Arash Bayatmakou: Determined To Assert His Independence

About Me ShotTake pause to consider the meaning you attach to “independence.” For our forefathers, it signified freedom from arbitrary, non-representative government. To me, it represents autonomy over my body and decisions….despite strident assertions of muscles resisting attempts at dominion. For Arash Bayatmakou, it means the ability to walk across a room, a simple freedom stolen from him by spinal cord injury. He finds himself in a state of rebellion against the lesser goal of “as independent as possible” repeatedly imposed by the medical establishment.

Prior to sustaining his injury, Arash was a vigorous athlete in peak condition who relished physical challenges and daring feats. One year ago, just three days after a 60 mile backpacking trip through the Sierras, his world turned upside down when he sustained a broken spine falling from a third story apartment balcony. His injury required seven hours of surgery involving incisions in the front and back of his neck and reconstruction of his upper spine.

Although warned by doctors to prepare for the very real possibility of never walking again, Arash entertains a fierce determination to heal his body notwithstanding paralysis from the chest down. Leaving no stone unturned, he’s embraced a grueling, multifaceted rehabilitation that’s included functional integrated therapy, intensive neuro-acupuncture therapy, and more traditional physical and occupational therapy.

As he painstakingly crawls up the fiercest mountain he’s ever climbed, Arash battles not only a battered body but also a heartless health care system that recklessly disregards the specific treatment needs of individual patients. Since he left the hospital, his health insurer has arbitrarily granted 6 weeks of 45-minute weekly physical therapy sessions when Arash is fighting for the comeback of his life. Though his requests for additional physical/occupational therapy or any kind of alternative therapy are repeatedly denied, Arash perseveres.

We rely on our aspirations to persist through frustration. The unresponsiveness of the health care establishment interferes with more than our medical care, it messes with our hope. Based on cost considerations, insurance companies have drastically reduced the allowable time for spinal cord rehab and an overriding efficiency has seeped from the rule makers and administrators into the attitudes of health care professionals, who tend to focus on functionality rather than full recovery. Hence “as independent as possible.” Arash’s hope derives, by necessity, from a wellspring deep inside himself.

Arash welcomes the slightest movement in his legs, even an involuntary twitch or spasm, shedding new light on mine. Every inch forward – or wiggle of toe – is a tremendous stepping stone on his path to recovery. My fervent wish is for Arash to stand victorious achieving his goal of independence. His personal fortitude and single-minded focus are beacons illuminating the way.

Accompany Arash on his journey at Arash Recovery.

Read about Arash’s struggles with his medical insurers in the Huffington Post. This is an eye-opening article by my friend, Gregory G. Allen.

Check out Arash “walking” for the first time since his accident in Ekso Bionics’ “Wearable Robot,” an incredible new technology promising to transform lives.

12 responses to “Arash Bayatmakou: Determined To Assert His Independence

  1. The power of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising. Someone once said ‘It’s a tough life but someone’s got to live it.

    • Paddy, The human soul is incredibly resilient. I feel honored to have met Arash along my journey. His grit and determination serve to inspire me and it’s my pleasure to share his story. I can only hope Arash achieves his goal and walks independently again. His issues certainly put my Dystonia in perspective. In my book, he’s one sure winner as a human being. -Pamela-

  2. Hi dearest Pamela ~ this is such a wonderful tribute to wonderful Arash. I too feel honored to know him here through this past year… and have so much faith that he will achieve his goals of recovery. Thank you my beautiful friend ~ the support we offer one another here is very powerful. Truly blessed walk my own path along with such warriors of light ~ x
    Love to you ~ x RL

    • Robyn, It’s rather remarkable that each of us found our way to Arash and his incredible story. We do indeed inhabit a small world. I’m grateful for everyone I’ve encountered as part of my journey. When I began blogging, I’d no idea of the incredible people I was about to encounter and the new friendships I’d forge. Though we each hold our small corner of the world and struggle with different health issues, at the same time we’ve so much in common and offer one another invaluable support. You are certainly a blessing in my life. xx -Pamela-

  3. Very inspiring. Thank you.!

    • Hey Ian, So nice to see you here. My blog truly goes beyond movement disorder and it’s my pleasure to introduce some of the amazing people I’ve met through my activism. Certainly, these stories help us put our lives – and health issues – in perspective. Take care. -Pamela-

  4. angela harshbarger

    I admire his courage. I know insurance companies can be difficult.

    • Hi Angela, There’s a lot wrong with our health care system that isn’t being addressed. The central value should be patient care not profit. Health insurers, employers and our government must respect how medical treatment is individualized (or so we hope). One size fits all just doesn’t work. Some people don’t need any therapy over the course of a year while others require multiple ongoing therapies. Many of my friends never see a specialist while I sport multiple specialists. That’s one of the reasons I do Dystonia Advocacy Day, I want to communicate our specific needs when it comes to health care. Best to you. -Pamela-

  5. Wow…we should all have that determination. Sadly, I work in the insurance industry in which injured workers’ are constantly being denied treatment for their injuries…it is a sad sad struggle both physically , mentally , emotionally and spiritually…I wish him all the best 🙂

    • Jan, So lovely to hear from you here. Arash is a lesson in human determination and perseverance. He’s one of the people I’ve met along my blogging journey who’s inspired me and I wanted to share his story and help him get the word out about his struggles and triumphs. It’s a travesty when the health care system disregards the needs of patients in the interest of cost considerations. What we need is a health care system that cares about patients more than turning a profit. We can only hope that if we speak up, someone will eventually listen. -Pam-

  6. maida robarge

    I am feeling sorry for myself but have nothing compared to Arash!

    • Hello Maida, Lovely to hear from you again. Arash’s story certainly helps put life in perspective. I find his determination to move forward utterly inspiring. Please remember you’re not in this alone, there’s a whole community that understands those crazy Dystonia days. Hopefully, you’ll have a better day tomorrow. Sending you warm wishes. -Pamela-

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