Mike Droter, a man paralyzed on vacation just after proposing to his girlfriend, has one goal: to stand at the altar at his wedding. Given the extent of his injury, it sounds impossible. But Mike has already defied all of his doctor’s expectations.
Mike’s vacation to Honolulu with Jordan Lovas started out as a dream come true. The perfect getaway got even better when Mike popped the big question and Jordan excitedly said “yes.”
The following day was the couple’s last day on the island before heading home to Citrus Heights, California. And that’s when the dream vacation turned to a nightmare.
Mike headed back into the water to catch one more wave on his surfboard as Jordan packed up their beach bags. Startled screams turned Jordan’s attention to the water, where she saw bystanders pulling her fiancé’s from the water.
“It was absolutely terrible. You can tell that he was completely lifeless,” Jordan recalled. “It was literally a dead body on the beach. I was flailing all over him and they literally picked me up and threw me off of him.”
While out in the water, a wave flipped Mike, slamming his head into the ocean’s floor. The impact fractured his C1 vertebrae — one of the worst spinal cord injuries someone can have.
“I immediately knew I was paralyzed,” he said. “I remember trying to swim out of the ocean and I couldn’t move — I couldn’t swim, I couldn’t do anything.”
Doctors called Mike’s injuries “the worst of the worst.” And the paralyzed prognosis didn’t look good. They said he’d never walk, talk, or eat again. Friends and family rallied around him, and Jordan called for prayers.
“Please just keep him in your prayers. He’s so strong, just needs some of our help right now,” Jordan wrote on social media.
With such a grim outlook, it would have been easy to give up. But Mike remained positive, determined to make progress. And folks kept praying.
Six weeks after the accident, Mike spoke his first words, astounding the doctors. Two months later, he could drink water on his own rather than relying on an IV. And three weeks after that, he could wiggle one of his thumbs!
“Doctors said that this was going to be it,” Mike said. “They told me to start an online business and just accept it.”
But Mike kept pushing, remaining positive. He even started thumb wrestling — an amazing feat considering he’d been told he’d never regain any mobility below his chin. Mike wasn’t going to let “paralyzed” be the final word.
“How is this happening?!” Jordan wrote on Facebook regarding the video of she and Mike thumb wrestling. “Everyone’s prayers and miracles are happening. Being told everyday from the beginning that having the worst spinal cord injury he would never move past his injury… his chin. And here we are party rockin with the right thumb and now index finger!!!!!”
Mike finally returned home roughly 3 months after the accident that changed everything. Though he maintained his positive attitude, adjusting to this new way of life was tough.
“I had a dog that I loved who I had for 10 years and he didn’t even look at me the same,” he said. “I wasn’t able to pet him or throw a ball. He neglected me for about three weeks. I was in my home and not able to do the normal things that I could before.”
The two had yet to say their marriage vows, but Jordan proved her love was true, staying by Mike’s side through sickness and health. She quit her job so she could stay home taking care of Mike.
Because Mike relies on help from a ventilator to breathe, he says insurance won’t pay for physical therapy because of liability issues. But Jordan wasn’t about to give up that easy! Jordan came up with a fitness plan for Mike, and helped him do physical therapy at home while she searched for other options.
Determined to help the man she loves so dearly, Jordan began petitioning a local physical training company that helps people with spinal cord injuries called SCIFIT.
“It was difficult for us to get in there too because they also don’t take people on ventilators,” he says. “But Jordan sent them all of these videos of me exercising and they agreed to meet with us.”
When they saw how much progress Mike had already made on his own, the company agreed to work with him. Jordan is comes with Mike every day due to liability reasons, which she gladly agreed to do. Donations to a GoFundMe account helps with the out of pocket costs for the training, which totals around $2,000 a month.
Mike’s relentless persistence against being paralyzed is paying off. He continues to make amazing unexpected strides.
“I already see so much improvement,” Mike says. “A lot of things are coming back. They actually have hope I’ll walk again. My doctors are extremely shocked. When I went to show [my main doctor] my movements, she started crying.”
And some big goals motivate Mike to keep going. He trains hard in the hopes he’ll be able to stand at the altar on his upcoming wedding day, where he hopes to be able to put the ring on Jordan’s finger.
“We can’t sleep next to each other and cuddle,” he says. “But when I get these movements back, all of the sudden I’m like, ‘Wow, I really might be able to put my arm around my fiancée,’ or ‘I might be able to stand next to her at my wedding.’ That’s what keep’s us going. The movement and progression.”
Each victory, no matter how small, spurs the couple on. Little things we often take for granted, like holding hands.
“I got to hold her hands for the first time about two months ago,” Mike recalled. “We both cried and then we video taped it and then we laughed. It was an amazing moment.”
So, while the future is uncertain, one thing is for sure. This couple shares such a deep love! No matter what tomorrow holds, they will face it together.
“For the first time we’re hearing positive things,” Jordan says. “We’re ready for our lives if nothing changes, but we’re not ready to give up. We’re going to be okay — we’re in this together.”
h/t: God Updates
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Dad Takes Son With Disabilities to Skate Park, Then They Have A Ball