I have been taught the importance of being positive from the youngest days of my life. I don’t remember a time when having a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) wasn’t a regular part my parents instruction on the proper way to live a life.
Therefore, growing up, I tried to make a positive outlook a part of my life. I tried to look at the glass half full, tried to see the best in those around me and tried to concentrate on the good and forget the bad.
Then at fifteen and a half, on the 13th of July 1986 my life changed in a second.
I went from a completely healthy young man in the best shape of my life to paralyzed from the chest down with only partial use of my arms and no use of my hands.
As difficult as that transition was, it was the first nights that were the most harrowing. My lungs filled with mucus to the point where you could barely see any clear part of my lung on the x-ray. My pulmonologist told me it was the worst case of pneumonia he had ever seen.
You didn’t have to have a medical degree to understand that my life was in the balance. In those days, I had one wish. It wasn’t to walk, it wasn’t to be accepted back at home, and it wasn’t to have a normal life-It was to live.
All I wanted was to wake up the next morning.
After a few days when I began to feel, not quite out of the woods, but on my way there, my dad came to the side of my bed and asked me if I felt like I could deal with life as a quadriplegic, I replied, “I can do anything for 80 years.” I was so grateful that I’d kept my life—everything seemed better. Even paralysis seemed doable.
In the days since then, I’ve almost lost my life at least one other time. And in those days, good or bad, I’ve tried to recall that same feeling. Whenever life gets difficult (as it often does) I try to remember that no matter how bad it gets, I still have my life.
Knowing that I am still breathing makes everything else challenging small in comparison. It makes a real difference in my effort to live a happy life. It is difficult to complain about the stumbling blocks when you find a way to remember that you are still around to stumble.
When things get hard, remember to love life. Be grateful that you are still here. Be glad that you have a chance to struggle and the negativity will be replaced with that Positive Mental Attitude I was taught so much about in my youth