Freedom

July 4, 2009
Independence Day

Independence Day

On this Fourth of July people’s minds begin to turn to their freedoms. They begin to think about how grateful they are to live in a country where they can live, act, and worship freely.

I too am grateful for these freedoms. I am grateful for the price paid by so many to allow me to have those freedoms. Often, I think it becomes easy to forget that the freedoms we sometimes so easily take for granted can, if were not careful, be taken away.

On July 13, 1986 I very nearly lost my freedom.

I was involved in a diving accident that caused me to become a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. So many things were taken from me that day. Many of them were simple and basic freedoms. Like the freedom to feed myself. The freedom to get around without a wheelchair. The freedom to get in and out of bed on my own. The freedom to bathe, shave and dress myself.

Then, on the 21st of November, a car accident took even more freedoms.

But truth be told, through it all, some pretty incredible people have allowed me to keep the freedoms that matter most.

After my diving accident, friends sent me pictures that reminded me of their love and support. Along with the posters they also sent, those photos were plastered all over my room. These good people reminded me that I was free to be a part of their lives, and free to let their support lift me up when I felt down.

Good Friends

Good Friends

Good Stuff

Good Stuff

During both accidents, and through any other little bump in the road, my family continues to support me all the way. They made it clear that I was free to be a part of a family all my days on the earth. They reminded me that I was free to dream; free to go and do anything my mind believed that I could achieve. They  taught me I was free to ignore the negativity that so often others tried to surround me with.

Good Support

Good Support

Good Fun

Good Fun

Literally, weeks into meeting Kolette she let me know that I was free to expect the same kind of relationship that able bodied young men did. From the moment we were wed, she showed me that unconditional love was also a freedom I could count on. The moment she stood in that emergency room after the car accident she made it abundantly clear that her dedication was a freedom I could never lose. Throughout my life Kolette has taught me that I’m alway free to love life.

Good Love

Good Love

Good Times

Good Times

Now, Coleman’s innocent eyes seemed to communicate that I’m free to love and be loved in return. Over and over, he reminds me that I’m free to try and, although things may not always work out the way I’d planned, we are free to figure things out on our own. We may not get things on our first try, and when we do get them, it may not always be pretty, but he allows us the freedom to find our own rhythm and our own path.

Good Boy

Good Boy

I know there are others who aren’t as lucky as I. I know that there are many in my situation who simply go home from the hospital and stay there. I know one young man whose family brought him home from the hospital after his diving accident, built him a large bay window, and every day sat him in front of that window. He ended up spending every day of what ended up to be a very short life literally “watching the world go by.”

So on this day of celebrating freedom, I celebrate mine. As I do so, I celebrate the countless numbers of people who have helped me to fight for the freedom I have, and so I celebrate them as well. I celebrate the freedom my future holds.

I celebrate life.

Jh-

Two weeks before my accident

Two weeks before my accident


The Saving Grace of Hope + DVD Giveaway

December 13, 2008

sunrise1

After the EMTs brought me in from my major car accident and the doctors and surgeons in the ER and OR did their part I was placed in the intensive care unit to heal. As life-threatening as those first weeks were, the first days were an hundred times more harrowing. My body was battered and broken and one big bruise. As difficult as the battered and broken parts were it was the “bruise” that was putting my life in danger.

Think back if you will to the last time you saw a black eye. Remember how the area around the eye swells and fills with fluid. Think now about my body as one big black eye. The accident had caused my legs to break badly enough that I slipped out of my seatbelt and “ping-ponged” around the front of my van. My body therefore, like a black eye, was swelling and filling with fluid.

The damage was so extensive that on about a third day after the accident my tissue became saturated and the fluid began to fill my heart and lungs. On that third day as my family came into the hospital the doctor pulled them to the side and told them that if they wanted to say goodbye to me they’d better do it that day, because I wouldn’t be around the following day.

Curious about what the doctor meant exactly my family inquired further about my chances. They wondered if the doctor meant I might not make it through the night or I probably wouldn’t make it through the night, to which the doctor replied that there was no chance I would make it through the night.

That night was as difficult a night as I have ever had in my entire life. My lungs would begin to fill with fluid and my ability to breathe was seriously compromised. The only way to alleviate the situation was to have a Respiratory Therapist come in and suction out my lungs. This required the RT to slide a tiny tube down my nose and into my lungs to draw out some of the fluid.

The process was painful but when they were finished I could breathe again. Unfortunately, my situation was so dire that 45 minutes to an hour after the procedure was finished my breathing would become labored again.

I would push my nurse’s call button and when the nurse arrived in my room I told her that I needed to be suctioned again. She reminded me that it had barely been an hour since I had been suctioned last and that because of the pain I might want to wait a little while. I told her that I didn’t feel like I could make it a little while, and regardless of the discomfort I needed to be suctioned. The RT would again come to my room and take some of the fluid out from my lungs.

All night long this process was repeated. Nearly every hour for the entire night I pleaded to have the Respiratory Therapist do the procedure and nearly every hour through constant reminders of the intense pain my pleas were heard and the procedure was done. It was difficult, it was hard, it hurt, and when the sun rose the next morning my hospital gown was covered in blood, but I was alive.

As I think about that night and what it took to stay alive the primary ingredient was hope. I hoped to live. I hoped to breathe. I hoped for the courage to endure the pain. I hoped for the intestinal fortitude to see the morning come. All I had to hold onto through that most difficult of nights was hope.

Luckily when the doctors told my family about the severity and potential fatality of the situation they elected not to tell me. This allowed me to hope. I never once considered that I might lose my life. Hope kept my mind focusing on the positive instead of becoming mired in the negative. Instead of wondering which hour would be my last, hope allowed me to think of every hour as one bringing me closer to new health.

There is a saving grace that comes with hope. Hope can change our hours as we think about our opportunities instead of our pitfalls. Hope can change our days as we concentrate on how things can become better instead of worrying about how things will become worse. Hope can change our lives by allowing us to maximize what we can do instead of being weighted down by what we can’t.

I am thoroughly convinced through my own experience and through those experiences that I have seen others overcome that 90% of success is waking up each morning with a little hope in your heart.

So hope; hope that things can be better, hope that you can accomplish your goals, hope that your life will be filled with the richest blessings of your dreams. Just hope, and let that hope chase all the fear and doubt from your heart.

Jh-

Leave a comment of something that brings you hope and one of the comments will win one of my autographed DVD’s (or click here to purchase your own). I can’t wait to see the things that bring you hope. I can’t wait for your hope to increase my own. Comments close at 9pm PST Tuesday, December 16.


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