Rare disease isn't stopping 63-year-old man from living

Mike Jezdimir, 63, has been living with Transverse Myelitis since he was a teenager. (

Mike Jezdimir has been living with Transverse Myelitis since he was a teenager. {}The disease, known to affect the spinal cord and cause paralysis, has taught him valuable lessons about life and overcoming difficult circumstances.{}

"I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. I just have to do it my way," said the 63-year-old Jezdimir.{}{}The condition has left him with no sensation in his lower extremities. He says the disease came on suddenly. {}One day he was in good health. The next day he couldn't walk.{}"I took a nap and within six hours I was paralyzed from the neck down," said Jezdimir.{}In spite of his limited mobility, he remained motivated to have a meaningful life.{}Jezdimir met his wife of more than 40 years after his diagnosis.{}"I was engaged to someone else at the time. I just saw this guy and thought he's an amazing person. He had more of a soul and story. {}So, needless to say...42 years later here we are," said Lou Ann Jezdimir.{}The two went on to raise a family and educate others about Transverse Myelitis through his foundation. Researchers are just beginning to gain more insight into how the disease works and contributing factors. UAB's School of Medicine has a department dedicated to studying the disease.{}{}"...within the last 5 years, we've understood how the immune system infiltrate into the central nervous system and this has come about because of research done on multiple sclerosis," said Tara DeSilva, Assistant Professor at UAB.{}Doctors believe a chemical imbalance in the body may contribute to T.M. but additional research is needed. They do know that T.M. does not discriminate as it affects men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.{}"The amount of repair or sort of recovery some patient has depends on patient to patient," said DeSilva.{}Jezidmir has made tremendous strides thanks to regular exercise in his home gym. He credits his good attitude and strong support system for helping him live with a disease that someone would find a death sentence.{}"Don't just sit there and become a vegetable. Go out there and make a life for yourself," said Jezdimir.{}