Most of my childhood days were spent on the baseball diamond or swimming at a pool. One day, I was at the local water park, swimming in the wave pool where drains pulled water in and created huge waves.
I guess I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, because I was struck by someone in a tube. The drains turned on at that same moment, trapping me under water for close to five minutes. The lifeguard on duty at the time tried giving me CPR, but I was in a coma for six weeks.
When I awoke, I remember my parents hugging me, kissing me and squeezing me, but I didn’t know who they were. I couldn’t remember anything.
That was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. Every night, my parents, my brother and my sister came into my bedroom to tell me good night and that they loved me. I could never tell them I loved them back.
This caused a lot of fighting between my whole family and me. My brother and sister never understood why I didn’t know who they were. They were strangers to me. Everyone was a stranger.
I hated my life and not knowing who I was. I thought everyone and everything was out to get me. The doctors suggested to my parents that I do things I did before I suffered my memory loss.
Baseball was one thing I remembered. During my first at-bat of the year, I swung the bat, and the ball went over the fence. As I was rounding third, I looked up and I saw my parents. I remembered them! It all came back to me.
I thought the worst was behind me, but then the worst thing in my life happened.
Starting all over again
Two months after my 16th birthday, I was driving down a dirt road and flipped my car end-over-end. On the first roll, I busted out the window with the top of my head. My leg was caught up in the brake and gas pedal. As the car twisted in the air, so did my leg, but not my body. My leg twisted all the way around, tearing every ligament in my left knee.
I was in the emergency room and my parents came in crying. I had no idea why. I just thought I had hurt my knee and needed a few surgeries, nothing too bad. Then I was told the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard: “Son, the doctors say you may never be able to walk again.”
My life started all over again. I told myself, “Not again. I am not going to let something like this control my life.”
The doctors tried hard to make my knee stable again through four surgeries. I told myself every day, “This is not how your life is supposed to be.” So I forced myself to go through physical training every day for four hours. I remember the physical trainer and the doctors telling me that there was no reason to do this. “It’s pointless,” they said.
But I couldn’t tell myself that. This time was different. I believed in myself. I didn’t have a bad attitude toward life. That fueled my motivation to keep on trying and never give up. I loved the way I felt.
I loved the way I carried myself. For once in my life, I loved being me.
In just two short months of the most painful treatment, training and therapy, it was finally paying off. I was able to put a little weight on my leg. Every day got harder. There were days I felt like giving up. I felt like I was getting nowhere. I wanted to quit so many times.
Three months after the wreck, I was walking with a cane. I kept training. Another month went by and I was able to walk on my own. Five months after all the surgeries, all the training, all of the pain, I was running on the leg that was never supposed to hold up. The doctors could not believe it. Neither could I.
Six months later, high school baseball was about to begin. And yes, I was out there playing!
Even now, I’m not sure why I made it through everything, but I do know how I did. I believed in myself, with a positive attitude. Because of that, I was able to stay motivated through those tough times.