Living with Paralysis

Living with paralysis: 25 years and counting

bradley maclean Featured, Will2Walk News 5 Comments

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.

Rich in 1992 before his injury.

Rich in 1992 before his injury.

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.

Rich in 2017 with one of his daughters.

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.

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Scott Kotter
Scott Kotter
Great story Rich! You’re one of coolest guys I know. You are really an inspiration to me. I tell your story to others also – many others, multiple times each year. You live your life full of intention, grit, strength, love and grace. You always have a warm smile and embrace others as they are. You have a beautiful family and show that life occurrences don’t limit who we are, but facilitate the greatness that is within us. Man I honor you and your family! You’re one of my true heroes. Thanks for your friendship and powerful example.
Linda
Linda

Congrats, Rich. You are a true inspiration to people with this injury. I had the amazing gift of having a father who also lived life no matter what. So proud to be your friend,

Love,

Linda

Richard
Richard

Thanks my friend! ?

Richard
Richard

Thanks brother! ??

Heather franzel
Heather franzel

Great story rich and you have a lot of love to give to friends and family miss talking with u keep up the great attitude u always get your family and friend thought their bad day hope we can and do the same for u

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