Of paraplegic rider

News 9 July, 2017
  • Photo Yanick Fish
    Condemned to a wheelchair by doctors, Francis Guillemette results today of horse racing.

    Yanick Fish

    Sunday, 9 July, 2017 08:00

    Sunday, 9 July, 2017 08:00

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    VICTORIAVILLE | A young man of 23 years of the Centre-du-Québec rendered a paraplegic by a bacterium, defied the prognosis of doctors who thought he would never walk again. The experience of Francis Guillemette with the disease convinced him to abandon his studies to devote himself to his passion : race horses.

    How did you become a paraplegic ?

    In April 2013, I visited one of my friends who played for the Olympic of Gatineau. In the course of the day, we played hockey and I fell on the ice. In the evening, we went to a spa and the next morning, I had my feet numb. I think that with the bacteria, transverse myelitis, present in the spa, had a wound to enter my body.

    The bacteria attacked to the bone marrow and the longer it went and the more the numbness was rising. Went to the hospital, I could not walk. I was quickly placed on a stretcher and the nursing staff was considering me intubate when the paralysis has stopped progressing, just below my diaphragm.

    It had to be an event traumatic ?

    I was freaking out, it was really horrible not to feel the bottom of my body and not being able to move my legs, especially as I am an active person. My doctor at Victoriaville had never seen it. It is informed to his colleagues and they came to the conclusion that my chances of walking again were less than 5 %.

    What was your reaction ?

    At the beginning, it was the depressed total. My parents spoke of me to be put in a rehabilitation center. My room was in the basement, so I could not go back there. In the days that followed, I spent several resonances, magnetic, and my condition was still stable. I didn’t see the end of the tunnel.

    What is it that has changed your attitude ?

    My friends came to see me to encourage me and someone told me that it was confronted with obstacles to which one is able to cope with it. I said to myself then that I was able to cross that barrier, and I then set out to do eight hours of physiotherapy per day. It had become my job full-time. A month later, I managed to hold on to my legs.

    Photo Peter Loranger

    Francis Guillemette


    What became of your studies in accounting ?

    My state has forced me to temporarily leave my studies in accounting. I have been confined to a hospital bed for a month. I realized that life was not long enough to do things that you are not trying. I loved horses and I knew that it was what I wanted to do. Accounting, yes it is paying and there are the future, but I didn’t want to do it to please my parents.

    Do you remember the time where you could hold you on your legs ?

    As if it was yesterday. I remember releasing the bar and I started to cry. I am of course fell to the ground. It’s been over a month that I was deprived of my legs, and finally there was progress. During the weeks that followed, I gradually recovered my skills, even if he was not selling it too when I walked outside !

    Preserves you the scars of this experience ?

    I don’t always feel my feet, I can not drive manual car. My spinal cord is also vulnerable, I can’t play contact sports. I had to exchange my saddle for a bike I can’t ride a horse, I need to find me behind.

    How did you become a trainer of horses ?

    My grandfather has already done the race, it helped me a lot. I have done the necessary tests and I got my driver coach. I was already a mare named Flame Reno, I’ve driven and, gradually, I came to buy other horses. I now have eight, of which five are ready for the race.

    Are you able to live your passion ?

    Yes and, curiously, it is Flame Reno who told me the most. To say that when I bought it, I was told it was a trash can. In addition to having me helped a lot during my recovery, she has won several races, including five in succession.

    What are your goals for this career ?

    I have horses of middle class that allow me to do well in races in Trois-Rivières or Ottawa. My goal is to get horses of better quality that will draw their pin of the game in Toronto, where the purses are much more important.