Introduction

Sensing that I may be getting some new visitors this week I decided to give an introduction to my present life….

Since July 10th, 2004 my life has been a major transition.  A transition from a life of normalcy and apparent challenges, to a whole new life where everyday I am presented with a tragic situation I never thought I would have to face.   I broke my neck on that warm summer day in July, but protected by the tall trees and vast ridges of the Appalachian Mountains I survived to draw life’s breath once again.  My battle with paralysis had begun, a journey which would lift my spirit and bring it crashing down all at the same time.  An eye opening, earth shattering experience leaving crumbled remains amidst solid ground. 

From the beginning each day was vague and unfamiliar because all I ever knew myself to be was gone but as horrible as that seems, I was given a chance to truly be aware of the true self which lay beneath.  A self I never knew existed.  The ups and downs have been treacherous but I’ve maintained steadfast on my path and with each passing day the reality of what had happened to me slowly sank in.  It took two years for me to mentally combine my past life with the present one, merging my walking self with my present physical state.  There are still days when I wake up wondering what dimension of reality I am lost in, but those days become fewer and fewer as I charge onwards.

A second major transition in life is now occurring where I’m reaching out for change so further growth can occur.  I have worked hard to physically recover since my accident but several months ago I realized that I haven’t been working nearly hard enough and great potential layed at rest.  Feeling stuck I decided that some changes needed to be made so my family and I began to seriously consider more aggressive approaches for recovery.  A surgery in Portugal sounded promising but the risk seemed too high compared to the apparent effects.  We then turned to the idea of aggressive rehabilitation in a professional setting, where I would be provided with a positive atmosphere and trained exercise specialists who could push me to my full potential. 

So far I’ve tried two different programs, one in Atlanta and one in San Diego.  My experiences clearly display that this type of aggressive rehabilitation is exactly what my body needs.  I immediately realized that all my exercising was nothing compared to what I truly could accomplish and I’m slowly feeling my body come alive.  I have a long road ahead of me and will most likely be recovering for the rest of my life, but I’m going to die knowing that I pushed my body to its full potential.  I’m excited knowing that I’m headed somewhere.  Somewhere which cannot be defined and it is definitely not a road one typically travels, but the light of the unknown is shining brightly in my eyes and I’m going to reach for it.

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36 Responses to Introduction

  1. Tom Stormcrowe says:

    Congratulations on being featured! You certainly have earned it. Hang on, it\’s a wild ride, been there twice! First off, I admire your dedication and courage, keep it up! I\’ve been rebuilding my physical abilities as well, but not on the scale you are. I was merely losing a lot of weight.

  2. Wahzat says:

    Congratulations on being featured!
     
    I admire your determination and strength.
    Have a great week!

  3. Unknown says:

    hey colin,
     
    i\’ve been reading your blog for a while now and i was wondering how many days a week and for how long do/did you go to project walk? 

  4. Colin says:

    I was going 4 days a week for 2 sometimes 3 hours.  I like the 3 hour sessions better.

  5. Casey says:

    Hi Collin
    I have been reading your space since you were previously featured in June. Im not sure if you watched the Extreme Makeover Home Edition on the Ripatti Family. She was a Los Angeles Police Officer and was shot on duty and became paralyzed. When the designers were re-doing her house they went to Project Walk where she gets therapy. It was so odd because I have heard you writing about it and then they sent one of the designers there and she was talking to clients there and the workers it was very interesting! Just had to let you know!
    Casey

  6. katie says:

    Congratulations on being featured! You have a great site- I love how your strength and courage shows through by what you write! I\’ll be back later to read more.
     
    Katie

  7. Tysley says:

    Congrats on being featured.  Keep fighting the good fight!  -T

  8. -Shelly says:

    What an inspiration you are, and a beautiful writer as well. I\’m so glad your space was featured, it was exactly what I needed today. A dose of reality and the a reminder that even though no matter what I may be dealing with, there is always someone dealing with something more difficult and handling it with grace and a positive attitude. I will be checking your space often and I wish you all the best in your recovery. The unknown is always scary, but your choice to go into the unknown is so brave. Good luck

  9. Sheri says:

    Hi Collin,
    You are an awesome writer–a true storyteller that needs to be published!  Thank you for the blogging.
    It\’s people like you that really put people like me in their place.  I lost my job back in July due to downsizing and I\’ve been a mess ever since.  Losing a job is absolutely nothing compared to what you have to go through each day.  You really are an inspiration and again, thank you so  much for sharing your story.  I suspect that you are making a difference in the life of every person that passes by to read your blog.
    Congrats on being featured!
     
    Sheri
     

  10. Shannon says:

    Hey Colin!
    Congrats on being a main feature on MSN!  Its about time you are recognized! 
    Take care!
    Shannon

  11. Unknown says:

    Hey Colin,
     
            I really admire your strength, my sister got in a car accident as well, and is paralized. It has been six years now. She has great strength too. My mother was talking to a lady who now walks because of a Doctor in Montana. He is from Paris, and he is amazing. I thought I would pass this on to you, because of your determination to walk. We just found out about it, but I would be happy to get you the information. Word of mouth really helps and accomplishes goals for people. Good luck to you, and you can achieve anything you want to.

  12. SarahZ says:

    You\’re interesting.

  13. Derek says:

    First off WOW…when i read this it freaked me out! Colin i\’m also a c-4 quad, i was hurt Sept 23, 2005 playing football for my high school. I went to the Shepard Center in Atlanta for a while. My pt and ot were Kathy and Amy. While at the Shepard Center i too had issues with uti\’s, but the biggest problem for me was cydiph! I am now back home and in therapy. I can move my legs quite a bit and am making good process, the most frusterating part is the lack of hand function though. I\’m not sure if you are able to cath yourself or not, but if you can\’t i\’m sure you know how i feel as far as independence! Well i hope to hear back from you soon!
     
    Derek

  14. t i m says:

    Hi Colin
     
    Just another one of your new visitors here. I\’ve just been reading your story & your positive attitude & determination is truly insipiring. It kind of puts peole like me to shame when I\’m sometime lethargic to do the simplest of things even when I\’m capable.
     
    Anyway before I continue talking about me again (I do that too often), I wish you the best of luck in your continual progress & have a Merry Christmas.
     
    Take Care. 😉

  15. Harmony says:

    You are wonderful and inspiring to others.  Keep up your positive attitude and determination.  Great things lie ahead for you.  <hugs>

  16. edna says:

    Hi Colin
    My name is Edna Liliana Mendoza (edna or Lilly). i live in mexico, i\’m 24 i had a accident i broke the T11. i was in bed for 4 months in bed satrait, with out move more than 45 degrees if i sat i had to use a big vest, it was realy hard. but now i can satand with out braces, i can feel a little. i was seeing your pics i wisk you can tell me where i can found that rehab centers. i\’ll be in Phoenix for a couple of weeks for x-mas, i wish and hope we can talk one of this days. my accidente was in agu. 23 of 2005 so i need all the help i can get to keep moving i\’m in school but here in mexico nothing is well done for us so my classes i do it online
    i wish the best for you. you are a big help for other people i never think of telling my story
    but i need to tell you all the help i got for my town
    ok i almost in tears and i have to go
    thnaks and please answer my kind of letter
    Lilly!!

  17. Unknown says:

    Colin,
     
    Congrats on being featured, your story is amazing! I plan to read further into your blog because I already feel like I\’ve gotten so much out of it. You have overcome so much! It\’s people like you that remind others to think positive and to keep pursuing what we want out of life. You are so strong and courageous to share your story =)
     
    The main reason your blog caught my attention is because I was in a car accident back in July 05, two days after my 20th birthday. I rolled my car and was ejected from it (I wasn\’t wearing a seatbelt) and because of that, I broke both of my femurs as well as some other injuries. I remember the first thing I thought when I looked down at my legs was that I was going to lose them, or that I would be paralyzed, and it was a very terrifying experience. Thankfully help arrived and I went into surgery immediately to stabilize the breaks. Long story short, I had to work hard to recover and just to feel semi-normal again. I spent a few months bedridden and in a wheelchair, completely dependent on others to take care of me, which is never easy to go through at such a young age. I went through tons of physical and occupational therapy and one day I began walking again. Looking back I am very proud of my accomplishments and that I didn’t just sulk and give up. I guess what I\’m trying to say is, the smallest things you\’re doing to get out there and work at this is a huge accomplishment in itself. Everyday that you choose to do something about where life has put you and not give up is a day that you are a closer to your goal and a day that you aren\’t looking back but looking forward. I\’m sure you are physically and emotionally drained, but I really admire the fact that you are doing something about it because so many people just choose to give up. My situation doesn\’t even compare to the obstacles you have had to face, but your story really brings me back to that place and it reminds me that I need to keep working hard and be fortunate of where I am now, not of where I used to be before the accident. Anyways Colin, you take care and keep doing what you’re doing. I hope everything works out in your favor =)
     
    Ashley

  18. Unknown says:

    Colin,
     
    It\’s never truly easy getting aquainted with the Self inside. I\’m sure you understand now that things happen to help you see certain things, and to bring out the potential of your great Spirit. It\’s a shame when people crumble under these challenges. I am so happy to hear when people accept and rise above painful experiences. And there are so many of them, both physically and mentally. I\’m willing to bet, though difficult at times, you have experienced a great part of you that may never have been uncovered. Thank you for giving others strength to do the same!!
     
    Love,
     
    Katrina

  19. Matapuna says:

    You are amazing. My brother, 24 years old, is a C-6 quadraplegic. He\’s was injured while body surfing in May of 2001, just shy of his 19th birthday. How interesting it is that although he was the one injured, our entire family and all his friends were deeply affected by it, and continue to be affected by it on a daily basis. I hope that makes sense. I guess what I\’m trying to say is how funny it is that he\’s THE most POSITIVE person I know. It was his strength that kept our family from falling apart.
     
    Keep up it up because people like me NEED it. Thank goodness there are people as strong as you still left in this world.

  20. ARISAR says:

    Collin:I was on MSN reading the news and your site came up. The last time I saw you you told me that you were headed to Project Walk. I think it\’s great that you are exploring all of your options and pushing yourself to regain as much function as possible. Just wanted you to know that it\’s brave and inspirational of you to share your story with the world. I am sure that it will help others – both injured and non-injured to get a better understanding of spinal cord injuries and life as a spinal cord injured individual.Vanessa (CIR -ASAP)

  21. jåimie says:

    hi..keep it up..will pray for u..may God be with u always…take care..

  22. Unknown says:

    Colin,
     
    Your story has given me such inspiration!  I now know I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and live my life.  Thank you and good luck to you as you continue to move ahead.
     
    Michelle

  23. Ashish says:

    We dont know our potential in our good times, but the worst times really teach us, You have turned yourself as an inspiration to the ones who struggle in the path, thanks for motivating me in life…god bless you.

  24. Dustin says:

    Hey your story reminds me a lot of a book by Jean Dominique Baubay, its called the diving bell and the butterfly. He was also paralyzed, but he was a quadrapalegic who could only blink his left eye. He communicates through blinking to a transcriber who writes down the book. Any who i thought you might like to take a glance at it its pretty short and good, I hope you enjoy.

  25. seven says:

    Keep up your good work and make some miracle!!!! :-]
    i\’m waiting…..

  26. tony and tami says:

      well i WISH i could say this was gonna be easy for you, but i cant quite say that.  i am, basically, a parapalegic that HAS returned to a normal life.  sorry, dude, this is gonna hurt.  been there, done that….got the t-shirt.
      i was a passenger in a motor-vehicle accident that crushed my left leg from the knee to the hip, fractured my skull, caused frontal lobe brain damage, and destroyed my lumbar spine…..l-1 thru 1-5.
      i dont remember much about the accident…which is normal.   i remember some of the trauma prep, such as the drilling of the traction pin into my leg.  they drilled from one side, then the other…..and used a mallet to drive the pin thru……all without painkillers…..that hurt a bit.  i remember that.
      when i awoke in tyler, tx medical center……a couple of weeks later, i found out that i had been given a double dose of morphine by an aide….this caused a coma that lasted 30 days……give or take.
       when i awoke, a month of my life had disappeared and still i had not been repaired.  i recall a doctor telling me that i would be lucky if i ever walked again…..this was in response to me asking to play him in basketball–i am 6\’8" tall and basketball and track were my tickets to the big time.
       i told that doc to go square to hell– that i would WALK out of that hospital in a day or so.  took a bit longer than a day, but i WALKED outta that mutha…..on crutches…..with help.
      i learned really quick that ya need help in life, sometimes.  and that the body doesnt always agree with a hard head—and mine was hard as hell.
      my mom sold everything over the next year—-including her body —–to make sure i had the best care available.
      took me 2 years, but i taught myself to walk again…..you can too.
      once you get sick and tired of these freaks, you will learn what it takes.  and you will know that they can NEVER really understand.  we are a group unto ourselves.
      years later, i had appendicitis and was in some pain….i graded it a healthy 6 on a scale of ten…my wife had to intervene and point out that a 6 to me was a twelve to everyone else, but i got the care i needed.
      i do NOT envy you the journey you must make….i am simply here to let you know it IS possible to beat this and to give you whatever help you may need to get over it….hey, lets play one on one in six months…..i DARE you.   mail me back and lets talk. 

  27. tony and tami says:

    true heroes are hard to come by, the world now requires you to become a hero.  you need to fight–and it cant be about you.  you need to learn–just to teach them.  you need to experience…..just so that you may show the way.  life is not about you…it is about humanity in general and all that you may learn will be used to improve the masses.  you KNOW the meaning of time.  you KNOW how short it is and can be.
      we are a special breed.  you KNOW you can win this fight….if only you choose to win.  you cant die yet….ya aint had enough p*ssy yet…..come on dude, FIGHT for it.  it\’ll happen, i promise.   it happened to me.  i walk now.  i stock 100 tons of freight a week….and i dedicate that to you and all like you….everyday….everyway.

  28. Cor says:

    i know someone who has been exactly where you are, and still is.  i think its important to keep in perspective what you DO have left and work with that.  anything else that you may regain along the way will be an amazing gift. 
     
    i wish you luck and happiness in your journey.  the people you meet along the way will be incredible, i\’m sure you\’re already seeing that.
     
    good luck and happy holidays.

  29. kelsey says:

    hey
     
     My name is kelsey and I had a stroke just  six moths ago. When I was 5 I had a brain tumor and then it came back when i was 15 and when i woke up from surgery i had a full stroke on the right side of my body. I am now only 16, i live in florida but had my surgery in boston and went to rehab in goria but i am now back home in florida. Keep Fighting
     
    kelsey

  30. Chris and Ian says:

    HI Colin,
     
    Despite the Uk e-mail address I am actually in New Zealand working for the next couple of years. I work for a McIsaac Caregiving Agency, based in Auckland but operating across the North Island.
     
    Congratulations on headlining on MSN, your site is a real inspiration to all and would be very useful to some of the people we work for. All the people we work for have spinal injuries and most are tetraplegic, usually quite high.
     
    I supervise a number of caregiving teams in the Hawke\’s Bay region and as I have managed to recruit enough staff to cover our needs , I have been asked to do some work to support other supervisors, staff and clients. I am currently researching the content of a resource pack and I would like to include your "personal MSN space" in that pack. I am after your permission to do that and for you to be aware that this might spur additional traffic on your site. I can think of a number of peple that you directly benefit from reading about your experinces, attitude and determination.
     
    I can see that you have had loads of mesages just recently and that you will be very busy. So it would be great to hear from you  when you have a spare moment.
     
    Have a great Christmas..and congratulations on the new job!
     
    Best wishes
     
    Chris Hoyle

  31. Maggi says:

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Your have the Right Stuff. As an OT you can go far with you attitude.  I have worked for years with cord injureies and I can tell you that you really have the RIGHT STUFF.  I hope that your story will inspire others in there dark times, and hope that the cure will be out there to help you.  Keep up with that drive tht you have now in rehab, life is a little different on the outside as you know.  Don\’t let it get you down, stive for the top.

  32. Amanda says:

    Hi Colin,I was just visiting MSN and I saw ur story so I read it as I have nothing better to do.Your story is really inspiring me. You have a wonderfull story.I somehow often think that I\’m unlucky, but from your story, I know that I\’m wrong.Thank you for sharing a great story and experience of yours.Keep up your great work. I believe you can do it.I believe God will show the miracle for you. I\’ll pray for you.Have a Merry Christmas.God Bless YouAmanda

  33. Taro Terrific says:

    Toniferous2000 
    well i WISH i could say this was gonna be easy for you, but i cant
    quite say that.  i am, basically, a parapalegic that HAS returned to a
    normal life.  sorry, dude, this is gonna hurt.  been there, done
    that….got the t-shirt.Ditto.I\’m an L-1/C-5 … been injured 30+ years. Rehab is a nice athletic "hobby" like running or swimming, but you really need to work more on your education/career. Being able to walk is not on many job descriptions and it ain\’t really all that important to the ladies. Your condition has stabilized and you can continue in therapy in your spare time —But, it sure ain\’t a full-time job.  You now have a new life, get on with it.  \’nuf said.Taro at news3Yen.com, Tokyo

  34. fang says:

     
    thanks for sharing ur experiences
    wonderful guy !
     
    be strong \’n merry x\’mas
    = )
     
     
     

  35. Colin says:

    Hey, came across your blog and found it very inspirational. Thought I should drop you a few words and to tell you that your strength and determination to fight obstacles is overwhelming. You have touched my heart and I\’m sure thousands who\’re reading your blog. Keep it up. God Bless. Colin from Singapore..

  36. Prema says:

     
    FREE WILL AND DESTINY
    When people consider the past as free will they are filled with remorse and regret.
    When they consider the future as destiny, lethargy and inertia set in.
    A wise person will consider the past as destiny and the future as free will.
    When you consider the past as destiny, no more questions are raised and the mind is at ease.
    And when you consider the future as free will you are filled with enthusiasm and dynamism.
    Of course there will be some uncertainty when you consider the future as free will, and some anxiety, but it can also bring alertness and creativity.
    Consider the past as destiny, the future as free will and the present moment as Divinity.
    Question: How do we remove the anxiety?
    Answer: By having faith in the Divine and doing sadhana.
     
    My Friend… I am a different person, a better person, since we first became friends. Your honesty helps me to see my weaknesses, and your support helps me to turn them into strengths. Thank you for not saying the things you think I want to hear, but for saying the things I need to know. You\’re one of the few people I trust when you tell me that I\’ve done well, because you are one of the few who will tell me when I could do better. You challenge me to be the best I can be… by accepting and appreciating me, you\’ve helped me learn to accept and appreciate myself.
     
     
     

     
     
     

     
     

    FlawsA water bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master\’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master\’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream."I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master\’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don\’t get full value from your efforts," the pot said.The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master\’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the Pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot\’s side? That\’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you\’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my masters table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house." Each of us has our own unique flaws. We\’re all cracked pots. Don\’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Dalai Lama\’s instructions for Life

    Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risks.When you lose, don\’t lose the lesson.Always follow the three Rs: Respect for self,Respect for othersResponsibility for all your actions.Don\’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.Spend some time alone every day.Open your arms to change, but don\’t let go of your values.Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you\’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don\’t bring up the past.Share your knowledge. It\’s a way to achieve immortality.Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

    Dear Colin,
    I know Raja from Toronto who told me about you today. I am also going thru various personal challenges in life but nothing close to yours. I find it very difficult to explain but I am sure it has something to do with KARMA and that brings us to rebirth.
    Present effect is the result of past cause and
    Present cause determines future effect.
    I would suggest reading 2 books
    1) Power vs Force by Dr. David Hawkins
    2) The Power of Intention by Wayne dyer.
    You constantly need to be in the positive and that is the most difficult thing I find.  Do you have any other suggestions ?
    I will pray for you.
    My e mail is vaidyanathan@rogers.com
    God Bless you.
     

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