VIEW FROM INSIDE SCI (by Spinal Cord Injury patient Foster Hall):

As a former floor nurse, at the Albuquerque VA hospital
-In 1974, there were units with as many as 50 patients and no SCI unit until 1990.
-In 1981, a VA neurologist gave me 6-24 months to live. As a Vietnam combat veteran, and Head Nurse of our Renal Dialysis Unit, I thought I’d seen enough Heaven and Hell in my 35 years of life.

I knew little of life as a quadriplegic, on a life support ventilator (a breathing machine) which has kept me alive for the last 13 years in our truly wonderful Zia Spinal Cord Injury Center.

I didn’t volunteer for this mission, as I had done in Vietnam, but I had promised my two younger sons to live another five years to see them graduate from high school. I had planned to return home but life on a ventilator was far more complicated than I had anticipated.

Thanks to Dr. Kurt Fiedler, and a persistent ex-wife, after two plus months in our SCIU, I was transferred to Zia SCI Inpatient Unit. The first year was very difficult – c-dif, revision surgeries of tracheotomy and stomach tube – it was an ouch-o-rama year.

Thanks to dedicated SCI staff and Respiratory Therapists, I saw my sons graduate high school, college and start successful careers.

I share this personal story – as a VA RN and SCI quadriplegic – to establish my credibility to praise, criticize or comment on issues affecting our care.

BTW> If you rent the movie THE MEN, you’ll get the feel of a post WWII SCI ward.


For those who don’t know, Zia SCI Center, as are the rest of America’s hospitals and healthcare services, is facing the crisis of a RN and healthcare staffing shortage! Our SCI nursing staff is working hours of stressful overtime in their heroic effort and dedicated service.

Kudos to our Nurse Manager and Assistant Nurse Manager for rolling up their sleeves and working directly with patients IN ADDITION to their administrative duties.

I urge you to at least read the information in the first website cited above.
–Foster Hall

Leave a Reply