Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ho-Ho-Kus Rallies to Support Mom

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ho-Ho-Kus Rallies to Support Mom

Article excerpt

HO-HO-KUS -- Life can change in an instant.

One moment, Christine Danza was kicking off the holiday season with co-workers at Catchy, a cafe in Ho-Ho-Kus. The next, a slip in her kitchen left her paralyzed and wondering if she would ever walk again.

Danza, 44, said that after the party on Dec. 1 she returned to her home in Hawthorne. It was dark, she was wearing high heels and she must have fallen. Hours later she woke up on the floor, unable to move.

"I was panicky and shocked," she said. "I thought maybe my wrought iron kitchen chair had fallen on my legs, or my nerves were pinched. It never crossed my mind that I had broken my neck."

But the worst was true. Unable to reach for her cellphone, Danza lay on her floor for nearly 18 hours before a neighbor heard her cries for help. The mother of 11-year-old twins was living alone after leaving her home of 14 years in Ho-Ho-Kus, following a separation from her husband in July.

Danza was taken to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, where she learned she had broken three bones in her spine. After surgery to fuse the vertebrae together, she was taken to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange.

When she first arrived, Danza said she could only shrug her shoulders and move her left forearm a little. By the time she left Kessler 2 1/2 months later, she said she had regained motion in her arms and hands and could move her legs slightly.

Though making significant strides, Danza said it was difficult to come to terms with the fact that her recovery would not come overnight or even in three months' time. Though doctors have not said what her prognosis is since all spinal cord injuries are different, she believes she will walk again.

"I envision my brain sending signals to different parts of my body," said Danza, who remains in a wheelchair. "I tell myself I'm going to walk again and I set short-term goals."

Along with a sunny attitude, Danza has relied on her parents, who take turns coming from their home near Pittsburgh to stay with her, and an army of friends and neighbors that have rallied around her and her family.

Renovations to make her home handicap accessible were headed up by Karl Drehwing, a Wyckoff contractor. …

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