Life Net rushed Billy Moyle from the accident scene outside of Nebraska City to Creighton University Medical Center. The trauma team was activated and standing ready. Unlike many of the patients brought here, the 25-year-old was alert and talking but asking: "Why can't I feel my legs, guys?"
Up until Thursday, November 1st, Billy was considered one of the top 25 amateur skateboarders in the country. He was driving home to Omaha when his F-450 truck was crushed by a cement truck. Rescuers worked for a long time extricating him from the wreckage. As he lay in the trauma bay, he had no feeling from his waist down. "My first thought was will I skateboard again? I fell in love with it on my 12th birthday. Things will be a lot different now. I'm this guy in the bed."
Billy surprised everyone in the trauma center and again later in intensive care by staying upbeat and calm. "This morning when I woke up, I was just happy." He says he cried once, a couple of days after the accident, because there was "so much confusion." He knows he has a lot of rehab ahead and he knows his chances of walking again are less than 5 percent. "But I don't ask, ‘Why me?' It was me."
November 29th and Billy is coming back to CUMC to have the stitches in his back removed. He flies through the front door in his wheelchair, his mom trailing behind. Both of them are smiling big.
Billy can now feel his toes and he feels pressure when he squeezes his ankle.
He calls his paralysis "humbling" and says his big problem is he's "thinking way too far in the future. I have to slow my mind down and let my body catch up. I have to live in the moment."
Two tattoos that he had inked on his arms in Wyoming last year keep him upbeat when he feels himself start to slip. The one on his left arm shows a raccoon on crutches with one leg bandaged. He drew the design himself for the tattoo artist. On his other arm are the words: "Hey you—everything's going to be okay." He doesn't know why he chose those specific tattoos so many months ago, but knows "everything's going to be okay" no matter what happens.
More inspiration came from an unexpected place. John Cardiel, considered one of the world's top skateboarders, called him in his hospital room. Billy had never met the professional skateboarder but was moved that an idol would go to the trouble to find him. Cardiel urged him on; he'd suffered a paralyzing injury just like Billy's in 2003 and was told he'd never walk again. After five months in hospital rehabilitation and a year in a wheelchair, he's walking again now.
Billy isn't counting on skateboarding like he used to. He's grateful for the 13 years he had: "I just want to roll on a skateboard. I don't have to do the tricks I used to."
Doctors can't predict his outcome but Billy's thrilled that he's regained some sensation. He pulls up a picture on his phone of his truck that was crushed like an accordion in the accident, then points to his wheelchair: "I'm okay with that. I'm glad to be alive. This is my life."