OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Imagine, rolling into surgery with the hope of waking up free of back pain.
Susan Knight underwent a common outpatient procedure the first week of November.
Knight is a lifelong distance runner.
She expected to wake up feeling relieved.
But when Knight opened her eyes, she was paralyzed from the waist down.
“This is the kind of thing that happens to other people, not me,” said Knight. “You must have used some really powerful block that just hasn’t worn off yet.”
A blood clot had lodged near her spinal cord.
Doctors rushed her into a second surgery to remove the clot, but the damage was done.
Knight was paralyzed from the waist down.
“They didn’t think I would be able to walk again,” she said.
Susan’s paralysis was complete.
She had no feeling below her waist; no function in her legs, bowel or bladder.
“The spinal cord goes into a kind of shock and shuts down, and so you don’t get the impulses to feel and to move like you would normally,” said Dr. Kristi Self of INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation.
Those early days were dark.
“That was absolutely terrifying because to hear those words, that you may need to adjust to the fact that you may be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. That was frightening,” remembers Knight.
Susan Knight was not without hope.
Her hospital recovery stretched on for weeks.
Susan missed her son’s senior recital.
Christopher Knight had been finishing his last semester at the University of Oklahoma.
“They made arrangements to have Christopher come up there (to the hospital) with his guitar, and he did the whole performance for me,” Knight choked back tears. “I love my family so much.”
At Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital, Susan Knight found her stride.
She pushed past the odds.
She outworked every bad outcome.
But progress often opens the door to setback.
On Thanksgiving Day, which was day 17 in the hospital, doctors diagnosed Knight with a pulmonary embolism.
And then, she tested positive for COVID-19.
Knight would eventually discover her COVID test was a false positive, but not before she spent four days alone in the COVID ward at INTEGRIS Southwest.
“I think the most difficult part about it was that you could hear other people suffering, and they were suffering,” Knight said. “I’m sure there were people who died while I was in there and they died in all that pain and they died alone.”
Knight would spend 33 days in three different hospitals learning to walk again.
She credits the dedicated team at Jim Thorpe.
They believe her tenacity played a role, along with the support of a family who refused to give up.
“She was driven. She was disciplined and dedicated, diligent, and all those good things in her own recovery,” said Dr. Self.
Paralyzed during a pandemic, Knight faced an uncertain future and found her way home.
These days, daily strength training and coordination exercises are part of rehab at home.
Knight is grateful to God and to the blood donors who gave her life.
She is thankful for angels in scrubs who guided her journey.
Knight found strength in strangers who reached out to help, and to pray; their only connection to Susan was her famous husband.
Susan Knight isn’t a police officer, but she is the wife of a high profile Oklahoma City Police Department officer, Master Sergeant Gary Knight.
MSgt. Knight has worked in the public information office for 17 years.
Susan is an attorney who spent her career representing officers in court.
She worked 27 years as council for the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union for OKCPD.
MSgt. Knight is on the news several times a week as a spokesperson for OKCPD.
“People love Gary,” said Susan. “But nobody more than me.”
God delivered a Christmas homecoming to the Knight family right on time.
Susan Knight continues to meet with teams of doctors.
They now believe an undiagnosed blood disorder contributed to the blood clot which caused the paralysis after her initial surgery.
Knight tells us she has every confidence in her surgeon.
She has months of rehab ahead.
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