Jillian sustained a C2 spinal cord injury from a car accident when she 19 months old, leaving her a quadriplegic. Growing up in Middletown, NJ, she started playing poker when she was only in the single digits. Jillian’s nurse taught her how to play blackjack and “5 card” poker to get her mind off of how sick she was during the day. When she went away to college, her physical therapist taught her how to play “Texas Hold’em.” During the rest of her college years, Jillian played for fun at least once a month at different people’s houses, all the while learning many poker skills. Jillian graduated from the University of Miami with a BBA, majoring in marketing and management, with an undying passion for poker!
mobileWOMEN.org interviews Jillian:
MW: For those unfamiliar with the C2 level of the spine, could you please explain your injury level? What can you do independently? What do you need help with?
JO: A C2 level means that I have no feeling from the neck down. I can feel pressure/pain in my stomach and my back. I can move my head and have full brain function. Everything else in my daily life I need assistance with, from my 24-hour RN’s, family, and friends. The rare aspect of my injury is that I can breathe on my own without the assistance of a respirator. It’s very difficult to sleep without a respirator, though, so I am on a Bi-pap machine, which gives me minimal help.