On what began as a typical rainy February afternoon with temperatures hovering near the freezing level, I was driving alone in my girlfriend’s car down the country roads of Oregon where we lived, and was on my way into town. Our house was at fifteen-hundred feet of elevation making us subject to frost and black ice in places, which were commonly found amongst the shadows of the evergreen trees in late afternoon.
I wasn’t driving my pick-up truck that I was familiar with, but instead chose to take her little sports car because of mechanical problems with my truck. The unforeseen black ice factor unfortunately was not in my mind when I was speeding down the hillside and ultimately led to my crash. This life changing tragedy some eight-plus years ago has rendered me a quadriplegic with a whole slew of obstacles to overcome in my life.
When I woke up from the car accident two and a half months later (because of a medically induced coma) in the month of May, I found myself in a hospital room with a tube sticking out of my neck and was unable to move my arms or legs. The breathing tube was hooked up to a ventilator due to my inability to breath on my own. The reason that I couldn’t move my arms or legs was because I wasn’t able to feel them. Initially, I figured that this was all a terrible nightmare, but as the weeks went by the magnitude and reality of my new life began to sink in.
During my five month ‘strive to stay alive’ in my newly acquired “suite” and return to some type of normalcy that I had enjoyed for the past thirty-one years of my life, I needed to implement my ‘A Game’ now more than ever. Physical, Occupational, Emotional & Spiritual Therapies were going to play a very large role in my life now, and I would come to know them all too well.
With physical therapy, the redundant, yet surprisingly new and improved, (al-though still foreign to me in the beginning) exercises that I would endure, proved to be especially healthy for my recovery. Petite, strong and quite resilient “Amy,” who was my P.T. aide when ‘we’ (I did very little by myself) began our quest for eliminating that thing in my neck, which had become nothing short of a hindrance to me.
When I would tell dear “Amy” that I had had enough, after a certain number of repetitions, there she was urging me on for five more. Looking back now years later, that never give-up attitude of “Sergeant P.T. Amy,” keeps me believing that I can still do five more and will always put a smile on my face when I feel I cannot continue.
I truly know that God has blessed me with the family and friends that I am lucky enough to have, both because of the countless ways that they have all emotionally healed me and also, how they have been able to occupationally get me better.
In addition to my phenomenal parents who have been married for 47 positive years, I have four sisters and one brother, who each have given me: time from their lives, renewed hope when I felt there was none left, and a seemingly endless means of rebuilding my life back to normal. With their help, I was able to acquire a new quadriplegic-friendly addition to my house with a roll-in shower, and to a place to actually stay and find love. They also took on the monumental task of locating and purchasing a wheelchair van that allows me the accessibility I cherish for my independence.
My friends have held fund-raising events, built the new room that was needed, brought me more flowers than a nursery could hold and made me realize that I was never alone.
It is my honest understanding that without the ongoing faith that has been instilled in me, my life would not have the significant meaning that I currently cherish.
From returning to school and becoming a published author; to becoming a part of ‘the latest craze’ in all of sports—-Power Soccer—-a great game designed for all of us in powerchairs.
Being able to transmit my thoughts, hopes and aspirations into the written word, has for me, been the tool for dealing with any adversity that life may throw my way.