Senior Aylin Pintor Suffered Paralysis Following a Car Accident

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other


Credit to Ella Manthey

Senior Aylin Pintor was involved in a car accident last January. Pintor underwent surgery to correct breaks that occurred in her vertebrae. When she left the hospital in the following weeks, she was able to walk.

The cold concrete pressed against her back as the EMT pulled up her grey sweatshirt to inspect the damage. Everything seemed normal, except for a baseball-sized bruise forming on the center of her back. The real pain hadn’t started yet. Even as she was being loaded into the ambulance, the EMT’s had no real idea of the damage done to her spine. It wasn’t until they started driving and the adrenaline wore off, that the at first dull, but later excruciating pain started to set in.

Senior Aylin Pintor was involved in a two car collision on Jan. 22, 2018 that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Since the day of the accident, it has been affecting all aspects of her life.  She was taken to Saint Louis Children’s Hospital following the accident for treatment. After arriving and receiving a handful of X-rays, it seemed like every doctor in the building was swarming around Pintor, removing her clothes and prepping her for surgery. While waiting, Pintor watched and listened as doctors told her parent’s that she may never be able to walk again. This news made Pintor realize that she would be spending months and months in physical therapy, and that her injuries would be adding on to the stress in her parents lives.

“I felt like I had disappointed them in a way,” Pintor said.

Following her operation, Pintor found that she had broken every vertebrae in her spine from the thoracic region to the lumbar, nearly half her back. Finding out that she would have to learn  to walk again was devastating news for Pintor. It was almost as painful as the near constant “pins and needles” pain that plagued her from the waist down. Because of her condition, Pintor was on an IV drip of Morphine, Oxycontin, and a cycle of high-dosage Tylenol every four hours. Though Pintor hated that she was dependent on medication to stop her pain and was frustrated that her body hadn’t become used to living with it yet, she would administer the highest possible dosage of Morphine to herself through a button attached to an IV until she hit the limit.

“It made my body cool off,” Pintor said. “I didn’t feel any pain, and that’s what I liked about it. But it got to a point where doctors were watching to make sure I didn’t get addicted to it.”  

Seeing Pintor attached to an IV along with other monitors and tubes was a jarring sight for friends and family. Particularly her friend, senior Ivon Diaz.  

“Walking into the room and seeing everything she was hooked up to and how she wasn’t herself was kind of heartbreaking for me,” Diaz said.

Pintor spent nearly three weeks in the hospital directly following the accident. In this time, she awoke everyday between 6 and 7 a.m. for doctors to check on how the night before went and discuss further treatment. This was followed by physical and occupational therapy for a handful of hours before she had to do laps around the hallways. For Pintor, physical therapy was grueling. It was easy to become frustrated about her newfound inability and the pain she experienced if she didn’t have any medication. By the end of her stay, Pintor found that she was able to walk long hallways and climb exactly 12 stairs. The process of getting to that point was hard. Despite her success, Pintor found the whole experience of learning to move on her own rather odd.

“It was like teaching a baby how to do everything again,” Pintor said. “Which is weird.”

Now that she was out of the hospital and had accomplished the feat of walking, her once rapid progress came to a near halt. Only the little parts of getting better are left to go. Though she was happy to now only need a wheelchair for long distances, this slow down in activity sent Pintor into a depression about her situation, she felt like she was stuck. Her depression played into an overall feeling of frustration about all the setbacks Pintor now had. As a self-described independent person, relying on friends and family to always carry her things and walk with her was irritating.

“I was in denial,” Pintor said. “I didn’t want to accept that I can’t walk or couldn’t walk or maybe I wasn’t going to be able to walk. I would see my friends on snapchat hanging out, people didn’t realize it was the little things that I missed.”

Another frustration of her’s was school. By the time she returned to FHN in May of the 2017-18 school year, Pintor had missed nearly an entire semester. During her initial stay at the hospital, Pintor recalls some teacher’s being understanding of the situation but found that others had little sympathy. According to Pintor, one teacher was pressuring her to finish a presentation while she was still on a lot of medication in the ICU. Pintor decided it was best to put off her work until she could use the HomeBound program to catch up in her classes. HomeBound is a program that allows students who can’t be at school for long periods of time to stay up to date in their classes.

“It was hard and took a lot of time because it was still hard for me to sit up for long periods,” Pintor said.

Pintor had missed seeing her friends at school, which is what made coming back this semester that much sweeter. Now a senior, she branches out just the slightest bit more. She tries to enjoy her final year in high school and is grateful for the ability to be back in school. Pintor has become very accepting of her situation. She understands that her life has been forever changed by her spinal injuries but tries not to let that prevent her from making the most out of life and learning important lessons from her experiences.

“My whole mentality changed from this,” Pintor said. “I’m more open minded now, and I’m much more understanding of other people now than I was before.”