Ryan Perry, 30, was cruising around Susquehanna River in Maryland on May 8, when he fell off the watercraft, causing water to shoot up his nose, CBS Baltimore reports.
The water carried the deadly parasite up his left sinus and into his brain. A day later, he went to the hospital.
“I ended up going to the ER the next day because it was excruciating pain,” Perry tells WMAR Baltimore. “That’s the last memory I have. I was in Upper Chesapeake for about a week and I was transported to University of Maryland Downtown.”
The amoeba then traveled through his spinal cord, leaving him immobile from the neck down.
“Thirteen hours after the transfer he was placed on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma on their Shock Trauma’s critical care ICU,” according to his GoFundMe page set up by his sister Jessica Perry.
“I tested negative for everything they could test me for,” Perry tells WMAR. “Finally, what they determined is water went up my nose when I was jet skiing. It attacked my brain, traveled to my spinal cord and paralyzed me from the neck down.”
Perry only recently returned home after three months in hospitals and two months in a rehab facility.
Now, he’s trying to get back to his life — and regaining his ability to walk after doctors doubted he would make a full recovery.
“I had a neurology appointment at the University of Maryland and my neurologist told me she can’t believe the progress I’ve made and she thinks I will make if not a full recovery pretty close to it,” he tells the outlet. “I just went back to work last week, having those freedoms, and as this entire journey has went on I’ve met a lot of people along the way who have gone through just as many bad things as I’ve gone through.”
In retrospect, Perry does remember thinking the water was dirty that day.
“You can tell the water, sometimes, has, like, some foam running on it. And you’ll see the debris running down,” Perry tells CBS.
But today, he’s just grateful to be alive.
“I almost died. It’s amazing that I made it,” Perry says. “Tomorrow’s not promised. You really just have to enjoy what you have today.”
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