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I’ve made several mistakes in my life but most of the time I did not have to pay a heavy price for that mistake. I pushed it too far though and eventually had to pay that price. Most people do not learn from their mistakes because there is no severe consequence. In my case, the price that I had to pay was incredibly severe. Back in 2008, when I ended up in the psych ward, I learned that our minds are incredibly fragile. I realized the dangers of drugs and realized that my mind was way too fragile to handle them. But eventually I fell back into one of my vices which led to my eventual downfall.
The farther you get away from a life-changing event, like in 2008, the more you forget that lesson. For 2 1/2 years I took my bipolar medications religiously. I knew just how important they were and I was scared of falling back into a manic episode. But as time went on, I eventually started to think that I would be okay without the medications. All it took was 5 days before I fell back into a manic episode. Because I forgot the lesson that I learned in 2008, I paid greatly when I wrecked my car and injured my spinal cord. If we do not forget the lessons that we learned throughout life then we can avoid future problems that cause pain and suffering. Life is our greatest teacher and we need to hold onto those lessons.
Today I’m doing everything I can to hold onto what I have left which is my mind. I religiously take my medications and I do everything that my psychiatrist tells me that I need to do. I’ve lost my mind twice and I do not want to find out what will happen the 3rd time around.
In this entry I find myself explaining the difference between losing your mind and losing your body. It’s not something that most people experience in one lifetime. I also think that I started to realize my new purpose in life. Read more to find out what that is. If you have any questions for me find me on Facebook.
LOSING YOUR MIND AND BODY
by Adam Helbling on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 8:54pm ·
I was given a 2nd chance on life. Well actually, if we’re keeping track, this would be my 3rd. God obviously wants me here. 3 years ago I found myself in the hospital for very different reasons than this time around. The reason was not physical, it was mental. 3 years ago I lost my mind and it took nearly 2 months to get it back. Fast forward to present day and I’ve lost my body. I spent 3 months in the hospital doing rehab to try and get it all back. When I was sent home I was still far from that point. Now, nearly 10 months since my accident that point is still far away and I may never reach it but I have to keep trying.
Not too many people lose both their mind and their body in one lifetime. Which is worse? It’s really hard to say. I will say that losing your body is much scarier because your mind knows that something is wrong. When you lose your mind you are almost in a different world and everything still seems to be okay. Everyone says that I’m lucky to still have my mind. I guess I’d rather have it that way. I easily could have lost both. It’s surprising that I was able to flip my car 9 times and not have a brain injury. All I did was chip a tooth, well… and broke my neck. I guess that’s the big one. But I held up pretty good for such a horrific crash. A dislocated elbow and a pair of collapsed lungs but the rest of my body held up. I guess all of the skiing paid off. I’ve heard that waterskiing makes your bones stronger.
I actually died at the scene of the crash. At one point I had no pulse but I came back. I will never forget being in the ICU in Indianapolis when the EMT from the life flight came in to see me. She was shocked to see me alive let alone eating and talking. She thought it was over for me but I kept fighting and here I am today. God was on my side. When I was driving I felt like someone else was there. Like nothing could kill me. I think my crash would’ve killed just about anybody but not me. God has something else planned for me.
Maybe he never planned for me to be a professional water skier. Maybe he just used waterskiing as a tool to learn how to teach. Because now I have a very powerful story. Now I can inspire others to use their God-given gifts. Maybe I’m not supposed to coach waterskiing anymore but now I’m supposed to coach life. To ease people’s anxieties and make them realize just how much they have. Like I’ve said before I want to write a book and I’m in the process of doing that right now. When I’m finished I want it to reach as broad of an audience as possible. Then I would like to speak about my experiences. I want to help as many people as possible.
Writing is one of the few things that helps me clear my head. Otherwise my mind is always moving at 100 mph stressing over my current situation. The biggest challenge when it comes to a spinal cord injury is acceptance. To accept your disability and move on with life. I am yet to reach that point because I have not accepted that this is going to last a lifetime. What I’ve always thought is that this experience is simply to teach me patience. I was living such a fast-paced lifestyle that God wanted me to slow down.
I recently was accepted into a rehab program at Ohio State. The program is for locomotor training. It lasts for 4 months and is for 2 hours, 5 days a week. What locomotor training consists of is treadmill training where you are suspended above a treadmill and 2 people move your legs in a walking motion. It has been found that this can retrain your spinal cord how to walk. I’m very hopeful that this will be the case. The therapy that I’ve been receiving has not been to get you to walk again but rather to get used to life in a wheelchair. I am not ready to accept that quite yet.
Being paralyzed has been tougher than anything I could ever imagine. I never thought life could be so rough. I’ll be honest that there have been times since my accident that I have not wanted to be alive. There have been times where I’ve thought that I would be better off dead. I hate to say it but I’ve even contemplated suicide. I’ve thought about swallowing pills or driving my wheelchair off a dock and into a lake. I’ve even thought that it would be nice if the world would end in 2012. That way I would only be stuck in a wheelchair for 2 years. Those thoughts have gone away, thank God. What made me stop was all of you. All of the amazing friends and family that I have. All of the support that I’ve received on Facebook and in person. I am so grateful for my friends and family.
There are a lot of songs that I listen to now that remind me of life before the accident. They remind me of driving around campus, taking a cruise downtown, or taking the drive to and from Columbus on 71. Some of the songs I would just blast in my apartment and sing because I was just so damn happy. One of those songs that really sparked my emotions was ‘Good Life’ by One Republic. I remember singing this song in my apartment before the accident thinking about how great my life was. When I heard this song after my accident it made me flash back to how happy I was and then fast forward to where it seems like my life is just falling to pieces.
People stare at me all the time now, especially kids. They will look at my wheelchair and then make eye contact. Most of the time they don’t look away, they just have this confused look on their face. Adults usually do not stare. Instead they usually smile at me as if they are trying to make me feel better. It drives me crazy to be treated differently. I want to be treated the way I was before the accident. I hate being treated differently. It’s nice that people will open doors for me but at the same time it makes you feel a little helpless. I hate how people apologize when they move out of the way instead of just simply moving aside when I ride towards them. A lot of people start conversation with me now who would not normally before. Maybe I’m less intimidating now that I’m in a wheelchair or maybe they are just trying to make me feel better. It kind of drives me crazy how much nicer people are to me than they were before.
One thing that drives me crazy is watching my body go to shit. I still work out and everything but I’m limited to what I can do. When I go to work out I’m constantly reminded of the endless possibilities I used to have at the gym. All of the machines are made for able-bodied people. I used to be able to just jump on any machine I wanted to but now I’m limited to what I can do. Before my accident I was talking to a friend about an idea he had about making gyms more handicap accessible. I mean they have handicap drinking fountains but no equipment for people in wheelchairs. Maybe that is something that I can push towards in the future.
I constantly dwell on what I used to be able to do because the memories I have are so great. Now it’s time to make new memories but it’s hard because my time at Ohio State and during high school was so incredible. I found myself at Ohio State and then I lost everything that I was used to doing and life changed drastically. But I’m still the person that I was before. I just physically cannot do the things that I used to but mentally I’m still all there.
It sucks not being able to sleep anywhere besides your own bed. A hospital bed for that matter. You need a special mattress, pillows between your legs, and booties on your feet to avoid pressure sores. You can’t stay over at friend’s places anymore. Like not being able to crash at a buddies house anymore or pass out on the floor.
It is crazy how much your spinal cord affects. No longer do I have a sex drive. Nothing can turn me on. No longer do I get that hungry feeling and I also don’t really get that full feeling. I guess it’s nice that I do not get stomachaches anymore. I can feel when I have to pee but not when I have to poop. It’s amazing the things that you take for granted.
After we won nationals last year I remember listening to ‘Just a Feeling’ by Maroon 5 where it says:
It’s Just a feeling
Just a feeling that I have
Just a feeling
Just a feeling that I have
I can’t believe that it’s over
It was hard for me to believe that my collegiate waterskiing career was over. That was the last time I ever skied was in Texas. It may be the last time I’ll ever ski again. But like I said before, maybe I’m not here to be a professional waterskier, maybe it’s time to do something positive and change the world. I’ve always loved this quote:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. the troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
I’m one of the crazy ones.