Waking up is the first thing I remember and I remember it clearly because the first thing I saw was my parents standing there next to each other looking at me, now at that time my parents had been divorced for 14 years so it was really strange to see them standing together, at that sight I realized something serious had happened. The next couple of days went by in a drug induced high and hallucinations since my drug dose was being lowered. Then, the day before I got out of the ICU and to my own room at the orthopedic ward, I got the news. I was told that my legs were so badly broken that I might never walk again, my right leg had been so crushed that they were still thinking about amputation and there was such a big piece missing out of my left leg end knee that it might be shorter or at least they didn’t think I’d be able to ever bend that knee again. But on the day of my accident the doctor on call just happened to be one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the country – guess I was just lucky. Not only was I told that I might have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair or at least on crutches, but I was also told that a man had died in the accident. Now that’s a pain I wouldn’t even wish for my worst enemy. Never before have I ever felt the world just disappear from under me, nor have I felt it since. I hope that nobody I know, have known or will know will ever have to know the feeling of being responsible for somebody’s death.
The next day I was transferred to the orthopedic ward where I would spend my next three months. I was stuck to a bed with my jaw wired together for a whole month, not being able to eat anything but soups and milkshakes and I still don’t like soups and milkshakes. After that, things started to progress, I was allowed to try out a wheelchair and as glad as I was to get out of that bed even though only for 10 minutes I thought about how much I wanted to get out of there and 2 weeks later I was allowed to stand up just for few seconds and with doctors holding under both arms so I wouldn’t put any weight on my fragile legs that still had more steel in them than bone. How good it felt to be upright for the first time in 2 months! I decided then that no matter what, I would walk again. The determination and rush that I felt with that decision helped me stay on track and lit the fire of my determination.
My recovery was miraculously fast, so fast in fact that the city’s newspaper saw a reason to put me on front page. To me it was a sign that I was meant to walk again and one day 4 months after the accident I was assured that I had a guardian angel helping get back on track. It was one day after a series of bad news and an operation were a bone graft was moved from my hips to my legs because they weren’t healing like they should, I was lying in bed (what else) my determination kind of low when suddenly I felt a hand on my foot, I opened my eyes because I hadn’t heard anybody come in but I didn’t see anybody, but without a doubt there was a hand lying on my foot, just holding it gently, I could feel the warmth. For a long time, it was just there and I felt good, felt assured that I was being watched over and that I was getting help from some higher power. I got scared when a nurse came in and walked right over where “it” had been standing and I didn’t feel the hand anymore but as soon as the nurse left the room it appeared again, warm and healing on my foot. Needless to say I felt even more determined now to get back on my feet and continue on the path I had been put on. I did spend 5-6 months in a wheelchair before I could stand up again and then 2-3 months on crutches but on New Year’s Eve 1998-1999, nine months after the accident I was at my favorite dance club dancing the night away and 2 months later the knee that I was told would probably never bend, bent 90°.
After all of that time in the hospital I was down to 90lbs! I was only skin and bones and really needed to build muscle, so with help from several friends I got into weightlifting and I fell in love with it. Now 19 years, something between 20-30 surgeries later, I can jog, bike and dance! For the most part I walk without a limp, my knee bends 104° and nobody notices that at one point there was doubt I could ever walk again. It is with certainty that I will be able to follow my path and continue to push myself no matter what obstacles may lay ahead.
I celebrated my 10-year accident anniversary by competing in the All Forces National Championship in Tampa FL in Oct 2008 and it was a great experience, I learned so much and met great people! I’m hooked. I’ve done 3 more shows since then.
I weight train 4-6 days a week, my squat PR is 205lbs and I have a deadlift PR of 265lbs. I’ve done a mud run and an obstacle course and I’m not done setting personal records yet.
Since then I’ve become a certified personal trainer and I love helping people overcome their own obstacles as well as continually learning new things about how to improve our health and physique through training and nutrition.
Well this is my story, my journey so far, and despite having some disabilities and a lot of scars for a lifetime I’m glad this happened because it truly has made me a better person. I only wish it hadn’t come at the cost of another man’s life.