheelchair which most of his eleven doctors warned him that he might have to get used to – permanently.
This is the groundwork that had been laid for Mr. Cannon – mentally – when he first arrived at Physical Therapy Associates. It’s almost no wonder that, as Mr. Cannon openly admits, he had “absolutely no confidence” that he would ever walk again that first day. Anyone who has suffered from such a massive injury before – or anyone who has witnessed first-hand its detrimental effects on others – can attest to this, to the sense of complete deflation that can sometimes overwhelm individuals in the beginning stages of treatment. Full rehabilitation can seem like a distant fairy tale, especially to someone in a wheelchair.
But over the course of his treatment, we were able to help instill the necessary self-confidence in Mr. Cannon, and, suddenly, things began to change. As Mr. Cannon says: “Once I got it in my mind that I wanted to do it, and when I realized that I could do it – everything turned around.” “Everything turned around” to the point that, if you were to meet the man today, it would seem unimaginable that he could be so recently involved in such a traumatic accident. After suffering major spinal injuries – and after hearing doctor after doctor warn him again and again of a lifetime of paralysis – Mr. Cannon walks taller today than he ever has.
That’s not to say that the road has been easy, or that Mr. Cannon does not still face pains as a result of his injury on a daily basis. But this matters little to Mr. Cannon in scope of what he’s had to endure. And you can hear it in his voice – the pure joy, a renewed gratitude for living, even. As Mr. Cannon will tell you, life – every day – is a gift, and a fragile one too. For most of us, especially the younger crowd, it’s commonplace to coast through day-to-day life unaware of this fact, fully-occupied by the daily hustle and bustle of errands, responsibilities, dinner parties, completely oblivious to the grim reality that it could all change so quickly. Mr. Cannon’s story is a testament to this grim reality, but, more importantly, it’s a testament to the rebirth, the sense of new life, that can grow out of these darker, more painful moments of our lives. Mr. Cannon even goes so far as to call it just that – “it’s a new life,” he says, and it’s one he is certainly enjoying.
At Physical Therapy Associates, we realize that the task of recovery can seem daunting, impossible, even, as it first appeared to Mr. Cannon that first day he rolled his wheelchair – or his “turtle shell,” as he calls it – into our facilities. But over time, with resiliency, the right habits, and with us cheering you on in your corner, we believe that the “impossible” becomes manageable.
Today, despite “having more hardware than Ace Hardware,” Mr. Cannon soaks up every second he can with his wife and his family, and gives all glory to God whenever given the chance.
Author Clay Williams