I have to admit I have never seen myself in a wheelchair for any reason.
I have always seen myself as a competitor and a winner.
As a young man, I was an athlete. I was a champion swimmer, I was a champion wrestler, I was on a championship football team, and I was a baseball player from the start.
As an adult, I was a utility lineman, building the infrastructure of the American Internet.
I had been in the industry for almost 20 years when my contract was put on hold for negotiations due to the budget overrun of the company I had been hired to.
At that time, I discussed with my wife (almost 10 years old) that I wanted to visit my family in Virginia.
I have children there from a previous marriage and wanted to take the time to spend with them and my wife understood and so it was arranged.
During the visit, my grandfather asked me to help him on a roof and I agreed to spend time with him.
On the afternoon of June 9, 2018, a storm was looming on the horizon and I made the decision to cover the roof so that the rain did not enter the house.
In order to keep the blanket in place, I carefully stepped around the roof placing planks in strategic places to keep the wind from blowing the blanket.
By the time I put the last board down I knew I was very close to the edge, I stepped and stepped carefully and then went over the edge.
On impact, I couldn’t breathe very well. My eyes were closed and my body was twisted and my legs were as if they were reaching for the darker and darker sky.
As I opened my eyes, I noticed that my legs were stretched out on the ground, still, bound by gravity. It is difficult now to describe the pain I have been in.
I think I felt like I had been sawed in half, I remember the pain was fiery and excruciating. I knew I broke my back. I know I was in so much pain that I wished I had gone ahead and died so that I could be relieved.
It took almost an hour before the volunteer paramedics arrived and the pain increased as each second slowly passed.
My body felt like it had been plunged into hell itself as I gasped continuously, shallow like I had a brick wall stacked over my chest.
I was eventually loaded into a rescue helicopter and airlifted to the nearest hospital for refurbishment.
I went through quite a bit of time between the time of the injury and the time I decided to live again.
My very identity had been deeply shaken, for a long time depression told me that I was no longer a man.
I finally thought I was okay again. I started driving again and learned to take care of myself. It was then that my wife (at the time) decided that I was independent enough to fend for myself and so she left.
Entered depression again.
I was lying in my bed, very sorry for myself, hurt, maybe even wishing for a death angel to visit me.
At that moment, something inside ignited a flame and I thought, “Who’s going to fix this? Who will take care of me? “
There was only one answer.
I was. I was and am the only person responsible for my well-being. I can give up or I can live. I chose to live. I got up and started doing what I could physically. I started to work out with my own body weight.
Finally, I was doing over 200 push-ups a day. My body weight was no longer sufficient.
I met a Paralympic power-lifter and started following him. I realized that I could lift weights too. Of course, I started to lift. I also want to be a Paralympic athlete!
After awhile I discovered wheelchair weight training and now is my new journey. I started working out with a trainer and I’m gaining weight and getting stronger.
I have also started mentoring other spinal cord injury patients as well as people who have something holding them back.
Throughout this journey I have realized that as long as my mind is determined to achieve a goal, it will be done.
My goal now is to become a Paralympic Powerlifter and also to win an IFBB Pro Card.
It will be a long journey but I will work for it, work for it and work for it.
My struggle has brought me to the point of realizing that even as a paraplegic I am still a winner and all the pain I have felt has made me stronger and more willful.
Because of my injury, I will be champion again.
Therefore, I say that your struggle fuels your success.