CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It began January 18 in northwest Charlotte on the Brookshire Boulevard. Twenty-two-year-old Jesi Stracham, who lives in Iron Station, was on the back of a street bike with a friend. A woman made a U-turn in front of them, the driver of the bike didn't stop in time.
"The last thing I remember is the sound of metal crunching," Jesi tells me. "I was paralyzed on impact breaking 3 vertebrae in my back, a few ribs, my collar bone and my big toe. I punctured a... lung and was resuscitated twice."
While still in a coma, Jesi's parents signed off on giving her something called a NeuroScaffold. It's a new procedure. Really, really new. As in, Jesi would be the second person ever to get it.
A simple way to describe the process of "scaffolding" is that it implements a device into someone's spinal cord. Doctors hope that device will act as a bridge across the injured portion of the spinal cord – kind of like a bandage – in an attempt to heal it. It has shown promise in getting those who are paralyzed to walk again.
Again, Jesi is the second person in the country to have it done.
Her aunt found the first person.
His name is Jordan. He's 26 years old and lives in Peoria, Arizona.
Jordan had the scaffold three months before Jesi needed it; doctors suggested he might have good advice for the next patient.
So Jesi got Jordan's number and texted him. He texted back. They wrote about their conditions, how they got their injuries (his was on a dirt bike) and what they could and couldn't feel.
The texts slowly started getting more personal.
"They turned into FaceTime dates, as I called them," says Jesi. "Every night we'd FaceTime, some nights falling asleep together. We became closer and closer and ended up dating each other without ever meeting."
Weeks ago the president of the (very) new NeuroScaffold Foundation organized a trip to Boston for Jesi and Jordan to meet.
"My flight landed before Jordan's," Jesi says. "I chatted with others and waited. When we finally met for the first time it was like he'd been away on a trip and we had only been temporarily separated. We met great people in Boston. We helped get the Foundation off on the right foot. Together we helped raise money for whoever patients 3, 4 and 5 will be."
As for her and Jordan?
"I'm excited for our future," Her voice is smiling as she says it. "We've both seen lots of improvement that without the scaffolding we'd never have seen."
But what about THEM??
Her voice smiled bigger.
"Having this accident allowed me to find my soulmate," she answered calmly. "I wouldn't take it back for a minute."
How's that for one heck of a silver lining?
I originally posted this incredible story on my Facebook page.