The day my life changed
On February 17, I celebrated the anniversary of the day I was paralyzed from a spinal cord injury (SCI). I say celebrated, because that’s truly what I did. I was joined by my wife, Alesha, and my best friend, Chuck, the driver of the car that hit black ice on that Michigan road so many years ago. He flew in with his wife to celebrate with me. We toasted my “second birthday” and the simple fact that we’re still here, appreciating how far we’ve come when the outcome could’ve been so different.
It wasn’t always this way. Frankly, for the first 5-10 years, this anniversary sucked. It takes time to come to terms with the reality of not walking. Twenty-five years later, I can tell you it’s not about walking. It’s about living—and I don’t mean going to sleep and waking up. It’s about truly living an active life so that you can maintain the best life you can, as long as you can regardless of whether you’re living with paralysis or anything else.
The “will to walk” mindset
This is what I call the “will to walk” mindset—it’s an attitude shift to that way of life. Living with paralysis is far from easy but I’m motivated more than ever to work out, stay in shape and keep pushing myself. I’ve already exceeded expectations for a quadriplegic twenty-five years post-injury. I want to make it twenty-five more.
Looking back, I would say I’ve learned patience. I’ve learned how vitally important family and friends are. And most importantly, to respect what you have when you have it. I realize that anyone who has a traumatic event occur at some point in their lives will attain life lessons over time. Sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI) is no different—except it’s not just a point in time, it’s a lifelong event.
Everybody has good and bad days—everyone—not just those with an spinal cord injury. We are all forced to deal with emotional and mental bad days. But in my humble opinion, those good and bad days are more intense with an SCI simply due to having so little control over your body. Learning to deal with that is the biggest battle—you only have control of how you handle it.
So here’s to February 17. Yes, it was the day my life changed. But more importantly, it was the day I survived.