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HPD officer wounded in shooting speaks about his recovery, fight to walk again

Officer Ronny Cortez says he's pushing himself, making progress

HOUSTON – One thing hasn’t changed for Houston police Officer Ronny Cortez, since he nearly died five weeks ago.

“I’ve got to have a sense of humor,” Cortez said. “I always have to laugh.”

Cortez was shot in the stomach and back while responding to a burglary report in Southwest Houston. One of the bullets partially severed his spine and is still lodged inside his body.

“The greatest challenge is going to be walking,” Cortez said.

But “can’t” is a word you will never hear Cortez use. He sticks to a rigorous schedule at TIRR Memorial Hermann, where he’s undergoing rehabilitation at least three hours a day.

His days start at 9 a.m. sharp and sometimes don’t end until 6 p.m.

“I'm pushing myself (and) making a lot of progress,” Cortez said.

The progress is incredibly remarkable for someone who has only been at the rehabilitation hospital for three weeks. Cortez also experienced a breakthrough for which he had been hoping and praying.

“I'm able to move my legs,” Cortez said. “It takes a lot out of me. I can move them a little bit. It takes a lot of concentration. I have to put my headphones on to get in the zone, but I'm able to move them.”

Hard rock is what gets Cortez to his happy place. He would listen to it when he used to lift weights before work, and he’s now applying it to his recovery.

The music, plus the therapy at TIRR, coupled with his determination, perseverance and the love and strength of his family, has been life-changing.

“I have to hit every day with a different attitude (and) keep my spirits up,” Cortez said. “(And) face whatever is coming to me. You can’t be angry. You can’t be mad.”

He is not alone in the journey. Cortez’s wife of 24 years, Sheri Cortez, remains a fixture at her husband’s side.

“Although, yes, I am taking care of him, emotionally, he is still holding me up,” Sheri Cortez said.

She is with her husband from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

“She's my drill sergeant in the room,” Ronny Cortez said. “I couldn't even describe it -- all she has done. My nurses come in and give me my medication and that's it. She takes care of everything else. She gets me dressed, gets me in and out of bed.”

Added Sheri Cortez, “I've been asked, how do I deal with this situation with him? His heart is beating. He is here with me and that's all I need. The rest is something we need to work on. It's just another challenge.”

No matter how big or small that challenge may be, Ronny Cortez has a lot of fight left in him.

“They have a lot of success stories of people walking when they were told they were never going to walk,” he said.

When asked if he were determined to be one of those stories, Cortez answered, “I want to be one. We'll be walking out of here.”

“That's the way we look at it,” Sheri Cortez said.

A benefit is set for Saturday.