Georgia woman advocates for disabled rights after sudden accident


Marietta, Georgia, resident and former attorney Marjorie Rogers, 71, never thought much about the needs of the disabled before 2018.

“That was a happy time,” Rogers said as she reminisced on retiring in December 2017. A University of Georgia law school alum, Rogers and her husband attended the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles. Georgia had won the game and was set to play in the 2018 NCAA National Championship against Alabama.

In January 2018, Rogers was walking across the street to the courthouse with her husband Tom and other lawyers to get a judge to sign and confirm a settlement of a case, when she was unexpectedly struck by a turning truck.

“I flew in the air and landed on my head,” Rogers said. “It knocked Tom down. It could have killed him, and it could have killed me.” Rogers describes surviving as nothing short of a miracle.

“My mind was blank, there was no pain. I was above my body. My little brain was approached by the voice of my mother. My momma said, ‘You gon’ be okay honey, you’re going back home.’ I came back and I’m doing pretty doggone good right now.”

“At first, they didn’t give her much likelihood of surviving,” said Tom Rogers, Marjorie’s husband. Marjorie underwent brain surgery to reduce swelling and spent a month in the hospital. After, she was transferred to an acute care facility for two months while trying to recover.

“It was a shock, because I had just seen her a couple days prior to that,” said Jeanne Livergood, one of Marjorie’s best friends. “And then I see her a few days later. Her skulls missing, she was just not her at all. Very, very hard.”

Marjorie’s recovery 

During her recovery time, Rogers’ brain was not doing well. “She couldn’t do much talking, but every day she seemed to get a little better,” Tom said.

Rogers did not speak for over a year between her accident and recovery.

Rogers moved to a nursing home in Marietta to get off of her ventilator. About a year into her recovery, she started bariatric chamber treatment. During this process, oxygen is delivered to the chamber while air pressure increases, allowing for better lung absorption to heal bodily tissues. At the time, it had not been proven to benefit brain injuries.

After six weeks of the program, doctors saw a major improvement to Rogers’ medical condition. She went through physical therapy at the Shepherd Center for a year relearning how to perform daily tasks including laundry, cleaning, and dressing herself.

Rogers recovery was so successful that she eventually renewed her driver’s license.

“It was a very long several months and even after she was home, we weren’t sure if she would talk again or walk again … Do things that she loved to do,” Livergood said.

In the last three years, Rogers practiced physical training to coordinate her muscles. “She’s worked hard at it to get to where she’s at,” Tom Rogers said.

Using her voice 

Rogers did not speak for over a year between her accident and recovery.

“I was caught between laughing and crying most of the time, I couldn’t believe she was talking but she was so darn funny,” Livergood said. “She would get things mixed up and she would laugh at herself it was just amazing to witness her coming back.”

Since the accident six years ago, Rogers says she is happier.

“It’s a miracle that I’ve gotten so informed of my abilities and circumstances of the world,” she said. “It’s deep stuff but I’m learning a lot, I’m relaxing a lot, I’m happy.”

“Life for everybody is up and down.”
Marjorie Rogers

Since her accident, Marjorie advocates for others with disabilities. At the University of Georgia football stadium, Rogers noticed there was a problem with the accessible seating behind the student section, resulting in an inability for her to see the game from her wheelchair.

She convinced stadium personnel to remove an entire row of seats for the 2023 football season. “I was just touched,” Rogers said. “I was happy because in the future forever, people in wheelchairs will be able to see the University of Georgia kick butt.”

Rogers now campaigns to improve the accessibility of nature trails at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield.

Seeing her horse

Prior to the accident, Rogers loved riding horses.

“My biggest pleasure was going on trail rides,” Rogers said. “We love riding horses on trails. I couldn’t do that after my accident.”

After expressing her love for horses while at the Shepherd Center, she was taken to a therapeutic horse stable that accompanies individuals with brain injuries to interact or ride on horses.

On May 12, 2018, her friends brought Rogers’ horse, Red, to see her during her stay at a nursing home rehab facility in Marietta. Red was considered one of Marjorie’s “horse buddies.”

“Even though she couldn’t express anything, you couldn’t read her expression, I felt that there was recognition,” Livergood said. “I mean, she had to have recognized her horse at that point which was really good to see.”

One special visit, Rogers’ friend Janna Burdett walked Red outside of her window.

“I smiled and I thought, ‘Red, that was very sweet of her.’ There were several other patients in there who had never seen a horse or missed horses. She took the horse down in front of each window. It made the day of many people.”

On October 14, 2021, Rogers was eventually able to get back on a horse and ride for the first time since her injury.

“Life for everybody is up and down,” Rogers said. “Things come and go. Things get good and bad. And I’m having a good life.”

***

This story was originally published in Fresh Take Georgia.






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