I’ve been through hell. But my faith is stronger than ever. I’ve had everything I loved to do taken away from me. But I’m still here with a smile on my face. I’ve had to overcome both physical and mental obstacles that set up a roadblock that I thought I would never pass. But I got by. In two years I’ve gone from the darkest place I’ve ever been to in my life to the point where I’ve never been more driven and more focused in my entire life. I’ve taken what most people would think would be a bitter end to a new beginning.
No longer do I dwell on the physical things that I can no longer do. Watching some of the littlest things used to drive me crazy. I used to just watch people walk down my street and stare at their feet and dream of walking again. But since then I’ve grown content. Now when I see people I see them as people that can learn from my mistakes and my story. I now have so much to give. A lesson much greater than teaching someone how to be a better waterskier. As for that sport it barely ever crosses my mind anymore. My last time ever skiing was when we won nationals and I think that was a great ending to that chapter of my life.
Just recently I was interviewed by a local newspaper and an article was published in Stow and in Hudson where I quoted that, “any tragedy can be overcome.” I truly believe that and I believe that my tragedy has helped me grow stronger. But no longer when I look back on it do I see a tragedy but I see it as a point where I was woken up. This experience has opened my eyes to what is truly important in life. Family always comes first and my family has grown closer after all that I have been through. Overcoming death was a lesson to all of us of how precious and fragile life can be. I make it a point every day to talk to my family on the phone. My dad now understands the importance of saying I love you because you never know if it will be your last opportunity.
So take away everything that is physical and I will still move forward. I have my mind which is the most powerful part of the human body. I finally understand how fragile my mind is. I monitor my thoughts and stay on a heavy dose of medication to ensure that I do not lose it again. If you have a mental health issue I cannot stress the importance enough of staying on your medications. Just look at the consequences of my decision to go off of my medications. One of my bipolar medications was recently lowered by just a half of pill. I started to think that people were out to get me and when I went past people I thought they were going to say something nasty to me. So I told my psychiatrist and he raised my dose by just a half a pill and those thoughts went away.
I heard in a speech that bipolar disorder is known as the CEO disease. Some of the most successful companies have been run and have been started by people with bipolar disorder. It makes sense to me because I have always been the type of person who has wanted to work and build something for myself. If I never would have got in my accident I would be working a civil engineering job working toward someone else’s dream and I feel that I would be miserable. But my disability has opened up many doors for me. The government is paying for me to work with an agency that is helping me start my own business. I have someone working with me on a weekly basis who is helping me to get my book published and to work on finding more speaking opportunities. They are helping me make my dreams a reality.
Still life now is so different than it used to be but I can’t complain. It’s honestly pretty easy. There are some great perks to having a disability. Although I can no longer do things like get in and out of bed by myself or just jump on a couch whenever I want I’m used to it. No longer do I have to do my own laundry, cook, clean, or do other chores. The government actually pays people to do that for me. I like having someone wake me up every morning and I like being tucked in at night like I’m a little kid. I like the fact that my shoes never get dirty and it’s like I put a brand-new pair of shoes on every day. Everyone remembers the guy in the wheelchair and although I used to not like to stand out in my bright green wheelchair I love the attention that I get today. Employees at restaurants and convenient stores always remember me and welcome me back and start up a conversation with me. People are constantly smiling at me and saying hello as I ride past. I’m thankful that I’m not working a 9-to-5 job and that I’m now able to pursue my true passions. So being in my situation does have its perks.
This is truly a life worth living. Don’t tell me that you feel sorry for me for everything that has happened. Because now I am awake. I stay away from drugs and alcohol and think clearer than ever before. People like the new me much more than they did before my accident. I was reckless and sometimes selfish and rude. I am much happier with the person that I have become. Life can change directions even when you do not plan it. This is a direction that I am happy to continue to follow.