It all happened in May 2010, at the end of my sophomore year. Here is a little background, though. During my Freshman year, I was big into sports and I loved competition. I played soccer, wrestling, and tennis. Soccer was my favorite after school activity, but later it became wrestling. When I first began playing soccer on the high school team, I was on defense. After soccer season was over, wrestling season began. In my Freshman year I wrestled in weight class 160 and I had a win-loss record of 1-27. Bad record, but it was my first year. Tennis season started after wrestling, and I wasn’t great, but my hard work caused the other players to step up their game. Also, during my Freshman year of high school, in December 2009, it was my 15th birthday and I obtained my drivers permit on my first try. I loved driving.
When the next year rolled around, I was a goalie for the Junior Varsity soccer team. The soccer coach once told me that I was one of the most brutal goalies that has ever played on his team. There is a funny story about one of the games, but that will be saved for another day. After soccer was over, I began wrestling again and dropped down to weight class 145. By the end of the season, I had a win-loss record of 14-9. I had improved tremendously and was awarded with a trophy for most improved. Tennis was the same as the year before, but it was good to stay in shape and be around friends. I also managed to get my license on my birthday. Freedom at last! I would hang out with my friends a lot at their house, or at the bowling alley, or somewhere in town. I’d also go out on dates, and it was a good life.
Well, in May 2010, it was on a Friday, five days before summer break began. I got ready for school and hopped into my 1997 GMC Sonoma. One thing I had to do on my way to school was to cross two North bound lanes of highway traffic at an at-grade crossing to reach the South bound lanes that would take me to school. When I went to cross the North bound lanes, I accidentally pulled out in front of a semi. The semi hit my drivers side door going 70 mph.
This flipped my life upside down. From the scene of the accident, it looked as if I was going to die. The emergency responders had to use JAWS of Life to remove the top of my truck in order to get me out. It was bad. The paramedics were concerned about my chances, so they called for a helicopter. The AirVac team said that the weather conditions did not permit for safe flight, so they were unable to assist. Then, the team members found out how old I was, and they suited up. They were going to risk their lives to save a child’s life. Mine.
Before too long, the AirVac had arrived on scene, loaded me up, and flew to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The hospital was about 75 miles away, but I was there in less than 25 minutes. When I was unloaded and brought inside, the medical staff there began running tests. Before too long, they found out that I shattered my C4 spinal vertebrae. That’s part of the spine which is located on the back of the neck. Because of the shattered bone, they needed to remove that part of my spine and fuse my C3 and C5 with a titanium cage. When one of my parents arrived not long after I was there, they gave the authorization for the neurosurgeon to go into operation. For the next 8 hours, I was in the surgery room with a team of skilled professionals who were trying to save my life. After the surgery, they could only wait and see if I would survive. I was connected to oxygen and feeding tubes. The doctor even had a small hole drilled into the top of my head to relieve pressure on the brain.
A couple days passed, and the doctor was more positive that I would make it. Sadly, the doctor had to inform my parents about some bad news. They told my parents that I would be paralyzed from my shoulders down, unable to move.
When I first remember waking up from the accident, I thought I was dreaming. I first remember waking up three weeks after the wreck. When I woke up, I thought I was dreaming, and I just went back to sleep thinking I would get up and go to school the next day. When I woke up again, I realized I wasn’t dreaming. My parents were there by my side and they told me what had happened. I don’t remember much, but I was not in the hospital. I was in The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis. From what I have been told, I was in the Intensive Care Unit at the Children’s Hospital for six days and I was recovering remarkably. So, I was moved to regular care and remained there for six days. Then, I transferred to TRISL for more intensive therapy with resources that were more fitting for adults. It surprised me at first, but didn’t really hit me as to how much my life would change.
I remember waking up again and seeing a note from my girlfriend that was hanging on the wall. It said she loved me and wished for me to get better. About a week later, she broke up with me. Shattered my heart and she was the first girl I cried over. It took a couple of years to get over what happened, but I eventually stopped trying to live in the past, and began to look ahead at what the future may hold.
I was in the rehabilitation institute for three and a half months. On my last day, I went to visit my neurosurgeon, who believed that I’d be paralyzed. I was sitting in an office chair as I waited for him. Before long, he knocked on the door, came in, and started looking through all of the charts and graphs in my file. As he did that, I stood up, walked over to him, shook his hand, and I thanked him for saving my life. His jaw dropped and he was shocked. I asked him what else I may regain, but he said that “all bets are off,” because he didn’t know what to expect.