Injured Veteran Keeps Up His Fight, Deciding To Live | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Injured Veteran Keeps Up His Fight, Deciding To Live

Play associated audio

A spinal injury left Iraq War veteran Tomas Young paralyzed below the waist in 2004. Further medical complications a few years later made him quadriplegic.

Although Young had enlisted two days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he became an outspoken anti-war activist.

KCUR's Frank Morris spoke with him in April, after Young announced he would refuse medication and his feeding tube until he died.

"I decided that I was no longer going to watch myself deteriorate," Young said at the time.

But somewhere along the way, he had a change of heart.

"I just came to the conclusion that I wanted some more time with my wife," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "And I decided that I really don't have the chutzpah to go ahead and do away with myself."

Claudia Cuellar has been "an amazing wife," he says. "Everything a man could ask for in a partner, I have found in a 5-foot-2-and-a-half-inch Colombian woman that is just a spitfire and incredible."

But Cuellar says she's the lucky one.

"Even though I'm technically his caregiver, he's really the one that's carried me. He's been so — as a partner — so patient with me," she says. "I'm kind of, a little bit on the crazy side. He's just given me the space to be myself. So we definitely feel like it's a joint partnership, like we're here to support each other as human beings."

The couple now lives in Portland, Ore. On New Year's Eve, they are going to a party at the Portland Art Museum.

"We're really excited about dressing up and just rolling over one block to the museum and, you know, having a good time and looking forward to whatever time we can be together," Cuellar says.

Young says he wants those who are following his story to know he's "hanging in there."

"If you're in life and you start to think things are a little too rough to handle," he says, "just think of me and what I go through, and you realize that hey, I don't have it so bad."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

This Weekend, Experience The Enduring Power Of 'The Millstone'

Margaret Drabble's The Millstone, set in the 1960s, tells the story of a young, unmarried woman who finds herself pregnant. Author Tessa Hadley says this 50-year-old novel is a weekend must-read.
NPR

Italian Cheese Lovers Find Their Bovine Match Through Adopt A Cow

The cheeses of the Italian Alps are prized for their flavor. But the tradition of cheese-making here is dying off. Now remaining farmers are banding together around an unusual adoption program.
WAMU 88.5

Hogan's Pick For Transportation Secretary To Get Second Day Of Scrutiny

Lawmakers in Maryland's executive nominations committee didn't get in all the questions they had for Pete Rahn during his confirmation hearing last week, so they will take another pass Monday.

NPR

A Neuroscientist Weighs In: Why Do We Disagree On The Color Of The Dress?

Robert Siegel speaks with Dr. Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College, about the dress that has the whole Internet asking: What color is it?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.