Cape Town – Almost six years since the accident that left Marco Pietrowski paralysed he is today able to take a short walk up the road with the assistance of a stroller.
Pietrowsky, a professional fitness model and personal trainer, was involved in a car crash in December 2013 that left his C3 and C4 vertebrae in his neck dislocated, and fractured his C5. He had surgery and doctors were unable to say if he would make a full recovery, but a determined Pietrowski has made great strides in his recovery.
“I’m still going to walk on stage. I’m going to come back,” he said – even though his view of his body has changed since the accident.
“I’ve realised there’s much more to life, but I want to do it just one more time,” he said.
Being wheelchair-bound and unable to use his hands he relies on the help of others for everyday tasks such as brushing his teeth and getting dressed. However his fiancée, Lyndal Cilliers, said it was amazing that he still kept the brightest smile on his face.
“You would imagine that this would break a person. But instead he continues to hold on to his faith in God. On his right leg, he has a tattoo that was done many years before the accident which reads ‘I walk by faith’; never did Marco ever imagine that he would be living this scripture out physically,” she said.
Pietrowski said he had given up on relationships until he met his fiancée, who has been fully supportive of him and takes on all the challenges they face together.
“It is not an easy life with all the medical problems that come up from time to time; we have had numerous emergency runs to hospitals from kidney infections,” Cilliers said.
Pietrowski said he had been making use of funds provided by the Road Accident Fund towards his recovery where he would attend sport science in Rondebosch and do various exercises to gain strength.
However, of late he had run out of funds due to hospital bills and had been housebound for six months. Having to sell off everything they owned, including his car, had been heartbreaking, he said.
He recently completed a course at Quadriplegic Association of South Africa where he attempted to drive an adapted vehicle. He said it was extremely difficult as he had minimal use of his hands.
“A car is the one thing that I need to gain my independence and to feel more a part of normal society,” he said.
He added that he was determined to get back to personal training and was still involved in the fitness industry where he has judged at various shows.
“Marco still possesses the knowledge and skills it takes to be an athlete and it brings him joy to share this knowledge and get others to reach their greatest potential. It is still his dream to be back in the gym doing what he loves,” Cilliers said.
“To all of those who have not given up and have kept motivating him, thank you. Every message on social media, every visit, every phone call, every little thing you do along the way helps his recovery,” Cilliers said.