Well last week marked the official 11th year of my spinal cord injury…and baby have we come a long way!!  Looking back it seems so long ago but in the same breath it feels like yesterday.  Leaving Craig Hospital in a power wheelchair after 2 1/2 months of hospital rehab I had no idea what the future had in store for me.  Sometimes you need to create the future you want, not the future someone else told you it should be.  

And that my friends, is exactly what happened!

After completely busting my ass to get stronger, for 2 years, I made my first visit to Project Walk in Carlsbad, California in 2006.   Literally got my ass handed to me for a week but came away with the words I wanted to hear, “You don’t need your wheelchair, so when you visit next time don’t bring it!” 

Two more years of hard work and a return visit to Project Walk in Carlsbad.  I did bring my walker this time and was asked if I had my forearm crutches with me and I was instructed to bring those the following day.  Upon my arrival I asked my trainer what to do with them?  He kindly said, “Put them over there on the floor as you won’t be using them in here, I’m gonna make you walk without them.”  "Damn it!!' I said and then again got my ass handed to me for another week, I went home with the knowledge and confidence to one day leave my wheelchair behind.

Yep you guessed it…more gym time and training at home.  By now SCI Recovery Project in Denver had opened and of course I went.  I think it was a year or 18 months later of getting my ass kicked on a weekly basis I had finally left my wheelchair behind for everything except the long hauls.  About this time I had finally got my hands on a trike so I could ride it when I was not in the gym.  

Ride the trike and hit the gym was my motto for a few years then after speaking with a good friend I made the decision to start training for the chance to represent Team USA in the Paralympic games.  Knowing that even if I put the time and effort in I might not make it.  Many athletes don’t…however what happens along the way will be nothing short of awesome, so enjoy it. 

Well with countless hours in the gym and on the trike I have managed to earn 3 U.S. National titles over the past 2 years and befriended many awesome people along the way.  Yep that saying about the journey being the best part, is so true!!

What about my spinal cord injury in all this?  Honestly I don’t think about it much anymore.  Being so active has helped alleviate many of the secondary side effects of my SCI.  Some I’ll never get rid of and I’m cool with.  At this point what function has returned is probably what I’m going to have forever.  Considering where I came from...I’m cool with that!!

Until next time...stay classy!

Jay

 

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