Author Archives: Hjh

About Hjh

I sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI) in October of 2012, at 20 years old. My injury is on the 11th vertebrae of the thoracic spine region (T-11), which results in paraplegia. I was hit by an SUV, as a pedestrian. I have no muscle function or feeling below the waist. Read the 'About' page for the whole story. I want to "make my mess my message" by sharing my story with the public in hopes of uplifting people's spirits.

Don’t Stop

This semester has held quite a few ups and downs. The first few weeks were pretty hard on me. I knew I’d have to step up my game to accommodate for my post surgery responsibilities, but I was just looking forward to returning to the college lifestyle after such a rough winter break. I thought about what was ahead of me only from the physical standpoint like, “whatever, I’ll handle it.”
It wasn’t so easy to handle though…

During that first week back, I was feeling more down than I was excited, but I was thinking it was only temporary.

You’ll get used to this.

Things didn’t get better though. Things got worse.

Well ya know, this is some pretty rough weather we’re having this year. Of course I’m gonna be bummed out if I can’t even make it to the parking lot most days.

I kept telling myself things of the sort.

Whatever, I’ll just move south in a few years and be fine. No more snow, no more cold, I’ll be golden, and I’ll be happy.

It stopped snowing so damn much. It even warmed up to 60 degrees for a few days. I was still irritable though.

Alright, what the hell’s going on?? This pissy mood is pissin’ me off. Am I depressed? No, I’m fine, why would I be… Am I though??

This turned out to be more than just a physical struggle. It was mental and emotional. That was not that long ago, and the same day I talked to my boy Jeffrey from RIC. I asked him how he was doing. “How are things bro? Like really, how are things?” Trying to get him to fess up about not being so great either.  “Everything’s pretty cool with me I’m ’bout to start promoting my new designs for my clothing line,” he said. He was doing great. Of course I was happy to hear it, but I thought if he was in a rut too, maybe we could use each other to dig ourselves out. I told him how I’ve been lately — good one day, bad the next. “You not depressed or anything are you?” he asked. I really thought about it this time, “I mean I don’t think so. Ive been really good ever since rehab. I guess maybe I could be from my last hospital stay?” Then he pointed something out to me, “You know it could be medicine, this one pill i used to take used to make me have mood swings.” He might be on to something here, I thought. Nurses warned us about this at RIC.  “It could actually be from this one pill, so I’ll mess around with it,” I responded. I had been taking this pill almost everyday for months, but for post surgery precautions I had been taking twice the dose for a little over a month.. About the same amount of time I had been moody. Luckily, it was right around that time I could start cutting my dose down. Even stop completely, depending on how risky I was feeling.

I was feelin’ so risky. I quit altogether. Being off another med was relieving, to say the least. I had been taking it every morning for almost as long as I could remember. Being dependent on anything is never good and I’ve reluctantly become dependent on a number of things the past year and a half. I hate every one of those things.

Even better than gaining independence back was gaining the old me back. Jeff was spot on. Only a day, or two off the medication was I feeling 100 times better. I finally felt like myself again and was assured there was nothing to worry about.

Now that I’ve overcome the mental brawl I was having with myself, I feel like a new man, and was reminded once again of the necessity for struggles… I moved out on my own a few weeks after a huge surgery and only one week after being released from the hospital, was dealt twice as many daily self-care chores, became a full time student, managed campus in a wheelchair during the worst winter in decades, all while taking medication that forced me into depression. I called my parents from time to time when I was having an especially hard time. Over and over they suggested I move back home, “It isn’t too late, we can still get our money refunded. There is no shame in waiting until fall to start again.” I can’t say it wasn’t really tempting. I played a mental game with the thought of it

Yeah I know this sucks extremely bad right now. But… You already missed a year of school. You just changed your major last semester. You’re not expected to graduate until two years after your classmates. You have another internship set-up for the summer. How long you think that company will wait up for you to graduate? You want that job don’t ya? If you stop now, there’s no telling if/when you’ll finish. Don’t stop.

The “hard times” in life have a bad name.  I have grown to really appreciate the hard times, and look at them much differently. It’s during those hard times that you learn the most. You are taught essential life lessons that make you a stronger person. Lessons that can’t be taught from a friend, family member, or professor. Whenever the time comes that you defeat whatever you’ve been battling (and it will come), you taste the sweetest victory known to mankind. The bigger the struggle, the greater the taste.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.”
― Frederick Douglass


Well kinda farewell, kinda not really though.. I’ve spent way too many hours on this site to take it down. Definitely worth the 60 bucks a year to keep it alive for awhile. But! I’m back at school now and I can’t do this posting regularly thing anymore. My grades first semester weren’t bad, especially after taking a year off…. and having a traumatic brain injury…. but I’ve clearly recovered pretty well, and I know they could have been better. I had two grades ending with a plus, which just pisses me off. And sure; a grade with a plus is better than a grade with no plus, but the thought that a few more points on one, maybe two assignment would have bumped me up to the next letter grade pisses me off. Anyway, I’m going for all A’s this semester, so I can’t be writing like three page non school related essays every week. I copy/pasted all my posts thus far to Word –12 font times new roman single space– and the doc was 35 pages long… all but the last couple of which were written during classes first semester. Too bad I wasn’t in any English classes because I woulda had one helluva thesis paper to submit.

Being back at school is kick ass… it’s the tits. I haven’t even seen more than a couple of friends so far because I haven’t been here for a weekend yet. I have to lay low for awhile anyway; I still have some recovering to do. My mid section is still actin’ up a bit from the docs tampering with my intestines and bladder with knives and shit. But I feel fine now and am hopeful that things will straighten themselves out soon. I think they on they way. Hey; another thing to look forward to. Just being here doing my thing, getting started on classes, and being around people my own age again is an awesome feeling. Makes me feel normal again, which is always cool for me. Monday, I went to my classes, all cold as hell, but was cruisin’ around going from class to class with my ear buds in. I’ve always been an active guy, which is harder now that I’m in a chair, but ATLEAST I get to tear up the streets.. and the school hallways.. and the grass when sidewalks are under construction. I was so happy, though. I haven’t been able to move like that since the end of last semester.. just one of the things recently that has made me so very thankful.

Tuesday went a little differently. I was still pumped about being here, but was thinking a lot about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g I have to do to take care of myself now a day. Before my surgery, I already had to spend a lot more time on myself than the average joe, and now that time has almost doubled due to post surgery precautions. And when my bladder is worse than ever, surgery being over a month ago, it’s hard to believe that surgery even worked. Even forgetting that though, it’s just like… how much longer are these long days gonna last??

Today, things were good again. Facts are facts, so nothing has actually changed, but something clicked this morning that got me feeling a lot better… After I woke up, I sat in complete silence and tried not to think about anything for a good 10 minutes. I think that’s what meditating is. My brother and his friend suggested I do this several months back when they visited Miami, but I never did. I actually really liked it and I wish I listened to them awhile ago. It completely cleared my mind, which made me feel better. I spent the day better focused on the tasks at hand, rather than worrying about the future. I then got in the shower and started to think of everything I have to be thankful for. Most of which, I’m sure, you also have to be thankful for… There’s food readily available, which I’m physically capable of eating whenever I want. There are liquids readily available that are physically capable of drinking… at my leisure. I can swallow effortlessly and painlessly, whenever I want. I can move around freely, whenever i want to. I am not incarcerated in a hospital. I have family members that truly care and will do anything for me, whenever I need them to. I have the liberty to attend school, or work a job that provides solidarity advancing my life in the right direction… I was saying this all out loud to thank God for all of my blessings. Then I took it a step further and did something I never thought I would do. I’ve done pretty well and have only been mad at Him a few times since my accident, but this morning I thanked Him. I thanked Him for what has happened to me… bad things have happened to good people since the beginning of time. It doesn’t mean you deserve it. It’s just life. I thought about some loved ones in my life who I had a hard time seeing deal with the things I’ve had to deal with. Traumatic accidents such as mine are very capable of breaking someone, and I knew it could have broken some of the important people in my life, stopping them from moving forward. It may ruin them as the person I’ve always known them to be, throwing ME off. I thanked Him for dealing ME the shitty hand instead of a loved one that could be lost. Especially a family member, or my future wife, wherever she is… After all, I’m a little selfish, I KNOW how much future Hunter loves those nice legs she has. And don’t you even get me started on that booty.

Well this will probably be my last post for awhile. I know I’m going to miss writing, so I’m sure I’ll still write from time to time. However, I want to try using that hole in my life to start drafting for my book. I really want to write a book after the experiences I’ve had thus far with this blog. The sooner I start working, the greater the chance of me seeing it through and the fresher the memories of the past year and a half will be.

But before I go, let me share some of the stats real quick. All of which were really surprising to me and likely for you, as well… So it was after a church sermon last spring that I decided I would start blogging. I really didn’t even know what a blog was, I was originally going to write experiences and thoughts down in a journal. I worked an internship in Cleveland all summer, but had a couple weeks of free time to figure out blogging before school started. A friend at church had a WordPress account and shared with me his knowledge of blogging. He helped me get things set up and rolling. My first entry was posted the day I moved to school the return of my first semester. The day I moved back to school was August 21, 2013; a little over five months ago… As of now (not counting this post), I have posted 21 entries to my page that has had 24,000 views. This wasn’t a recent surprise because that number has been displayed on the right since day one. What is to come is what is to come is what really blew my mind, though… I started sharing most of my posts to Facebook sometime in November which resulted in me sharing seven of my posts shared to Facebook. Some of these posts were reshared to Twitter, but significant amounts were reshared to Facebook. In total, those seven posts were shared 672 times. My “Family” post was only my fourth entry, well before I started sharing my own posts to Facebook, and “Family” killed it with 137 shares. It wasn’t until recently that was topped by my post “Surgery”. “Surgery” was shared 212 times and resulted in my biggest day, with 1,268 site views. As far as the existence of this page in the world; it has been viewed from 41 different countries: Belgium, Spain, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Russian Federation, Singapore, Italy, Netherlands, Thailand, India, Mexico, Viet Nam, Ecuador, France, Denmark, Ireland, Albania, Hong Kong, Bahamas, Luxembourg, Myanmar, Republic of Korea, Argentina, Aruba, Jamaica, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, Lebanon, Philippines, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Czech Republic, and obvi The USofA. Crazy. I’ve never even been to any of those places, other than Canada and Jamaica. Oh and one more thing. Probably the biggest thing… Word Press has a page labeled “Fastest Growing Blogs (out of 100)” that changes daily based on how many views a blog receives that have been started within the past six months. A couple of months ago, I looked under the “referrers” list on my stats and saw this growing blogs page referring people to my blog. I was really confused because I didn’t know anything about it, so I clicked on it and found my page at number 25 on the list. I was really surprised when I thought my blog was the 25th most popular blog in the country, but then I went to some of the other blogs on the list, they were decked out with pictures, professional design and color. I tried reading some of them, but couldn’t… it wasn’t a country-wide list, my blog was ranked 25th in the world.

So thank you all who have been following my blog! These stats make me feel like I’ve already accomplished my goal to “make my mess my message,” but I’m not stopping. I plan on furthering my goal by keeping this blog in motion and writing my book that will come out on the NAth of NA, 20NA… I really hope I can find the discipline to write this book. Thanks for reading!

Next Chapter

Winter break started off hot. Not having to worry about school and being home with my family was awesome. Christmas was great and so was my birthday. I knew I would be in the hospital over New Years, but I didn’t care, I was looking forward to getting a big part of my recovery out of the way. The surgery went well and I was out of the hospital a few days after and back to Ohio. I went home with no idea what the following few weeks had in store for me…

The first couple of days went fine, other than some pretty serious pain in my abdomen from surgery. That alone was a lot worse than I expected, I couldn’t even turn to one side on my own, which I have to be able to do to prevent bed sores, especially while being bed-ridden. I took the surgery very lightly because I wouldn’t let myself worry ahead of time. It took about a week until I was able to eat again and eating did not become any easier after those first couple of days I was home. Monday (January 6th), I had a good breakfast, but nothing more than a few bites for lunch and dinner. The urine that was draining out of my catheters was really bloody and the two weren’t draining right. This was way beyond me, or my parent’s comfort level to deal with, so my mom took me to the ER. This didn’t end up being a serious problem, I was released about six hours later. Tuesday is when my stomach started to hurt, and I ate even less than I did on Monday. On Wednesday, I had some Honey Comb cereal for breakfast and my stomach pains only got worse. They were so unbearable that I couldn’t even take a drink of water. My mom reminded me that I had to drink, so I finally had a little apple juice and vomited almost immediately. “Alright that’s it, we’re going back to the ER,” my mom said. We went back and after waiting around for a couple of hours, I was admitted and sent to the X-ray room. The X-rays showed that I had a bowel obstruction. Basically, a kink had formed in my intestines since leaving the hospital in Chicago and nothing was passing through me. I was full of shit. They put an NG tube in as the first attempt to fix the problem. The NG tube goes in your nose, through your nasal cavity, and down your throat into your stomach—–If you’ve ever had an NG tube put in and were conscious for it, you know what a bitch it is passing through your nasal cavity—– It was used as a vacuum to suction my stomach out. I remained full of shit because the tube could not go past my stomach, and my obstruction was at the bottom of my intestines around the surgical site. However, the hope was that pressure would be relieved from the obstruction and it would unwind itself in a couple of days.

I stayed at Miami Valley hospital in Dayton through Friday. My stomach no longer constantly hurt, but still produced spikes of excruciating pain. Meanwhile, the doctors at Miami Valley had no idea how to treat me. My urologist in Chicago is one of the few surgeons in the country that performs the particular surgery I had, and the Miami Valley doctors were clueless to it. They put me on all kinds of serious antibiotics to kill the bacteria in my bladder, even though I told them not to treat my bladder:  “Two feet of my intestines were just put into my bladder, there’s gonna be some bacteria there that shouldn’t be in any normal body. I do not have a normal body. Here’s my surgeon’s number, he said to call him if anyone tries to treat my bladder for infection.” Which the doctor responded, “No I know what you’re saying. I get that this operation was done, but you have so and so kind of infection. You are very sick. This needs to be treated right now.” For me it was like… what can I say back to that? He was getting all defensive like I was saying I knew more than him. No I don’t study medicine, I didn’t even know what the hell he just said, all I knew was what my surgeon told me to tell other doctors if they tried to treat an infection in my bladder. “You have his number, just call him.”

By Friday, the doctors saw that the heavy antibiotics were not solving anything and they finally talked to my surgeon doctor. The local doctors were very happy when he told them he would like me to come back to Chicago to be under his supervision. They realized they were lost. I’m convinced the doctors there would have killed me had I stayed. But Friday night came and so did the ambulance squad. The ambulance squad loaded me up and got me on the road to Chicago. I did get to lay down in the ambulance, but between the super hard little ambulance bed I was on and the NG tube, the almost five hour ride was hardly bearable. What choice did I have?

I returned to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the middle of the night Friday January 10th. The nurse that I had when admitted would talk to me and ask me basic questions, just doing her job, but I kept my blanket over my head and never said a word in response. I figured if it was important, my mom would answer for me because she was in the same room. I was miserable and hadn’t gotten more than a couple hours of sleep a night for days, or had anything to eat or drink in a long time. The doctors ordered another fluid for me, so the nurse tried at least three times to get another IV started on my arm, but had no luck. She brought in the head nurse to give it a try and I would have lashed out at this guy had I given a fuck about anything anymore. I laid in the bed lifelessly as he tried to hit my vain: “Okay lets see what we can do here, you gotta be very still. Be still, be still. Okay almost. Be still, be still!” I didn’t so much as twitch a muscle in my entire body the whole time. I wanted to rise up from the sheets, grip him by his mouth and tell him that. I made it through the night and Saturday marked the peak of the worst week of my life. My surgeon was off for the weekend and was not on call either, so I still had to wait until Monday morning to talk to him. His team of med students and a partner surgeon came in multiple times throughout the weekend, but I stayed on the heavy antibiotics because that’s what I was on when I arrived and my doctor wasn’t able to give an order yet to take me off them. The doctors present thought my infection was septic and were telling me all of this false information. I had figured that once I got back to Chicago everything would get figured out and I’d be “back on my feet” in no time. However, there was still no plan and thus no end in sight. I needed to see a finish line, something to look forward to. I thought it was the end of the road for me. After a good 15 hours straight of not talking and hiding under a blanket, my mom came to my bed side, “you didn’t give up, did you?” “I gave up a long time ago,” I said. My mom started crying, “Just like that? You’ve made it this far, been through everything you’ve been through and you’re just done?” I don’t think I responded. She went on to talk about all of the finer things in life and what all I have to look forward to with returning to school and the great job that I more or less have lined up already, “But you don’t want any of that. You’re just gonna give up.” I finally responded, “I guess I do. This is just the worst thing I’ve ever lived through. At least I was unconscious most of the time after my accident. I am very much here for all of this and I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve eaten like three days out of the past two and a half weeks; I’m running on nothing.” I continued, “I guess I haven’t given up, but I don’t think it matters. Are you hearing everything that’s going wrong with me? I’m gonna die in this bed. Maybe not tonight, or the next, but I’m not getting out of this hospital.”

I made it through another night with only a couple hours of sleep, and Sunday was the start of my upward swing. At least for me emotionally. The doctors told me that I would go in for surgery in the morning to get the obstruction corrected. This was pretty bad news, the risk of an obstruction reoccurring goes up after every surgery due to scar tissue, but I was thrilled. I was finally given a plan, and I had sights on the finish line. Later in the day, I had some more X-rays done, which I was told looked better, and I finally shit a little bit. I had never been so excited about some poo. Monday morning, my surgeon came into the hospital, and told me that things might be starting to work themselves out. He prolonged the surgery until early afternoon. Things started to pass through me again around noon, more than the day before, I had some more X-rays done, and my surgeon came in late afternoon and told me that I wouldn’t have surgery that day. This was good news, but it kind of bummed me out. I had been saying ever since Miami Valley, “Would they just cut me open already?? They’re gonna keep putting it off and end up doing it like a week from now. By then it will be too late and I won’t make it back to school in time.” I was so determined to make it back to school. I had been so used to being in a hospital, so when I returned to school first semester to get my life moving again and was able to spend time with friends, it was the best thing ever. I knew I would get that same feeling because I would have been so used to the hospital again leading up to my return.

I had it in my head that I would for sure need to be cut open again, but that the doctors kept pushing it back. I honestly thought school second semester was now out of the question for me.  I spent The whole day Monday trying to become okay with the idea: “Well at least I’ll have no school related worries for the next several months. Always was a bitch getting homework you couldn’t figure out. I’ve probably lost 15 pounds, so I’ll just hit the gym day after day again and put on twice as much as I’ve lost… Yeah, I’ll just be massive when I go back to school next fall,” I thought. Things continued to progress, though: I got a PICC line put in Monday night to give me the nutrition I was missing from not eating and I started to feel better. More and more was passing through me each day from then on. I got my NG tube out late Tuesday night and I slowly worked my way up from liquids to food starting Wednesday. I got released on Friday, but stayed local in Chicago through the weekend because my surgeon said that Monday would be the earliest I could get my catheters removed.

My mom and I held down the Ronald Mcdonald House for a few days. I still couldn’t do anything because I had two tubes draining urine out of my body. How are you supposed to push your wheelchair around when you’re holding two bags of piss? On the bright side, I could actually have food and water. Not having an NG tube after having one in for a week felt like such a luxury. I could eat, drink, and swallow painlessly whenever I wanted. I was so amped about that.

This is ridiculously long, so I’m going to finish it up real quick. Getting my drains out was so nice. Like I got rid of my chains and was free again. Since getting home on Monday, I’ve been preparing for school and trying to catch up on all the sleep I missed out on. My bladder is supposed to be worse at first, and it is, but is supposed to be way better after a couple of months. I’m keepin’ my nuts crossed until then.


The surgery went unexpectedly well! It was four and a half hours long, but could have taken up to six. The surgeons expected to run into a lot of scar tissue that would complicate things, but hardly ran into any. They said my organs looked great, especially for what my body endured two Octobers ago! Time had done my body good. My bladder has doubled in size with intestinal tissue that is much different from bladder tissue – more stable and not possible to become spastic, this time.

With all of this being said, I don’t see why the surgery wouldn’t have met it’s goal! I need to do lung exercises 10 times hourly to regain most of my voice, and turn myself side to side (which literally feels like being gutted) every 2 hours. It is, however, tolerable after recently taking pain meds (IV morphine or valium – that good good). Doc says he expects to see me up in my chair tomorrow. This got me at first (good joke doc), but I’m already feeling better than I was right after surgery. It’s undoubtedly gonna hurt like a dirty bitch, but may be tolerable? I was told I would likely remain as a patient through the weekend, but I’m really not tryna stay that long. I don’t know if this recovery process is possible to speed up because my body needs time more than anything, but I’ll be looking at my tattoo a lot reminding myself that anything is possible through Him who gives me strength… I mean look at me now – Typing on my laptop a couple hours after wakening from a very serious surgery, haven’t  eaten more than jello since brunch on Saturday, or had anything to drink since 10:00 pm last night. Haha honestly though, if only you could see me right now: drainage tube out my side-check, indwelling catheter- check, pelvic catheter out my other side-check, IV in right arm-check, IV in left arm-check. I’m prepared to give it my all. Prayers would be greatly appreciated. I don’t care what anyone says, prayer is powerful. I should have died at the age of 20, but instead, I beat the odds and have continued to do so because of the many people supporting and praying for me. Not to mention recovered from a brain injury to get an internship then return to school less than a year post. Not a chance I could have done this all on my own. I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t give all the glory to the big man upstairs.

Enjoy New Year’s Eve tomorrow everybody! Second year in a row I’m spending it in a hospital, but hey, I get to experience yet another year!

This Again

My family and I left Ohio; Chicago bound, on Friday afternoon. I was to be admitted into Northwestern Hospital on Saturday afternoon and had a bladder reconstruction surgery scheduled for Monday morning. I have had a lot of work done on my bladder within the past year, but it all consisted of minor outpatient surgeries. Getting rocked by that SUV totally wrecked my organs:  My spleen so badly it was going to kill me if it wasn’t removed, my lungs which were preserved after a few months of rehabilitation, and my bladder which will work normally (God I hope so) after this surgery. I have had a seriously spastic bladder that would empty itself at its’ time of choice. Botox can be injected into the bladder to provide stability and fix this problem, which I have done, twice. Botox is not permanent and this surgery must be repeated every six months. This bladder surgery is supposed to be a permanent fix and will hopefully be my last. One to two feet of my intestines will be detached from my digestive tract and added to my bladder.. I didn’t know that was possible either. Medicine is nuts.. Having a large bladder supposedly trumps the negative effects of a spastic bladder. I’m really hoping it does trump the spastic bladder because I’m sure this one month recovery period will be no fun at all.

I’ve stayed pretty cool so far. I don’t understand the point of worrying about something that will inevitably happen. Although, this is a pretty serious surgery; I had to be admitted two days early for pre-op work and have to stay for what could be up to another week of recovery afterward. I’m so damn hungry, I haven’t eaten in 24 hours and can’t for at least another 24. I’m sure I will have a pretty terrible night’s sleep tonight. If I could find my way into your prayers, I’d appreciate it. Prayer has served me well in the past.

Being back in Chicago, back in a hospital, is nostalgic in the worst kind of way. I was “stuck” four times in the first four hours trying to get an IV started and blood drawn. Got an IV in right now as a matter a fact. No, I’m not at RIC, but I payed Northwestern multiple visits while at RIC and it’s right next door.

Yesterday, while lying in my hospital bed and on my phone, my mom and sister were out shopping and my dad was in the room with me on his laptop. My dad is a very hard working man that keeps to his business, also the most morally stable person I know. “You’ve had about the best disposition on all of this as anybody could. I just wanted you to know that and that I’m proud,” my dad says to me after a long moment of silence. “Thanks a lot dad, I appreciate that,” I respond. It’s not uncommon that I am complimented on my reaction to everything, but it was especially nice to hear it from my dad. I know I’ve held a positive attitude, but I don’t know, it’s just different when you’re actually “that person.” I don’t think I’ve met another paraplegic, or really any person that has been through a tragic accident, with an unsimilar attitude. When you know you shouldn’t be here anymore and you’re just living on borrowed time, it changes you. Like, really changes you. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be appreciative, it makes you a whole hell of a lot more appreciative. I don’t offer advice in my blog because I think I’m smarter than everybody. I just had to change my major in school because it was too hard; I know I’m not that smart. But, from the experiences I have been through as a result of my tragic accident, I firmly believe I have stories and have attained some views to share that could benefit others.

Patience is a Virtue

People hear this all the time. I heard it all the time, but it was never explained to me. I mean sure, I got the gist of it:  It’s good to wait, the capability shows inner strength in a person. But, “why is it ALWAYS good to wait, even when you don’t have to?” This was a question I always had trouble answering. Within the past several months, the phrase seemed to make a little more sense to me.

The past year has been a game of patience. There were many different things that my body had to overcome, none of which happened overnight, they all took months and months. Some of which included:   Throat rehabilitation (swallow real food, swallow real drinks, talk with a real voice), keep food down, regain a lot of muscle and mass in general, back healing to sit up for over 30 minutes, get bowels and bladder under control, have normal vision, constant infections, fully extend my left arm, transfer to and from my chair without pain, the list goes on. From these experiences, I have taken away two key points:  One, having something to look forward to is severely underrated, and two, reality is never as good as what your imagination leads you to believe.

Having something to look forward to is awesome. It fills you with anticipation and excitement everyday until that “thing” becomes a reality. I feel like most everyone looks at this backwards and views everyday as a tease until it is reality. Maybe I’m the one looking at it backwards I don’t know, but I do know that I prefer to look at it this way.

Reality never meeting the expectation of your thoughts and imagination ties directly into part one. For example, “If I could just have that, everything would be all better,” everyone has said or at least heard something similar to this before. Things are never as good as they seem, but nothing is stopping your imagination from running wild to create the ideal scenario. The only thing that can stop it is reality itself, when you actually receive that “thing.” Nine times out of ten everything is not “all better.” This is mainly what forms the anticipation and excitement build up in part one.

These ideas have stuck with me and are thought about daily. They’ve really helped me slow my roll and become more.. well.. patient. I’ve seen it help a lot when it comes to girls in particularly, and being patient when finding a parter is huge. The help with that has been (when interested in someone) remembering that nothing can go wrong before anything has started. The sooner you get something started, the more likely and sooner you are to ruining everything. And if nothing starts, it’s always open for possibility later down the line in the future. You get the sense of anticipation and excitement of, maybe one day. But if not, nothing is ever as good as it seems anyways, so you’ll be alright.

I know I don’t fully understand the phrase and probably never will, but feel like I now have a better understanding at least. It has changed the way I think about a lot of things and my overall outlook on life. I value patience now much more than before and can say with certainty that “patience is (in fact) a virtue.”

Three Weeks Later

Alright… I’m back.
I don’t remember exactly when I made the decision to take a hiatus from my blog, but after hearing my professors talk about final exams quickly approaching, I knew I had to forget about it for awhile and focus. And honestly, I thought most people would like a little break from me runnin’ my mouth. Although, it has been three weeks since I last posted anything and on those days from November 21-December 12, this page has averaged 55.27 views per day, and like, nothing has changed.

Finals for the semester are finally in the past for me, and I’m feeling pretty good about how they went *smiley face*. I started out the semester with two Miami plan classes (gen ed’s) and two mechanical engineering classes:  Thermodynamics (MME 314) and fluid mechanics (MME 313). The engineering classes were way harder than I remembered.. Well that was actually the problem, I didn’t remember. Taking a year off school.. due partially to the traumatic brain injury I sustained.. made jumping right back into 300 level engineering classes quite the challenge.. a challenge I was not prepared for… Having said that, I dropped one of them, packed up, and threw my deuces up at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. After my marketing internship last summer, I was planning on adding marketing to my degree as a minor. However, I knew I needed to start something fresh, I had not a chance in hell to finish 13 more 300 and 400 level engineering classes. It really is a shame, though.. Hypothetically speaking, I should be graduating after next semester, and have really grown close to some of the engineering professors: Dr. Dollar and Dr. Caraballo, mainly. They’re amazing professors and awesome to talk to, whether it regards class or not.. I wouldn’t make it though. Calculus forms the basis of every engineering class and I have passed both calc 1 and 2 with fairly solid grades, but if we’re being honest, I don’t even know what the hell a derivative is anymore, let alone a second derivate or differential equation… I suppose there are worse stages in life than college that could be prolonged… I decided on making marketing my major and maybe finishing the few engineering classes I have left for the mechanical engineering minor. The only problem with switching my major to marketing:  The Farmer School of Business requires a 3.3 college GPA to be directly admitted.. Get real FSB, I’m a real person, I got like a 3.05 and I’m not even upset that it isn’t any higher.. As long as you have a 3.0, finish five specific business classes and stay above 3.0, you’re admitted. Oh, and that is out of shear luck that I am able to be admitted that way. That was the old policy, which my class was grandfathered into because it was changed after my first year.. Gonna have to murder those business classes doe.

I’m easing my way back into this whole blogging thing. I’ll definitely have my next post up within a week, and It’ll be more about real stuff, but I had to make my return post more of a “what’s up” post. I also had a lot of time to rethink everything and remember what I’m trying to do here; make my mess my message.

I started out with a pretty good amount of viewers from my Mom’s Facebook page. This audience was family and family friends, most of whom were middle aged or older. What I was writing about was useful for anyone to read, and I wanted people my own age to read and learn a thing or two from my experiences, as well. I wrote like myself and I exaggerated some things at times, which targeted more people closer to my age and I think it worked to some extent. We did not grow up in the newspaper and magazine era, we grew up in the electronic era with tv’s and computers, and something has to entertain us if we’re going to read it. So that’s what I’ve tried to do. I’m still going to write like myself, but I plan on easing up on the language a little because honestly, I think it’s pretty embarrassing when people  swear over and over for nothing. I don’t think I ever did anything like that, and I’m still going to talk like a 21 year old, and it could actually get a little ridiculous at times if something really pissed me off like that one dude, or I’m really frustrated with all the newfound bullshit in my life, I don’t know, and it almost got ridiculous right then just thinking about that dude again, I’ma just post this already, but yeah..  wanted to make a note.

It’s good to be back 🙂

Finally Got My Chair Back!

“Oh wheelchair, don’t ever leave me again.” I actually got it back about two weeks ago, I just never had time to write about it. I forgot how much I had missed it since I was so used to living in the loaner chair. That first day felt like returning home after being away for a really long time. I was soo comfortable. Ever since (especially those first couple of days), I have been moving so quickly through campus. Miami is one big hill, so I’m almost always going either uphill or downhill. On the downhills, I weave through people walking either way at a pretty high rate. I know I have my chair under control, but it’s funny to see people’s reactions–  Sometimes they’re clearly scared of getting messed up by a dude and his wheelchair, hurting them as well as myself. They’ll stop walking and back off to the side, or just get off the sidewalk, getting out of the way completely. It almost makes me feel like an asshole, but every time I have to push uphill and people just walk around and pass me, I’m quickly reminded that I really don’t care.

I was getting so used to the loaner chair that I wasn’t even looking forward to getting mine back. I was almost dreading it, actually. I really liked the back of the chair. The back was several inches shorter, and it did not have any push handles on it. I loved the extra movement the short back offered, and hated the thought of losing that. I also did not like it when people started to push me, especially random people uptown on the weekends. If any drunk people start pushing me on flat ground/downhill now, I’m going to lose my shit on them. The handles did come in handy at times, though. Getting to uptown literally is “up” town and I actually wanted a push. It’s one of the best workouts I know of, but going out immediately after causes for bad timing. It was nice having handles to be pulled up stairs and for a “spot” whenever going down stairs, as well. Although, these were all still possible without handles, just easier with. I can’t decide if I want to pay the money and go through the trouble of having a new back ordered, or not.

The frame was only a couple inches wider, it didn’t seem like it could make much of a difference. As soon as I got it back and made the trip to my first class, I discovered how wrong I was. Like I said, it “felt like returning home.” I was in total control again. Every now and then, I’ll ride a wheelie down a stretch of sidewalk on a down slant just because I can. I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and getting adrenaline rushes when unable to stand up is just as hard as it sounds.. I just pop my earbuds in and do my best when going to class.

First day back to the apartment:  Two roommates are sitting on the couch watching tv. I bust in the door with my headphones blaring, lean back on two wheels and spin in circles faster than I ever have in a wheelie. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t eat shit, which would have been hilarious, but my roommates were already laughing when I came down. “You get your chair back today?” Matt says, even though I can’t hear anything and keep spinning. I’m about done, so I start talking and start to take my earbuds out, but they aren’t out before I start, “OMG DUDES I GOT MY CHair back this morning and it’s awesome!”

Little Bit of Everything

It’s been a week and a half? It was nice to have a break from the blog for a minute. And it was hard to not think about considering all of the attention it has been receiving lately, but I’ve been so overwhelmed with school work that I didn’t have a choice.

The ‘Miami Student,’did a follow up story on me that was published last Friday. I failed one of my exams last week, my fucking intro to sociology exam. Then a couple of days later my second story in the school newspaper was printed less than a year after the first one, so I figured I must be doing something right at least. I’ve had to do some major catching up in my classes, I realized I had been spending too much time on my blog and not enough time on my school work.. A lot of shit I want to wright about though. First of all I want to thank Sarah Shew for writing yet another story on me. We met in person twice for interviews and she took about eight pages of notes, then she interviewed three of my friends, only adding more pages to her notes. She then had to wright the story and keep it under 1500 words. She did a good job, much appreciated Sarah! 🙂

The weekend passed before I knew it. Monday came and Olivia Krawczyk posted a huge blog entry story on me. Olivia is a Miami alumni and now a professional fashion copywriter and storytelling blogger in New York City. Glad she heard about my story, thanks Olivia! 🙂 The story on her blog ‘Olive The People’ went viral on Facebook and Twitter. She said it broke her record for most hits in a single day. Over 20 of my friends on FB shared the story, and I know there were others who shared it, also. I received a few friend requests from random people, one being a girl that looked kinda cute so I accepted, obvi. Then I creeped on her, obvi. We had zero mutual friends so I sent her a message out of curiosity to see how she found me, it turned out that one of her friends had shared my story, someone I also had never heard of. That felt pretty good.

I received so many compliments from so many different people and decided not to respond to any in the case that I would forget somebody. So I’ll say it now: Thank you to everyone who posted an uplifting comment, or shared my story. It really did make me feel good! One comment of which may have been the nicest thing anyone has said to me, ever.

“I work with a friend who has told me bits and pieces of your journey throughout the year. Do you ever get tired of hearing how awesome you are??? All this aside (for a brief sentence anyway), you are an AMAZING writer. Unbelievable. So you’re a survivor, you’re going to college, you’re a good looking young man, a gifted writer, and you still love God. Thank God you’re humble, because if anyone deserved to be conceited, it would be you. Thank you for touching so many, many lives. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading anything you care to write!”

The whole reason I started this blog in the first place was in hopes that my story would spread some inspiration. Life can be a real bitch sometimes and everyone needs a little help getting through it. I also got pretty fed up with people acting overly dramatic over nothing, and really strived to change that. Like, excuse my french, but just fucking get over it and keep living life. What matters anyways? Haha that’s something that my family has adopted actually. My mom will ask, “What matters?” when something doesn’t pan out as planned, and every single time I respond, “Nothing. Nothing fucking matters.” It ended up being more of a joke than anything, but it’s all too true. You may have to put in a tad bit of work to get things straight, but once it’s all said and done, everything will have worked itself out. Maybe not as originally planned or desired, but things will be fine. I was walking across the street one day and woke up almost three weeks later paralyzed in a hospital bed. Yeah it set me back a little, but whatever, everything worked itself out and now I’m back.


Incase you missed them…

Miami Article:

Blog Story:

Is This For Forever?

I don’t remember much from the Trauma Center at Miami Valley, just bits and pieces. I was only ‘all there’, well, ‘mostly there’ for the last three or four days. I was still partially out of it and feeling the effects from more drugs than any one person should ever be on. During these days, there was a lot of talk about what was next. I also know I asked a lot of questions about my paralysis: Why can’t I move my legs?.. This can’t be for forever, right?.. This can somehow be fixed, right?…. Tell me one more time, what in the FUCK even happened..??? I’ve never had an injury so serious — An injury that I had to ask the question, “will I ever get better?” I don’t exactly remember most of my questions, but I can vividly remember one conversation. It was on the last full day at the Trauma Center. I was talking to my mom, getting packed and prepared for our flight to Chicago the next morning. I was really nervous because at that time I could only sit upright for about a half hour (while on pain meds) without experiencing a lot of pain. My mother kept telling me because I kept asking, “Modern day technology has really been advancing. It’s possible it will be forever, but we’re going to stay optimistic. Stem cell research has shown some really promising results within the past few years.” She was being a comforting mother, doing a good job, too. I had only known about my paralysis for a few days and I was still in shock about everything, waking up in a hospital bed and hearing about everything that had happened (to me?) within the past couple of weeks. I didn’t believe it at all. I knew I couldn’t move my legs and that I was in a hospital bed all scarred up, but still. –Woah, waking up and after awhile casually looking down at my stomach was awholenother story of its own–Everything people told me about what happened sounded made up, it was just a bullshit story, I first thought to myself, “I very well might still be asleep, or maybe I got really drunk, got ahold of some hard drugs, and I overdosed on both crack and acid?” “Well, we’re going to the best SCI rehab hospitals in the world, right? Everything will probably be alright, and as far as the time that I am paralyzed, it will be a great life experience at least,” was my response. I knew that spinal cord injuries were rare and very few people had the ‘privilege’ of experiencing what paralysis is like (I later found out that about 0.003% of the people in the world have a SCI). “That’s a good attitude to have. We’ve got to stay optimistic,” mom replied. At this point, I didn’t at all see myself being paralyzed for the rest of my life, or fully believe that I was then for that matter.

When at RIC in Chicago, I got to meet a lot of fellow gimps. The majority of the patients were older, but there were a handful of young guys close to my age. Almost all of whom were quadriplegics, but we nonetheless had spinal cord injuries in common. Probably my closest buddy at the time was a quad named Jeffery. Jeffery was a year older than me, and he was a true veteran of RIC (he had been there for 8 months). I was really glad he was still there when I was, he showed me the ropes of RIC and gave me some SCI tips, he was a beast. Jeffery, as well as all of the doctors had told me that the lower the injury–the greater the chance of recovering. Doctors never told me this in the case that it wouldn’t happen, but Jeffery would frequently tell me, “Your injury is pretty low man. I wouldn’t worry too much about what you can’t do now, I bet you recover.” He wasn’t the only patient that told me this. There was a psychologist (also wheelchair bound from being a quadriplegic herself) that lead a meeting with SCI patients every Monday night. This is when people would share whatever is on their mind, provide stories of being out in the real world during day passes, or talk about what they worry when imagining their life after RIC once returning to reality. I had a lower injury level than most of the patients, and we were all supposed to be supportive and optimistic, but everyone there would tell me that I was going to recover. Anytime I raised my hand and spoke about any future worry, this really kind lady who recovered herself would say, “Honey you’re going to recover from this. You’re going to walk out of this hospital, I have no doubt.” I started to believe it after hearing it so many times.

There were several patients that were in the process of recovering, their therapy consisted of walking around the big loop formed by the hallway. Therapists would support them by holding their belts tightly to keep them steady, or follow them closely while they use a cane or walker. Haha, I just remembered something. One woman was paralyzed when she came, but gained all of her muscle function back within the first week, however she still needed an oxygen tank at times because her breathing still needed some recovering. Pressure breaks were a h-u-g-e deal at RIC; everyone was told to lift themselves up from their chair, or for the quads recline their power chairs back more than 45 degrees, and hold this for two minutes… every thirty minutes. During group therapies, every half hour that passed the therapist would say, “Okay time for a pressure break, does anyone need some water?” All of us gimps did our thang to relieve pressure from our asses that get next to no blood circulation, and the one lady (we’ll call her Kim, I don’t remember her name) would lean forward and stand right up. After chillin’ on her feet for a couple of minutes, she would sit back down in her wheelchair. I thought this was hilarious. I never once saw her maneuver her wheelchair with her hands on her wheels; she would push off the ground with her feet to gain momentum and drag her feet when she needed to slow down. I would also see her performing therapy in the hall around the floor, outside my door. While watching tv after my day of therapies, I would see Kim walking around the big circle, no limp, no cane, no signs of anything wrong, only the therapist following her and sometimes holding an oxygen tank. She walked like a normal person, like my mom walked when she would come watch my therapy sessions. I always joked around with my mom, “Saw Kim out there again. I overheard the therapist tell her that she’s past squat-thrusts, she has her running sprints now. Go look, she’s doing suicides down the hall. Daayum! A 40 in 5 flat, she’s fucking quick!”

The calendar year changed, it was officially 2013. New years eve was ridiculous. I turned 21 less than a week prior, so me, Jeffery, and a couple of other guys played a game of poker and got trashed up in my room.. Yeahright. Instead I had zero sips of alcohol because I felt like hell (much like my 21st five days earlier), watched a couple of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ reruns on tv and fell asleep before 9 o’clock. It wasn’t all bad though, they gave us the day off therapy for new years! After throwing up my breakfast again, I didn’t have to drag myself to the workout room!

Anyways, I was released from RIC January 10th and my mom and I went home. I don’t think I had been home since I started school in August, so I hadn’t been home in five months. I quickly started to alter my everyday activities to accommodate with being all paralyzed and everything. I had to. I mean, they had been altered already from living in the hospitals, but now I was home. It was like, real life. After being back a few weeks, it started to hit me harder and I knew everything was definitely real, “Well fuck, I guess this is what life is now? I’m functioning the exact same way I was months ago back when I woke up at Miami Valley..” This was definitely the biggest reality check that I had, well have had even up to right now really. I was told there is still a chance of recovery up to two years post injury, sometimes even past that. The greatest chance by far was during the beginning of rehab though, like within the first six months after the injury. No percentages were ever given, only stories of other people, but from everything I had heard the way I saw it — First month: 10%, 3-6 months: 5%, 6-12 months: 2%, 1+ year <1%. Three months had passed awhile ago, before being released from hospitals. Six months came and passed. One year came and passed. I’m down to a fraction of a single percent at this point, but I stopped thinking about recovering a long time ago. Not long after my big reality check did I have another, also pretty big. About five months post injury, I started hearing from some of my old friends from the RIC days (most of which were 1+ year post injury at this point). All of their bodily function was virtually the same. Through spring and summertime, I was lucky enough to meet a handful of paraplegics in the area whose injuries ranged from 2 years-40 years ago. I think this was at one point late spring-early summer, I was tired from my workout at ‘Xcel’, but I couldn’t fall asleep my mind was racing, “There were a few people that recovered within their first month at RIC. Nobody else that I’ve met has recovered. Why should I be any different from them? I’m well past my first month.. Apparently you can continue on with your path… this is gonna be an interesting life.”