You may have noticed there weren’t any posts last week. It’s not because there wasn’t anything to write about, it’s because I was having trouble writing this particular post.
Last week marked the year anniversary of a violent accident that left me injured beyond any stretch of the imagination and on a journey, I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams.
I am still not allowed to discuss exactly what happened over a year ago, only to say I was the victim of a very negligent act of another person, that left me broken and battered physically and mentally.
Last Summer I wrote about the fact that I may never run a marathon again, but it has become much more than not being able to run, these injuries have changed my life and the way I live it forever. Dealing with these changes has not been easy.
Since last March, I have had 5 MRI’s, I have been on one kind of pain killer or another every single day. I have had surgery on my knee, my ankle, several shots to my spine and neck, I lost 80% of the use of my arms, I now know what it’s like to lose the use of my legs, though only for a short time, it is terrifying and I spend as much time in physical therapy staring at a ceiling, as I do with my kids.
I live with massive amounts of pain, every minute of every day. There is no reprieve; it is constant, intense and debilitating. The doctors continue to up the dosage of pain pills, which leaves me foggy and sleepy, unable to play with my kids or help with our newborn son.
In September our son was born, to be honest I barely remember it, I hardly remember last Summer. Because of the injury to my spine, I have to be careful when I carry our baby, for fear of dropping him. I have a lost a lot of the use of my arms, it has left me weak and dropping things. Now six months later as he is getting older and heavier, I am completely losing the ability to carry him, without searing pain up and down my spine.
It isn’t about endurance sports, it’s about trying to be a husband, a father a functioning person. My wife and kids are “support super heroes” as they try to help me through this. It breaks my heart as I sit on the couch or lay in bed.
I can’t do “anything.” Not a sit up, a crunch, I can’t run, I can’t bike, I can’t swim, I can’t play with my four year old son who asks me almost everyday “dad when are you going to be better so you can play with me again.”
At first I tried to use what I have learned as an athlete to keep me going: “what do I have to do right here and now to make it another step, another mile, another day?" When days turned to weeks, turned to months, which has turned into a year, I ran out of gas, my tank ran dry. I did something I never thought I would do in my life, I gave up.
I now understand what depression is. I get what it means to be depressed. I had fallen into a deep, dark abyss of anger and sadness that had completely taken over my life.
I wanted to scream for help, but sat for months, sucked in by a blackness that takes over every corner of your mind, not allowing positive thoughts to grow and blossom, but rather extinguishing them the second they sprout up.
I started to take it out on my wife, my kids and friends. For that I am eternally sorry. I wanted to scream, "help me, help me!!!" But sat quietly, alone in my head. When I did ask to talk to an expert, I was told that because this was work related, the insurance refused to cover it.
I had hit that place, where the road ends and was ready to cross the line. I spent weeks exacting the end, planning it out. It’s simple really, when you look at it and don’t care. In my mind my life had been destroyed and it wasn’t worth going on.
Looking at my kids made me sad, because I couldn’t be the dad I wanted to be for them. Looking at my wife made me sad, because she now has to shoulder the king size burden of supporting our family, which isn’t fair. Facebook made me sad, as I read the updates of my friends as they posted their race results and workouts. Watching TV made me sad, because I wasn’t able to work on new shows. Writing this blog became painful, because I was writing about things I couldn't do.
All I could do was sit, alone in my mind, drowning in the darkness of these horrible and final thoughts.
One night, after kissing my children goodnight, the words that I tell them before they go to sleep rang in my head like a gunshot, “You can do anything if you believe in yourself, never, ever forget that.”
Somehow I had forgotten. They weren’t just words, but the foundation of what I have believed my entire life. Something I had promised I would pass on to my kids, my wife and anybody else who would ever listen.
Since the day my oldest daughter was born, I made it a goal of mine to be a better man each day, than I was the day before. I wanted to show her that if you believe in yourself and never ever “give up, you can make miracles happen.”
Giving up now would make me a hypocrite and a bad example for the people who matter the most, my family. Their light, their love was the light that couldn’t be extinguished. I had lost sight of that.
For those of you who know me, this isn’t a big surprise, but I am not all that good at asking for help, I can be a tad stubborn in that department. Their help, their love had always been there for me. They gave me something that I had lost, “hope.” That one thought turned everything around.
I began to fight again. This was harder than fighting a swarm of swimmers at the Ironman, or the Horribly Hilly 100. I was fighting myself, in my mind and for any of you who have hit bottom, you know that’s an epic battle.
Seeing them was my reason to get up in the morning. Which grew to helping them get ready for the day, which grew to cooking breakfast, which grew to taking them to school. I am a goal oriented guy, and my goals grow every day, all of which are based on being there for them and making my mind stronger and more positive.
When I open my eyes in the morning, I tell myself, “you can do anything, if you believe in yourself.” I believe that again.
I am obese, depressed, broken and unemployed. I have one more surgery coming up on my spine that scares the hell out of me.
I have written this post 1000 times in my head, I have wanted to yell and blame and point fingers. I am past that. The people responsible for this have never really reached out and seem to think it’s funny that I am hurt. That thought used to send me into a rage, but as time has passed, I realize they are who they are, and that’s something they will have to live with.
I am a different person that I was a year ago. I have learned more about what truly matters in the last year that I have in the 44 years before that.
I don’t focus on what I can’t do, or what I don’t have, but on the positive things that make each day amazing. There are so many of you who have reached out to me with positive thoughts and wishes and for that I am grateful.
I am alive and I am surrounded by love. Being a positive influence on my children doesn’t mean making a lot of money or crossing a finish line, it means being there for them, any way I can. Showing them that the words that I say, aren’t just words, but words I live by, and always will.
I am not sharing this for you to feel sorry for me. I have done plenty of that on my own. This is a hard time, good people are losing their jobs, families and homes, we all get down, if you feel like you have no place to turn, now you do.
I have battled unimaginable pain both mentally and physically and it has made me better for it. I have no idea what the next phase of my life will be like, but I know if I believe in myself and allow the love of the people around me to shine in my life, “I can make anything happen.”
You can too.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.