His smile is hot, his blue-gray eyes seem tired. Sitting in an electric wheelchair, says Samuel Koch – as good as it gets. Although he is trying to make a firm handshake, he cannot hide his handicap.
The 31-year-old sits at a large wooden table in a meeting room in the factory building of the National Theater Mannheim. His companion Simon adjusts a brilliant heat for him. Samuel Koch talks about touching meetings during rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Center in Nottwil, the love of the love for his body and faith and the love that keeps him alive.
Samuel Koch, are you cold?
Yes, I'm moving too little. And because my vegetative nervous system is destroyed, my core body is always too low.
The diagnosis after the accident must have been devastating.
I broke my neck four times, injured a carotid artery, and consequently my spinal cord was pushed by flowing blood. That's why I've been paralyzed from the shoulders since then.
They spent over a year in rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Center in Nottwil.
It was certainly one of the worst and most intense times in my life, especially since I was alone on my back for three infinite months, with my head clinging in a helical structure.
Are you still swallowing painkillers?
No, I've always resisted it. Already in my life as a young artistic gymnast, who was more exhausting than the present, pain always belonged to me. I learned to put up with the physical pain. My neck did not grow properly after the accident, so my skull still presses on the other cervix today. And because the harvest of the seventh uterine vertebra was destroyed, I still feel pain every day. In addition, the titanium cage, which holds my uterus together, is very sensitive to cold.
What was worse, the physical pain or the mental conflict with quadriplegia?
The latter bothers me so far. Sometimes I still cannot know that you will be addicted, dependent and dependent on other people throughout your life.
Did you have suicidal thoughts?
There were periods when the physical pain was very tortured. I just wanted it to stop. If an animal has pain, they also call the veterinarian and put it to sleep. It was moments when I told my mother to call the vet for me.
From what can you draw new life force?
There were various sources. First, there were therapists in Nottwil, but also friends and family, who led me to other thoughts, played with me, sang, prayed and made me laugh despite great pain. Suffering is hard to tolerate unless you experience joy. It was also important in a second phase that I was allowed to continue my studies for music, theater and media in Hanover. I needed another job and a reason to get up in the morning.
Today you are talking about a love-hate relationship with your body. Why?
My body doesn't work the way I want. In the Christian tradition of loving one's enemies, I try to treat him as carefully and lovingly as possible. In daily therapies and every minute between my repetitions and performances, we try to keep the body soft and flexible, or to relieve cramps.
Do you remember your fateful accident?
Until a few seconds before the impact, yes. Then I woke up again at the University Hospital in Düsseldorf from the artificial coma.
You describe your accident as a mistake.
Sure. I ran with my stems on my feet against a car and broke my neck four times. It is hardly a major dysfunction.
Have you taken too high a risk?
I have been active in many events with these boots. There was something no one in the world had ever done. At that time, no one knew how high the risk was or did many security experts.
Have you ever watched the video this fall?
Yes, but it was a while ago. I do not get it. I do summer results since I can think. In my training as a gymnast, with whom I started as a 6-year-old, I turned every day on different units at least 100 flashovers. With 300 workouts per year for 17 years, this results in a total of over half a million somersaults. And I have always learned that in the optimum case, the rotation of the summers is only initiated by the flight curve. But I didn't do that during the accident, it's completely illogical.
In the accident car your dad put.
It's not like we did it for the first time. I don't understand that it just happened on the flatest car of all. And with dad, with whom he has always worked best in the many other performances or exercises.
How was it four years later on one of the last games that. ,.? »- shipments returned?
They had asked me several times, and I always interrupted because I had stomach pain at the thought of it and had to go to the theater on the respective days. The production company of the Til Schweiger movie "Honey in the Head", where I was allowed to play a minor role, but then with the Staatstheater Darmstadt, my former employer, achieved a transfer. So I had to go because I had no excuse.
In the show they showed humor and said they could not say goodbye to the time due to a stiff neck.
This had nothing to do with humor, but was an objective statement of a still redeeming conclusion. I just wanted to be nice and say goodbye, because I like the ZDF people.
Did you become another person as a result of the accident?
The audience will notice me that way, perhaps because of my biography "Two Life". My life is still the same, but under completely different conditions.
In the middle of the answer, Samuel Koch suddenly stops, he looks at his smartphone and says to Simon: "I always think about getting food. Because the canteen is empty no later than 14 clock."
Where were we? – I'm still the same persona, although dear ones can rightly say I've lost my laughter. Meanwhile, I've found it in places. Today, I inevitably focuses on other things. On things that I can do. I don't always want to remember what I can't do anymore since the accident.
In your book you write that you are traveling to appreciate.
What am I? What do I define myself? What is it for me? These are questions I had already dealt with before the accident. I used to be on the trampoline for five minutes on bad days, and I was in a good mood again.
Do these questions have to do with your faith?
Faith has always played a major role. We are already loved by all our fallibility and talents, whether you make or build something. A friend of mine said that it is called "human" and not "human do".
Do you read the Bible?
Here and there. Sometimes I draw new, great things out of it. I recently read in a discussion: "Anyone who answers before he listens, shows his stupidity and makes himself ridiculous." Maybe it's not the last word in wisdom, but I liked it.
Your wife Sarah got to know you during the movie.
We met the cameras for TV-telenovela "Sturm der Liebe" and fell in love.
And two years ago you danced to the wedding. How did it happen?
It was amazing. I'm just cheesy conservative. Thanks to a trapezoidal construction, I could almost move the wedding dance through the tent with Sarah. An unforgettable day.
What does luck mean to you?
Happiness is important to everyone. I believe that those who seek it are doomed to failure. In my opinion, there are moments of happiness on one side. These can be small pleasures, such as fun rehearsals, a sunrise, a good meal among friends, a visit to the sauna or a good game. On the other hand, there is much stronger and more sustainable happiness or satisfaction.
Are you happy?
I try to be there every day.
How does a normal day look?
My life does not consist of an ordinary life. About 100 days a year I am on my way to reading, and we spend the night at a hotel. The most common everyday life is at Nationaltheater Mannheim, where I am under contract since this season. From 10 to 14 and from 10 am 18 to 22 we repeat. Occasionally I go to therapy or do bureaucratic. Otherwise, I do what everyone else does, eat and sleep.
You once said that you are committed to the world.
In a way, everyone is dependent on the opportunity. And I try to take away some of the accident in the accident, for example with meaningful performances that are valuable and enjoyable, like most recently during a visit to a kindergarten clinic or at a reading in Munich in front of nearly 300 people.
Do you sometimes feel negative feedback?
Always. Negative criticism is always a matter of understanding. I'm trying to pull it out for myself. You can also develop with criticism. Especially in the theater, I get the crisis, when everything is just amazing and positive.
Are you rather on stage or in front of the camera?
Both have advantages and disadvantages. In the theater I appreciate that every night is different, the atmosphere always changes by the audience. One experiences direct and honest feedback that does not exist in front of the camera. But I can see much deeper into the audience, which is no longer noticeable in the theater, at least from the fourth row.
Last year the movie "Outside in the Head" came with you in your first lead.
The film is inspired by a true story. Sven, an orphan principal, suffers from a severe muscle disorder. His new caregiver and personal caregiver, who originally closed Sven, opens separately, ending in a close and reliable friendship.
Is your life comparable to Sven?
Not really. There were certainly situations where I could draw on my experience or feelings, just as all actors do.
Was it easy for you to put yourself in this role?
On the set I was told almost daily that I should not move so much. The special attraction was that the character Sven is completely different to me. Understanding and understanding this disease is only useful for an actor to a degree. What is important is the emotions that the actor transports.
Was it always a dream job?
No, on the contrary. For many people, I always found it terrible because of the nervousness. When I was 13, I would never do that, to throw pseudo-blindfolded looking at kitschy "Titanic" music for strangers.
Why did you do it?
At that time, many of them booked me as gymnastics, so I could throw myself from house in air cushions, make them shine or jump down stairs. I always used to admire the spectacular stuntmen, not the actors, who keep their faces narcissist in the camera.
But is it contrary to the life you are leading now?
Yes, disaster. I don't know how that can happen. (Smiles) I used to be completely exhausted when I had to speak in front of 3000 people in the Bundeswehr in the promise of recording. Today I am obviously fighting with nervousness. I will define myself for performance, not for error as a stupid accident.
What are you dreaming about?
I dream of a lot. On the one hand, I will continue to develop spiritually, with a degree in theology or philosophy. On the other hand, there is still so much to do, to discover and find out.
Do you dream about your own children?
Yes, we can imagine children well. Currently, it will not be enough responsible.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In a warmer country. In Central Europe it is too cold for me in the long run. But I'm still dependent on Germany.
What do you mean?
With my work I have to finance my expensive existence and make more money than others for a comparable standard of living. Unlike Switzerland, disability insurance is not mandatory in Germany. I will not complain.
"Targeted rehab can positively affect motor learning"
Exactly one week after his declining fall in "Wetten, dass …?" On December 4, 2010, doctors Samuel Koch from the University of Dusseldorf transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of the famous Swiss Paraplegic Center (SPZ) in Nottwil. "Media echo was great because Samuel Koch came to Switzerland because of his fall in front of an audience of millions as a public person in Switzerland," claims Michael Baumberger, paraplegia and rehabilitation medicine in SPZ. However, he was not able to extinguish the hunger from the public for news of Koch's condition immediately after the first survey. Baumberger said at the press conference that he could expect a stay of eight to twelve months.
After numerous investigations, specialists at Samuel Koch finally diagnosed incomplete paralysis. "This simply means that some sensitive or motorized tracks are still preserved," Baumberger says. Thanks to countless treatments, Koch can therefore "move his upper extremities" very limited today. Through repeated movements in regular exercise, the brain and spinal cord can activate new contexts and thereby facilitate positive development. "Research results show that targeted rehabilitation positively affects motor learning."
In paralysis over the first lumbar vertebra, the vegetative nervous system is usually damaged as a cohesive. "A paralysis of the vegetative system means that the internal organs no longer function properly," Baumberger says. Therefore, paraplegics bodies functioned differently, "they are more prone to diseases such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes". Nevertheless, the life expectancy of tetraplegics today, thanks to lifelong care, is "almost comparable to the non-paralyzed population".
As expected, Samuel Koch was allowed to leave the Paraplegic Center at the end of 2011 after about one year. Baumberger has hardly any contact with his patient today. "We also met by chance." He had always found Samuel Koch to be very nice. The most important thing for the positive healing process was that the patient from the beginning was strong and willing to succeed. (SHOE)