Jockey Martin breathing somewhat easier
Aug 2nd, 12
Martin went headfirst into Ruidoso Downs' dirt. The Hall of Fame jockey's neck broke in three places.
Paralyzed from his neck down, Martin received stabilizing treatments at several hospitals, including TIRR at Memorial Hermann. Since the Sept. 2 fall, he had been unable to breathe without mechanical assistance.
Most of the past year brought no major progress. As Tracey Martin described her husband's condition, "There has been nothing to make us even a little happy."
A Tulsa hospital has gifted the Martins with an occasional smile. The facility specializes in freeing people from 24/7 ventilator life. It began treating Martin two months ago.
Now he breathes unassisted for six to seven hours a day.
"He had been on a ventilator constantly since three days after the accident," said Tracey Martin, who has been at her husband's side for 11 months. "We're hoping they can get him breathing on his own for eight hours a day."
Eight hours is the treatment goal. He might reach that landmark in late August and earn a discharge.
Tracey Martin was asked not to identify the treatment facility, though Tulsa's Kindred Hospital confirmed that Martin, 57, is a patient.
Martin fits at the top of any career quarter horse jockey list: almost 3,000 wins, nearly $46 million in purses and seven All-American Futurity championships. Those numbers hold in stone because he won't ride again.
But his lifestyle can get a lot better.
"He would use the ventilator at night," Tracey Martin said. "During the day, he would breathe without assistance for those eight hours. The machine keeps people alive, but they like to be away from it for a few hours every day."
She is uncertain how much other improvement awaits her husband.
"He's still paralyzed from the neck down, but he has felt some sensation on his left side," she said.
Martin competed at about 120 pounds. Immobile and confronting several post-spill problems, he dropped 25 pounds. Today he's pushing scales the other way. An improved appetite has bumped his weight from 95 pounds to 127. A 32-pound weight gain would shock most people. Tracey Martin rejoices in it.
The Martins had someone drive them from El Paso to Tulsa in a motor coach. In a few weeks, they'll return to El Paso for further treatment.
"We don't want to stay here too long," she said. "There are sick people in a hospital."
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