Ottawa

Kanata man determined to walk again after slip leaves him paralyzed

Troy Kraus had recently lost more than 200 pounds when he had a life-changing fall on black ice outside his Kanata home in January. Now he's determined to see the ordeal as a story of overcoming life's obstacles.

'This is going to be a story of an individual overcoming an obstacle and getting back to his life,' man says

Troy Kraus, 46, had recently lost more than 200 pounds when he fell on black ice in his Kanata driveway, breaking four vertebrae in his spine. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Troy Kraus stepped out his front door in Kanata one morning last month and decided it was a beautiful day to walk to work.

Ten seconds later, the 46-year-old network engineer was lying on his back in the driveway, unable to move after slipping on black ice.

"I immediately knew it was bad, because I lost all feeling in my body," Kraus recalled. "I could move my head a little bit, and I could breathe and I could speak, but I had no feeling and no movement anywhere else."

Kraus called for help until a neighbour heard and called 911.

At the hospital, doctors told him he had broken four vertebrae in his neck that would have to be fused back together with titanium rods.

The eight-hour surgery left Kraus with limited mobility in his spine. He's now learning to manoeuvre an electric wheelchair at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre and said he's determined to make this a story of recovery.

Kraus, who has been in a wheelchair since the January fall, can't move his hands or arms but can move his feet, legs and shoulders. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Ordeal 'not a sad story'

"I was just thinking, my life just changed, I know it did," Kraus said, remembering the moments immediately after the fall.

Walking to work was a decision he had been making more regularly. Kraus underwent gastric bypass surgery in May 2015. He had adopted a new, healthier lifestyle, dropped more than 200 pounds and started a new job.

"Basically it was karma or something that said, 'You need to get into the best shape of your life because something worse is coming, and if you weigh 420 pounds you're not going to get through it,'" Kraus said.

The most difficult part was telling his family and friends, Kraus said. They had been planning a cruise vacation for later in the year, which will no longer happen, and doctors weren't optimistic about how much movement Kraus would have after the surgery.

Kraus is learning to manoeuvre an electric wheelchair at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre but said he's determined to one day walk out of the facility. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

'I'm going to walk out the door'

Kraus can't move his arms or his hands. He's learning to manoeuvre his wheelchair by blowing air into a mouthpiece. But he's encouraged to be able move his feet, legs and shoulders and said he feels more every day.

This picture of Kraus was taken before he lost 200 pounds. (Facebook)

"I don't want anybody to think of this as a sad story," Kraus said.

"This is going to be a story of an individual overcoming an obstacle and getting back to his life."

Doctors won't tell him if he will walk again, but Kraus said he's determined to try.

"I know there's a lot of people out there that are pulling for me and I'm going to succeed," he said.

"I'm going to walk out the door. I know I am."