Oct 17th, 2017, 03:00 PM

Accents—Jane Robinson

By Alyssa Belton
Image Credit: Jane Robinson
A few months before Jane's arrival at AUP she was learning to walk again.

Jane Robinson, a freshman and competitive equestrian has a newfound pep in her step after being paralyzed from a rare disease for a month just last year.

Jane remembers waking up one morning with a sharp pain in both her stomach and spine. Later that same day it became difficult to walk but she managed to make it to school. The weakness in her legs got worse and within a week, she was paralyzed from the waist down. Jane and her family went to their local hospital looking for answers.

“He (the doctor) moved my toe up and down, asking me to close my eyes and describe which way it was moving. I had no idea. He touched my leg and foot in different places, and I couldn’t even feel his hand.” With Jane’s family's history of Lyme disease, her parents feared the worst.

Image Credit: Jane Robinson

After an MRI and then an ambulance ride, she found herself in the renowned Boston’s Children Hospital. Doctors analyzed Jane's MRI and diagnosed her with acute Transverse Myelitis which is a neurological disorder caused by an inflammation of the spinal chord. An everyday bacteria in her body caused her spinal chord swell, so much so that it impeded nerve function from her waist down.  She says, "Only about 1 in 227,000 people a year are affected, and some are faced with full body paralysis and permanent disability."

Since little is known about Transverse Myelitis she was being closely monitored by a team of neurologists and is still apart of a case study today. Following the diagnosis, she was treated with steroids. After several treatments, she had yet to regain any sensation in her legs. During Christmas week, an IV was inserted into her neck for a blood treatment to rid her body of the unwanted pathogens in the bloodstream. Jane finds it difficult to watch hospital shows like Grey’s Anatomy because she is not fond of blood or needles. Which made it difficult to cope with her new treatment visibly flowing in and out of her neck. 

“This treatment was painless but during the second to last treatment, I made myself sick thinking about all of the blood flooding out of my body and into the machine.”

Image Credit: Jane Robinson

Although Jane was flooded with support, gifts, and visits from her family and friends, it was far from easy. She describes, “I would sit in the bathroom at 3 am, literally praying that I could pee before the nurses would come in with a catheter, or when I sat alone on Christmas Eve in my room, watching Law & Order SVU and eating the doughnuts my friends had sent me.”

Soon after her last treatment, Jane was released but her road to recovery was not complete. She was transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation a center where many of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing came to recover. During her week stay, Jane was learning to walk again through rigorous coordination exercises. Jane admits that rehabilitation was the most challenging step in her journey but that did not deter her from reaching her goals. She chose to stay motivated and block out any stress that she might have felt to focus on being able to ride her horse again and be free to travel and attend college. 

Image Credit: Jane Robinson

Jane shares what she learned through her journey. "Overcoming this illness taught me that I cannot fail. I may make mistakes, and experience setbacks, but I have learned that pain, and disappointment, and difficult situations will only strengthen you, and there is never any failure in strength."

After extensive physical therapy, Jane has since made a full recovery and is an active member of the equestrian club.

Accents is a new cross-platform series featuring interviews with AUP students, friends, and alumni.