On January 18th, 2015 my life changed in a way I never expected. It was a beautiful 60 degrees in Charlotte, North Carolina, a perfect day to go on a motorcycle ride. I jumped on the back of the R1 like I had so many times before. We left the traffic light, gaining speed quickly when I saw the SUV going for the u-turn. I began hitting the driver of the bike screaming, but he didn’t stop – I closed my eyes and tucked into the driver’s back, closing my eyes. The last thing i heard was metal crunching before everything went black. The first week in the hospital was a blur. I briefly remember the many visitors I had including a dream of my deceased grandmother telling me it wasn’t my time. What I do remember is my parents saying they enrolled me in a clinical trial, and that it was my only hope at a recovery. At first I didn’t take the situation seriously because of the trial. Even though I was the second person in the world to receive this neuro-spinal scaffold, I was sure I would only be paralyzed a few months. After I became healthy enough, I was sent to inpatient rehabilitation where I learned the skills to live as a new paraplegic. After 3 long months I was finally going home, not realizing the obstacles that lie ahead.
I returned home and reality set in. I wasn’t making the “benchmarks” in the trial that patient one was. I was paralyzed, losing all hope of a full life. I was angry. I was frustrated. I started living life to the fullest for the wrong reasons. I was selfish, competing in adaptive athletics to try to be better than the top competitors. I thought I was invincible putting myself in dangerous situations with no regard for my safety.
Then things changed. Shortly after my two year mark and a follow up with the trial where I was told I had no improvement, I fell on a hotel room and couldn’t get myself up. I posted a meltdown video on youtube that gained over 40,000 views. I quickly realized I had platform to inspire people to live the life they want and my negative attitude wasn’t doing anything except bringing me down. I went home from that trip with a new attitude. I started working out and changed my diet. I started regaining sensation and small movements. I then had the opportunity to visit a healer who restored hope in recovery after I regained movement.
I worked on my physical recovery for a year before I began addressing the mental recovery. I never thought I would walk again before regaining movement and I was okay with this. I then had to make the decision to work. I put in work daily both physically and mentally. Some days it feels like I’m moving backwards. One day I feel everything and my legs will be strong, others I’m where I was when first injured. This is beyond taxing. Without regular meditation and self care I break down. Countless times I have had mental breakdowns on the floor similar to the one I had on the hotel room floor, though less frequent these days.
Despite the hardship, I would never take back this injury. The journey it has taken me on has been nothing less than incredible. The people I’ve met, the amount of strength my faith has gained, and my perspective are irreplaceable. Not to mention the opportunities this injury has brought! I never thought I would get to compete in Tough Mudder competitions. It’s absolutely humbling to rely on others with my safety through the course. That brings me to ADAPT. I hope when you watch it I hope you are inspired to Live Life to the Fullest like I do everyday.
Be sure to check out I Am Becoming’s 5 inch line! They are shorts that are unintentionally adapted for wheelchair users, plus all of their high waisted leggings tuck in that pesky para belly! Check it out!