March 2, 2001, is a day my family, friends and I will never forget. It’s the day I was given a second chance. It’s a day I celebrate as my “Alive Day.” It could have easily been marked on my tombstone if it wasn’t for God’s mercy.
I was a young 19-year-old kid who knew everything and wasn’t scared of anything. I made the choice to get behind the wheel of my car while being intoxicated just like I had a few times before. I was not thinking that within an hour and a half I would try to evade a police officer who was trying to pull me over to help save myself and others who were out on the roads in the early morning around 2:00am.
Nor did I think I would go around a curve at 90 mph, hit a tree stump, flip and go flying another 40 feet in the air and hit another tree. I especially didn’t know I would gain consciousness at a hospital to realize that I couldn’t feel my legs and that I had broken my neck in 2 places.
Not What You’d Expect
Once I really woke up and had the breathing tube out, I saw myself looking like a Frankenstein character with a metal halo screwed into my skull in four places. My thoughts were not of sadness like you would think. However, I was filled with joy and happiness. Because of God’s mercy, I was still here and able to see family and friends again. I was able to tell them that I would eventually be okay and that I appreciated all their love and support.
Right then and there I grew into a man. A man who knew God kept him alive for a reason. A man with determination and hope that with Christ’s strength He would help me be the man He wants me to be.
Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for giving me a second chance.
God has opened up so many doors for me in these 18 years in my chair. A year after my accident I met someone else in a wheelchair at a mall near my house. We exchanged phone numbers and began to talk. It was from her that I learned about a research study in functional electrical stimulation (FES). After a series of events, I filled out an application and within a month my father and I flew to Philadelphia to get a better understanding of what research they were conducting.
Long story short, I was eligible for the study and had 7 surgeries to implant 18 electrodes throughout my body. The first surgery was on my 21st birthday. Using a PalmPilot, I could turn on the device that allowed me to stand using a walker. It was truly an amazing experience, even though I can no longer use it because the company is out of business.
A Working Man
Once I returned home, I had the opportunity to get a job in 911 telecommunications where I was made shift supervisor after 3 years. During that time I was also blessed with my beautiful wife. We have been married for 9 years now.
My time as 911 telecommunications supervisor came to an end after almost 8 years due to medical reasons. It was sad leaving those I worked with because we were tight like a family and I loved them all very much. But now I have the opportunity and joy to be a father to a beautiful, sweet and intelligent baby girl who is now 4. I have the pleasure of taking care of her every day from sun up to sun down. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my stories of living with a spinal cord injury with BardCare. I hope to encourage others to continue to move forward and not give up after SCI.
Celebrating my Alive Day
I remember immediately after my accident I asked God to heal my paralysis and let me walk again. But I also prayed and told Him if I can make more of a difference in this world rolling in my wheelchair, then I would handle it. I’m thankful for each day I’m here. Even on the hard days that come with having a SCI.
In March 2020 I celebrated my 19th Alive Day. This 19th Alive Day matched the 19 years I walked this earth. Wow. How time has flown by!
I thank God for sparing my life over 19 years ago. I’m thankful for my family and friends for all their love and support along the way. And to my beautiful wife and daughter, thank you for all that you do for each day and for the love you give me each day!
I learned to be independent during those two years in Philadelphia. I was on my own and had to learn to do things by myself. I had a good experience in this research study. I encourage others to ask questions and get involved in research if it’s something you think will benefit you and maybe help others with SCI down the road. I want to thank all the doctors, nurses and therapists who devoted so much time to me in the hospital and outside the hospital as friends.
For those newly injured or veterans like myself, keep enjoying life through the good times and the not-so-good times. There is life worth living after SCI.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BD-10786